When you think about top staying handicap chase races, Taunton is not the first venue that springs into mind. However, on Saturday January 19th the track hosted a very competitive Class 2 Portmans Cup and won by Royal Vacation.

Trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by Aidan Coleman, the nine-year-old stayed on beautifully. He put this race to bed in nice style and looks as though he could make his mark in further chases this season. Possibly even in the 2019 Grand National now that he has an entry.

You don’t have to go too far back to see some top quality form from this horse. Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to see him win how he did at Taunton. Back in November, he finished second at Cheltenham behind Rock The Kasbah in a Grade Three handicap off a mark of 143. He went on to disappoint at Sandown in between but he was running on ground slightly too soft for him that day, so had an excuse.

He found himself on a handicap mark of 146 going into the Taunton race. That was always a mark he could compete off after seeing the Cheltenham run. Not only did he compete off it, but also he blew the field away and eventually stretched clear to a six-length victory. The handicapper will hit him hard for that and put him into the 150s. But the further he went, the better he looked so don’t be surprised to see even more from him when he goes over further.

The Grand National is on the agenda for this horse. But there is also the possibility of the Scottish National, over the slightly shorter trip of four miles. Wherever he goes, he looks to be a very strong stayer and one that can go on further. He should also be able to compete off a mark in the low 150s in the future.

We should get an idea of where he is going next based on whether or not he gets an entry at the Cheltenham Festival. If he doesn’t then it could be straight to the Grand National 2019 for him.

He won’t have many shots at the big race left, probably just this year and next. The Tizzard’s have a number of strong staying chasers with five entered in to the National. Assuming the handicapper doesn’t hurt him too much, he looks like a nice stayer to follow on good ground. And could be one to watch for the Grand National. He is currently 50/1 antepost with Betfair for the win.


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