Russell Ready For Trial Takeover Once Again

Although not many winners of this weekend’s Grand National Trial at Haydock (2.55pm) went onto win the “big one” at Aintree a few months later, Saturday’s latest renewal will still be an intriguing puzzle for punters crack.

Paul Nicholls
Staged over a grueling 3m5f on traditionally soft ground, only the brave need apply for what promises to be a stamina-sapping test, but a slog that may bring out the best in Paul Nicholls’ top weight, Benvolio (8/1).

This 8yo was last seen finishing a heroic second in the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas (3m5f, heavy), beaten just a short head. A winner here at Haydock as a novice last term, Benvolio will handle conditions, if having recovered from Chepstow – a track that supplied several winners of Saturday’s race…

Trends Summary
Of the last Grand National Trial winners…

9 were officially rated 144 or lower
9 ran over 3m1½f or further last time
9 won during their last three runs
9 had been rested for 31 days or longer
9 won 1-3 handicap chases – others were 1-49
6 arrived via Chepstow (4) or Wetherby (2)
Lucinda Russell won it twice

The 2012 Welsh National winner, Monbeg Dude (10/1), is another who won’t mind a slog, and was a creditable 8l fourth behind Benvolio 49 days ago; Benbens (14/1) was 14l back in fifth. The handicapper does seem to have Monbeg Dude’s measure, though, unlike Samstown (12/1), who improved to win three of his last four handicaps.

This 8yo knows what it takes to win here at Haydock, having won the Peter Marsh Chase last month (3m1f, heavy), and having won at 3m3f over hurdles in November, this trip should be within his compass.

One who still has it to prove over this trip is Broadway Buffalo (14/1), a 3m winner on heavy ground here in December, while Gas Line Boy (20/1) won a handicap over C&D in November prior to be pulled up in the Welsh National. It’s possible a return to this venue may see Gas Line Boy bounce back, and he could be value if that proves the case.

Lucinda Russell

If there is one trainer worth noting for this race, however, it has to be Lucinda Russell, who won this twice with Silver By Nature, and holds each-way chances with Lie Forrit (20/1).

A winner of two of his last three handicap chases, including at Kelso (3m2f, heavy) last month, the 11yo still looks well treated from a 1lb lower mark than he won from over hurdles in March.

Saturday’s renewal could also made up by the likes of the 2013 Welsh National winner, Mountainous (20/1), although he hasn’t shown much this term, while Loch Ba (16/1) has a low weight and was third in this race 12 months ago – albeit beaten 40l.

The oldest runner in the race, Glenquest (14/1), also deserves respect having been beaten only 2l when third in the latest Welsh National, though he doesn’t win often over chases (2-23) and could be one for the Placepot.

Recommended Bets
Lie Forrit may be getting on in age, but arrives in top form, handles the conditions and is well treated compared to his hurdles rating.