Trickster Fails To Enhance National Credentials

The Paul Nicholls-trained Tricky Trickster did little to encourage his supporters ahead of a second bid for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree next month when getting only as far as the second fence in the feature Midlands Grand National Handicap Chase at Uttoxeter on Saturday, writes Elliot Slater.

Sent off a well supported 13/2 shot, the eight-year-old had just settled in behind the leaders when he came to grief at the second of the 22 fences, leaving connections and the betting public pretty much in the dark as to what sort of shape he is in with only three weeks remaining until the big race on April 9. Anyone with a Grand National free bet to place will probably want to look elsewhere.

Tricky Trickster’s whole season has been tailored around a repeat big for the Aintree marathon, a race in which he ran with plenty of credit very nearly 12 months ago when coming home ninth of the 40-runner field behind the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Don’t Push It. The Oscar gelding jumped well in the main in last year’s Grand National and was beginning to make a move from the mid-division when hampered by a faller at the 20th fence. He managed to latch on to the coat tails of the leaders approaching four out, before the effort of recovering from being hampered took its toll after the next and he eventually faded on the long run-in from the final fence. The Aintree Grand National betting suggests he could struggle again this time around.

So far this term Tricky Trickster, now as big as 50/1 to win next month’s showcase event, had raced just twice prior to his unfortunate effort at Uttoxeter, pulling up in the Grade 3 Morson Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November, then shaping with a bit more promise when finishing fifth over an inadequate trip in a novice hurdle at Newbury in mid-February.