WARREN Greatrex is clinging to the hope Tranquil Sea makes the cut for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday week.
The 12-year-old is creeping closer to getting a run in the world’s most famous steeplechase, but is still some way short.
“Tranquil Sea is still in the Grand National and now has only 15 to come out to get a run,” the Upper Lambourn trainer told www.wgreatrexracing.com.
“This is still unlikely but we will keep him in and see what happens. He is in good form.”
Tranquil Sea showed an aptitude for the unique Aintree obstacles in two runs when trained in Ireland by Edward O’Grady, finishing third in Grand Sefton Handicap Chase in December 2012 and sixth to Triolo D’Alene in last season’s Topham Chase. Despite returning to winning ways at Doncaster in February, he was pulled up before the last fence of the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.
Meanwhile, Connections of Tullius believe his ability to go well after a break could hold the key to glory at Doncaster on Saturday.
Andrew Balding’s Group Three-winning six-year-old, owned by Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, has his first outing since November in the ever-competitive William Hill Lincoln. But Sam Hoskins, who has recently assumed control of the daily running of Kennet Valley, said: “It will be hard to win a handicap like this off second-top weight.
“But he is always best fresh. He won his first starts at three and four but was never quite right as a five-year-old last year.
“I don’t know Andrew Balding that well yet but even Nick [Robinson], who remains chairman, said he has never heard him so positive about the horse.
“He’s a strong traveller who likes a strong pace and he should get that in the Lincoln.” At Fontwell yesterday, jump jockey Dave Crosse was relieved and delighted in equal measure after he rode his first winner for 12 months, overcoming a final-flight scare.
Norfolk Sky (5-1) had a long lead when she stepped at the last obstacle, almost unseating Crosse who managed to keep the partnership intact.
So much was her superiority that the Brian Barr-trained mare still won by 17 lengths from Bow Quest, with the 4-6 favourite Midnight Minx half a length away third in the Play Tomb Raider At 32Red Mares’ Maiden Hurdle.
“It’s a been a year and three days since Sunday. I don’t think I’ve been doing anything wrong, just riding the same. I just haven’t been getting on the right type of horse,” Crosse told At The Races.
“It was brilliant to get one in the bag. When you go for that length of time, you start to doubt yourself. I thought I was riding well, but I just needed a bit of luck which we had at the last.”