The favourite for the 2018 Grand National is Blaklion, and he looks set to have one more prep run before attempting to win the big race in April. However, that prep run may come in another huge race as he is still entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race that takes place in March. He is not certain to run in the Gold Cup just yet, but the signs point towards him doing so, which would be a huge ask for the horse before running in a stamina draining race like the Grand National.
We do not see many horses looking to complete the Gold Cup and Grand National double and that is because the races are both very tough to win, and they are relatively close together. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is three miles and two-furlong race, with a tough uphill finish that tests even the best stayers like Blaklion. Then just four weeks and one day later, Blaklion would have the stamina test that is the Grand National, over the even tougher distance of four miles, two and a half furlongs.
This is an extremely tough ask for any horse and should Blaklion go to the Gold Cup before going to Aintree if he can win either of the races he deserves a huge amount of credit for the toughness he has shown. The Grand National has always been his long-term target, and it is a race that his whole season has revolved around. After finishing fourth in the race last season, and showing signs of improvement this season, he looks to have a fantastic chance in the race. Running in the Gold Cup would make life a lot tougher for him, so if this goes ahead, it would be a big gamble by the Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard.
Had the races been scheduled the opposite way around, with the Grand National taking place first then this would have been an easier decision to make for the yard as they must have him spot on for National day. By running Blaklion in the Gold Cup, they risk not being able to do that, the Gold Cup can take a lot out of a horse and leaves its mark, that would mean he would arrive at Aintree for his main target less than 100% fit.
As the weeks go by we will find out what the plan is for Blaklion, but the entries would suggest that there is a possibility he runs in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Aintree Grand National. His running style, heart and ability would give him a chance of winning both, and that would be a remarkable feat for any horse to achieve. This is going to be an interesting story to keep in touch with, especially for those who have already backed Blaklion for the Grand National, who want him arriving at Aintree as fit and ready as possible for the race.