Wakanda’s consistency and form remain just as good as ever despite the horse having turned ten years old on New Years’ Day. Winner of the Peter Marsh at Haydock Park last month, he will return to this venue to take part in the Grand National trial with Danny Cook in the saddle.Wakanda’s nine starts have returned nine wins thus far, this including the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last year.
The Grand National-winning trainer said: “He won quite well round Haydock last time on good ground. With a bit of luck it should be nice ground, which should suit.
“Stepping up to three and a half, we’ll see how he gets that before we make a decision about the Scottish National.
“At the Grand National weights launch in the week people asked why Wakanda wasn’t entered. He’s not really a Grand National-type of horse. I know small horses have won, but Auroras (Encore) was bigger than Wakanda. That said, he’s a grand little horse and I wouldn’t mind a few more like him.
“I’ve just bought him in after he went out for a pick of grass. He’s fantastic. He just wants to please you all the time.”
Smith isn’t concerned about the ground conditions for her sole runner in this race, however they may not suit David Pipe’s Vieux Lion Rouge who won this race two years ago. Similarly the conditions may not be perfect for Ramses De Teillee, the Welsh Grand National runner-up.
“Both horses are in good form. They would appreciate softer ground,” said Pipe. “Vieux Lion Rouge probably did too much in the blinkers last time, so we’ve gone back to sheepskin sidepieces.
“Ramses De Teillee obviously ran a very good race in the Welsh Grand National. We were thinking about running him beforehand, but the ground wasn’t right. The ground is drying out again, but it will be tacky old work out there. They’ve all got to go on it.”