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Monbeg Dude can boost Grand National claims in Grimthorpe Chase

Monbeg Dude missed the recent Grand National Trial after an unsatisfactory scope but that may have been a blessing in disguise. The heavy going resulted in a real slog at Haydock and Saturday’s Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster looks a much more suitable prep race for Aintree.

Michael Scudamore’s nine-year-old put up a career-best effort at Cheltenham when beating the well handicapped Theatre Guide in December. The runner-up had finished a fine third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and the pair pulled sixteen lengths clear.

An improved jumping display was the key to Monbeg Dude’s success that day and all roads lead to Aintree. He proved that he is more than just a mud lark that day and looks sure to run well under Paul Carberry.

Scottish National winner Godsmejudge is also expected to get back on track for the Grand National for Alan King. He was pulled up in the London National at Sandown but the stable were under a cloud at the time and a much better run can be expected.

Emma Lavelle’s Court By Surprise finished second to There’s No Panic in the Sandown race but the third, fourth and fifth have been well beaten since. Course winner Golden Call is up 8lbs for a win in a lower grade while Mart Lane and Night In Milan both ran poorly here last time.

Paul Nicholls runs Mon Parrain and bottom weight Harry The Viking. Mon Parrain still holds a Grand National entry but has plenty to prove.

He was harshly handicapped after running a fine second in the Topham Chase in 2011 but he has only managed one racecourse appearance in the past two years. Harry The Viking shaped encouragingly here last time but has not won since 2011.

Anything from the Venetia Williams stable is worth a second look recently but Renard is yet to prove himself at this distance. Jonjo O’Neill’s Storm Survivor is a hard ride and has a lot to do to reverse the form with Golden Call.