Reigning Australian Jumper Of The Year Bashboy will be lining up for his seventh straight jumps victory when he defends his crown in the $250,000 Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at Sportingbet Park Sandown on Sunday.
Bashboy is only one of seven early nominations and will be the one to beat again coming off a three and a quarter lengths win over Cats Fun in the $100,000 Crisp Steeple (3900m) at Sportingbet Park Sandown on July 14.
Cat’s Fun is also among the entries as is Crisp third placegetter Kirribilli Gold.
“The runner-up Cats Fun was always going to give a good kick having the soft run in front and he’ll be the one to beat again in the National,” leading jumps jockey Steven Pateman said after his last start win at Sandown two weeks ago.
Bashboy’s outstanding form over the jumps has prompted trainer Ciaron Maher to consider an overseas campaign for Australia’s top chaser.
“I definitely am still considering it, Steve and myself both think he’s got what it takes,” Maher said.
Bashboy’s jumps record is outstanding with his only defeat over the obstacles being in a Pakenham hurdle in May, 2010, while he has a perfect record over the higher fences.
Pateman has been the nine year old’s regular rider combining with his last six wins over the steeples as well as winning a highweight at Pakenham over 2400m in May as a lead up to the jumping season.
The other jumping feature on the program sees the Fran Houlahan and Brian Johnston trained Zaman trying to win back to back JJ Houlahan Hurdles.
Zaman’s recent efforts over the jumps suggest that he will be hard to beat in the 3400m $100,000 hurdle on Sunday.
The Zabeel gelding finished third over 3200m in a Morhpettville hurdle on June 22 and last start slugged it out to finish fourth to Bashboy in the Crisp Steeple.
Brungle Boy, prepared by top conditioner Robert Smerdon, will also be one of the top fancies coming off a third to stablemate Black And Bent in the $200,000 Grand National Hurdle (3900m) at Sportingbet Park Sandown two weeks ago.