With two feature jumps wins already this season, 10-year-old gelding Wells heads to Ballarat striving to win a third Grand National Steeplechase.
The $350,000 Grand National Steeple (4500m) headlines a six-race jumps program on Sunday and the Kathryn Durden-trained Wells will attempt to join Bashboy as the only three-time winners of the event.
Wells, who has won the Mosstrooper and Crisp Steeplechases in his two jumps starts this campaign, has equal top weight of 71.5kg along with Sea King.
Five of the nine runners are on the 64kg limit.
Jockey Richard Cully has formed a successful association with Wells in the past two seasons, winning four jumps races from six rides on the gelding including last year’s Grand National and his two wins this season.
He is hoping to add another on Sunday and while he said it was hard to be confident the gelding’s big weight, he is convinced he won’t be far away again.
“With 71-1/2 kilos, there’s probably four or five definite chances,” Cully said.
“He’s got a lot of weight but he’s bringing the best form to the race by far, so he’s definitely the one they all have to beat.”
Wells wore down Over The Yardarm to win the Crisp at Sandown last start, carrying 70kg, and Cully said the gelding seemed more relaxed in his races this season.
“His last couple of races he’s just switched off and been happy to save his energy for the last bit,” Cully said.
“He’s going to need it on Sunday carrying that weight, and I hear they’ve had a lot of rain in Ballarat so I presume it’s going to be a heavy track again.”
Wells won the 2014 National at Sandown when ridden by John Allen.
He missed 2015 but returned last year to win at Ballarat in heavy conditions.
Cully said Wells had a real will to win.
“He probably shouldn’t have run that horse down at Sandown the other day. But he loves galloping, loves jumping and loves winning,” he said.
“They are three pretty good traits that a jumper should have.”