Shark hunting for Grand National glory

Shark Hanlon expects Alfa Beat to be his first runner in the John Smith’s Grand National.

The eight-year-old grey won the Kerry National at Listowel in September and is set to have a prep run for Aintree over hurdles in the Tote Trifecta Rollover Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown tomorrow.

“That race will be a stepping stone in his preparation for the Grand National,” said the County Carlow handler.

“He is in great form and I have been delighted with him over the winter.

“We wanted to give him a run over hurdles to get a run into him before going back over fences and he could have his final prep run before Aintree at Down Royal on March 17.

“The ground when he won at Listowel in September was too soft for him – he got through it, but he definitely wants better ground.

“The owner (Irvin Naylor) is very keen on the Grand National and it’s great to have a horse that is going to be competitive in such a big race.”

Killyglen was still in contention when falling four fences out in last year’s National and a return to Aintree is on the agenda for the 10-year-old chaser.

“We are hoping to head to Aintree again with Killyglen,” said County Antrim trainer Stuart Crawford.

“On the one hand, I was delighted with the way he jumped the fences last year but, on the other, it was obviously a little disappointing because he was going so well before he fell.

“I hope that the experience will serve him well and, if we can get him back there in the same kind of form with the same conditions, I would be hopeful that he can run a big race again.

“He’s a 10-year-old now but he has been lightly raced throughout his career.

“We will look to give him one more run before the National, probably at the start of March.

“Doncaster suits him well, so the Grimthorpe Chase is a possibility again.

“He will also be entered in the Premier Chase at Kelso, where we could meet Ballabriggs, and he will be given an entry for Leopardstown (March 4).”

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