The countdown to the greatest steeplechase in the UK is underway, the Grand National 2018. Many horses are already laying down their markers and working their way up to peak fitness for the big race and the one horse who has really stood up above the rest so far has been Blaklion. The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained nine-year-old looks to be in the peak of his career, and he has all the required experience to go very close in the big race.
The Grand National is a huge test of character for both the horse and jockey, and in the build-up to the 2018 event, Blaklion has shown us that he certainly has the character to do well. Alongside his great character, he has the experience over the big fences to put his jumping to good use in April, and put his rivals to the sword.
Blaklion started off this season with a fantastic run to finish second in the Charlie Hall Chase. That test was the shortest trip he needs that day, and to come so close to a good horse like Bristol De Mai was a great run to kick-start the season. He came on from that well, and was then send to Aintree, where he ran in the Becher Chase, a race that would be run over the big Grand National fences.
Being run over the big fences, this race would give Blaklion more experience over them, to add to his run in the Grand National last season. The result didn’t matter too much, the race was all about learning how to jump the big obstacles, something which he did brilliantly on the day. That led to him winning the Becher Chase by nine lengths, and really stamping his authority as a staying chaser to follow.
That run catapulted him to the head of the betting for the Grand National, the latest horse racing betting has him as 10/1 favourite. That seems to be a very fair price with a lot of things going in his favour. As a nine-year-old, he is in the prime of his career, he has two years’ experience jumping the bigger obstacles, and has been over the National fences on two separate occasions. All that puts him firmly at the front of the pecking order, and it is going to take a very good horse to stop him when we get to Aintree in April.
Expect to see Blaklion have one more run before the big event after the weights have been published for the big race and that will stop him from being raised further in the handicap. While the Twiston-Davies camp may be tempted with a run in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, it is likely they will run sooner than that, and bypass the Gold Cup to protect their Grand National bid.
We still have time for other horses to emerge from the pack, but right now the Grand National front-runner appears to be Blaklion.