By Simon Jackson.
Saint Are was second in the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National and his trainer Tom George is hoping for good ground for the dual Aintree winner ahead of this year’s race.
Entries closed on Tuesday for the next running of the world’s greatest steeplechase which is set to be contested over the unique four mile, two furlong and 72 yard journey at Aintree on April 9.
Saint Are last year narrowly failed to secure his third and most lucrative prize at Aintree as he stayed on well to finish second, one and three quarter lengths adrift of Grand National winner Many Clouds.
George revealed his charge is likely to have just one more race before the 169th running of the Grand National, following two runs this campaign where he was sixth in a cross country chase at Cheltenham and seventh in the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree.
“He is in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park (February 20), although the ground could be a bit soft for him there, and there is also a race at Kelso (February 18) which might fit in for him,” George said.
“Saint Are has had two races this season but really needs good ground and there is no point in running on very soft ground, so that is why we have given him a quiet time in the middle of the season.
“He probably wouldn’t run in the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He is a big horse and I felt he wasn’t really suited by it when he ran there in November as the bends are a bit tight for him.
“We would be looking at just having one run then heading to Aintree. That is what he did last year and we will stick to that route.”
Entries for the Grand National are revealed later today (Wednesday) and the weights will be unveiled at an event in London on February 16.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.