Thursday Catterick Preview – North Yorkshire Grand National
Analysis of the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase
A competitive Class 3 feature race takes centre stage on Catterick’s seven-race card on Thursday. Our tipsters have provided their thoughts on each individual runner as well as a selection for the feature race of the day.
Almazhar Garde 5/1
Seven-year-old ALMAZHAR GARDE recorded two handicap chase wins at Kelso last season and despite failing to get competitive on the final outing at Uttoxeter last May, Charlie Longsdon’s charge returned back to form when finishing runner-up in the Southern National at Fontwell on his penultimate outing after leading for the majority of the extended 3m3f contest.
Connections will have been disappointed with the costly jumping errors Almazhar Garde made back at Kelso in the Borders National last time out and he looks to have a difficult task now shouldering top weight against some useful and in-form rivals.
Sidi Ismael 6/5
SIDI ISMAEL has enjoyed a tremendous start to life with David Pipe and has yet to taste defeat for new connections after three comfortable victories, including twice over the larger obstacles.
The eight-year-old only made his chasing debut back in December and looked a natural in the process, defeating Geryville by 4.5l over 3miles at Wetherby before following up in impressive style to gamely see off all challengers in the Lincolnshire National on Boxing Day at Market Rasen over an extended 3m3f.
A further 8lb rise demands more of him but Sidi Ismael remains unexposed over marathon distances and is strongly fancied to maintain his unbeaten record over fences against a field that have plenty of questions to answer.
William Of Orange 25/1
Veteran WILLIAM OF ORANGE recorded three wins from just six starts for current trainer Mark Walford in 2021 after joining from Donald McCain and was unlucky not to make it four when going down by a head at Cartmel in May to Dawson City over an extended 3m5f trip.
However, the eleven-year-old has now pulled up in his last three outings including when returning from a layoff at Doncaster in December where he made some notable errors in the process. Mark Walford’s charge should strip fitter for that return to action but is hard to fancy and has plenty to prove at present.
Supreme Escape 16/1
Evan Williams’ SUPREME ESCAPE landed two wins last season and looked all about stamina when producing a strong finishing effort to land a 3m6f handicap chase at Chepstow in the hands of James Bowen just four starts ago.
Connections then decided to pitch him into Grade 3 company in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown but despite going off just 8/1 in the market on that occasion, Supreme Escape was outclassed and was pulled up three from the finish.
Two subsequent starts this campaign have seen him beaten an aggregate of 116l and connections now apply a visor in order to try and rekindle his previous form but certainly isn’t one for maximum faith given his patchy record.
Chef D’oeuvre 11/2
Sam England’s CHEF D’OEUVRE certainly won’t lack stamina in Catterick’s feature contest having lined up in several stamina-sapping contests including last term when finishing mid-division in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.
The eleven-year-old returned in November last year and despite failing to complete at Haydock, Chef D’oeuvre returned to form on penultimate start when finding the frame at Wetherby over an inadequate 3mile trip. Connections would have been disappointed he failed to complete on his latest outing but an excuse can be made for him as that effort came on unsuitable testing conditions and in Class 2 company.
Sam England’s charge is now 4lb below his last winning mark and will be fancied to go close in search of a first chase win away from Haydock with blinkers applied.
Mance Rayder 12/1
MANCE RAYDER has been a consistent sort for connections which included two impressive victories last year at Doncaster over 3miles and Kelso over an extended 3m3f trip.
The nine-year-old was unlucky to unseat jockey Jamie Hamilton on seasonal reappearance in October but put in a respectable effort on penultimate start at Catterick when just finding the finishing kick of Brian Boranha too much in the closing stages over 3m1f.
His latest effort can be easily forgiven as he was racing from 4lb out of the handicap against a strong field at Doncaster in December and certainly looks ready for another go at marathon trips back in Class 3 company.
Classic Escape 9/1
It will be interesting to see how CLASSIC ESCAPE goes on the first start for trainer Phil Kirby as the nine-year-old lines up off a 3lb higher mark than when last visiting the winner’s enclosure over fences at Southwell back in November 2020.
Although finishing last on reappearance in the Durham National at Sedgefield when last seen over fences for previous connections, Classic Escape should strip fitter after a couple of recent outings over hurdles at Catterick and Uttoxeter and he makes plenty of appeal returning to fences for just the eighth time in his career.
The booking of Champion elect Brian Hughes certainly catches the eye and it would be no surprise to see Classic Escape fighting out the finish back contesting marathon trips for new connections.
Who’s In The Box 8/1
Although only winning once last season for trainer Nick Kent, WHO’S IN THE BOX was arguably unlucky not to add to that chasing success at Market Rasen as the eight-year-old finished second four times in those opening five runs over fences.
However, the eight-year-old has failed to return to form since making his seasonal return in October and had no excuses last time out when finishing a distant fifth behind Sidi Ismael in the Lincolnshire National on Boxing Day.
Who’s In The Box will face a tough task turning the tables on David Pipe’s improving eight-year-old once again and he looks set to fight out for place money in this contest.
Big Race Verdict
It’s hard to get away from the obvious claims of SIDI ISMAEL who is hard to oppose in current form and certainly shouldn’t be inconvenienced by a further 8lb rise in the weights. David Pipe’s charge is the only runner who boasts recent winning form and he can maintain his unbeaten record over fences. Any significant market support would make Classic Escape of interest given that he is well handicapped and connections have enlisted the services of Brian Hughes for stable debut.