Talking Horses: Perfect Candidate has smoother run to Grand National

first_imgShare on Twitter Hide Grand National Read more The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Share on WhatsApp Please, Lord, let the ground dry up one day. In the meantime, I have nothing to offer you but bloodlines, toil, tears and sand, jump racing having been abandoned for yet another day. Baghdad (4.50) is the most interesting runner at Wolverhampton, where Mark Johnston’s three-year-old makes his seasonal return in a 12-furlong handicap. This is a son of Frankel out of a Darshaan mare who progressed through his juvenile season and can be expected to show significant improvement this year.He didn’t beat much in a 10-furlong handicap at Chelmsford in November, when last seen, but still showed a level of form that would allow him to be very competitive off this rating. I think he’ll be hard to stop here and am pretty happy about 2-1.Johnston has an odds-on favourite at Chelmsford tonight that I think looks opposable. Poet’s Prince is 5lb well in after going close when second here last week but he didn’t look like a horse on much of an upward curve.Blackheath (7.45), on the other hand, has shown progress in two runs since being switched to the all-weather and ran on well to land a novice race at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago. Ed Walker’s horse can be sharper again for that seasonal debut, his first run since being gelded, and an extra furlong is all to the good. He looks the most likely winner to me. Grand National: Go Conquer and the injured As De Mee miss out Quick guide Horse racing tips for Thursday 5 April Trust Fergal O’Brien to come up with one of the most interesting things said to me by various Grand National-seeking trainers in the last few days. The Gloucestershire trainer expects to have two runners in the race and was ready with an answer when I asked why Perfect Candidate should do any better than last year’s National, when he was pulled up four from home. Wolverhampton 2.10 Mighty Zip 2.40 Flying Sparkle 3.15 Fast Track 3.45 Sunshineandbubbles 4.20 Runaiocht 4.50 Baghdad (nb) 5.20 Ghost Chelmsford 5.45 Dancing Brave Bear 6.15 Emigrated 6.45 Great Order 7.15 Extra Mile 7.45 Blackheath (nap) 8.15 Summerghand 8.45 Rock’n Gold  features Reuse this content Since you’re here… Support The Guardian Share on Messengercenter_img Topics “He’s had a much better preparation this year,” O’Brien said. “Last year, he probably missed 10 days beforehand with a poisoned foot. We were trying to swim him and do all sorts and he ran but it was a very interrupted preparation; shoes on, shoes off, things like that.” Evidently, things have gone rather more smoothly this time. O’Brien has a couple of solid contenders in Perfect Candidate and Chase The Spud. “They both jump well, they stay all day and that’s exactly what you need,” he said. At the same time, he readily admitted: “We need our own luck and a bit of someone else’s luck. The thing is, it’s the Grand National and anything can happen. It’s not like Cheltenham, where you need every box ticked. With the National, you can go there and, as long as you’ve got a sound, fit horse, you’ve got half a chance.”Venetia Williams also has a couple of those in Houblon Des Obeaux and Tenor Nivernais, both intended runners. Charlie Deutsch will ride Houblon, who will again wear the blinkers that were fitted last time. Williams said of her slower-than-usual season: “It’s obviously been quite challenging. Several of our better horses have been out of action but they’ll be back in the autumn. We’ve had a few winners in the last month or so, which has helped.”Robbie Dunne has been booked for Gas Line Boy, on whom he was fifth last year. Nigel Twiston-Davies expects Double Ross to make the cut but doesn’t have a jockey yet. Sean Bowen is to ride Warrior’s Tale for Paul Nicholls, who may also run Vicente if the ground dries up enough. Thank you for your feedback. 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