Horses To Follow » Killyglen


Killyglen completed his preparations for the Grand National on Saturday when he won the Daily Mirror Chase at Down Royal in good style. He was a little fresh, but he always travelled well, jumped well in the main, and came clear of Saddlers Storm, who had chased home Salsify in the Raymond Smith Hunter Chase at Leopardstown on his previous run, form that is obviously working out well.

Killyglen was still travelling well right up with the pace in the Grand National last year when he fell four fences from home, and ever since then, Stuart Crawford has been preparing him specifically for another crack at the race this year. Crawford has given him several runs over hurdles, interspersed with a really encouraging run over fences at Haydock in November, where he probably went for home a little too early and was caught over the last fence by Cappa Bleu and Tamarinbleu, both of whom have upheld the form since. That run and his run on Saturday were much more encouraging than his final run before last year’s Grand National, when he was a well-beaten sixth in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, and this run was a week closer to the National than the Grimthorpe was last year, which seems to have been a deliberate move by Crawford (he could have run at Doncaster again this year) as Killyglen can be quite fresh. Saturday should just have knocked the freshness and exuberance out of him, and he should be spot on for Aintree now.

It was soft ground on Saturday and, while he won well, he should be even better back on the likely sounder surface at Aintree. He has good form on Aintree’s Mildmay course, having won the Grade 2 Mildmay Novices’ Chase three years ago in good fashion, he jumped the National fences well last year in the main, and he is the perfect age for the race at 10 (four of the last six winners were 10).

Also, he had a soft palate operation between his previous run and Saturday’s race, which seemed to have a positive effect, and it looks like Robbie Power will ride him again in the National. Power won the National on Silver Birch in 2007, and he was riding Killyglen for the first time in a chase when he rode him in the race last year. He should know the horse better now, and he is a top horseman, just the type you want on side in the National.

West Tip and Hedgehunter both won the Grand National having fallen in the race the year before, and Killyglen looked to have taken really well to the unique demands of the race before coming down last year. He may well have gone very close, and he is actually set to race off a 5lb lower mark this year with a very handy racing weight of 10st 4lb if Synchronised takes his chance, 10st 5lb if he doesn’t and Ballabriggs is left on top weight. Current odds of 25/1 probably still underestimate his chance.

17th March 2012