Grand National second Balthazar King off to France

Balthazar King (Richard Johnson,red) jumps fence 23, a double spread hedge

Balthazar King winning at Cheltenham 

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

GRAND NATIONAL runner-up Balthazar King will be journeying back across the Engish Channel next month when he bids to land the Listed Grand Cross Country de Craon Crystal Cup for the second consecutive year.

Speaking at his annual owners’ day on Sunday, trainer Philip Hobbs said: “He’s very well in himself and will be going back to France in a few weeks, where they have dubbed him ‘the best cross-country horse in the world’, which might be a bit over the top.

“He fell in another valuable cross-country event in France in May when still going very well six out. He soon got over that and has been working very well ahead of this next assignment.

“On the domestic front he’ll likely wait for the cross-country race at Cheltenham’s Open meeting and further ahead another tilt at the Grand National after his fine second to Pineau De Re is likely to be the plan.”

Captain Chris ended up being withdrawn from the Cheltenham Gold Cup just days before the race after a scan revealed a minor suspensory problem in a leg, but Hobbs is very hopeful his stable star will be back in action post-Christmas.

He said: “He’s not back in training yet but the plan is he’ll be ready to run in the new year and hopefully will have another crack at the Ascot Chase, a race he took comfortably last term.”


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