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Wilmcote handler Olly Murphy has high hopes for The Wolf at key pointer for Grand National at Aintree

WILMCOTE trainer Olly Murphy is hopeful The Wolf can make his first steps on the road to next April’s Randox Grand National by producing a good run in Saturday’s Boylesports Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree, reports Nick Seddon.

The Wolf. Photo: Shamela Hanley Photography (61048078)
The Wolf. Photo: Shamela Hanley Photography (61048078)

Run over three-and-a-quarter miles – one mile short of the Grand National – the Becher Chase is one of just five races to be run over the world-famous National fences each year and it is seen as a key pointer for the Aintree showpiece.

Murphy certainly looks to have a nice candidate for that sphere with The Wolf, who has shown plenty of ability in long distance races so far, finishing seventh in last season’s Scottish Grand National, before catching the eye on his first run back at Cheltenham in October.

The-eight-year-old hasn’t always convinced with his jumping but Murphy, who has yet to have a runner in the big race, feels his charge just might take to the unique test that Aintree’s National Course can provide.

He said: “The Wolf is grand and in good form. His chances will all depend on whether he’ll take to the fences or not, but if he does he’ll have a little each-way chance. He’s a bit of a quirky character so I think we’ll try and surprise him on the day with the fences rather than prepare him in advance.

“He’s definitely got a chance if he takes to the fences, he stays very well and he had a good run at Cheltenham. A race like the Becher for a quirky character like himself could just suit him and we’re looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

When asked about what he would be hoping to see from The Wolf, Murphy added: “You’re going to want him to take to those fences if he’s going to be a National contender and he’d want to be running really well, if not winning it, if we’re going to get him up in the ratings enough to earn a run in the Grand National.

“I had a couple of entries last year with Itchy Feet and Jett and neither ended up running, but it’s a race we’d love to have runners in.

“The Grand National is arguably the biggest horse race in the world and you’d want to be having something fancied in it rather than making the numbers up – but it would be nice if I could have a runner or two in it before too long and hopefully The Wolf can run well at the weekend.”

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