What are the best bets in the Midlands National?
Hopefully you’re playing with Cheltenham Festival winnings, rather than chasing your losses, but either way there is a horse running at Uttoxeter this afternoon that is crying out to be backed.
The track’s feature race, the Midlands Grand National over a gruelling 4m1f (due off 4.10pm), quite often attracts runners from across the Irish Sea and they’ve enjoyed plenty of success, most recently with Goonyella 12 months ago. That horse’s trainer Jim Dreaper is back for more – and why not with a first prize of £71k up for grabs – and his representative SIZING COAL, who runs in the same colours, looks to have an outstanding chance.
The eight-year-old has clearly been primed for a big spring target with a spin over hurdles three weeks ago – third over an inadequate trip – to get his fitness levels up for either this race or the Irish National at the end of this month. The latter contest would have looked a natural target as he finished third (of 28) to Thunder And Roses in last year’s renewal, proving he stays this far, so it’s significant that connections have decided to travel over for this.
The English handicapper has given him a chance too as the gelding is just a 1lb above his Irish mark and there could well be further improvement in him after just five starts over the larger obstacles. The ground will be quicker than he’s used to but as a son of Presenting, whose progeny tend to prefer a better surface, he might just relish it. Jonathan Burke, who has been on board for all five chase starts, including a debut success at Navan, will again do the steering.
Rather than back the selection each-way – Sky Bet are offering five places if that’s your preference – I’m going in win only and then having a saver on the Neil King-trained MILANSBAR, who looks the main danger. The nine-year-old came good on his fourth start over fences over at Exeter over three miles last time, looking an out-and-out stayer, and an 8lb rise is fair given his superiority. This race was immediately suggested as his target and he’s gone well at the track previously, winning a couple of times over hurdles.