Western Morning News
‘Extraordinary’ Spirit is all set for step up in class
SEASTON Spirit could head straight for the Midlands Grand National following his victory at Plumpton on Sunday.
Reverting to the larger obstacles after a 21-length success over hurdles at Ffos Las in November, Oliver Sherwood’s charge produced a career-best performance to land the Sussex National and claim a fifth win from his last six starts.
“I’m well happy with him. He’s a tough horse – he’s extraordinary,” said the Lambourn handler.
“Leighton Aspell (retired jockey) actually sent me a message of congratulations after the race and reminded me that he’d won on the horse just over a year ago off a mark of 98. He’s now won a Sussex National off 125. He was entered at the sales not long after Leighton won on him, so he was literally in the last-chance saloon. He obviously heard about it as he’s taken off since!
“He can still make the odd mistake, but we expect that and he’s going the right way, obviously.”
Sherwood hopes there is more to come from his charge, who may not run again before bidding for big-race honours at Uttoxeter on March 20.
He added: “The Midlands National would be the ideal race for him. I don’t know what he’ll go up for winning at Plumpton, but I think it should get him in off a low weight at Uttoxeter.
“I’m not entirely convinced he’s ready for Newbury or Sandown or somewhere like that.
“I’m going to have no choice but to go for those kind of races because of his mark. Whether he’ll go to Uttoxeter without a run, I don’t know, but my feeling is he probably will.”
Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls’ duo of Yala Enki and Truckers Lodge remain at the head of the weights for Saturday’s rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, writes Helen Green.
Yala Enki has been third in the race for the past two seasons and is on a career-high handicap mark after a stirring comeback at Cheltenham when narrowly denied by Ramses De Teillee, who could reoppose. Yala Enki fell in the Becher Chase last time out.
Truckers Lodge proved his aptitude for marathon trips when second in this last season and winning the Midlands National at Uttoxeter just before racing shut down in March.
Evan Williams’ seven-year-old Secret Reprieve has been the antepost favourite since winning a trial for this race last time out. He carries just a 4lb penalty for that success rather than running from his new mark.
Williams could also run Prime Venture.
Becher Chase winner Vieux Lion Rouge and 2018 Scottish National hero Joe Farrell are the two oldest runners left in the race at 12.
Lord Du Mesnil, placed at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and Venetia Williams’ Cloudy Glen are others towards the head of the weights.
Springfield Fox, The Two Amigos, who ran well in the race 12 months ago, and Christmas In April also feature among 19 confirmations for the race.