Grand National Trial Handicap Chase Tips: Classy Brown to down top weight Bristol at Haydock

Bristol De Mai returns to his beloved Haydock to try and claim Grand National Trial glory
Bristol De Mai returns to his beloved Haydock to try and claim Grand National Trial glory

There's a superb renewal of the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park, as a classy field assemble for the energy-sapping 3m 4f 97y contest, and our man Steve Chambers picks out his best bet for the marathon showpiece...

A three-times winner of the Betfair Chase, Bristol De Mai will return to his beloved Haydock on Saturday afternoon, as he looks to land another prestigious prize at the Lancashire venue. However, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey will have a huge task on his hands as he has to give lumps of weight away to all his rivals in what looks a tough assignment for the legendary Naunton inmate.

Now 11, Bristol De Mai has struggled to capture his best form in recent times, and his bid for a fourth Betfair Chase win at the start of the campaign ended in disappointing fashion, as he was pulled up in a race won impressively by current Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite A Plus Tard. Dropping in grade next time out, Bristol De Mai could only finish third at Lingfield on his next start as he was beaten by Two For Gold and Dashel Drasher, so he will need to improve on that effort if he is to land a low here.

With a hefty weight to carry round, Bristol De Mai could be very vulnerable, despite being the class of the race, and many punters will be looking at the former Welsh Grand National winner Secret Reprieve as the likely winner. Evan Williams was hoping to get his star stayer into the Grand National, but that seems unlikely, so he will have him fully tuned up for this contest, and he looks the one to beat.

A winner of the 2020 Welsh National off a mark of 130, he was unable to follow up next time out off 140 in the 2021 renewal of the Chepstow feature, but that was his first start of the campaign, so he's sure to improve for that outing. Dropped 2lb to a mark of 138, Secret Reprieve has shown he relishes a real stamina test, and if he can get into a good jumping rhythm off the pace then he can unleash his challenge in the closing stages, and he looks a leading player.

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Cheltenham Tips

A former Grade 2 winner of the Altcar Novices' Chase at Haydock Park in his younger days, SAM BROWN will look to taste more success at the venue and Anthony Honeyball's ten-year-old stands a great chance if he can continue his excellent form this season. A distant third in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, the lightly-raced performer then ran a cracker in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock when second to leading Gold Cup contender Royale Pagaille. That raider finished a decent second in the Denman Chase at Newbury last weekend, so a 2lbs rise to a mark of 149 looks workable.

He has yet to taste victory over three miles, but he's always shaped like a real stamina test could bring the best out of him, and while some of his rivals appear to be in the handicapper's grip, he could be one that is still potentially capable of more over the next 12 months, and he could well be the value play against the short-priced favourite, Secret Reprieve.

A top notch novice chaser in his younger days, which saw him win the 2016 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Blaklion has been revitalised in recent outings despite his ageing years of 13. Now under the stewardship of Dan Skelton, the teenager has won his last two, which were two veterans events at Haydock. Handed a hefty 9lbs rise for his last win, Blaklion has rocketed back up to a mark of 145, which looks awfully tough to deal with a horse that may just find this a little too hard.

Ben Clarke's The Galloping Bear was last seen winning the Surrey National at Lingfield to make it three wins from three over fences, and the progressive stayer is one of those lining up that could be open to improvement. Given a 5lbs rise for the Lingfield win, The Galloping Bear could still be ahead of the handicapper over fences, so he has to be considered a leading player here.

Of the others, Richard Hobson's Lord Du Mesnil was a fine winner of this event 12 months ago, and he lines up on Saturday off just a 1lb higher mark, however, he's been desperately out of form this campaign, so is hard to trust. An impressive 10-length winner of the Tommy Whittle at Haydock earlier this season, Enqarde will have to defy a 9lbs rise in this contest, and with tougher opposition he could struggle, while the likes of Time To Get Up and Kalooki add more depth to the event, but may find it hard to get their heads in front in a race that can go the way of Sam Brown.

Grand National Trial
Sam Brown silk

Sam Brown

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Cheltenham Festival 2022
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