Philip Kirby Excited With New Recruit Blaklion

Philip Kirby Excited With New Recruit Blaklion

Trainer Philip Kirby has targeted the Randox Health Grand National with fresh recruit Blaklion, after he made the switch from Nigel Twiston-Davies' yard.

The 10-year-old has already embarked on a National-based career, finishing fourth in the 2017 renewal when going for home too early and not seeing out the trip, before not managing to get past the first fence a year later, when being brought down as a result of Perfect Candidate's early departure.

Having raced thirty times under rules, Blaklion has recorded notable victories in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, along with the Becher Chase over the unique fences at the National venue nearly eighteen months ago.

Kirby, who has already sparked much success with the likes of Lady Buttons this season, believes he has got a new star in the stable.

(Credit: Racing TV) He said: “He’s been bought by an existing owner, Darren Yates, who is trying to build a nice team to go to the nice races and have some good days racing – and obviously this horse is a great start.

“It’s very exciting to have a horse like him join the yard as the aim for us is to get the better horses and in turn go for the better races.

“The deal was only finalised this morning so I’ll be picking him up tonight or tomorrow.

“The main aim is definitely to run in the Grand National, but we’ll have to see where we go in between. Nigel Twiston-Davies knows the horse much better than me so I’m hoping he will give me a hand and tell me where he would have gone with him.

“We’re really looking forward to him joining the team," he said.

Blaklion is around a 50/1 chance for the National on the 6th of April, to provide his new trainer with a first success in the race, having easily made it into the weights.

The handicapper has brought him down to a rating of 156 which means he will carry 10st12 - almost a stone less than what he carried twelve months ago.

His former stable companion Bristol De Mai heads the field for the world's greatest steeplechase, and despite being lowered 5lbs by the handicapper, he will still carry top weight of 11st10, four pounds more than anyone else.

Blaklion will need to bounce back from two below-par efforts this term, having been out of contention in two Pertemps Qualifiers at both Warwick and Haydock, and hopefully by changing hands, Kirby can get the best out of him.