The town of Southport will forever be connected with jumps horse racing thanks to Grand National legend Red Rum being trained on its beaches.
Aintree Racecourse is just 15 miles or so south of the town and many recent winners at the Merseyside venue also go to the other big National Hunt meeting – the Cheltenham Festival – with live chances. Here are four that could score again.
Before he bids to emulate Red Rum and win a third Grand National, Tiger Roll turns out in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham. The 10-year-old has won this in each of the last two years as well and bolted up at the Festival 12 months ago before retaining his Aintree crown.
Tiger Roll is almost public property with his popularity surging because of his exploits at the two major meetings. Victory here would be his fifth at the Festival. It’s all systems go for Gordon Elliott’s remarkably versatile horse who is an even-money favourite in the Cheltenham 2020 latest odds to complete his Cross Country hat-trick en route back to Merseyside.
Riders Onthe Storm
Since joining Gloucestershire trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, Irish import Riders Onthe Storm has done nothing but impress and improve. This seven-year-old made a winning debut for his current handler in a race at Aintree that has thrown up plenty of subsequent winners.
Due to an administrative mix-up, Riders Onthe Storm was then withdrawn from a valuable Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham in November but, having since followed-up and completed a hat-trick by scalping Cyrname in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase, goes to the Festival as a live contender. He is 7/1 for the Ryanair Chase which, although looking very competitive, could be his optimum trip.
Last season’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase winner Lostintranslation relished the increased stamina test at the Grand National meeting after chasing home Defi Du Seuil in the JLT at Cheltenham. He has since won another Grade 1 on Merseyside’s other racecourse at Haydock Park under a very cool ride from Irish jockey Robbie Power and goes to the Gold Cup with every chance.
Trainer Colin Tizzard has reacted to a disappointing display in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas but giving the eight-year-old a wind operation. According to Cheltenham Festival predictions and the market, Lostintranslation is fancied by some experts to overcome this blip.
Nicky Henderson’s Champ really caught the eye when landing the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at the Grand National meeting last April and has since been sent chasing. This JP McManus-owned eight-year-old won his first two starts over fences well enough and was unlucky to fall in front at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
While connections planned on running Champ at Kelso to get him ready for the Festival and that day’s racing got abandoned due to waterlogging, he got the three-mile trip of the RSA Chase over hurdles just fine. That leaves no doubts as to his stamina, and bookmakers have this very highly regarded horse as the 100/30 favourite to win at the Festival.