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Grand National Trial Tips, Predictions & Preview – Heavy Haydock Going Suits Sam Brown

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2022 Grand National Trial tips from Haydock include Sam Brown

The big betting race at Haydock on Saturday, 19 February, is the extended 3m 4f Grade 3 Grand National Trial (2:40). An official prep for the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree, plenty of hopefuls want to show their well-being. There are 11 runners this, but which do SportsLens experts fancy? Read their Grand National Trial tips and predictions to find out.


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An official ratings band of 138-149 produced nine of the last 12 winners. There is also no substitute for experience of Haydock, and the best betting sites are well aware of that. Six of the eight most recent victors in the Grand National Trial had a previous course win or placed effort at the Merseyside track.

No favourite has won this since 2013, so looking beyond the market leader offered by horse racing bookmakers could be a wise decision. In fact, all of the renewals after that have gone to bigger priced runners. The starting price of five of the seven most recent Haydock Grand National Trial winners was 8/1 with double figure odds for the others.

Eight-year-olds have the best record here of late. Four of the six latest renewals went to horses of that age. Almost half the field tick this box this time around. Six of the last seven victors last ran between a month and nine weeks before this race too. That is pretty much all that horse racing trends can tell us, but what about those Grand National Trial tips and predictions? Here they are.

Why Secret Reprieve is favourite in the Grand National Trial odds

Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams remains a profitable trainer to follow at Haydock and fully expected Secret Reprieve to come on for his belated reappearance. Last year’s Welsh Grand National hero at Chepstow could only finish fifth in the defence of that crown over Christmas. This eight-year-old son of Flemensfirth has been dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper but remains 4lb above his last winning mark.

The Aintree Grand National has been a long-term target and ambition for Secret Reprieve. However, there is no way an official rating of 138 is high enough to get in there these days. Connections must shelve their hopes for another season but set about ensuring Secret Reprieve has every chance next term. That quest starts here.

Secret Reprieve should come on for his first run in almost a year off the track. Three of the last six Grand National Trial winners landed the spoils with just one previous outing in the campaign. Soft and heavy going are no problem for Secret Reprieve and his mark means a nice racing weight of 10st 5lb. That is why Betfred have him as their 11/4 favourite. That is a skinny price for a horse that does have a lot of upside.

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Side with Sam Brown instead

Anthony Honeyball’s horses seem to love testing conditions, so Sam Brown is of obvious interest here. He kept dual Peter Marsh Chase scorer Royale Pagaille up to his work here last time out. Sam Brown stayed on well and was only half-a-length down on the Betfair Chase runner-up at the line.

This 10-year-old Black Sam Bellamy gelding clearly came on a bundle for his return to action in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree. Sam Brown has always been a mudlark based on past race results and looked a thorough stayer. The extra distance of the Grand National Trial promises to suit, then. He does have a 2lb rise in the weights but is lightly-raced for his age.

Given his stamina laden pedigree, Sam Brown appeals as the type that has a race of this nature in him. Aidan Coleman, who partnered him to victory in the Grade 2 Altcar Novices Chase here a couple of years ago, takes the ride again. In relation to the favourite, the standout 6/1 available with Bet365 looks value and a free each way bet. Sam Brown is the best of our Grand National Trial tips this year.

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Enqarde may have more to offer

Lurking further down the weights is Tommy Whittle winner Enqarde. Only fifth after a poor round of jumping in this 12 months ago, Dr Richard Newland’s runner is effectively 8lb higher as regular jockey Charlie Hammond has ridden out his claim. However, Enqarde cut out most of the errors to win here before Christmas on his second start of the season.

This eight-year-old Kapgarde gelding bolted up by 10 lengths easing down for a comfortable success over the favourite Remastered. A 9lb rise for that looks fair in handicapping terms. As Enqarde is a stronger horse now than last season too, he may still be improving. His revised mark of 137 gets him into this off 10st 4lb.

Another tilt at this longer distance may have been the plan all along. Enqarde hails from a stable that won the big one at Aintree at Grand National odds of 25/1 back in 2014. Betfred are 15/2 about Enqarde following-up on his fine course success here.

Veteran pair Blaklion and Bristol De Mai up against it

Two elder statesmen of the staying chase ranks with fine records at Haydock run in the Grand National Trial this season. Blaklion still has plenty to offer in the Merseyside mud as a 13-year-old after back-to-back wins but Dan Skelton’s charge is now back up to the mark he ran off when sixth at Aintree last spring.

Blaklion has every chance of one more spin over the Grand National fences to come. The question is whether or not he remains well-handicapped. This Kayf Tara gelding has climbed back up the weights to the tune of a whole stone since landing a veterans’ chase here off 131. There are some progressive types in this, so best Grand National Trial odds of 8/1 don’t appeal even if Blaklion has his ground.

Triple Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai frames the weights, meanwhile. Now aged 11, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ long-time stable star has been a great servant for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. Bristol De Mai failed to concede 6lb to Two For Gold at Lingfield on similarly heavy going last time out.

Giving 9lb and upwards to the Grand National Trial field isn’t any easier. Bristol De Mai, a gelding by Saddler Maker, is not the force of old. Top weight among last season’s Grand National runners, he again looks vulnerable to younger horses. This is a hard sell, even at best odds of 9/1 with Bet365.

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Time To Get Up among Grand National Trial tips each way

Leading Irish owner JP McManus found Time To Get Up wasn’t qualified for Aintree due to insufficient steeplechase experience. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill knows last season’s Midlands Grand National winner is better than his effort over the famous fences in the Grand Sefton on reappearance. Time To Get Up, now a nine-year-old, scored on both his starts over marathon trips in the previous campaign.

This son of Presenting readily won the Dick Hunt Trophy at Wincanton 12 months ago before following-up over a mile further at Uttoxeter. Time To Get Up held subsequent Scottish Grand National hero Mighty Thunder by a length on that occasion. He now resumes over regulation fences off 6lb higher on 144.

That looks fair, though, when you consider London National winner and Welsh National runner-up Highland Hunter was back in fifth that day and is now rated 148. Time To Get Up has had one or two issues along the way but doesn’t mind this ground or the distance. All he lacks is Haydock experience. At double figure prices of 10/1 with Betfred and Bet365, Time To Get Up looks another to consider each way.

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2022 Grand National Trial Tips & Shortlist

  1. Sam Brown *****
  2. Enqarde ****
  3. Secret Reprieve ****
  4. Time To Get Up ****

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