Another Cheltenham Festival has been and gone, but that just means it’s time to take stock and what we learned during four superb days of jumps and horse racing action.
The next big event following on from Cheltenham in the National Hunt calendar is the Grand National – the world’s most famous steeplechase over legendary spruce-covered fences like The Chair, Canal Turn, and Becher’s Brook.
Some of the races that really test horses’ stamina at Cheltenham can give punters pointers towards the Aintree showpiece. This year’s Festival is no exception, with a couple of winners shaping like Grand National horses of the future.
An obvious place to start on this subject is with a young, improving horse that didn’t just beat dual Aintree hero Tiger Roll, but left him for dead up the famous Cheltenham hill. That is exactly what French raider Easysland did in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
The way in which the David Cottin-trained six-year-old disposed of four-time Festival winner Tiger Roll was something you couldn’t help but be impressed by. Easysland is so young that he wouldn’t have been eligible for the 2020 Grand National, but there is nothing to stop new owner JP McManus from entering him at Aintree in 2021.
Purchasing this prolific French Cross Country winner could prove a very shrewd move by the legendary gambler indeed. It’s worth checking horse racing results today to see how Easysland gets on in whatever events he is entered into next.
The fact he already gets a distance of three-and-three-quarter miles with a gruelling uphill finish at a course like Cheltenham bodes well for any potential future Grand National bid. Easysland should stay further in time, so the extra half-mile at Aintree shouldn’t be a problem for him, and he by and large handled the variety of obstacles on the Cross Country course well.
Gordon Elliott’s week at Cheltenham:
🏆 Envoi Allen
🏆 Chosen Mate
🏆 Sire Du Berlais
🏆 Milan Native pic.twitter.com/mwJXoLJkxn
— ODDSbible Racing (@ODDSbibleRacing) March 13, 2020
Recent National Hunt Chase winners like Rathvinden, Tiger Roll, and Cause Of Causes have all gone on to run very well in the Grand National. The fact that this Grade 2 novice chase for amateur riders had its distance shortened for the 2020 running shouldn’t be seen as a negative for Gordon Elliott’s Irish raider Ravenhill.
He won it well, despite being sent off at 12/1 and the ten-year-old outstayed the prominent, race-hardened and younger Lord Du Mesnil for Cheltenham glory. County Meath trainer Elliott is invariably mob-handed in the Grand National, so it will be no surprise to see Ravenhill line-up at Aintree in future.
Unlike Easysland, time isn’t so much on his side though. Ravenhill may only get one or two tries at the Grand National but, as Rathvinden showed as an 11-year-old when third in 2019, being a more mature horse is no barrier to success.
Stamina is not in doubt, so the only thing Ravenhill needs to prove is that he can take to the unique demands of the course at Aintree. He is a 66/1 shot for the 2020 Grand National, but probably won’t sneak into the race this year, so all eyes are on prepping him for 2021.