Ballabriggs is ready to return to action this weekend as Donald McCain finally takes the wraps of his 2011 Grand National winner. The gelding has a choice of three engagements over the weekend with Kelso thought to be his most likely target. He is one of twelve entries in the Premier Chase at the Borders track, a race in which he was second last year before going on to Grand National glory.
McCain has also entered Ballabriggs in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster and the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury. If he takes the Kelso option he can expect a thorough examination from Malcolm Jefferson’s According To Pete who has already claimed two decent prizes this season. He won the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby and last time out was a game winner of the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock. He also holds a Grand National entry and is currently rated a 40-1 chance by Paddy Power. Paul Nicholls could run Aerial and Nicky Henderson could be represented by Master of The Hall. Both are on recovery missions after disappointing efforts last time out.
Another leading Grand National contender is expected to be put through his paces as Alan King’s West End Rocker is also entered at Doncaster and Newbury. He has not been seen since winning the Becher Chase in impressive fashion and is currently on offer at 16-1 in the Grand National betting. He won by 22 lengths at Aintree and predictably has been given a steep rise in the handicap as a result. He will be racing off a career-high rating of 149 this weekend. The Newbury race is over two and a half miles and the Grimthorpe Chase over three and a quarter miles at Doncaster is his preferred option. There are fifteen entries for the most competitive of the three weekend trials and West End Rocker will be re-united with his Aintree partner Wayne Hutchinson.
David Pipe’s Junior also holds an entry in the Grimthorpe, although he may go directly to the Cheltenham festival for his next outing. A leading fancy for the Grimthorpe will be Gary Moore’s Fruity O’Rooney who was an unlucky third in the Skybet Chase over the same course in January. The jockey lost his irons in the closing stages and did well to keep the partnership in tact. Trainer Emma Levalle has two promising entries in Penny Max and Zarrafakt.