Turf Talk: Moffatt mulls over National target for Highland Lodge

Highland Lodge and Henry Brooke jump the final fence as they win the Betfred Becher Chase.
Highland Lodge and Henry Brooke jump the final fence as they win the Betfred Becher Chase.
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Jimmy Moffatt is seriously considering heading straight for the Grand National with Highland Lodge following his impressive victory over the famous Aintree fences in Saturday’s Becher Chase.

Making his first appearance for the Cumbria-based trainer having previously shown smart form for Emma Lavelle, the nine-year-old raced from out of the handicap in the Merseyside feature but jumped brilliantly in the hands of Middleham-based jockey Henry Brooke on his way to running out a decisive winner.

Moffatt is now hopeful that a revised mark of 137 will be enough to earn Highland Lodge a starting berth in April.

“Everyone is asking about the National now and I think that’s the way we’ve got to look,” said Moffatt.

“He might need another pound or two to definitely get in the race, but the race is framed on its own and you’d like to think the handicapper will favour him a little bit because he’s already proven himself there.

“He ticks a lot of boxes and it would be a shame if he didn’t get in. You have 40 runners in the Grand National and after the way he jumped round there the other day, I think most people would like to see him as one of the 40 as he would offer something to the race.

“It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if we just gave him a couple of racecourse gallops and went straight there.

“I’m not sure you’d want to tinker too much by running him over regulation fences or hurdles.

“The National is worth £1million now, so I don’t see much point in running him in a hurdle race worth £5,000 in the meantime.

“There is a prep race at Kelso that I think Ballabriggs ran in before winning the National a few years ago (2011), so that might be something we look at, but at the moment I’m tempted to go straight to Aintree.”

Sobot’s selections

CHELMSFORD: 4.05 Coral Island, 4.40 Zauffaly (treble), 5.10 SECOND WAVE (NAP), 5.40 Pactolus, 6.10 Air Of York (next best), 6.40 Declan, 7.10 Diamond Sam.

NEWCASTLE: 12.20 Cracked Rear View, 12.50 Ballycool, 1.20 Cruachan, 1.50 Got The Nac, 2.20 Caraline, 2.50 Wakhan, 3.20 Better Getalong.

TAUNTON: 12.40 Kleitomachos, 1.10 Bugsie Malone, 1.40 Sword Of The Lord, 2.10 Horsehill, 2.40 Space Walker, 3.10 Barrakilla, 3.40 Drumcliff.

WARWICK: 12.30 Ashoka, 1.00 Some Buckle, 1.30 Capilla, 2.00 Bronco Billy, 2.30 No Through Road, 3.00 Daliance, 3.30 Vaillant Nonantais.