Back in December speculation was rife regarding the racing plans for the Jim Dreaper trained Goonyella. He was favourite for both the Coral Welsh National and the Paddy Power Chase, though both were to be run only one day apart, and eventually it was determined that he would go for the Chepstow showpiece.
Carrying 10-01, with Andrew Lynch on board, hopes were high but he couldn’t quite move up through the necessary gears and despite the jockey’s best attempts with five of the 22 fences to go, he couldn’t keep up with the leaders and had to settle for eighth place.
Following the race Dreaper put the performance down to the travelling saying: “We think that was partly because of the travelling – he had 20 hours of travelling on the Thursday and that didn’t help.
“He ran a bit flat. He was basically in the same position throughout the race. He was always 10 or 15 lengths off the leading group and he just couldn’t get any closer.”
But despite the journey, Dreaper is still hoping to bring Goonyella back from Ireland in April to have a crack at the 2014 Crabbies Grand National at Aintree.
“He’d be near enough the bottom of the weights for Aintree. Nowadays there are so many proper horses – 140-plus types – that run in it, so he may not get in, but he’s being aimed at it.
“We’re hoping to run him in the Grand National and he’ll have a run somewhere before that in mid-February.”
84 horses were entered for the 2013 renewal of which Mortimer’s Cross on 126 was the lowest officially rated. Based on last year’s figures Goonyella wouldn’t initially make the cut for the 40 runners but through the various rounds of scratchings would undoubtedly get a run if he wasn’t withdrawn.
Many leading bookmakers have already added him to their ante-post 2014 Grand National markets with odds varying quite substantially between 40/1 and 66/1.