Uttoxeter given all-clear for Midlands National fixture

The Betfred Midlands Grand National meeting at Uttoxeter this afternoon goes ahead after an early check of conditions.

  • Saturday 17 March
  • News
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The Betfred Midlands Grand National meeting at Uttoxeter this afternoon goes ahead after an early check of conditions.

Of ficials reported the course to be raceable at Friday lunchtime, but were wary in case forecast rain should become worse than predicted, and duly called a precautionary inspection for 8am.

However, that inspection was able to be brought forward, with the course tweeting: "Racing goes ahead for the @Betfred Midlands Grand National meeting. Our Clerk of Course will be monitoring the conditions throughout the day."

The Midlands National is the highlight of an eight-race card and is due off at 3.35, where Henry Daly is hoping for better luck than at Newcastle with Back To The Thatch.

The Ludlow trainer was just thinking how well Back To The Thatch was going in the Eider Chase when the six-year-old crashed out at the 16th fence as Baywing took the spoils on the heavy ground.

Testing conditions should prove no problem to Back To The Thatch as he had taken a handicap chase over almost three miles on a tough surface at Chepstow on his previous start.

"He's been grand. Obviously we've schooled him a few times since," said Daly.

"It's funny how it goes. Literally the thought had just crossed my mind, when we were at Newcastle, that we were going quite well and then 'bang' - that was the end of that. We'll have another go."

Daly has a useful second string to his bow in The Artful Cobbler, who runs off bottom weight, despite having chalked up a hat-trick this winter at Ludlow, Warwick and Lingfield.

"He's been in great form. He goes in the ground and he's got a lovely, light weight," he said.

Milansbar was a well-beaten fifth in the Eider after making a lot of the running, but he was a good winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick in January and ran second in this race in 2016.

Trainer Neil King reports the 11-year-old back to his best as he aims to go one better than when going down by two lengths to Firebird Flyer two years ago.

"He's fit and well and we know he likes the soft ground," said the Marlborough handler.

"He was second two years ago in this race off top weight. We are hoping for another nice run from him.

"He does seem in very good order.

"We've got Jack Andrews claiming 7lb off him. I've used Jack on one or two of our horses this year and he rides very well.

"Bryony Frost isn't available (she rides Silsol for Paul Nicholls), but Jack is a nice horseman. He takes 7lb off so we thought we'd give him the chance."

Firebird Flyer's trainer Evan Williams looks to the youngster Billy Bronco to give him a second success in this marathon test.

The Llancarfan trainer had planned to wait until 2019 for the lightly-raced seven-year-old, but changed his mind after Billy Bronco showed his aptitude for an extreme distance when he was runner-up to I Just Know in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick in January.

"The long trip suited him last time so we thought it was worth a crack," said Williams.

"It might be a year too soon, but he did run very well last time, so we thought we'd give it a go."

Dan Skelton has had this target in mind for Get On The Yager for some time.

The eight-year-old captured the scalp of subsequent Sky Bet Chase winner Wakanda in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day when Baywing was fifth.

"We've been looking forward to this race. Everybody's got to suffer bad ground, but he has won on soft," said the Alcester trainer.

"We've been aiming him at this race and I think he'll get the trip OK."

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