The Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday is the first time we get to see the National Fences this season. Raced over the 3m 2f distance, it gives us an idea of the horses who are likely to be heading towards the National this season, or beyond. This year’s renewal is fascinating, with plenty of previous National runners come up against some aspiring hopefuls. You’ll find our tip for the Becher in our ITV Racing Tips, but for now, here are five horses who we could see in the National in April!
Carrying colours now famous with the National, Vintage Clouds could be the next of Trevor Hemmings’ National stars. He shaped like a dour stayer last year and had his first tilt at the National when coming down at the first. He was 11/1 for the showpiece race, which shows the confidence behind him, and he was far from disgraced in the Scottish Grand National subsequently, where his jumping let him down.
A recent run over 3m 2f at Kelso should have him right now in terms of fitness and further experience of the National fences will really help matters. As long as he can keep his handicap mark in the current range, and clear the first fence, he’s got to be considered a danger for the National.
Winning the race in 2017, One For Arthur has been seen just four times since, unseating twice in 2018/19 before finishing a game sixth in the National. He posted a very encouraging effort on seasonal reappearance when fourth at Kelso, where his jumping looked far more assured.
He currently sits only a pound above his National winning mark and given that he usually has very light campaigns, they should be able to keep his handicap mark down, even if he does win this term. It’s very difficult to win multiple Nationals, but One For Arthur is one you wouldn’t want to dismiss in achieving that feat.
Although very inconsistent last term, Walk In The Mill‘s profile is mainly progressive and he capped off last season with a fourth in the National off three pounds higher, where he hit the line very strongly. He won this race twelve months ago, meaning both his runs over the National fences have produced career-best efforts.
With another year of experience under his belt, this lightly-raced marathon runner could easily have a bigger say in next year’s event.
Ending last season when pulling up in the Irish National, connections of Kimberlite Candy must be thinking he’s a National horse for the future. Prior to that pulled-up effort, he was running well, finishing fifth in the four-mile Eider where early jumping mishaps ultimately cost him. He’s just seven-years-old and is completely unexposed over the marathon distances.
He should only get better with age and if taking well to the National fences this weekend, there could be cause for excitement.
Another seven-year-old, Le Breuil showed the staying was his game when landing the 3m 7f National Hunt Chase at the Festival in awful conditions. Just four horses finished that race and given that he’s just a novice, the way he gamely held on was very encouraging. He starts off his campaign off a mark of 150 and given that he’s run just once beyond three miles, he’s an exciting prospect for the marathon distances this year.
He wouldn’t want his rating going up much further in terms of the National, with only five of the last fifteen winners being rated 150 or higher, but if he does take to these fences, his price (40/1) is likely to shrink for the big race in April.