Will Blaklion beat favourites’ hoodoo to win 2018 Grand National?
The Grand National is regarded as the toughest test of a horse’s stamina. And that’s arguably why Blaklion is one of this year’s favourites.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has proved consistently that he’s one of the best stayers in the game. And you need every ounce of power and energy when it comes to Aintree.
With a trip of over 4m to travel and 30 fences to jump, favourites have come and gone without success at the Merseyside course. And Blaklion suffered that fate last year after he headed the betting pre-race.
However, despite failing to justify favouritism, the nine-year-old star did finish fourth in the 2017 renewal. And that was after an incredibly strong start and middle part to the race. It was only late into the race that mistakes would cost him dear.
Twiston-Davies’ raider has either won or placed in every performance since. Bristol De Mai just about edged him out in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in the opening race of the season.
But he was back to winning ways in the next race at Aintree, winning the Grade 3 Becher Handicap in impressive fashion. He blitzed the field, winning by a significant 9l.
Gavin Sheehan was on-board that day, riding Blaklion to a big win over fellow Grand National contenders The Last Samuri and Vieux Lion Rouge.
That was the British-bred star’s second Grade 1 success after his initial black type win in the RSA Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
There was, however, a blip on the copybook on his last appearance at Haydock on extremely heavy ground that could leave punters a little wary about backing him.
Venetia Williams’ Yala Enki upstaged him to snatch a famous win in the Grand National Trial, leaving Blaklion trailing in second place. It was a slightly disappointing performance. But it shouldn’t unduly worry observers considering the previous win was also on similar ground.
Connections decided to give him plenty of rest since that race. And the son of Kayf Tara should be nice and refreshed for the long slog of the Grand National. Notably, Twiston-Davies is aiming for a third win in the Aintree showpiece.
The Gloucestershire trainer’s previous two winners came in 1998 – with 7/1 favourite Earth Summit – and then 2002, with 20/1 shot, Bindaree.
His recent showings have been a little inconsistent, with 11th-placed Major Malarkey in 2013, Double Ross failing to finish in 2016, and, as mentioned previously, Blaklion’s fourth last year.
However, the 60-year-old has stated his supreme confidence in his charge this year. A year older, and with a good season behind him, Twiston-Davies says he should go very well.
And the trends certainly point in his direction, too. Since 2009, five Grand National winners have carried 11st or more.
Many Clouds was the last to win with a weight of 11-9. And before that, it was the famous Red Rum in 1974 with a weight of 12st.
One of Gavin Sheehan, Sam Twiston-Davies, or Noel Fehily is expected to take the ride on Blaklion for this year’s renewal.
You can check out all the latest Grand National odds at Coral!