Horses To Follow » Blaklion


Blaklion ran a really big race to finish second to Vieux Lion Rouge in the Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse travelled well through the early stages of the race, he jumped well, and he came clear with Vieux Lion Rouge from the third last fence. From there, the pair of them had it between them, and they had a fine tussle, with the David Pipe horse just proving to be the stronger, in receipt of 6lb.

It was still a fine effort from Blaklion, his best since he won the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last March. Vieux Lion Rouge is a high-class and progressive staying chaser, winner of the Becher Chase at Aintree last December off a mark that was just 4lb lower than the mark off which he raced here. The pair of them came clear and they recorded a fast time. Vieux Lion Rouge is obviously a big Grand National player now, but so is Blaklion. He is only eight – like his conqueror on Saturday – but that is not a negative in the Grand National any more, not since the latest modifications to the race. Many Clouds won it as an eight-year-old in 2015, and eight-year-olds filled two of the four places last year.

The handicapper raised Blaklion by 4lb to a mark of 156 but, because the Grand National weights were set in stone the previous Tuesday, he will get to race off his old mark at Aintree on 8th April, so he will be 4lb well-in. Vieux Lion Rouge will be 6lb well-in, he was raised 9lb for winning but, because his Grand National mark was already 3lb higher than his BHA mark, to account for the ‘Aintree factor’, Blaklion will meet him on 3lb better terms compared to Saturday’s terms, and that gives him a chance. It may be that there will not be much between the pair of them again at Aintree.

Blaklion is an RSA Chase winner who will get to race in the Grand National off a mark of 152. That mark sits well with previous RSA Chase winners: the previous year’s winner, Don Poli, was given a rating of 163 after he won the RSA Chase, and the four previous RSA Chase winners were given immediate ratings of 156, 154, 160 and 152. Importantly, Blaklion jumps well, he stayed this three-and-a-half-mile trip well, and we know that he has a touch of class. Also, he is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, who won the National with Earth Summit and with Bindaree, who was the last eight-year-old before Many Clouds to win it.

18th February 2017