Houblon can call Haydock tune
Ian Ogg analyses the last 10 renewals of the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock and picks out the key statistics.
Houblon Des Obeaux can reward each-way support at Haydock
The Betfred Grand National Trial has, a little surprisingly, been won by two top-weights while the last two scorers have carried 11-6 and 11-7.
Those towards the top of the handicap in staying races are often overlooked, particularly when run on testing conditions which is often the case in this Haydock contest.
The market certainly hasn't overlooked Blaklion but he is rated higher than any winner in this period and has also failed to get his head in front this season.
That is by no means a deal breaker and only five of the 14 declared runners have actually won a race during the current season and he did, at least, finish in the top three last time out, something which eight winners of this race in this period had also done.
That's a negative for the tongue-tied Doctor Harper and the Grand National bound Vicente but I'm not sure I'd want to quibble too much with the fourth and fifth place finishes that abound among some of the remainder.
Gas Line Boy wasn't beaten all that far in the competitive veterans' final at Sandown last time and he has previous at this track although it's a concern that he's come up short (pulled up and fourth) in the last two renewals of this race.
Warrantor was a shade disappointing at Cheltenham behind Tour Des Champs having shaped well at the same track on his reappearance but the yard went through a middling spell and are in better form now. He has a 9lb swing in the weights with Samuel Drinkwater's runner – whose aggressive style should be ideally suited to this venue – and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him run a big race with conditions no problem.
Vintage Clouds was running well enough when departing in the Peter Marsh (won by Bristol De Mai) but seven-year-olds have generally struggled in this race while stablemate Wakanda may be another that is fractionally high in the handicap.
Like the last two winners, Vieux Lion Rouge won last time but connections may have left something to work on with Aintree in mind and he's passed over.
Kruzhlinin pulled-up in last year's National and isn't set to return but he did return to form in the valuable brush hurdle handicap at this venue in November so is clearly suited by this venue and he's fairly handicapped.
Goodtoknow represents last year's successful stable and his fortunes have been transformed by blinkers, finishing second in the Classic Chase at Warwick (Houblon Des Obeaux fourth) before beating stablemate Mountainous at Hereford.
Houblon Des Obeaux is 9lbs better off now and appeals as the right type for this race having finished third in the Welsh National prior to outing in the West Midlands.
He makes each-way appeal at current odds of 12/1 and is marginally preferred to Tour Des Champs and the more obvious claims of Kruzhlinin who looks short enough.
- Winners have been aged 7, 8 (three), 9 (three), 10 and 11 (two).
- Winners have carried between 10-0 and 11-12. Two have defied top-weight and one won from out of the handicap.
- Winners have been rated between 124 and 149.
- Winners have been priced between 4/1 and 18/1 with two favourites successful.
- Eight winners finished in the first three on their preceding start; six were successful.
- Eight winners had won a race during the current season with three winning more than once.
- Six winners had run during the current calendar year.
- Nine had won over at least three miles.
- Seven winners either made all or raced up with the pace.