WELSH wonder Court Minstrel makes the long journey north to make his bid for successive Scottish Champion Hurdles this afternoon, buoyed by a commanding victory at Aintree.
Evan Williams said yesterday he is “hopeful” rather than confident of landing the prestigious double, given his opponents include the mighty My Tent or Yours and his formerly useful inmate Barizan, who gets in off a featherweight.
It’s only seven days since the seven-year-old, who goes well in the spring, won a handicap off top weight on Grand National afternoon and Williams describes this race as good as he has competed in.
“We were over the moon with him last time, it was a good effort with the weight. I think he needed that confidence boost,” said the Llancarfan trainer.
“He’s grand ahead of the race and we’re hopeful.”
While Court Minstrel grabbed all the glory at Aintree, fellow Welsh horses Teaforthree, Kayf Moss and the Gwent trained Modus did not have such good fortune.
The second-named, who has reached greater heights than the Flint stable could have imagined this year, has been turned out in the field for his summer holidays.
Potentially a Welsh Grand National horse of the future, he will be schooled over fences to see if he takes to them.
Reflecting on the Aintree unplaced run, Flint said: “We were happy enough with it but he didn’t have his usual soft ground. They went a bit too quick for him.”
Flint’s son Rhys is currently recovering from a broken vertebrae, after a horse kneed him in the back and kicked him in an Exeter fall.
This came after he recovered from a broken leg and his father says he is itching to recover and get back in the saddle: "He's not the best of patients, he gets bored easily," said father Flint.
Welsh hopes in today’s big race, the Scottish Grand National, rest with Peter Bowen’s four outsiders- Ballybough Gorta, Pure Faith, Sir Du Bearn and Al Co.
It’s unlikely they will be troubling the judge but Nicky Henderson’s Hadrian’s Approach might, given he has always looked a fine staying prospect if you can forgive the run last time.
Many of the field are out of the handicap because Tidal Bay has been left in, which means this one carries a nice weight.
He might have most to fear from stablemate Roberto Goldback and McMurrough, who looks like this trip will suit him.