Edwardstone in good shape to finish season in style

Edwardstone bids to crown his fantastic season with victory on Grand National day at Aintree.

Alan King’s charge has not put a foot wrong since being brought down on his seasonal debut at Warwick in November – rattling off five successive wins, with last month’s Arkle success being the highlight.

It is less than four weeks since the eight-year-old’s Cheltenham Festival success, but his trainer is happy to roll the dice one more time in Saturday’s Poundland Maghull Novices’ Chase.

King said: “It’s a good race. The Willie Mullins horse (Gentleman De Mee) looks quite exciting, but we’ve been very happy with our horse since Cheltenham.

“It’s only three and a half weeks, but the whole team have been pleased with how he’s been, so we’ll give it a go.

“If it ends up being one run too many then he’ll have the whole summer to get over it.”

Edwardstone will be odds-on to bag a third Grade One victory, with Gentleman De Mee rated his biggest threat by bookmakers following two wide-margin wins in Ireland.

Dan Skelton’s Third Time Lucki has twice found Edwardstone too strong this season and bids to live up to his name after sidestepping Cheltenham.

Amarillo Sky (Colin Tizzard), Mick Pastor (Paul Nicholls) and For Pleasure (Alex Hales) are the other hopefuls.

Nicky Henderson runs Walking On Air in the Mersey Novices' Hurdle
Nicky Henderson runs Walking On Air in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Mike Egerton/PA)

There is a more competitive feel to the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.

Gordon Elliott’s Three Stripe Life is due his day in in the sun after filling the runner-up spot behind Mullins star Sir Gerhard on his last couple of starts, while Nicky Henderson has high hopes for impressive Newbury scorer Walking On Air.

“Walking On Air is a lovely horse,” the Seven Barrows handler told Unibet.

“He’s out of a mare called Refinement who was decent at three miles, (but) I think two and a half is enough for him at this stage in his life because he hasn’t got a lot of experience.”

Lorna Fowler saddles Colonel Mustard, who was third behind the heavily-backed State Man in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.

She said: “He has been so great for us. He has dictated where we go and what we do, our plan at the beginning was the Supreme and we decided not to go down that route.

“When you run in a handicap it really bloods them, he’s come out of Cheltenham 20-foot tall. That’s why we’re running at Aintree because he is just in such good form.

“He’s been lightly-raced, it’s not like he’s coming to Aintree off the back of a long, hard season. He still feels like a very fresh horse.

“We’re going to put a hood on him. He’s not crazy or fizzy, but if we can just relax him a little bit in the early part of the race, he would just leave a little more for the end of the race.

“We’re over two and half which I’m more than happy to step him up to, I’m very happy with him.”

Good Risk At All in full flight at Ascot
Good Risk At All in full flight at Ascot (Simon Marper/PA)

The Sam Thomas-trained Good Risk At All steps up in grade after bolting up in an Ascot handicap on his latest appearance, having missed the cut for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.

“It will probably be the last chance to be there in a Grade One over hurdles before we go novice chasing with him next season. We are looking forward to him,” said Thomas.

“It would have been lovely had he got into Cheltenham but it just wasn’t to be.

“Let’s hope we can get some compensation – wouldn’t that be lovely.”

Skelton’s mare Elle Est Belle and the the Paul Nicholls-trained Stage Star also merit consideration, while Nicky Richards feels his Premier Novices’ Hurdle winner Nells Son could outrun his odds.

“He has come out of the Kelso race well and I think he is improving,” said the Greystoke handler.

“You would hope he had a big each-way chance. He finished nicely at Kelso and he was not beaten too far by Jonbon at Haydock.

“He is another one we have not seen the best of.”

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