Blak­lion re­turns for his Ain­tree Cup Fi­nal

The Racing Paper - - Front Page - by Mike Fran­cis

BLAK­LION can roar again in the Becher Chase at Ain­tree (1.30).

Nigel Twis­ton-Davies’ chaser was made for this race, as he showed when can­ter­ing to vic­tory by an im­pres­sive nine lengths last sea­son.

He comes back to­day just 5lb higher in the weights and on soft ground that brings out the best in him.

These big fences are ideal for the nine-year-old who was an ex­cel­lent fourth in 2017 Grand Na­tional and was knocked over jump­ing the first when fan­cied for the race ear­lier this year.

You al­ways need a lit­tle luck on this course but the smaller field than the big race helps on that score.

He is down the weights thanks to be­ing pulled up in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown which was very much an af­ter­thought at the end of a long sea­son.

Given that he doesn’t re­ally stay the Grand Na­tional trip but loves these fences, this is his Cup Fi­nal for the sea­son and Twis­tonDavies will have him fit and ready.

Gor­don El­liott has a cou­ple of in­ter­est­ing run­ners who are both com­ing back from long breaks with the Grand Na­tional in mind.

Don Poli is a proven Grade 1 per­former who is drop­ping into hand­i­cap com­pany for the first time over fences and is worth watch­ing with April in mind. Sta­ble­mate No­ble En­deav­our was a good sixth in the Ir­ish Grand Na­tional last year and has been off since. He’s an­other to fol­low de­spite his 600 days away.

Walk In The Mill has solid claims if tak­ing to these fences. He was a fair third de­spite los­ing a shoe at Chel­tenham and that will have blown away the cob­webs.

Ul­tragold won the Topham Chase for the sec­ond time over these fences in April and a 7lb rise shouldn’t hold him back. This trip is at the top end of his stamina but his love of the track is a ma­jor plus.

Bal­ly­op­tic was beaten on the nod in the Scot­tish Grand Na­tional on the back of a good fourth in the RSA Chase at the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val. He’s an ex­cel­lent jumper who stays all day.

Reign­ing champ: Blak­lion

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