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2015 Grand National: Back Balthazar to be crowned Aintree King

After finishing a gallant runner-up some 12 months ago, Balthazar King returns to Merseyside looking to claim victory in racing’s most famous contest.

Philip Hobbs’ charge is renowned for his racing exploits, in particular at Cheltenham, but proved equally effective over the unique Grand National course last year on what was only his second start in the Aintree showpiece.

Balthazar King’s prominent racing style, coupled with his bold and accurate jumping, enabled him to sit handily at the head of affairs and, turning for home, he looked a strong candidate for victory in the 2014 renewal.

Unfortunately, the undoubtedly well-handicapped Pineau De Re (who was in receipt of 7lbs) proved too strong and he surged to victory winning by five lengths.

Nonetheless, Balthazar King’s return to Aintree sparks great enthusiasm, as there are plenty of reasons to believe it will be third time lucky and that he will prove difficult to beat.

Unlike last season, this 11-year-old son of King’s Theatre has been trained with the Grand National as his main focus and, after a solid victory at Cheltenham in November, has been kept under wraps.

Arguably best when fresh (a winner on 10 occasions when returning from a break of at least 2 months), he will be suited by the drying ground and should relish the stamina sapping nature of the contest.

Balthazar King may now be the perfect age, as 11-year-olds have won the last three renewals of this race. His detractors thus wrongly think this to be a barrier to success, but neither is his handicap mark – only 3lbs higher than last year, despite adding another two victories to his impressive tally of wins.

Already proving strong in the market, he looks perfectly primed for the race and should take a world of beating. Balthazar King started Grand National day off as 10/1 third-favourite with Coral, behind AP McCoy’s final Aintree mount Shutthefrontdoor and Rocky Creek.