Grand National: Hawkes Point the dark horse of Nicholls’ quartet
Hawkes Point may be one of the outsiders of four Paul Nicholls’ trained runners left in the Crabbie’s Grand National, but there are reasons to believe he is no forlorn hope to provide his handler with a second win in the contest.
The Ditcheat-handler sent out Neptune Collonges to win the race in 2012, and the veteran Tidal Bay (16/1) and improving Rocky Creek (20/1) are considered by many to be his leading hopes in this year’s renewal.
However, in Hawke’s Point he has an unexposed stayer who signaled that he would be capable of bagging a big prize when finishing a cracking runner-up in the Welsh National and looks a live outsider at 25/1 with Coral judged on that effort.
The nine-year-old went down by just a head to Mountainous in the 3m 6f Chepstow contest, rallying gamely at the finish having travelled powerfully into the race.
It was just his sixth start over fences, and a huge effort for a horse with such limited experience.
Since then he has finished sixth of 14 in the Grand National Trial at Haydock on bottomless ground, and is set to carry what looks a handy weight of 10st 6lb at Aintree.
His current rating of 141 is just 4lb higher than his run at Chepstow, and with the prospect of more to come doesn’t look beyond him.
The son of Kayf Tara, who is a full brother to another Grand National hopeful in Alfie Sherrin, has a pedigree which is all about stamina and the grueling 4m 4f should be right up his street.
Although his best form so far has come on soft ground, he did win a point-to-point on good going so underfoot conditions should not be a problem.
The one big negative is that the National will be just his eighth start over fences, as all of the last 23 winners had at least 10 chase starts under their belt.
Nicholls’ other possible runner in the race is the Andy Stewart-owned There’s No Panic, who is 40/1 with Coral to cause a major upset.