Sea King after second GN Hurdle at Sandown

A change of trial dates means Sea King will aim for a second Grand National Hurdle with 71.5kg rather than the Crisp Steeplechase.

Trainer Patrick Payne intended running Sea King in the Crisp at Sandown on Sunday but he needs to qualify again to race over the bigger obstacles as he has been racing over hurdles in New Zealand.

He was precluded from a third-straight Mosstrooper Steeplechase at Bendigo on July 23 and instead won the Brendan Drechsler Hurdle and Payne wanted to qualify him for the Crisp in a Cranbourne school on July 31.

But those trials were transferred to Traralgon and brought forward to July 25.

“The trials were programmed for nine days after his last win but they changed them to two days after and it would have been too hard on him,” Payne said.

“You’d think he’d be more of a chance in a steeplechase at set weights and penalties but our hand has been forced a little bit to run him in the hurdle.

“He won last time against similar horses except for Ancient King but meets the field worse at the weights. However the extra distance will be in his favour.

“He’s an unbelievable horse and in great order but whether he can give weight to the younger horses, I’m not sure.”

Sea King defeated Stand To Gain and Wells in the 2014 Grand National Hurdle before switching to the bigger jumps two weeks later finishing third in the Grand National Steeple behind Wells.

Payne said the intention now was to qualify Sea King for a shot at the Grand National Steeplechase by schooling at Ballarat on August 14.

The Grand National Steeplechase is part of an all-jumps program at Ballarat on August 20.

“I’ll do a little research,” Payne said.

“The schools are on the inside grass and if the inside grass is in good order we’ll trial, if not he might not run.”

Payne said if Sea King didn’t get his steeplechase ticket it would be the end of his campaign in Australia.

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