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Tom George plans Doncaster return for Grand National regular Saint Are

Mon 29 Jan 2018

Saint Are is set to have his usual warm-up for the Randox Health Grand National with a run at Doncaster next month following a rare spin over hurdles on his seasonable reappearance.

Trainer Tom George was happy with his stable stalwart's run in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on his first start since finishing third behind One For Arthur in last season's Aintree showpiece.

Saint Are, who was also second in the 2015 Grand National, was due to have gone hunter chasing in his build-up towards the great race, but George had to scrap those plans due to a change in the rules.

From this year, the British Horseracing Authority decreed that horses with licensed trainers cannot switch to other type of races in the same season should they take part in a hunter chase.

That is why Saint Are began this campaign over smaller obstacles and will next run in a veterans' handicap chase at Doncaster which he won in 2016 and in which he was second last year.

The Slad handler said: "We haven't really got many options with him.

"That will have blown the cobwebs away and he will now go to Doncaster on February 21 for one of those veterans' races he has run in the last two years.

"He needed to have an outing before that and a run over hurdles has done the job better than a racecourse gallop.

"The entries for the National close on Tuesday and he'll be entered."

George is seeking the help of horse guru Yogi Breisner in a bid to get Singlefarmpayment's jumping back on track.

The trainer believes the eight-year-old's confidence has been knocked by his fall at the third-last fence in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in early December when still in with a chance.

Though Singlefarmpayment got round in fifth place at Ascot later that month, he was pulled up in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday after a bad mistake at the 11th fence.

"His jumping has unfortunately gone to pieces," said George.

"He had a nasty fall at Newbury and he hasn't really got over it. It just knocked his confidence a bit.

"Yogi Breisner was here on Sunday having a look at a couple of our other horses and we had a good chat with him about it. He didn't see him.

"The horse is having a thorough check over with the vets to make sure he's not sore then we're going to give him jumping lessons to try to get his confidence back and see where we are."

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