Total Recall catapulted himself to the head of the betting for the Grand National with his win at Newbury at the weekend, and that would appear to be his main aim for the remainder of the season.
The eight-year-old responded superbly to the urgings of his rider Paul Townend to grasp victory of the Ladbrokes Trophy in the dying strides from Whisper.
Talk in the immediate aftermath of the race focused on a possible tilt at the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but trainer Willie Mullins has an eye on the Grand National.
“He came home on Saturday night and he’s fine,” Mullins told At The Races. “I think he’d have to improve another 10lb to be competitive in a Gold Cup field. He looks a Grand National horse to me. That’s the route I would be going.
“We’ll see what the English handicapper thinks of him and what the Irish handicapper thinks of him, but I’m thinking he’s going to be (rated) maybe 158 to 160. That warrants an entry into the Gold Cup, but he might finish fourth, or fifth or sixth maybe.”
188BET have Total Recall at the head of their market for the Grand National at 16/1, but much can change between now and the Aintree spectacular in April.
A host of Grand National aspirants will show themselves in the Becher Chase over the famous Aintree fences this weekend.
A total of 24 horses have stood their ground at the latest entry stage, with the first three home in the race 12 months ago – Vieux Lion Rouge, Highland Lodge and The Last Samuri – all engaged to run again.
Blaklion heads the market with 188BET at 7/2, following his excellent seasonal return behind Bristol De Mai in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained eight-year-old was a gallant fourth in the Grand National last year, when his stamina appeared to fail him in the final couple of furlongs. The one-mile shorter trip should be to Blaklion’s advantage and at this early stage, he looks a rock-solid favourite.
Vieux Lion Rouge tops the weights and shouldering such a burden will not be an easy task, but his liking for the course means he will have his supporters and he can be backed at 10/1 with 188BET.
Highland Lodge looked sure to win the race for a second time last year, only to be run down late on by Vieux Lion Rouge and he can backed at 14/1, while Kim Bailey’s The Last Samuri is priced up at 9/1.