A tremendous first effort over the awesome Aintree spruce fences has catapulted the Paul Nicholls-trained Join Together from relative anonymity to 20/1 ante-post co-favourite with On His Own and Seabass for the John Smith’s Grand National back at the track on April 6 next year, writes Elliot Slater.
Available at up to 66/1 at Betfair in a place prior to Saturday’s listed Betfred Becher Chase, (although generally offered at 33/1), Join Together’s odds were slashed after he ran a blinder in the three-and-a-quarter-mile contest in which he was finishing fastest of all on the run-in, only to find the post coming a few strides too soon and allowing the admirable 14-year-old Hello Bud to gain an emotional second success in the race.
Some horses take instantly to the National fences while others taken an instant dislike to them, but the gelded son of Old Vic falls very much into the former category having barely touched a twig on his way to an eyecatching runner’s-up spot that has given the champion trainer another serious string to his bow. Nicholls will bid to follow up his last-gasp success in the John Smith’s Grand National in the spring when the gallant grey Neptunes Collonges got up in the final stride to deny Sunnyhillboy and correct one of the few omissions on the glittering CV of the Ditcheat handler.
Although no decision has yet been taken as to whether or not the progressive seven-year-old will take his chance in the Liverpool spectacular, it does seem that as long as he comes out of his recent exertions in good shape there is a likelihood that the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow on December 27 could be on the agenda.