/ Racing

Vesper Bell bids to prove National credentials at Warwick

Updated: Friday, 10 Jan 2014 15:51 | Comments

Willie Mullins won the Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005
Willie Mullins won the Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005

Vesper Bell has a second chance to prove he is a live candidate for the Crabbie's Grand National when he lines-up for the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday.

The eight-year-old old fluffed his lines when tumbling out at the first over the famous Aintree fences in the Becher Chase at Aintree last month.

However, his trainer Willie Mullins retains the faith and has every reason to think Vesper Bell can book his ticket to Merseyside on 5 April.

"Everything suggests that what he wants is a long trip and testing conditions and he'll get that at Warwick," said Mullins.

"Things obviously didn't go to plan for him at Aintree so we are hoping for better luck for him this time.

"We hope he'll be going back to April in Aintree, that's the aim, we want him to prove he's up to running in the National - he'll certainly have an entry anyway.

"As for what happens between now and then, we'll just wait and see what happens."

Emma Lavelle wants to see how the novice Shotgun Paddy fares in a long-distance handicap but fears the assessor may have given him too high a mark.

"He seems really well. He's a novice with a pretty hefty rating (145). We'll see if the handicapper's got it right and also how the novices compare," said the Hampshire trainer.

"He should handle the ground and I think the trip will be ideal. He's as hard as nails and he'll just keep galloping.

"He's going to have to run in a handicap next year and I think this is the right kind of race for him. My only concern is whether the handicapper has been a bit harsh. We'll see."

Connections of Boyfromnowhere are optimistic of a good run from the seven-year-old who was last seen winning the Southern National at Fontwell in November.

"Everything's good with him and he's ready to go," said trainer Rebecca Curtis's partner, Gearoid Costelloe.

"He's fresh and well and we're looking forward to running him."

Anthony Honeyball believes Victors Serenade is ready to start to make up for lost time after being held up by setbacks over the last year or so.

"He'll love the ground and should stay. He has a reasonably nice weight, we hope. We're happy enough for him to take his chance and it's a valuable race," said the Dorset trainer.

"His first target was the Welsh National, but he had a little setback and we had to delay it for this. We wanted to use the mark he's on now for one or two of these chases, especially on the ground as it is now.

"All his best form is on this kind of ground. It's definitely his game and probably applies to others in this race.

"He'd won two chases and we went to Chepstow a year ago when he cut his hock which stopped us in our tracks. He's in good order now and we're looking forward to it.

"He had his comeback run at Ffos Las, but he had a health problem after that, but we've got him back on track. His preparation's been good the last three or four weeks."

Martin Keighley has been delighted with Any Currency since the 11-year-old underwent a wind operation and can see his charge putting up a good show after two gallant placed efforts in cross-country races at Cheltenham.

"He had a wind operation in the summer and is holding his form really well. He had two cracking runs in the cross-country races at Cheltenham," said Keighley.

"You would say his best form is on better ground but I think now he's had a breathing operation he'll be OK and be staying on hopefully."

Noble Legend goes into unknown territory, having not won beyond two and three-quarter miles, but his trainer Caroline Bailey is hopeful it will be within his compass.

"We've just kept him ticking over since Wetherby and he seems well and fresh. Obviously the trip is a totally unknown quantity," said the Northants handler.

"He won't mind the ground and, touch wood, his jumping is good. He looks in his races like he keeps going forever, but until you do it you don't know. He's in good order."

Nigel Twiston-Davies feels his two runners, Same Difference and Major Malarkey, tick the right boxes in what will be a proper stamina test.

"Both are good stayers so they should enjoy it," said the Naunton handler.

"Same Difference has not run since the Hennessy and he needs long distances.

"Major Malarkey won very well at Exeter. Hopefully he can improve again, which he'll have to."

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