At the age of nine, Poker De Sivola is likely to be in for his first shot at the Grand National at Aintree in April.
Ferdy Muphy’s French-bred horse has been one of the most promising long distance chasers in training over the last couple of seasons, in which he has looked like a perfect Grand National candidate.
At the age of seven, Poker De Sivola won the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010 over four miles. Murphy’s runner got every yard of the trip, which suggests the 4m4f would not be a problem at Aintree. Anyone with 2012 Grand National free bets can’t rule him out.
On his latest start at Sandown, Timmy Murphy rode the French horse home in front in the Gold Cup Chase Handicap in a quality field over 3m5f. Poker De Sivola finished ahead of useful chasers Faasel and Baby Run at the Surrey track.
Despite the success over last couple of years, there have been setbacks along the way. In the 2010 Scottish Grand National, Graham Lee was forced to pull him up at the age of seven, as he wasn’t enjoying the conditions at Ayr. A year later he unseated Lee in the same race, when Beshabar, another Grand National contender, got the better of Merigo in a tight tussle up to the line.
One of the disadvantages that Poker De Sivola will have, if connections do decide to run him in the famous steeplechase, is experience around Aintree. The nine-year old has never been to Merseyside and would likely to be up against horses that have completed the course over the bigger obstacles against a field of 40 runners.