KILLYGLEN trainer Stuart Crawford hopes today’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster can act as a springboard to the John Smith’s Grand National.
The nine-year-old, to be ridden by Denis O’Regan, is among the leading contenders for the prestigious £75,000 three-mile race at Town Moor (3.20pm).
After finishing second to Silverhand in a handicap hurdle at Thurles in October, Killyglen set the pace for much of the way in the Grade One JNwine.com Champion Chase won by Kauto Star at Down Royal on November 6.
The County Antrim trained horse was then an encouraging third under unsuitably testing conditions in a two and a half-mile Punchestown handicap hurdle in December.
Crawford said: “Everything has been going according to plan and I’m hoping Killyglen will go and run well.
“It will probably be the most suitable conditions he will have had in the time that we have been training him.
“The further the better for him,” he added.
“I’d like to think that, in time, he would be a Grand National horse.
“It might not necessarily be this season but certainly a lot will depend on the way he goes at the weekend.
“If he runs well we can probably gear him towards something bigger in the spring time.”
Longtime antepost favourite Fistral Beach, from Paul Nicholls’ stable, remains at the head of the betting.
A total of 19 horses have been declared for the prestigious handicap chase, to be screened live on Channel Four.
Saturday’s first race is at 12.40pm.