Grand National 2021 plan for Aintree specialist Walk In The Mill

Aintree specialist Walk In The Mill will stick to a tried and tested route next season, with the 2021 Grand National firmly on his agenda.

Robert Walford's ten-year-old was one of the leading British-trained contenders for this year's race, which was due to be held on April 4 before the coronavirus outbreak took hold.

Fourth in 2019 behind dual winner Tiger Roll, Walk In The Mill's campaign was geared around the Aintree marathon, after he became the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Becher Chase in December.

Following a warm-up over hurdles at Chepstow, Walford's chaser was in the form of his life, so the Aintree cancellation was a big blow to his small yard.

"We felt Walk In The Mill was a better horse this year, so it is disappointing," he said.

"We will try again next year. He will be a year older so it might be more difficult to win a Grand National as an 11-year-old, but we will see.

"The first plan would be to go for a third Becher Chase."

Tiger Roll was the general 8-1 favourite to become the first horse to win three consecutive renewals, with Red Rum's victories victories coming in 1973, 1974 and 1977.

Gordon Elliott's diminutive great is the same age as Walk In The Mill and it is hoped he too will be in next year's field.

"It's a shame he couldn't go there this year, although it's about putting things in perspective," Walford added.

"No-one can prepare for something like this. Our season has finished early as we don't have summer jumpers, fortunately we aren't like the stables that have two-year-olds ready to run. That must be a nightmare.

"We haven't been able to go for the Grand National this year but it's not the end of the world."

A virtual Grand National will be run in place of the real thing on Saturday, broadcast at 5pm on ITV.

The special event will feature the 40 horses and riders who were most likely to run in the Aintree spectacular.

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