Christian Williams is hoping Cap Du Nord can put himself in the picture for the Randox Health Grand National with a big run in the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.
All eyes will be on Cap Du Nord, after 18 horses stood their ground at the the five-day confirmation stage, following Royale Pagaille’s impressive victory in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock at the weekend.
The eight-year-old was only beaten three and a quarter lengths by Royale Pagaille at Kempton over Christmas, and Williams is pleased the form of that race has worked out so well.
“It was nice to see Royale Pagaille do what he did on Saturday,” he said.
“The third (Double Shuffle) has won since and the seventh, The Kings Writ, ran very well to finish second in the Somerset National. It’s great.
“We’ll see what the handicapper does (on Tuesday), but it won’t affect Saturday’s race at all. The weights are already out.
“We’re looking forward to Saturday and we’re thinking he could be really suited to the Grand National.
“We’ll try to sneak into that race if we can. He’s rated 139 today (Monday). He might go up again for Royale Pagaille winning. You want to be on the 144 mark maybe to get into the Grand National. It would be great to get him in.”
Canelo, winner of the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby and runner-up to Cap Du Nord at Newbury in Newbury, could bid to give trainer Alan King a third success in the Sky Bet.
Others in the mix include Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up Aye Right for Harriet Graham, Colin Tizzard’s Ascot Silver Cup scorer Mister Malarky and the Sandy Thomson-trained Yorkhill, who bounced back to form with a 66-1 success in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.
Kim Bailey’s dual course and distance winner Rocky’s Treasure and Paul Nicholls’ Give Me A Copper are among other possibles, while the weights are headed by Brian Ellison’s stable stalwart Definitly Red.
The star attraction on the card is set to be the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin, who tops 12 entries for the Lightning Novices’ Chase.
Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle victor has won both his starts over fences in tremendous style and is already odds-on for the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Jennie Candlish-trained Cheddleton, Phil Kirby’s Whoshotthesheriff and the Nicholls duo of Fast Buck and Tamaroc Du Mathan are among the potential opposition.
Henderson has Newbury winner Floressa and Marie’s Rock in the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle, for which there are 11 entries.
Henderson could send Emir Sacree for the other Grade Two on the card, the Albert Bartlett River Don Novices’ Hurdle.
The French import made a winning debut for the Seven Barrows trainer at Ascot last month on his first start for 635 days.
There are several promising types among the 14 entries, including the Dan Skelton-trained Ashtown Lad, Bobhopeornohope from the Bailey stable, and Nicholls’ Flash Collonges.