Cap Du Nord is on target to head for Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase at the end of this month.
Christian Williams’ improving eight-year-old was a good winner at Newbury on his penultimate outing, before having to settle for second behind the impressive Royal Pagaille at Kempton over Christmas at Kempton.
He finished 19 lengths clear of the third horse, but had no answer to Venetia Williams’ winner – who has since been entered for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following a 14lb rise in the weights.
Cap Du Nord went up 4lb, and Williams is hoping he runs well enough at Doncaster on January 30 to get himself high enough up the weights for a run in the Grand National.
“Doncaster was the aim before Kempton really – we just didn’t want to wait eight weeks between Newbury and Doncaster,” said Williams.
“He’s quite a sturdy horse so eight weeks would have been too long to wait.
“When I was riding myself I rode Big Fella Thanks in the Kempton race – he unseated me on the second circuit when I felt we’d nearly have won and then we went to Doncaster and won, so I always had that in the back of my mind.
“Our horse is fairly adaptable regards the ground. We thought he wanted better ground after Newbury, but I think he’s fine on most because he’s run well on very bad ground before. I just think he’s more the finished article now.
“He could have bumped into a 160-horse at Kempton. He won very well, but we made a bit of a race of it, and the pair were miles clear.
“We bought Cap Du Nord off a good friend of mine, and he’s always threatened to be a really good horse. Before now, while we’d had some fun, he was still lowly rated. He’s finally shown this year he might be a decent one, which is nice because he’s for a good, supportive owner (Ian Marmion).”
Should Doncaster go to plan, Williams may be adding another string to his Aintree bow along with last season’s Welsh National hero Potters Corner.
“He’s rated 137 now. If he goes and wins this he could be a proper National horse, and that would give Jack (Tudor, jockey) something to think about with Potters Corner as well,” added Williams.
“I think about 144 almost guarantees a run at Aintree, so you think he’d go up 7lb if he wins at Doncaster.”