Clarke sets out Midlands assignment for The Galloping Bear

Horse Racing

Exeter next before Uttoxeter test.

Ben Clarke feels The Galloping Bear still has a big victory in him and has his eye on the Boulton Group Midlands Grand National for his mud-loving stayer.

A faller when last seen in the Welsh Grand National, the Shantou gelding is reported to be none the worse for his efforts at Chepstow and is now being prepared for a veterans’ chase at Exeter next month, which Clarke hopes will tee up a tilt at the Uttoxeter marathon later in the campaign.

The 10-year-old’s finest hour came at Haydock when landing the Grand National Trial last season – a victory that was later rescinded after suspected cross-contamination in the yard saw him test positive for a trace of a muscle treatment that contained a prohibited raceday substance.

Ben Jones riding The Galloping Bear (right) on their way to winning the racehorselotto.com Surrey National Handicap Chase during day three of The Winter Million Festival at Lingfield Park in 2022
Ben Jones riding The Galloping Bear (right) on their way to winning the racehorselotto.com Surrey National Handicap Chase during day three of The Winter Million Festival at Lingfield Park in 2022 (Steven Paston/PA)

However, that performance on Merseyside is the perfect advertisement of The Galloping Bear’s strengths and Clarke believes the stamina-sapping test of a soft-ground Uttoxeter could be just what the doctor ordered on March 18.

“He’s absolutely fine,” said the handler. “He’s going to run in a veterans’ chase at Exeter on February 12 and from there he will go to Uttoxeter for the Midlands National in mid-March.

“He just wants a bit of a war. He hasn’t quite gone up to four miles yet, but if they had a drop of rain, four-miles-two round Uttoxeter with a bit of good to soft, soft ground, you would like to think he definitely wouldn’t be too far away.

“He’s been a good horse for us and he will win another big handicap for sure.”

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