By Racinguk.com staff
Danny Cook is looking forward to being reunited with The Dutchman in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock on Saturday.
Cook was on board the eight-year-old on his first three starts after joining Scottish trainer Sandy Thomson from the Irish point-to-point field a couple of years ago and in four outings together overall, they have never finished out of the first two.
The leading northern-based jockey thought his chances of riding The Dutchman again were slim after he moved to Dorset to join Colin Tizzard before the start of this season, but with the likes of Harry Cobden and Robbie Power otherwise engaged, Cook is relishing the opportunity to renew the partnership in this weekend's three-and-a-half-mile Grade Three feature.
He said: "I'm delighted to be riding him again. I won a novice hurdle at Wetherby on him, beating a good horse of Philip Hobbs' called No Comment, and he went on to finish second to Le Prezien in the Grade Two at Kelso so I have some good form on him.
"Those races were over two and two and a quarter miles, but he was always a stayer so I'm looking forward to riding him over a longer trip over fences."
The Dutchman brings strong claims to the table after opening his account for Tizzard when dominating his rivals in the Peter Marsh Chase at the Merseyside venue in January.
Randox Health Grand National favourite Blaklion heads the weights and Cook hopes the fact The Dutchman receives almost a stone from his main rival will swing the balance of power in his favour.
"He's got good form at the track, having won the Peter Marsh, and seems to handle heavy ground well," Cook added.
"He has a nice racing weight on his back (10st 13lb) and hopefully he won't be far away."
Blaklion was a beaten favourite in this race a year ago before going on to finish fourth in the Aintree spectacular.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained gelding certainly returns a better horse judged on his brilliant display over the National fences in December's Becher Chase.
Twiston-Davies said: "He's flying and we're looking forward to Saturday.Blaklion is said to be "flying" ahead of his Haydock assignment (PA)
"I think it makes more sense at the moment to go to Haydock as there is a good space between that race and Aintree."
Three Faces West is a leading hope for Hobbs, but needs to bounce back from a fall at Haydock in December.
Jason Maguire, racing manager for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, said: "He's lightly raced for a 10-year-old and he loves small fields. There are only nine runners, so that will suit him well and he's got a nice weight of 10st 9lb.
"He has won on heavy ground at the track before, so we know he acts at the track on that ground.
"He has had his problems in the past training-wise and it is never ideal coming into a race after a fall, but Philip said he has schooled well and everyone is happy."
Michael Scudamore's Mysteree is also on a retrieval mission after pulling up in the Welsh Grand National.Mysteree had a valid excuse at Chepstow last time (PA)
"I was disappointed with him at Chepstow, but we scoped him straight afterwards and the vet said he had a lot of mud in his lungs from all the kickback," explained Scudamore.
"He seems fresh and well again now, he's won over the course and distance, he likes heavy ground and he has a feather weight on his back.
"He's got to step up, especially after his run at Chepstow, but we're very happy with him at home and hopefully he can get back to where he was last season."
With David Pipe's Daklondike a non-runner, Wild West Wind (Tom George), Silsol (Paul Nicholls), Sir Mangan (Dan Skelton) and Yala Enki (Venetia Williams) complete the line-up.
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