2014 Racing News

King backed to rule in 2014 Grand National.

Philip Hobbs appears to have a serious Crabbies Grand National candidate on his hands in the shape of the impressive recent Cheltenham scorer Balthazar King, now 25 joint-favourite in Betfair’s ante-post market for the big race along with former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner and defending King George VI Chase winner Long Run, writes Elliot Slater. The Minehead-based jumps trainer sent Balthazar King to tackle the Aintree spectacular last season where, having led until approaching Becher’s on the second circuit, the nine-year-old eventually faded out of contention and came home 15th behind the shock Sue Smith-trained scorer Aurora’s Encore. If the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’ was run at Cheltenham there would be little doubt that Balthazar King would prove hard to beat having won no less than six times from 15 starts at the Prestbury circuit, as well as four times occupying the runners’-up spot at his beloved course. This season the gelded son of King’s Theatre has rattled up an impressive hattrick, starting with a success in France at Craon over three-and-three-quarter miles before landing the Showcase Trophy Handicap Chase at Cheltenham’s first meeting of the season in October. Four weeks later the confirmed stayer went one better than the previous season when triumphing in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham’s November fixture, a contest in which he had lost out to Uncle Junior when made favourite 12 months earlier. Set now for a winter break as he doesn’t really enjoy too much cut in the ground, Balthazar King will reportedly be prepared for a second crack at the Grand National and will arrive at Aintree a relatively fresh horse with connections unlikely to give him more than one start before tackling the four-and-a-half mile £1 million contest.

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