John Anthony looks at the two races over the Grand National fences at Aintree on December 8
John Anthony previews Aintree’s Dec 8 meeting
BLAKLION can defend his Becher Chaser crown for trainer Nigel TwistonDavies. Two of his three spins over these Grand National fences have gone well with an excellent fourth in the 2017 Grand National before that Becher success.
It was his ability to see out the marathon trip in the bottomless ground that cost him there more than any failings in his jumping.
He would probably get the National trip in quicker conditions but this looks his best chance of a big-race win this season and Twiston-Davies will have him ready.
It’s best to forget his run in this year’s National when he was brought down at the first fence. Similar comments apply to his poor effort in the Bet365 Gold Cup in April which was an afterthought following his bad luck at Aintree.
He clearly loves these fences and this distance should be ideal, with him showing form on decent and testing ground.
He has a slightly higher mark than when winning but that’s not the biggest issue — it’s more about a horse’s ability to stand up to this challenge.
Abolitionist is being aimed at the Grand National by Dr Richard Newland and he’ll be hoping for a good show on this debut over the big fences.
He came back from a long break to win a hurdles race around here on his debut for the yard after moving over from Ireland.
That tells you he’s in good heart and won’t be lacking for fitness. It was an impressive win by 10 lengths but he shoulders a lot more weight as a chaser and you’re always slightly wary of how a horse will handle this jumping challenge.
There will be no problem getting home for a horse that won the Leinster National at Naas in 2017. He then finished third in the Irish Grand National of the same year the last time he jumped a fence. He has yet to unseat or fall in a long jumping career so there’s every chance he’ll cope with these fences.
Ballyoptic has strong credentials after losing the Scottish National in a photo finish last time out in April.
He earlier finished an excellent fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham which hints at his class and there could be more to come in this second season over fences.
Although he has won a minor race on good ground, his best efforts have come with plenty of cut.
He’s another with the Grand National as his target so a good effort here would put him right in the reckoning for April’s big one.
It might seem strange to consider a horse that has yet to win over fences but there are few more consistent chasers in training than Theatre Territory.
Her form figures speak for themselves with her never being out of the first three in seven starts over fences.
Again she jumped well on her comeback run at Cheltenham last time when beaten a length over the 3m distance.
She showed his liking for these fences when finishing third of 27 in the Topham Chase last season and looks to be on a fair enough mark.
Sam Waley-Cohen is likely to be in