Bristol eyes Cheltenham Gold Cup ahead of Aintree Grand National

By Andrew Atkinson

Delta Work and Tiger Roll are joint top weight of 11st 10b for the 2020 Randox Health Aintree Grand National on April 4.

Whether Tiger Roll lines up for a hat trick attempt is another matter, in the wake of British Horseracing Authority chase handicapper Martin Greenwood sticking to his guns, in giving the Gordon Elliott trained 2018-19 National winner joint top weight.

Tiger Roll’s connections put a question mark over a big weight given, as to whether he’d go to post, prior to the weights being announced in Liverpool on February 11.

The question on punters’ minds is will Tiger Roll become the first top weight since Red Rum (12st) in 1974 to win the world’s greatest steeplechase, for a third time? Discussions between Elliott and the owners O’Leary will decide. But it’s not all about Tiger Roll.

An eye-catching weight of 10st 2lb is 2017 winner One For Arthur, trained by Lucinda Russell: “I’m pleased – 10st 2lb is a lovely weight.

“He’s 6lb lower than he was last year – when finishing sixth – and on the same mark when he won the National in 2017,” said a delighted Russell.

And, coming straight from the horse’s mouth, Russell said: “I think he’s in better form than he was this time last year.

“I think he might even be in better form than he was – whe winning the National!”.

Walk The Mill, trained by Robert Walford, also has a low weight of 10st 4lb, who echoed Lucinda Russell: “I’m very happy with the weight – the horse seems in great form.”

Walk The Mill will not run, prior to the Aintree showcase, with Walford reasoning: “We’ve got to try to keep him in one piece, between now and the National.”

Walford gave a tip, on the preferred going over the 4m 2f trip: “We would like soft ground. ‘Proper soft ground’ would be ideal.”

Potters Corner, carrying 10st 6lb, trained by in-form Christian Williams, who saddled his ace to win the 2019 Welsh Grand  National, is set to run in France, ahead of running at Aintree.

“I’m happy with the weight and we’re looking forward to it. We go to France next – four weeks before the National,” said Williams.

On the going, Williams said: “Aintree is a big, galloping track – I don’t think he needs soft – he’s not just a plodder.”

Willie Mullins has a plethora of entries, including Total Recall, 10st 13lb; Burrows Saint, 10st 10lb, and Pleasant Company, 10st 7lb.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’s entries include Bristol De Mai, carrying 11st 8lb, set to run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

“Bristol De Mai will head for the Gold Cup – we’ll see what happens after that,” said Twiston-Davies, who has also entered Ballyoptic amongst others.

“Ballyoptic will definitely run in the Aintree Grand National. He was going well, when falling in 2019,” said Twiston-Davies, who has also entered Cogry.

“Cogry has been running brilliantly all season, he will love the National distance,” said Twiston-Davies.

On a postscript, Twiston-Davies revealed: “If Bristol De Mai wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup – he won’t run in the National. He’s still young, he might go next year.”

*Andrew Atkinson’s turf talk will report on the latest news ahead of both the Cheltenham Festival and the Randox Health Aintree Grand National.

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