Tartak could take in Topham
Updated: Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 17:05
Tartak could be on course for a second crack at the Grand National fences should he line-up for the John Smith's Topham Chase at Aintree on 5 April.
The 10-year-old, trained by Tim Vaughan, broke a blood vessel in this race last spring but had a good record over the Mildmay course at the Merseyside venue when in the care of Tom George.
Winner of the Manifesto Novices' Chase in 2009, he was fourth in the 2010 and 2011 renewals of the John Smith's Melling Chase.
Tartak showed he was coming back to his best form when a staying-on third to Carrickboy in the Byrne Group Plate at the Cheltenham Festival.
"Tartak had a stretch and canter yesterday morning and he seems in great old nick. If we can get him in the Topham, he will definitely run," said Vale of Glamorgan-based Vaughan.
"That seems to be his trip and if we get some drying ground, you never know because he seems to be in the form of his life.
"He has been running on predominantly the wrong ground all winter and in fairness to him, when he got his ground at Cheltenham last week, he ran an absolute blinder.
"If he took that forward to Aintree, I would like to think he would have a sensible chance.
"The handicapper has given him a chance and, if he gets a bit of luck in running, it looks to be the ideal opportunity for him.
"We know he likes Aintree and his jumping was exemplary at Cheltenham so I don't think the fences will bother him."
Topping a 54-strong entry is Always Waining, who captured the race for an unprecedented third consecutive time last season. The 12-year-old, trained by Peter Bowen, also holds an engagement in the John Smith's Grand National.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has five possibles, headed by Pacha Du Polder, winner of the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury earlier this month, and last year's third Fistral Beach.
Among 12 Irish-trained entries are the Willie Mullins' pair of Call The Police and Lambro.