The Sue Smith trained Sharp Response took a huge step forward last week and looked every bit like a Grand National 2020 contender. The horse went to Haydock and ran very well and even though he didn’t win connections must be delighted with what he did. Especially when you consider the race was not what he wanted and that he needs more of a test.

He’s still only eight and quite lightly races with just 11 runs under over fences. He probably needs to get a win soon to move up the weights enough for a guaranteed spot in the Grand National. There are a couple of options on the table for him. He is entered into the Betfair London National Handicap Chase at Sandown on the 7th December with an alternative run at Kelso on Sunday 8th also ear-marked.

Both are longer races than Haydock so either would be a solid test of his stamina. Of course, a decent performance would also go a long way to raising his official rating from 138 giving him a better chance of a place in the showpiece at Aintree.

The race at Haydock was a strong test, over 3m1f but that was nowhere near enough for this horse. He was outpaced at times before staying on very strongly and taking second behind what was a very impressive winner. The further they went the better he looked, so the 3m5f at Sandown or the 4m 1/2f at Kelso will be right up his street. If he bypasses both of those races, he could always go back to Catterick in January for the North Yorkshire Grand National which he won last season.

The Sue Smith team always sends good runners to Catterick and the win last year for this horse was their fourth consecutive win in the race, so they clearly take it seriously. Sharp Response wasn’t seen after his win last year due to injury, but don’t be surprised to see him in it again this season. That is, of course, unless his OR goes above 140 (the max for this race) before then which would rule him out.

Should all of that go to plan that would then allow connections to wait until the Grand National weights were revealed before running again so as not to spoil the handicap mark. From there he could make the trip back to Haydock for the Grand National Trial on February 15th 2020. Potentially that would give Sharp Response three runs between now and Aintree, all in races that would really suit the horse.

Sharp Response could be a horse that goes under the radar a little. He isn’t a household name and doesn’t have a big televised success to his name either. There will be many out there that haven’t even heard of him. But come April he could well be in the field for the biggest race the UK. And if he gets anywhere close at the finish, people will certainly remember his name then.


BETFAIR PROMO OFFER

Join Betfair Sportsbook today and GET UP TO £100 IN FREE BETS.

New customer offer. Place 5 x €/£10 or more bets to receive €/£20 in free bets. Repeat up to 5 times to receive maximum €/£100 bonus. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Exchange bets excluded. T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org. Please bet responsibly.