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2019 North Yorkshire Grand National tips - McCain's 7/2 chance can strike big-race success at Catterick

Brian Healy 9 Jan 2019
Same Circus can land a big prize in Thursday's North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick.

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big-race field for Thursday's North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick, the season's most prestigious jumps race to be held at the track.

The feature race of  Catterick’s racecard on Thursday, the North Yorkshire Grand National goes to post at 2.45pm as the fifth race on a seven race card at the track, and a small yet select field of just six runners will face the tapes for the latest renewal of this competitive handicap marathon over a trip of 3m 6f.

Boasting a first prize of almost £16,000 to the winner, the long distance contest is unlikely to throw up an Aintree hopeful come April; but despite the low turnout, the latest renewal is sure to be another competitive contest.

Sue Smith has turned this race into something of a stable benefit in recent years, winning the last three renewals and Sharp Response (3/1, Bet365) will bid to keep the run going when he turns out in Thursday’s feature race.

The Oscar gelding has taken really well to chasing, and he remains relatively lightly-raced in this sphere. He got off the mark over fences here back in February, beating Red Infantry by just over one length, and following a pipe-opener over hurdles at Hexham in October, he got off the mark for the season back over fences at Carlisle later the same month.

Not disgraced in Grade Three and Listed company, including when four lengths’ fourth to Lake View Lad in the Rehearsal Chase, the Smith runner wasn’t disgraced behind Daklondike in the recent Tommy Whittle Chase, finishing fourth again.

This is an easier assignment, and he looks worthy of a try at this marathon trip with the better ground here no issue.

Western Jo (12/1, Coral) has improved over fences for Sam Drake, winning twice at Hexham which includes in the mud over three miles back in November 2017.

The Westerner gelding shaped well back from an absence at Haydock last month, looking in need of the run when crossing the line in sixth behind Didero Vallis, beaten around 25 lengths. 

The veteran ought to prove sharper for that return, but he’s not certain to be suited by this significantly longer trip and others probably have more scope to improve than the eleven-year old.

Little Bruce (5/1, Ladbrokes) has had just five starts over fences, scoring at Hexham at the second attempt when beating Militarian by four lengths.

Philip Kirby’s Yeats gelding failed to complete on either of his next two starts, falling at Haydock in November and then pulling up at Wetherby the following month behind Skipthescales.

His latest outing at Newcastle saw him denied only by a storming late finish from the same rival who had looked well beaten before finishing strongly; he has claims if building on that effort, and the longer trip here could unlock further improvement.

Brian Hughes can steer Same Circus to success at Catterick.

SAME CIRCUS (7/2, Paddy Power) however arrives fresh from a win at Bangor, and the Brian Boru mare could follow up here.

A dual-winner last term, which includes at this venue back in February, she built on a solid fourth back here in November when returning to chasing having had a spin over hurdles earlier in the month on her seasonal debut to score latest, beating Achille at Bangor by three lengths.

He was value for more than the official winning margin, and the runner-up has since won to boost the form.

Although penalised for that success, she remains well-treated given she is due to go up a further 3lbs in the weights in future races, and there could be more to come from her upped further in trip and with underfoot conditions no problem.

Vieux Lille (14/1, Bet365) would probably be hard to beat if able to recapture the sort of form he displayed in his best days for Philip Hobbs, but the Robin Des Champs gelding lost his way for that handler last term and has since joined Jamie Snowden.

A prolific winner over hurdles, he never appeared to take to chasing, his performances often blighted by mistakes, although he did shape with some promise initially in runs behind the likes of American and Yala Enki.

Having undergone wind surgery prior to his reappearance at Newbury back in November, he was entitled to have needed that run behind Chosen Path where he finished seventh. He could prove sharper as a result, and his mark continues to slide; and turned out here in a first-time tongue-tie, he would be dangerous to discount if bouncing back although he has something to prove as a chaser judging on past efforts.

Vieux Lille will bid to get his career back on track having joined Jamie Snowden.

Completing the select six-runner field. Greyed A (3/1, Coral) has shown useful form since being sent chasing, winning three times last term in small field events at Fontwell twice, and Plumpton.

Dr Richard Newland’s charge shaped well back from a break at Hereford in December, finding only Bandon Roc too strong by eight lengths, and turned out from the same mark the Daylami gelding could post a big run.

He showed a tendency to jump left last time, so he ought to be better suited to this track, and with the step up in trip looking a good move he is dangerous to discount.


Sue Smith’s Sharp Response can post a big run as he bids to give the yard a fourth straight win, and his recent Rehearsal Chase run is arguably the best form on offer.

However, Donald McCain’s SAME CIRCUS (7/2, Paddy Power) arrives on the back of a ready win at Bangor latest, and the Brian Boru mare can follow up here. 

She has shown a useful level of ability over fences, scoring twice last term which includes here, and the form of her latest win was franked when the runner-up scored at Exeter recently. 

She remains handily weighted despite a penalty, and with the potential to improve over this longer trip she gets the vote to follow up that last-time win.


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2019 North Yorkshire Grand National tips - McCain's 7/2 chance can strike big-race success at Catterick

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the big-race field for Thursday's North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick.

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