Takingrisks was a 20/1 winner of a major handicap chase for the second time within seven months, when he landed the £70,000 Betfair Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle last Saturday. And he may now be aimed at Aintree next April.

‘May’ is a small word, but lengthy family discussions lay ahead before a final decision is reached about the star Greystoke-trained chaser’s participation in this season’s Grand National.

Back last spring, Frank Bird’s courageous galloper outlasted his rivals to win the Scottish Grand National at odds of 25/1. There are no doubts that Takingrisks has all the qualities to make a serious contender for the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’.

His trainer certainly thinks so but, like many other owners concerned about the welfare of their much loved horses, Bird is worried about Takingrisks tackling the daunting National fences. His son Paul, though, is keen that the family’s late developer should go to Aintree and the question will be which view will win the day.

As his starting price would suggest, Takingrisks was not a leading market fancy for the rehearsal, but Nicky Richards clearly knew that the gelding was up to the job.

He said after the race that at one moment he felt that “they might have gone a shade too fast for our fellow but he is a very brave horse and he galloped all the way to the line”.

Between the last two fences, the front-running Top Ville Ben, given an admirably positive ride by Tommy Dowson, had the race in safe keeping but particularly on the current testing ground Newcastle’s demanding run in takes a lot of getting and either through exhaustion or idleness in front fine leader was crying out for the line and Takingrisks pounced inside the final 50 yards.

Thinking ahead to the possibility of a shot at the Grand National, Richards said: “As his trainer, I would like to see him run there but it is up to the owners and I gather that Frank is not a big fan of the race.

“From my point of view I would run him round Aintree. He jumps, travels, is not devoid of speed and his stamina is beyond question.”

Nicky could be double-handed in the National, as there have been suggestions that Aintree could be the long-term aim for the David Wesley Yates-owned Looking Well, who has yet to run this autumn.

One important factor that must not be overlooked about Takingrisk’s Newcastle victory was the part played by Sean Quinlan who gave the winner the most accomplished of rides.

Quinlan missed all of the summer and early autumn recuperating from the fall which had left him with serious internal injuries. He has been back in full action for little more than a month and the win on Takingrisks marks a welcome “big race” return.

In a week that saw both Carlisle and Musselburgh fall victim to frost on successive days, Newcastle did well to keep the northern show on the road.

The cold snap is expected to have ended by the weekend which will be excellent news for Kelso whose major meeting of the winter is scheduled for Sunday. The feature race at 1.45, is the Persimmons Border Grand National.

Many racegoers at Kelso will be shouting for Jimmy Beaumont’s popular veteran Harry The Viking who has made a habit of winning this 4m marathon and is having one more attempt before his retirement.

Sadly, on current evidence, age has finally caught up with this splendid campaigner and a couple of progressive youngsters are preferred.

Lucinda Russell runs her Kelso specialist Big River and perhaps, more importantly, Maurice Barnes is relying on his recent hat-trick scorer Bafana Blue.

The latter won his third race on the trot at Ayr midway through November, seemingly having the measure of the Martin Todhunter trained Sophie Olivia when that mare came down at the last fence.

Big River was well backed to land a competitive staying handicap chase at the Cheltenham November fixture but ran no sort of a race. He is, however, a much better horse on home territory at Kelso where his record is impressive.

He will be a live threat to Bafana Blue, but the Barnes star remains on a winning mark and has to be the selection.

Half-an-hour earlier, Barnes has Knockoura running in the prestigious Paris Pike Novices Chase and the Edinburgh Woollen Mills owned gelding will be strongly fancied to initiate a stable double.

Finally, watch out for Hot Gossip in the penultimate handicap hurdle. Dianne Sayer’s lightly-raced gelding should be ready to win after two previous runs and the Hackthorpe trainer reckons that Hot Gossip is sure to pay his way this winter.