Which is the best Grand National trial?
Various steeplechases are considered ‘trials’ for the Grand National, officially and unofficially. Ironically, one of the worst of all is the William Hill Grand National Trial, run over 3 miles 4½ furlongs at Haydock in February, which has failed to produce a Grand National winner since Party Politics in 1993. Across the Irish Sea, the Bobbyjo Chase, run over 3 miles 1 furlong at Fairyhouse in February, has produced just one Grand National winner, Hedgehunter in 2005, in its relatively short history. That said, the 2017 winner, Pleasant Company, was beaten just a head in the 2018 Grand National and the 2019 winner, Rathvinden, finished third at Aintree the same year.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, run over 3 miles 6 furlongs at Cheltenham in March, was inaugurated as recently as 2005, but has since produced two Grand National runners-up and two winners. The 2014 winner, Balthazar, went on to finish second to Pineau De Re at Aintree, the 2017 winner, Cause Of Causes, went on to finish second to One For Arthur and the 2018 and 2019 winner Tiger Roll followed up in the Grand National on both occasions. By contrast, the Becher Chase, run over 3 miles 2 furlongs on the National Course in December, has yet to produce a Grand National winner in the same season; the 2001 and 2004 winners, Amberleigh House and Silver Birch, did go on to win the National, but not until a season or two later.