Bellshill proved his credentials as a potential challenger for the Grand National at Aintree in the 2019 season. Tiger Roll won the even last term with a fine run to claim the crown, although Pleasant Company almost pushed him on the line. The Irish horse looked fairly comfortable on the track in Liverpool and should be one of the leading contenders once again for the title should he remain fit. One For Arthur’s return to action could also make life interesting, with two former champions potentially duelling it out along with a rising upstart. It should make for a thrilling contest next April.
Tiger Roll is the leading contender among the bookmakers for the title, but no horse since Red Rum in 1975 has managed to win back-to-back Nationals. A lot can happen between the start of the National Hunt season and the National, therefore it may be worthwhile be wary of his odds of 20/1 to win the race, while One For Arthur’s average price comes in at 25/1. That would be a gamble as he has not raced since his triumph at the event in 2017, missing the last term with a leg injury.
Bellshill’s odds could well change before the start of the National should he continue his rise. He has been up and down in the past, although he could be a decent shout come April at 25/1 with William Hill as part of their bet £10 get a £5 free bet in the Grand National betting offers for 2019. Given that the race has produced a new winner for the past 42 years then Bellshill could be the one to watch over the course of the season and at Aintree.
The bay gelding had a decent season in the National Hunt in the 2016/17 term, although he did not get off to the best of starts in the campaign. Willie Mullins’ charge was considered the favourite for the Flogas Novice Chase, but he fell at the final hurdle of the race after a disjointed effort on the track. Bellshill’s next outing came at Cheltenham Festival when he battled quality competitors in the form of Might Bite and Whisper. In the RSA Novices’ Chase, the two elite horses battled it out for the win, with Bellshill off the pace, although he still managed to claim third place, comfortably ahead of Alpha Des Obeaux in fourth.
He returned after an 11-month absence at the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse with a dominant performance down the stretch. After a slow start, Bellshill moved through the gears towards the end of the meet, moving from fourth into the lead before cantering down the straight to claim the victory by four-and-three-quarter lengths. The Irish horse was put forward for the Irish Grand National and he looked to be in position to strike down the closing stages of the race. However, David Mullins in the saddle couldn’t get the extra speed out of his charge down the stretch, forcing Bellshill to settle for fifth place.
The eight-year-old ended the campaign on the highest of notes at the Punchestown Gold Cup. On this occasion, he was able to rise to the occasion, delivering a flawless display in the crucial moments in the race to find a surge of space to defeat Djakadam by three-quarters of a length to claim the crown. He has the proven quality, but the National is a different matter altogether, Bellshill will need a strong campaign behind him to claim the ultimate prize.