Secret Reprieve will be hoping for a successful season over fences
Secret Reprieve will be hoping for a successful season over fences

Trainer Evan Williams believes Secret Reprieve can still enjoy a successful season over fences, despite a disappointing run at Chepstow last month.

The eight-year-old made a name for himself in 2020, as he won back-to-back races for the first time, firstly beating The Two Amigos in the Coral Welsh Grand National Trial Handicap Chase before then getting the better of Nicky Martin's runner in the full version of the race.

Connections decided to give Secret Reprieve the whole year off before the 2021 Welsh Grand National. 

But that plan backfired as he finished fifth on December 27, some 44 lengths behind winner Iwilldoit.

Despite the disappointing run, Williams believes his stable star can still enjoy a successful campaign, with races at Doncaster, Cheltenham and Haydock on the agenda.

He told the Racing Post: "There's no doubting when you look back at the race afterwards, he did move menacingly into it, but he got tired. There's plenty of room for optimism.

"I wouldn't be surprised if he gets entries in all those good, big staying handicap chases. Doncaster definitely comes into consideration, Warwick [Classic Chase] won't suit him, and that'll come too quickly. He could even get an entry in the Peter Marsh or even Cheltenham [Cotswold Chase] at the end of the month.

"There's another good handicap chase in him, and I hope that we can get him out again before the National Trial. We want to get him going sooner than that in an ideal world."

Secret Reprieve is a general 20/1 to win the Grand National at Aintree in April and, if he is to run in the showpiece, he will not have to come up against Balko Des Flos.

Injury has ruled Balko Des Flos out of another crack at the Grand National
Injury has ruled Balko Des Flos out of another crack at the Grand National

Last year's runner-up, who was 100/1 to win the race and only edged out by stablemate Minella Times, has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury.

Connections had hoped for a promising season, but he suffered an injury during a recent run at Cheltenham in December.

Confirming the news, RacehorseClub ambassador Freddy Tylicki said: "It doesn't look like a career-threatening injury, but it's enough that he needs some time on the sidelines. 

"He'll get the best care available and we'll hopefully see him back on track in the autumn."

Gordon Elliott's Galvin remains the ante-post favourite to win this year's Grand National, with Run Wild Fred, Minella Times and Any Second Now all expected to challenge the Irish runner.

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