Grand National Trial preview: Yala Enki the one to be on in Haydock staying feature

14th September 2021

2020 Grand National Trial preview from Haydock featuring Yala Enki (centre)

Yala Enki has a good record at Haydock, so looks worth a punt to further enhance it with victory in the feature race there on Saturday, the 3m 4f Grade 3 Grand National Trial (15:15).

This Paul Nicholls trained 10-year-old has won twice and been placed once in six starts at the Merseyside venue.

Those successes included a five-length drubbing of Blaklion in the 2018 renewal of this on bottomless ground when in the care of Venetia Williams.

He went on to score at Bangor last season and was far from disgraced on his final start of the campaign when a 30-length seventh of 16 to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Yala Enki then moved to join Nicholls and has looked as good as ever for the Ditcheat handler in three starts this season.

After finishing 12th of 24 to De Rasher Counter in the Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, Yala Enki ran a cracker when a staying 2 3/4 lengths third of 17 to Potters Corner in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

Trip and ground ideal

He has since resumed winning ways with an emphatic 5 1/2 lengths success over Rock The Kasbah in the Portman Cup at Taunton. when surviving a stumble after the last to score with plenty to spare off a rating of 157.

Yala Enki is able to race in this off an unchanged mark, so that gives him major claims from a handicapping perspective of going in again.

The son of Nickname also has a 66 per cent strike rate over the marathon trip and gets the testing ground that he relishes.

Nicholls also knows what it takes to win this having saddled Shotgun Willy to victory in 2003.

It looks significant that Yala Enki is his sole representative as he also had the bookmakers’ ante post favourite Truckers Lodge entered.

So, with the yard in fine form and operating at a strike rate of 28 per cent in the past 14 days at the time of writing, there is simply nothing not to like about the profile of Yala Enki.

He thus looks the one to be on at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.

Top-weight Elegant Escape feared most

Trainer Colin Tizzard believes that Elegant Escape ran below form when sixth to Potters Corner in the Welsh Grand National, as he faded four from home and usually finishes off his races strongly.

If that is the case, then this classy eight-year-old – who has won four of his 16 starts over fences and also made the frame on nine occasions – has to be feared despite having to give weight all-round.

After winning a Listed contest on reappearance last season, he stayed on well to finish a 10-length runner-up to Sizing Tennessee in the Grade 3 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

Elegant Escape then enjoyed his finest hour when resuming winning ways and staying on strongly to get the better of Ramses De Teillee by 1 1/4 lengths in the 2018 Welsh National off a mark of 151 and sent off a heavily-backed 5/1 favourite.

He then ran a cracker when a three-quarters of a length runner-up to subsequent Ryanair winner Frodon in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

Elegant Escape was also far from disgraced when sixth of 16 to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, before failing to shine at the Aintree Grand National Festival after what had been a long hard campaign.

However, he looked as good as ever in his first two starts this season, staying on strongly in the first of those at Wetherby to go down by 3 3/4 lengths to Ballyoptic in the 3m Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase.

The form of those races command Elegant Escape the utmost respect in this. He can be backed at 7/1 with Unibet to defy top-weight and get back to winning ways.

Lord Du Mesnil another with Grand National Trial claims

Lord Du Mesnil comes into the race in the form of his life and is another that can’t be discounted despite now having to race off a career-high mark.

This Richard Hobson trained seven-year-old has won his last three races. The last two of those have come at this venue by an aggregate of 22 lengths.

After capturing the Tommy Whittle on 21 December when making all to win unchallenged by 13 lengths, the son of Saint Des Saints made light of a 10lb rise in the weights to follow-up nine days later in the class 2 The Last Fling over the Grand National Trial trip.

Lord Du Mesnil took up the running at the fourth and, after drawing steadily clear from three out, stayed on strongly to beat Perfect Candidate by nine lengths on soft ground.

It was a very taking display. Not surprisingly, the handicapper has reacted by hitting him with a further 10lb rise.

A revised rating of 147 is going to make things tougher to Lord Du Mesnil, especially as he also now steps up in grade and faces the stiffest task in his career.

However, he is clearly thriving and it would be folly to underestimate his chances of once again defying the assessor, given that he has his optimum conditions.

Paul O’Brien, who has built up a tremendous rapport with Lord Du Mesnil, is also once again in the saddle and takes off a handy 3lb with his claim.

A bold bid to maintain his unbeaten record at the track looks assured. Lord Du Mesnil is a 5/1 shot with Betfred to land the four-timer.

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