Tea can be toast of Haydock
Ian Ogg provides a horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park.
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SILVER BY NATURE
Dual winner of this race but has been absent since finishing in midfield in the Grand National of 2011. Feasibly weighted on his old form and connections are hopeful of a big run but have warned that he has often needed his first run of the season (hasn't won in four starts after a 60-day break).
Enjoyed a fine first season over fences with his three wins including the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. The start of this campaign was geared towards the Welsh National where he was only narrowly foiled. Up 7lbs in the weights but probably has more to offer and appeals as the right type for this race.
All three chase wins have been achieved at this course and his only defeat here came when out of his depth in the Grade One Betfair Chase. Races from the same mark as when second to Carruthers at Ffos Las so entitled to be in the thick of the action although there's a slight doubt as to whether he's as effective over this trip as three miles.
Finished second in the Welsh National before winning this race in 2012 from the subsequent Grand National winner which suggests that his 6lb higher mark is more than reasonable. Has failed to complete in the Grand National and Welsh National since and stopped alarmingly quickly at Chepstow so rates something of a risky proposition although his trainer is hopeful of a big run.
Has progressed in leaps and bounds since having his attentions switched to chasing and a 10lb rise for his defeat of Teaforthree at Chepstow may be insufficient to anchor him. This is a very different track, however, and whether the exaggerated waiting tactics which were employed last time will prove as effective here remains to be seen.
Won three times in his first season over fences and started this term respectably without suggesting that he had anything in hand of the assessor. Given a break since struggling in a competitive handicap hurdle and returns in another competitive heat over a new trip on ground that he has to prove he can handle; at least his yard has been in fine form.
A winner of a lesser race over course and distance in November 2011 but should be able to cut the mustard in this company from a 3lb higher perch. Warmed up for this with an impressive heavy ground win over hurdles at Wetherby and it would be no surprise to see him give a good account.
Was sent off as favourite for last year's Welsh National and was again well-fancied for this season's renewal but failed to complete on either occasion. Back to form at Sandown last time and has long been viewed as the right type for this sort of race but has yet to win a handicap over fences and the losing run is mounting up (admittedly he has been set some stiff tasks).
RIGADIN DE BEAUCHENE
Looked an unlikely winner on several occasions in Warwick's Classic Chase but produced an impressive late rally to collar a subsequent winner in the shadow of the post. Races from a 9lb higher mark but is unexposed over this sort of trip and no surprise to see another big run for a yard which is enjoying a season to remember.
Failed to complete in three of his first four starts for this yard (and has fallen again since) but is on a roll now. Up in class, over two stone higher in the weights and has his work cut out to confirm December's form with Rigadin De Beauchene at a strict reading of the weights but won easily last time and could still be a step ahead of the handicapper.
In good form before the turn of the year but failed to fire in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick and the blinkers he wore that day are dispensed with. Capable of better but still has to prove he can handle ground as testing as this and has more to prove than most.
TRIGGER THE LIGHT
His last three wins (covering a four year period) all came at Warwick but he proved this track holds no fears for him with a good third over course and distance on his return. Conditions, therefore, hold no fears for him but this is tougher and he has no wriggle room from his current mark.
Ran a huge race to finish third in the Welsh National and has a handy turn around in the weights with the two that finished in front of him. They may be more progressive but age has proved no barrier to success in this race in the past and he should be right in the mix if able to reproduce his Chepstow run.
Just the one novice chase win to his name from seven starts over fences and has 14 lengths to find with Cannington Brook on their running over three miles here in December so will need to improve for this stiffer test but that's not inconceivable as he is unexposed over this sort of trip. Others boast more obvious credentials.
People are often keen to side with lowly-weighted runners in staying contests run on testing ground and they do have a decent record in this race. So too do top-weights with three wins in the last decade and they number Silver By Nature and Rigadin De Beauchene's half-brother, Miko De Beauchene, among them. I'm not convinced the Warwick winner is in the same class as his sibling and ready preference is for TEAFORTHREE who can gain a deserved success having narrowly lost out to Monbeg Dude at Chepstow.