Aintree Entrance” by Paul (CC BY-SA 2.0)

There are many people thinking about the Grand National, despite being months away from the event, and some of those will be looking towards the horse Blaklion. He finished fourth last year as an eight-year-old and, after that experience, he looks sure to go even closer this season; although, as ever, the race will be extremely tough to win.

He began his campaign this season with a thrilling second place finish in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He is the current favourite for the Grand National and, after seeing how he performed at Wetherby, that is no surprise. Over the distance of three miles at Wetherby, he was simply beaten for pace, despite rallying on the uphill climb to the finish. This is the minimum trip that he is going to race over and, the further he goes, the better he looks, which all points to a great run in the Grand National.

The ground came up soft at Wetherby, which made the race more favourable for Blaklion, so much so that he was backing into 5/1 third favourite before the off. The two market leaders, Coneygree and Cue Card, were both pulled up and that left the race between the Nigel Twiston-Davies pair of Blaklion and Bristol De Mai. It looked as if Blaklion would get there coming into the closing stages but he was beaten for pace by his stablemate and was left in second place.

The backers of Blaklion on the day may have been a little frustrated that he didn’t get past Bristol De Mai, but those who have a long-term plan with him will have been very pleased with what happened. The three-mile trip was always going to be a challenge and, ultimately, he wasn’t quick enough. However, as far as Grand National trials go, it was a fantastic effort. Right now have him rated as having a good chance in the Grand National and, from what he has shown so far, many more will agree.

Red Rum at Aintree” by Paul (CC BY-SA 2.0)

After the race at Wetherby, the racing handicapper lowered Blaklion by two pounds, which will have been a surprise to trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. He could have been put up in the weights for his Charlie Hall performance, such was the gap between him and third placed Definitely Red, but that hasn’t been the case. That keeps the Grand National a realistic aim for him and, right now, he is just one pound higher than his mark from last season.

In an attempt to give the horse even more exposure to the big Grand National fences, Blaklion will run in the Beecher Chase shortly. That experience will help him out considerably next April. After such a good run at Wetherby, he is going to be well fancied when he runs in the Beecher Chase, and a win wouldn’t come as a surprise to his many fans.

The latest entries are out for the Beecher Chase and it is looking like being a competitive renewal of the race. The extra two furlongs will be in his favour too here, and everything is pointing to a huge run from him.

Right now Blaklion is the favourite with the majority of bookmakers for the Grand National and, should he go on to win the Beecher Chase, those odds will shorten further. If you are already on him, or you are planning on backing him soon, the performance he put in on his seasonal reappearance will have no doubt pleased you.