It’s been a quiet season by Venetia Williams’ standards but the Hereford based trainer landed her second Grand National Trial win at Haydock with as expected the one horse who doesn’t hold an entry in the Aintree spectacular as Yala Enki demolished a high quality field in an incident packed staying chase over a gruelling 3m4f marathon trip handing National market leader and top weight Blaklion a 54 length drubbing.
The victor in last seasons Tommy Whittle he was always up in the van guard, to begin with Silsol fell at the first fence then coming up to half way Three Faces West tumbled at the 13th, in line for home only three had a chance which became two when Wild West Wind found the conditions too much and pulled himself up with legs of jelly at the second from home.
This left Yala Enki nicely ahead of Blaklion who could do no more as Yala Enki under Charlie Deutsch powered away, he doesn’t hold an Aintree entry and talk of Uttoxeter has been mentioned as he needs soft ground so the Midlands or Scottish ones will be under the microscope for now
Blaklion in all fairness ran well but was giving nearly a stone to the next horse in the weights, he will be given a small break before getting ready for Aintree and he isn’t one to write off after this.
Fans of long distance hurdles had an unlimited buffet of them this afternoon with three races for punters to tackle.
First up Donna’s Diamond supplemented last months impressive handicap win when bolting up in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle, on the front end with Boite who took an unfortunate fall at the third from home which left him in front he battled on under Callum Bewley to fend off odds on favourite Agrapart who again failed to deliver in this race and No Hassle Hoff who himself had two extra jumps to contend with when leaping over Boite and his rider.
Donna’s Diamond needs soft ground but could pop down the East Lancs for a crack at the Liverpool Hurdle in April providing the going is soft, Agrapart isn’t entered at the Festival either and could be Aintree bound too.
Photo of Donna’s Diamond courtesy of Steve Mullington
Nicky Hendeson has a useful sort in Chef Des Obeaux as he breezed home to take the Albert Bartlett, he got the lead exiting the back straight and kicked on to best a more than useful looking field, a chaser in the making for next season he will be involved in the finish of the Cheltenham Albert Bartlett, Uppertown Prince stayed on for second spot and will also be a decent type next season too.
Bridget Andrews picked up a nice win for herself with the handicap debutant in Tommy Rapper who got the judges verdict in the Pertemps Qualifier, given a quiet hold up ride he picked them off slowly but surely and took the lead off the ever consistent Theo’s Charm on the run and just got up buy a neck, Dan Skelton may be swayed by the final at the Festival although with Bridget still being able to claim 3lb then the Martin Pipe might be under consideration too.Sadly their was a bit of bad news to come from the race with the passing of Black Ivory who sadly made his way to the stable in the sky after being brought down at the fifth flight, Condolences to all at Ruth Jefferson’s stable.
The Victor Ludorum over 2m was one of three races that needed a photo to separate them and Turning Gold just edged out Cornerstone Lad in a real pulsating finish, a former flat horse with Sir Mark Prescott he his now trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and had been placed in three starts over timber but finally got his first win over hurdles, The Fred Winter was touted.
Two other chases supplemented the card, First up just four set off in the 2m4f Novice Handicap Chase and only two got round with judge Nick Bostock again needing to get the magnifying glass out as Lake View Lad gave last months Altcar Novice Chase a boost by getting a short head verdict over Crievehill in a fine finish, Ayr might be under consideration now for the Nick Alexander trained winner for a 3m Novice Handicap or the Future Stars depending how things pan out.
Last of all Virak got himself qualified for the Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters by staying on hard to land the 2m6f Walrus Hunter Chase, The class horse of the race by far he could well be aimed at both for which Haydock put on a bonus prize.
Cheltenham and Aintree will soon be upon us then and it’s possible that we might have seen a few potential horses to get involved with at the business end.
Review wise it might be a bit quiet here until Easter Saturday which is a fair few weeks unless anything else pops up, if it doesn’t then may I wish you all a very successful Cheltenham 😀