image-left-align HeyhoeBlottos looks the one to beat in the 3.35 at Carlisle on Monday. Sue Smith’s young hurdler could be well handicapped on his first start away from novice and maiden grade.

Indeed, his defeat of Aaron Lad at Sedgefield last time suggests he’s well-in here receiving weight from three of his four rivals. A trip to Haydock on Saturday proved a depressing experience. The appalling ground at the Merseyside course saw plenty of fallers and sadly the progressive Black Ivory lost his life when brought down in the handicap hurdle.

I saw this fine beast win readily at Warwick on his penultimate start and he was a horse going places. Tragedy gave way to absolute farce in the Grand National Trial when the well-backed Wild West Wind cocked his head, put the brakes on and refused to jump the third last when travelling strongly in front with the race seemingly at his mercy.

It was a gut-wrenching moment for those punters who had backed the horse into 9-4 by the morning of the race and yet another big-race disappointment for embarrassed trainer Tom George. Wild West Wind is a dodgepot on that mulish display and backers should give him the widest of berths when he next appears on a racecourse.

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