The 2018 Grand National ante-post favourite Blaklion suffered a set back in his prep run at Haydock on Saturday. Despite the sunshine at the course, the Grand National Trail was run on heavy ground and that, combined with the big weight Blaklion carried was the explanation given as to why he was unable to win.
The race itself started with eight horses, but only three finished, showing just how tough the conditions were, certainly something that would not have been in the favour of Blaklion. Yala Enki, the eventual race winner is proven in the ground, so Blaklion lost little in defeat, especially when his main target is still two months off and he will likely come on for the run.
Those who had backed Wild West Wind will remember just how bad the conditions were after watching his run in. He came to the front with three fences to go and was cruising, looking like the winner until his stamina faded so much that he refused to jump and was pulled up. When a horse tires that quickly, it’s clear that conditions are extremely tough, Blaklion should be praised for simply getting around the course and finishing out his race.
The good news for Blaklion fans is that he now has a long recovery time ahead of the Grand National, and it’s unlikely that he will face the conditions that testing at Aintree. There is no doubt that Nigel Twiston-Davies would have left a bit of work for him to do too, so he wouldn’t have been 100% at Haydock, but he is sure to be when he lines up in the Grand National.
As far as the betting goes, Blaklion remains favourite with the majority of bookmakers going into the big race, although Total Recall has shortened considerably for the race after being confirmed as an intended runner by Willie Mullins recently. The combination of that news and the run of Blaklion at Haydock have pulled them together and there is a chance that should Total Recall run really well in his prep run, he could become the new Grand National favourite.
That is something else for further down the line, but one thing is for sure, the running of Blaklion last Saturday was very good when you consider the circumstances. With a big weight and bad ground to contend with at Haydock, finishing 2nd was a good effort, and he is sure to be a much better horse when he heads to Aintree for the Grand National in April.