The presence and power of Tiger Roll is impacting upon the price of RATHVINDEN, as usually a horse with his form, and his profile, from that stable, checks in at single-figure odds. The qualities that got him home first in last year’s four-miler at Cheltenham marked him out as an ideal Aintree type, and his campaign has clearly been geared around it, toying with Alpha Des Obeaux and co in the Bobbyjo Chase on his return in February, the timing important as he finds himself 8lb well-in for the National, and that’s on the conservative side.
STEP BACK had ‘National’ written all over him when bulldozing his way to the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last spring, jumping like a horse who’d absolutely relish the Aintree challenge. He hasn’t got to the same heights so far this season, though minded, raced just twice, and both runs have at least hinted that there’s still fire in his belly. He’s had a three-month break to re-programme him, and if he gets into a rhythm, the same rhythm that got him so far as a novice, then he has the tools to play a part in the finish.
A similar story to Step Back, as a sleeper who may be stimulated into reawakening by Aintree, is BALLYOPTIC. As a novice he beat Elegant Escape at Exeter and Vintage Clouds at Wetherby, before coming within a whisker – or officially a nose – of winning the Scottish National. He looks to have lost his mojo this term, though that’s the reason he’s the price he is, and if anything will motivate him it’s likely to be the Aintree assault course.
You have to go back in time to find the form that gives NOBLE ENDEAVOR a big chance, but at least it’s there in the form-book, and the fact he’s trained by a master (Gordon Elliott) raises hope that he isn’t a lost cause. He was side-lined for 20 months before his two runs back this season, the placement of the first (Becher Chase at Aintree) and the timing of the second (Cheltenham Festival) hinting at a plan in place. In his prime, he very much looked a marathon runner, the sort to relish this test.
Jamie’s Four for the National
- STEP BACK
- NOBLE ENDEAVOR