Goonyella enters Scottish National picture

Roger Varian: Lincoln warning. Picture: Getty
Roger Varian: Lincoln warning. Picture: Getty
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Jim Dreaper has identified the Scottish Grand National as a possible option for Goonyella should he fail to make the cut for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree.

The eight-year-old galloped relentlessly through the Uttoxeter mud to win last Saturday’s Midlands Grand National, but is 70th on the list for Aintree and unlikely to make the final field for the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Goonyella could instead travel to Ayr on 18 April, but only if conditions are suitable. Dreaper said “He seems fine. He arrived home at 6am on Sunday and we’re happy with him since. He’s going to be prepared for the Grand National. He is very unlikely to get into the race, but we have to prepare him just in case.

“He has an entry in the Irish Grand National, but that is at the start of the same week in which the English National is run and I would say it’s unlikely he’ll run there. The Scottish National might be a possibility, although that race is often run on quick ground, which wouldn’t be to his liking. He won’t run anywhere if the ground isn’t right for him.”

The County Dublin-based trainer is keeping his fingers crossed Goonyella may get a crack at the Grand National in a year’s time.

Another recent winner who could be Ayr-bound is Next Sensation, who is likely to try to supplement his Cheltenham gains at either the west coast track or Punchestown later in the spring.

The eight-year-old bounced back to his best with victory in the Grand Annual at last week’s Festival and his trainer Michael Scudamore is looking for him to follow up in another two-mile handicap chase either in Scotland or Ireland. “He’s come out of it really well. He’s bright and happy in himself, so I’m very pleased,” said the Ross-on-Wye handler. “He hasn’t had an overly hard time, so we’ll see. All options are open. I’d have thought Aintree is probably doubtful. It’s more likely to be Punchestown or even the Scottish National meeting up at Ayr. There’s a two-mile handicap there as well. Those two are the most likely options for him at the moment.”

On the Flat meanwhile, Roger Varian has warned that leading Betway Lincoln hopeful Mindurownbusiness could sidestep the race in preference for All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield on Good Friday. Although yet to make a decision, the Newmarket handler is contemplating keeping the four-year-old back for the mile championship race on 3 April as opposed to running him at Doncaster on the opening day of the turf season on 28 March.

Since joining Varian, the son of Cape Cross has won two of his three starts, most recently when claiming the Ladbrokes Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton earlier this month.

Varian said: “Mindurownbusiness is in the Lincoln, but he has also qualified for the mile championship race on Good Friday at Lingfield. I am not committed which way he goes to be
honest. If he runs in the Lincoln he would be 6lb ‘well in’ on paper, but he has put in two good performances on the
all-weather in his last two runs and there is a temptation to
stay there. Both races require consideration.”

However, the Kremlin House Stables handler could have his mind made up for him as to which route he takes by the weather. Varian said: “The ground might play a part, as he doesn’t want soft ground. If it stays dry then the Lincoln is a possibility, but if the rains come next week he is unlikely to run in the Lincoln.”

Mindurownbusiness is a 14-1 chance with the sponsors for the Doncaster feature.