Cloth Cap will reappear in the Grand National this Saturday with trainer Jonjo O’Neill confident on his chances of giving a better performance than when pulling up twelve months ago.
The 10-year-old was the talk of the town when backed into favourtism for the Merseyside feature last April, but an apparent wind issue meant he was quickly taken out of the race at the business end.
But he has returned with creditable runs this year to date, last finishing third in the Grimthorpe and he is now 1lb lower than when supposedly a stone well in for the contest in 2021.
And the Jackdaws Castle handler, who landed the National in 2010, provided a positive update for ante-post supporters earlier this week.
“I’m very happy with him and he’s not done too much wrong this season”, O’Neill told the Racing Post.
“He ran well early in the season, flared up an old injury at Ascot and ran well last time at Doncaster. Tom [Scudamore] was delighted with him at Lambourn on Thursday and he’s looking forward to riding him.
“His wind cut out in the race last year – we got that sorted straight away and I don’t see him any different to last season when he went off favourite.
“I’m very happy with his preparation and really positive about him. He has to have good ground – it would catch him out if it’s on the softer side.”
The Gloucestershire chief also stated that former Cross Country victor Easysland, who has been hugely disappointing since switching to the yard, will test his mettle over the National fences this weekend.
“He also had a pop over the National fences at Lambourn and I’m happy with him. He’d had problems before he joined us and I thought the Cross Country Chase had sparked him back into life as he was going great, but he just went out like a light. I can’t put my finger on it and nothing has come to light since.
“There’s nowhere else to go with him and he’s in great form so we might as well have a go – stranger things have happened.”