sport

Balthazar King back to France

Connections of the horses placed in the National have mapped out their plans and Balthazar King could be heading to France again.

Grand National winner Pineau De Re will now enjoy a well-earned summer holiday, but the horse that finished an admirable second to him, the Philip Hobbs-trained Balthazar King, may not be finished with yet.

The 10-year-old began his season with victory in a French cross-country race in September before winning over the conventional fences at Cheltenham in October.

He then clinched the major cross-country prizes at Prestbury Park in both November and March.

Hobbs is looking forward to another trip across the Channel with his charge at the end of May and has already mapped out his route back to Aintree next season.

The trainer, who also saddled Chance Du Roy to finish sixth in the National, said: "Both horses are absolutely A1 this morning and we were delighted with both of them.

"Balthazar King ran a fantastic race and he's an amazing horse, really.

"It's obviously frustrating to come so close and not win, but you have to be delighted with how he performed.

"The plan is to go to Le Lion-d'Angers for a big cross-country race on May 29.

"After that he'll have a break and I would imagine he'll come back in the cross-country race at Craon in early September, which he won last year.

"Now his handicap mark has shot up to 159, I don't think he'll run in the race at Cheltenham in October, but he'll probably run in the cross-country race at the Paddy Power meeting in November again.

"Then he'll have a winter break, as we know he doesn't go on winter ground.

"With his new mark the cross-country race at the Festival will be difficult for him as it's a handicap, so we might just miss it next year and go straight to Aintree.

"We know he goes well fresh, so that's what we might do."

Chance Du Roy may not be seen again until defending his title in the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences in early December.

"Chance Du Roy ran very well and looked to have the better chance of the two at the third last, but he hasn't got home on the day," said Hobbs.

"He won the Becher last December, so I would imagine he'll go there again and it will probably be his next run."

Quietly-spoken Irish trainer Martin Brassil claimed National glory in 2006 with Numbesixvalverde and had another major contender this time around in the shape of the JP McManus-owned Double Seven.

The eight-year-old ran a fantastic race to finish third in the hands of Tony McCoy, leaving his trainer justifiably proud.

Brassil said: "He ran an absolute stormer. We're delighted with him.

"It's such a tough race, but it's been a lucky race for us so far.

"Going to the fourth-last I was happy with where he was, but I sort of knew going to the back of the third-last he wasn't going to reach the winner.

"I hoped he might catch the second at that stage. He didn't quite manage it, but he ran his heart out.

"The horse is only an eight-year-old, so hopefully he might be back, fingers crossed."

Asked whether Double Seven could run again this season, the trainer said: "We'll let him get over the race and see where we go.

"He's really a spring, summer sort of horse, but now he's the horse he's developed into, there won't be many races for him."

Alvarado is in line to return next year after delighting connections by finishing fourth, giving owners William and Angela Rucker and jockey Paul Moloney a sixth successive placed effort in the National.

Trainer Fergal O'Brien had thought of running the nine-year-old in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on April 26, but agreed with the owners to put him away for the season.

"He's fine today. He came out of the race really well. He's turned out in the field and is as happy as Larry," said the Gloucestershire handler.

"I was delighted. He did us proud and it was the sixth consecutive time for the Ruckers and Paul Moloney they've been placed in the race. It's a great achievement.

"William didn't mention it beforehand because he didn't want to put any pressure on. We got in the money and we're over the moon.

"That will be it for the season. I was keen to go to Sandown with him, but the owners have said, rightly so, put him away and we'll look forward to going back to Aintree again next year hopefully."

Moloney's previous placed rides had been on State Of Play and Cappa Bleu, both trained by Evan Williams.

Adam Wedge partnered the Llancarfan trainer's representative this time, One In A Milan, who was still in touch when falling at Becher's on the second circuit.

Williams felt the tumble was purely down to One In A Milan's inexperience and he would like to see his charge have another go at the famous fences.

"He was travelling very well. On what I saw I wouldn't be too worried about coming back for the National again next year," said the trainer.

"He was third in a Midlands National as a novice and fourth in a Welsh National.

"It was his seventh run in a chase and he's running a blinder in the Grand National. His inexperience caught him out. That's what happened."

Paul Nicholls tweeted that his two runners, including fifth-placed Rocky Creek, had come out of the race "fine". He hopes to run Tidal Bay, brought down at the Canal Turn, in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in three weeks' time.

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run could also well run again in the not too distant future despite suffering a crunching fall at the ninth fence which left both horse and rider Sam Waley-Cohen a little sore.

"I've spoken to Nicky Henderson this morning and Long Run is absolutely fine," said owner Robert Waley-Cohen.

"Sam is a bit sore, but when you hit the ground at 35 mph from that height, I think you expect that.

"The haematoma he (Long Run) had on his shoulder has virtually gone and I think he will run again before the end of the season.

"Whether that will be Punchestown and or France, we'll have to see.

"We'll enter for Punchestown, see what the race looks like and how the horse is and go from there."

Asked about a potential second National bid next April, the owner said: "Never say never. I think I'd quite like to have another go.

"He was running very well when he came down - he was just disrespecting the fences and paid the price."