North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase (Class 3)
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A race of pure stamina, the North Yorkshire Grand National has £25,000 up for grabs and is for the Denys Smith memorial trophy. See our betting tips and full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: A case can be made for quite a few of these, but none more so than STRAIDNAHANNA. Not hard pressed on his last two runs, he’s now down to a mark of 132 which is manageable for him and going up in trip will almost certainly suit. He has a 100% course record from two runs here and with Sue Smith’s yard on brilliant form at present (4-8 in the past two weeks), he should run a huge race for connections. Others to note are Doing FIne who was a close second in the London National and Carrigdhoun who continues to run admirably at the age of twelve.
1 FEDERICI – Won the Ulster Grand National in March (3m 4f, Good) and is still 9lb higher for that win despite a disappointing performance at Aintree in December (2m 5f, Good to Soft). Arguably that was over an inadequate trip but he has performed well at it in the past so that may not be a valid excuse. He has the perfect ground for him today and the Donald McCain yard are in great form at present with a strike rate of 5-32 in the past two weeks and he definitely has solid each way claims Probably vulnerable for win purposes though.
2 BALLYCULLA – Has some very respectable form in the book including a very easy win at Wetherby (3m, Good to Soft), and despite racing lazily he stayed on much the strongest that day. He was however poor on his season reappearance over that same C&D in a Grade 3 last month, but has dropped 4lb because of it which is a huge help. Going up in trip should suit judging by his 7th in a listed race at Cheltenham in 2015 and should run a big race with conditions to suit, so has to be respected.
3 STRAIDNAHANNA – Wasn’t hard pushed when finishing 4th at Haydock in November (3m, Heavy) and was dropped 3lb for his latest poor showing at Doncaster (3m, Good) when once again not being given a hard race. He is now on a mark of 132 which is certainly manageable at his best and goes up in trip which should suit on previous runs at around three miles, with a record of 2-2 at this venue. Some rain would be appreciated but he still handles good ground fine and with the Sue Smith yard in brilliant form at present with a record of 4-8 in the past two weeks, he has all the tools to run a huge race today.
4 CARRIGDHOUN – Likeable 12 year old who is now on a career high mark after two good wins at Carlisle and a close 2nd in the Scottish Borders National (4m, Good to Soft). He wasn’t so good on his latest start at Haydock (2m 6f, Soft) but the trip is a valid excuse for that run and going back up in trip is the best thing to do. He does seem to be vulnerable off this mark however at his age and against some potentially progressive horses, but should run his race and has place claims.
5 GONALSTON CLOUD – Was one of the first off the bridle but ran on gamely to score at Market Rasen on his latest start (3m 3f, Good to Soft) and goes up 5lb for that run. Lightly raced for his age, he is still unexposed at this staying trips and has conditions to suit which is another big plus. He is 2-2 at this track and all signs point to a good run, so if building on that Lincolnshire National victory, he has to be considered a threat today.
6 DOING FINE – Narrowly denied on his latest start in the London National, putting up an admirable performance to just be beaten by Rocky Creek at Sandown (3m 4f, Good to Soft). Goes up 4lb for that effort for the inform Neil Mulholland yard (4-21 in the past two weeks) and is still lightly raced for his age. Should he garner improvement from that latest run he is hard to dismiss with conditions to suit, and is another with solid each way claims today.
7 BALLYBEN – Consistent of late, winning three starts ago at Cartmel (3m 2f, Soft) and has placed the last twice in similar efforts. Up to a mark of 127 which is 11lb higher than his highest winning mark which is a concern, but he does have scope for improvement and tries his longest trip yet today. He has the inform Brian Hughes on board who is having an outstanding season and it’d be a surprise to see him not turn in another good effort, but does look vulnerable for win purposes.
8 HARRY THE VIKING – Popular 12 year old who got back into the winners enclosure for the first time since December 2011 when winning the Scottish Borders National (4m, Good to Soft). Up 7lb for that run and is usually a consistent sort so should run his race with conditions to suit. He isn’t however the most likely to follow up as evidenced by his over 5 year break between wins and although he does possibly have each way claims, he is vulnerable for win purposes.
9 RAKTIMAN – Posted a much improved effort on his latest start at Fakenham when 2nd (2m 5f, Good to Soft), which was his best effort in a good while. Remains on the same mark for today with the Sam England yard in good form at the present, with 2 winners from their last 5 sent out, though it is hard to get excited about this 10 year old’s chances today as he’s never been the most consistent. The ground also isn’t ideal for him today and possibly best passed over with others having more pressing claims.
10 ALTO DES MOTTES – Ran a big race to finish 2nd in this last season but has been very inconsistent the last thrice, pulling up at Haydock on his latest start over hurdles (2m 6f, Soft). Certainly has some questions to answer and softer ground would be preferable, but he is still relatively lightly raced and Henry Hogarth had a recently. Has sound Each Way chances if back to his best but that is hard to trust at present.
11 NEWTON THISTLE – Pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at Southwell last month (2m 7f, Good to Soft) and tackles his first marathon trip today. There is hope on his pedigree and previous runs that he will stay but he is not the most consistent of horses with lots of letters on his form which isn’t what you want to see. The ground is possibly harder than he’d want it too and as he’s facing many horses with proven staying power, he is probably best watched on his first try at a trip beyond 3m 1f.
12 JAC THE LEGEND – Generally a very consistent sort which is why it was surprising to see him pull up at Doncaster on his latest start (3m 2f, Good), hitting multiple fences on the way round. Today’s trip will be fine based upon his penultimate 3rd in the Durham National (3m 5f, Good) and tries new headgear in a bid to revive him from that poor effort. It is however hard to build a case for him for win purposes, with his latest win coming at Sedgefield (3m 3f, Soft) off 14lb lower. He’s finished second five times since that win so is likely to be fighting for places, but seems vulnerable for win purposes.
13 ITSTIMEFORAPINT – Has placed the last twice including when a good 2nd at Kelso on his latest start (3m 2f, Good to Soft), and is on a career high mark as a consequence. Today’s trip is fine and he will stay but there has to be a question mark regarding the ground, as he has avoided good ground for most of his career. Other’s have more convincing claims and despite Lucinda Russell having a few winners of late (2-22 in the past two weeks), others are readily preferred.
14 FILL THE POWER – Well handicapped on his best form including when wining at Carlisle in May 2015 (3m 2f, Good), but has struggled this season and tends to race very lazily. Sean Quinlan will most likely be driving him along from an early stage and if his last few runs are anything to go by, he’ll start staying on when it is far too late. Conditions are fine and is fully entitled to run a good race but others are preferred on the basis of his four runs this term.
15 SCOTSWELL – Won the race in 2015 when jumping impressively and making all in a game performance. At his best, he is very difficult to catch as when in a rhythm his jumping is sublime, but he hasn’t been so good this year. Easily beaten on his latest start at Kelso behind Itstimeforapint (3m 2f, Good to Soft), he is yet to replicate his best form this season and is a risky proportion today. He’s unlikely to get a soft lead today and probably best watched.