Neptunes Collonges, the only remaining entry from the Paul Nicholls yard for the forthcoming John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 14, has attracted plenty of interest in recent days in the ante-post market for the race and is now generally on offer at a top priced 28/1 in the Grand National betting, writes Elliot Slater.
The horse who finished third to the great Denman and Kauto Star in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup is not quite the force of old but still remains a serious prospect for this year’s Grand National and is potentially well handicapped on the best of his form over the last couple of seasons, including when beating the smart Tidal Bay by a length-and-a-quarter in the 2011 Grade 2 Argento Chase, off a mark of 162
Set to carry 11st 6lbs and race off a mark of 157, Neptunes Collonges showed he stays well when sixth in last season’s Scottish Grand National, and on his most recent start was certainly not stopping as he failed by only neck to give a stone to the decent stayer Giles Cross in a mud spattered Betfred Grand National Handicap Chase over three-and-a-half-miles at Haydock in February, finishing strongly and arguably looking as though he might have snatched the prize in another few strides. In response to that race his Grand National 2012 Odds were immediately cut by the bookmakers.
Nicholls had hoped to have at least a couple of runners in ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’, but after his main hope Niche Market was ruled out of the marathon after sustaining a training injury that has prematurely forced him into retirement, it is left to the John Hales-owned grey Neptunes Collonges to fly the flag for the Ditcheat yard, and the 11-year-old looks well capable of getting into the thick of the action if things fall right for him.