Sky Bet Chase winner Ok Corral Grand National possible
The Randox Health Grand National remains the major omission from Nicky Henderson’s list of big-race wins but the performance of Ok Corral at Doncaster on Saturday means he and owner JP McManus have Aintree “on the shortlist” of potential targets for the Sky Bet Chase winner.
Ok Corral had little go right for him in an incident-packed National Hunt Chase over a marathon trip at Cheltenham last March but, reunited with excellent Irish amateur Derek O’Connor for the first time since, produced a vastly improved performance to defy top weight.
Henderson was full of praise for O’Connor’s ride and believes the lightly raced ten-year-old has fully earned a crack at the National.
“I thought it was a good performance and Derek gave him a beautiful ride,” said Henderson. “He saved every inch and that had a lot to do with him winning the race. He had a dream run round. He doesn’t have an enormous amount of experience but he’s a good jumper and the National has got to be on the shortlist.
“He enjoyed being smuggled round like that and I think he needs to go left-handed. He never knew he was in a race.”
Ok Corral has less chasing experience than a typical National winner but both Henderson and McManus believe he has the requisite class for the race, despite having suffered a series of interruptions during his career.
“We’ve got a lot of thinking to do but he is ten,” said Henderson. “He hasn’t got a lot of miles on the clock because when he was a young horse he was very hard to train.
“It would be one run and he’d go and win and you’d think ‘this is good’ and then he would be lame again and another issue would come up. Touch wood he’s had a good run in and he is 100 per cent this morning.
“We’ve got to be thinking seriously about the National anyway.”
McManus famously broke his duck in the National with Don’t Push It in 2010 and has seen his colours carried into the places in six of the last nine editions, most notably when Sunnyhillboy lost out by a nose to Neptune Collonges in 2012.
Henderson’s own National record is luckless. He had the runner-up in 1979 and 1987 with Zongalero and The Tsarevich, a third with Classified in 1986 and a fourth in 1990 with Brown Windsor, but none of his runners subsequently have been placed.
Courtesy of Racing Post.