John Smith's Grand National - 14th April 2012 

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The Package Runs Solid Grand National Trial

The David Pipe-trained The Package did his John Smith's Grand National prospects no harm at all when putting up a rock solid performance on his first start for more than 16 months in finishing a brave fourth behind Alfie Sherrin in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, and appears bang on track to take his chance at Aintree on April 14, writes Elliot Slater.

The Package

The Package

Narrowly beaten in the ultra-competitive Cheltenham contest two years earlier when failing by just a head to peg back Chief Dan George, the David Johnson-owned gelding has had his share of training problems in recent seasons but appeared at the showcase meeting looking in tremendous shape and apparently fit to run for his life. A well backed 6/1 third-favourite in the field of 19 runners, The Package was patiently ridden by Timmy Murphy at the rear of the field before starting to make his move entering the final mile of the three-mile affair. Those looking at the 2012 Grand National odds online need to remember this.

Holding every chance after the third last it looked for a few moments as though the nine-year-old might be on the verge of making a glorious return to the fray, but although he had every chance at the last, lack of race fitness almost certainly took its toll as the gelding could only keep on up the hill at the one pace and eventually came home a highly respectable fourth (beaten just seven-lengths), behind the Jonjo O'Neill-trained winner.

Pipe declared himself highly satisfied by the run of his old favourite and it appears that all roads will now lead to Aintree and the Grand National, a contest in which the son of Kayf Tara was in touch when unseating his rider at the 19th fence in the 2010 renewal. Bookmakers are divided as to his prospects though, some going as short as 20/1 while others still offer as much as 40/1 in places.


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