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Blaklion ready to hand Twiston-Davies third Grand National

 

By Johnny Ward

Nigel Twiston-Davies is seeking to win the Grand National for the third time and in Blaklion he may have the artillery. Forty runners will charge to the first and the noise of the crowd will reflect that this remains a special race.

It was so special in the minds of Blaklion's connections that they decided the Gold Cup at Cheltenham was not going to be on his agenda, as it may have harmed his prospects of winning the National.

He started this season, his first as a senior chaser, with a solid run and he backed that up with a fifth-place finish in the Hennessy.

Though Blaklion is not the tallest horse ever to jump a fence, he is better than efficient and he has an excellent attitude.

Likely if he can hang on in there coming to the last three fences, he should have more stamina than most.

Twiston-Davies' previous two victories in the race came in 1998 with Earth Summit and four years later with Bindaree. It is arguable that neither had the class of Blaklion, which was such a game winner of the RSA Chase last season. As a Grade One winner, a rating of 152 may underestimate.

The Irish account for a dozen of the 40 runners and Gordon Elliott three of those in Ucello Conti, Roi Des Francs and Cause Of Causes, all of which have a chance of sorts.

It is now 10 years since the stable's sensational arrival on the big day when Silver Birch won the race and Ucello Conti could provide the Co Meath trainer with what is unlikely to be his last National win.

The Martaline-bred was pretty well-held in the race last year but there were positives in that run too and all the more when a close fourth in the Becher behind Vieux Lion Rouge in December.

Last year's winning connections, Gigginstown and Mouse Morris, combine with both Rogue Angel and Thunder And Roses.

The latter is ridden by Mark Enright, has the talent to out-run his price and what a story it would be for Enright to win the race shortly after becoming a father.

Gas Line Boy at around 66/1 has a squeak but preference for a fourth selection is for Pleasant Company, about which Patrick Mullins is quite sweet.

He appeals as the right type for this assignment jumping-wise and of course has Ruby Walsh's assistance.

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