Strong staying Soll 7lbs well-in for the Grand National if making the cut
A promising first couple of seasons in the chasing game ended when Soll was brought down in the 4m National Hunt Novices Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival – it was the first time he’d finished out of the first two over fences. Despite an optimistic outlook for his career trajectory, he left Willie Mullins for the Jo Hughes yard in the summer that followed
His first start for his new handler was a eighth in this season’s Hennessey, made all the more respectable by the fact that potential Aintree adversaries Lion Na Bearnai, Saint Are, Roberto Goldback and Harry The Viking (with the exception of Saint Are all are ahead of Soll in the Grand National betting) all finished behind him on that November afternoon, whilst Teaforthree – 19lbs higher in the National weights – finished under six lengths ahead in sixth.
According to his trainer the “gluepot conditions” were to blame for an 89-length loss in the Welsh National over Christmas but the fact that the eight-year-old still got round in ninth speaks volumes for his resolve in the face of a searching stamina test.
Despite these highly creditable efforts Soll tumbled the handicap to the tune of 8lbs during the campaign before scoring off 132 at Sandown last time, when he left the strong staying Lively Baron in his wake.
That success came well after the Grand National weights were announced, meaning the 7lb rise allotted by the handicapper for that success will not effect the burden he carries in the National relative to his rivals.
Soll’s 40/1 price in the Grand National betting with Coral looks pretty juicy, but it factors in the uncertainty over whether or not the former Willie Mullins inmate will sneak in at the bottom of the weights.
Tofino Bay, Magnanimity, Wyck Hill, Prince De Beauchene and Beshabar have all come out of the race this week meaning Soll needs another six runners to pull out in order to make the cut.
With the likes of Imperial Commander’s participation far from certain and Always Waining also entered in the Topham Chase – in which he looks for the four-peat – it’s far from a forlorn hope that fate will allow Soll to take his Grand National chance, in which case his 40/1 price in the Grand National betting could start to look excellent value.