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Walsh Looking for National Clues at Northwest Racing Masters with Southern Vic 19/11/08

Trainer Ted Walsh could be on the John Smith’s Grand National trail once again as Southern Vic is set to contest the £120,000 Listed Becher Chase (2.50pm), run over three miles and two furlongs of Aintree’s famous Grand National fences on Sunday, November 23, day two of the Northwest Racing Masters.

The nine-year-old has enjoyed a highly successful career over fences, having been successful in a Grade One novice chase at Leopardstown in December, 2005, as well as a Naas Grade Two novice event the following month.

Following an absence of 21 months after a fall in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January, 2007, Southern Vic began this season with two appearances over hurdles this season, including a sixth place behind Catch Me on his latest appearance in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle at Navan on November 9.

Co Kildare-based Walsh, who saddled Papillon to John Smith’s Grand National victory in 2000, revealed: “We’ve entered Southern Vic in the Becher Chase and the race is certainly a possibility at the moment. He’s in good form and we will decide whether to come over later in the week.

“He could be a possible horse for the John Smith’s Grand National and this could be the first step. We will see how he goes over the fences there before deciding whether to go down that route with him.”

Now firmly established as a trial for the John Smith's Grand National, the Becher Chase attracts some of jump racing's best known horses. The 2007 John Smith’s Grand National hero Silver Birch landed the Becher Chase in 2004, while Amberleigh House was successful in 2001, three years prior to his famous Grand National victory .

Trainer Chris Grant is all too aware of the task facing Lazy Darren in the £50,000 Betfair Hurdle (1.40pm) as the four-year-old is set to take on Grade One winner Binocular in the extended two-mile contest, at Haydock Park on the first day of the Northwest Racing Masters, Saturday, November 22.

A dual winner for Richard Hannon on the Flat, Lazy Darren enjoyed a progressive first season over hurdles last season, winning novice events at Wetherby in February and Newcastle in March before coming home third behind Pierrot Lunaire and Blue Bajan in the Grade Two Littlewoods Direct Imagine Appeal Top Novices' Hurdle at the John Smith’s Grand National meeting on April 4.

After victory in a novice hurdle at Perth on April 24, Lazy Darren endured a disappointing early departure at the second flight in the Grade Three totepool Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock Park on May 10.

Grant commented: “Lazy Darren is a likely runner in the Betfair Hurdle and I guess it will be a question of how close we can finish to Binocular!

“He fell early on in the totepool Swinton Handicap Hurdle and he actually chipped a bone in his elbow. We gave him some time off to recover but he’s fine now and I can’t wait to get a run into him.

“He improved all throughout last season so I have to be hopeful that he can continue to progress this campaign. He’s rated too highly for some of the handicaps so we might as well take on Binocular and see where we are. He’s only four so we can take our time with him although I might take him over fences later in the season.

“It’s his first run for a while and he will come on for the race but we will be definitely giving the race a good crack. He’s a better horse on faster ground and conditions should definitely play to our strengths.”

Apart from Binocular, Lazy Darren looks set to face stiff opposition from across the Irish Sea with Grade Two scorer Beau Michel also set to take his chance for trainer Adrian McGuiness. Alan King could be represented by Squadron, who won the Four Year Old Hurdle at Aintree in October, while Peter Bowen has entered Grade Two runner-up Serabad, who took the J W Lees Victor Ludorum Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at Haydock last season.

The highlight of Haydock Park’s superb card on Saturday, is the £225,000 Grade One Betfair Chase while Sunday’s action at Aintree also includes the £80,000 totesuper7 Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (1.40pm), run over an extended two miles and five furlongs of the Grand National course.


About the Northwest Racing Masters
The Northwest Racing Masters offers the ideal opportunity to experience the tremendous atmosphere of a day at the races on a great winter warming weekend. On the second day of the Northwest Racing Masters, Aintree will mark the start of the festive period when Father Christmas will pay a visit to the famous racecourse with REAL reindeer! An ice rink with free boot hire is guaranteed to add magic sparkle ahead of the Christmas countdown

Located in one of the most vibrant regions in the country, the Northwest Racing Masters meeting offers a great opportunity to discover England's northwest. It is an ideal time to combine a love of racing with a visit to Liverpool and the rest of the region.

Haydock Park, St Helens, one of the most visited racecourses in the UK, offers first class racing all year round. It is located half-way between Liverpool and Manchester, just off junction 23 of the M6 motorway.

Aintree Racecourse is home to the John Smith's Grand National and is between Liverpool, European Capital of Culture 2008, and Southport - the perfect destination for a weekend break with beautiful beaches, great attractions and superb shopping.

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