Horse Talk with Simon Jackson: Top horse-racing tips and the latest news.
SAPHIR DU RHEU is taken to secure another big prize at Aintree by winning the £1million Randox Health Grand National at 5.15pm on Saturday.
The eight-year-old impressed trainer Paul Nicholls when justifying favouritism to win the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree two years ago, before appearing to lose his way the next season.
Yet he looked more like his old self when returning with an improved effort to finish third in a Grade 3 at Ascot, before winning at Kelso, and was said by Nicholls to be in good form before finishing fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Saphir Du Rheu is back on track and won nicely at Kelso and before that ran really well at Cheltenham [in January], when second over an inadequate trip,” Nicholls said ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
“He fell in the Hennessy when I thought he had a big chance and that might have just woken him up. He had a fairly bad fall and everything galloped over him.
“Since that day, he has jumped very, very well. If he can jump and get his act together, he is a good horse.
“We thought he would be a superstar when he won a Grade 1 at Aintree [in April, 2015] but he lost his way a little bit. He has plenty of ability and we have not seen the best of him yet.”
Saphir Du Rheu (18-1) is the shortest price of five entries for the 10 time champion trainer and will be ridden by stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies whose father, dual Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, trains the biggest danger, Blaklion.
Twiston-Davies won the World’s greatest steeplechase with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002) and has said that Blaklion (12-1) “is very fairly handicapped” for the National.
Meanwhile the experienced amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen bids to add to his tremendous record over the Aintree fences when he rides The Young Master (20-1). The jockey has won six races over the National fences and can finish in the money on Neil Mulholland’s charge whose connections consider to be at his best at this time of year.
The Last Samuri (14-1) carries far more weight than when finishing second last year, but may still finish in the first five as can More Of That (12-1), who will have the services of Barry Geraghty. For those looking for a bigger price the Gordon Elliot-trained 50-1 shot Roi Des Francs can defy his long odds.
Grand National Tips: 1st Saphir Du Rheu; 2nd Blaklion; 3rd The Young Master; 4th The Last Samuri; 5th More Of That. Best outsider: Roi Des Francs
Horse Talk with Simon Jackson. Showcasing horse racing in London and the south east.