Like so many jumps racing fans, I take analysing the replay of big races pretty seriously and don’t mind admitting that, after watching the 2013 John Smith’s Grand National on more than one occasion since the big event, the horse who keeps jumping out at me as a potential future winner is the Jo Hughes-trained Soll.
Currently on offer for the 2014 renewal of ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’ at racing betting odds of up to 50/1, the lightly raced eight-year-old ticks many of the boxes required in a horse that, in my humble opinion, may potentially master the daunting Aintree obstacles.
Soll was certainly thrown in at the deep end by Hughes, who acquired the gelded son of Presenting from champion Irish jumps trainer, Willie Mullins, in December 2012.
By that point, he had won a beginners chase before being brought down mid-race when well backed for the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. His first outing for his new handler was in no less a contest than Newbury’s Grade 3 Hennessy Gold Cup in which Soll ran a blinder to finish eight of the 19 runners behind subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Bobs Worth.
Down the field in bog-like conditions in the Coral Welsh National on his next outing, Hughes’ charge then bounced back by winning a decent Sandown three-mile handicap chase before taking his chance at Aintree.
It was clear immediately that Soll had taken well to the Grand National fences. He raced prominently under Mark Grant and was still right there until weakening from the second last, eventually coming home a highly creditable seventh behind Aurora’s Encore.
Sure to be a stronger and wiser horse for this season’s renewal, I believe connections will tailor Soll’s campaign to a return visit to Aintree and expect that if he stays healthy and has luck on his side he might just run very well indeed.