|Gold Present Form
||2nd Place Runs
||3rd Place Runs
Unbeaten in two runs going into the Cheltenham Festival, Gold Present was fancied by many to make it a hat-trick in the Ultima Handicap Chase but was pulled up after three out and it was subsequently noted that he broke blood vessels there. His pair of runs prior to that were hugely promising, including a three length victory over subsequent Grade 3 winner and Betfair Ascot Chase bronze medallist Frodon.
Looking back at his run in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, the eight-year-old was travelling really well and looked to hold every chance turning in. It would certainly seem that if he's over the issues he experienced at Prestbury Park last time out then he has the talent to make his presence felt off what could prove to be a handy enough mark.
Previous Aintree Form
Nicky Henderson's runner won't come into the 2018 Grand National short of experience given he ran over the Grand National fences in last year's Topham Handicap Chase. He was sent off at 12/1 that day and travelled powerfully throughout, chasing the leading pack going into Foinaven but lacked a bit of fluency there and fell at the next fence.
That may have been his only run at Aintree but the Topham has previously proved to be a strong trial for the Grand National itself and the experience Gold Present will have gained from that run will likely prove invaluable come Saturday April 14th.
Nicky Henderson has averaged a strike rate of 23% over the last five seasons and is currently having an above average year with 122 winners from 442 runs including 100 placed runners. If we look at his success around Aintree specifically, he operates at a 13% strike rate with 68 winners from 535 runs. What might be of concern however is his lack of success with runners over a distance of 3m3f or further, since 1988 he's registered just 6 wins from 118 runners, a strike rate of just 5%.
Odds and Verdict
Anything that the reigning Champion Trainer runs in the Grand National deserves the utmost respect given the strength of his Seven Barrows string. However it was his first ever runner in the race in 1979, Zongalero who produced his closest chance to winning the race, finishing runner up by 1 ½ lengths.
Since then he's had over 35 runners in the Grand National but it is a prize that still eludes him; something of a surprise given he's trained more Cheltenham Festival winners than any other active trainer.
Gold Present may represent one of his best chances in recent years however, now an eight-year-old with experience over these fences, his performances this season suggest he's on an upward trajectory. Being by Presenting he's sure to appreciate some better ground - which he didn't get at the Cheltenham Festival this year - and if he's over the issues he encountered on his last run, odds of 20/1 with the Betfair Sportsbook could be made to look very generous come Grand National Day on Saturday 14th April.