If there is one trainer who knows a thing or two about the North Yorkshire Grand National then it is Sue Smith. She has won this race for the last three years, and Sharp Response heads to the track tomorrow to make it four in a row. When the five day declarations came out for the race, the first thing I looked at was this race, to see what Smith had entered. To my surprise, she only had this horse entered at that stage, showing she clearly felt this was the one to run in the race, and hopefully win it for her.
Going back to October, when the horse won at Carlisle by nine lengths, it is easy to see why she thinks this. The win that day came off a handicap mark of 124, and while he has to run off 10lb higher here, the winning distance of nine lengths could easily have been well into double figures as he was eased down in the final few yards. Since then we have seen him tried highly in three races, running in a Grade Three handicap at Cheltenham, a listed handicap at Newcastle and a Class Two handicap at Haydock. Today he drops back to a Class Three race as top weight, he has a lot more class than his rivals and that is what will get him back into the winners enclosure.
The distance of 3m5f is the furthest he will have ever ran over, but on tries at shorter distances he has looked a strong stayer. Last time out at Haydock he ran over 2m7f and after being outpaced when the race got going, he stayed on nicely to finish fourth in that race, giving all the signs he needs further. His Carlisle win was the best we have seen from him this season, and that came over 3m2f, where he certainly wasn’t stopping, giving a strong indication that this trip will be suitable. Catterick is very sharp, and if you have any doubts about staying you are usually ok around here.
It is no surprise to see Sharp Response as the favourite at the time of writing, and he has already been well backed for the contest. Punters are latching onto the history Sue Smith has with this race, and Sharp Response looks set to give her another win in the race on Thursday.
Sharp Response – 2pts win @ 15/8 (Betfair)