Hales undecided over Smooth Stepper’s next target after Haydock win

Despite seeing Smooth Stepper upset the odds in Saturday’s Unibet Grand National Trial at Haydock Park, Edgcote trainer Alex Hales will not be heading to Aintree with the 11-year-old.
Edgcote trainer Alex Hales saddled Smooth Stepper to win at HaydockEdgcote trainer Alex Hales saddled Smooth Stepper to win at Haydock
Edgcote trainer Alex Hales saddled Smooth Stepper to win at Haydock

The 33-1 outsider dented the hopes of several connections with the Grand National as their target following a brave staying display in testing conditions. Harry Bannister’s charge was always handy throughout the race and took it up from course-specialist Lord Du Mesnil after the last fence to win by a length and a half.

It was a seventh win from 36 starts for Smooth Stepper who is owned by Ben Brackenbury.

Hales is enjoying his best season at his Trafford Bridge yard and this was his biggest win so far which took him on to 20 for the campaign. But Smooth Stepper won’t be heading to Aintree in April for the Randox Health Grand National with next month’s Midlands National at Uttoxeter a possible target.

Hales said: “We felt he needed a step up in trip especially off a low weight. He ran well in the veterans’ chase at Sandown last time out and will have an entry in the Midlands National.

“It’s not set in stone he would go to Uttoxeter, there is a race at Kelso which he may go but it will depend what the handicapper does later this week, I’m sure he will be bumped up. That may be an option for him.”

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