Archive for the ‘ grand national ’ Category

07 Apr
2017

2017 Grand National Tips

Grand National Tips

One For Arthur (each way) @ 16/1 with Paddy Power
Just A Par (each way) @ 50/1 with Paddy Power

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Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago

11 Apr
2015

2015 Grand National Preview

1. Lord Windermere
Top rated on 161, the 2014 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner looked on his way back to that level of form when finishing a creditable third in the Irish Hennessy at Leopardstown in February. However, he was dismal in the Gold Cup 29 days ago, and is therefore impossible to recommend under top weight.

2. Many Clouds
One of the stories of the season, his progress has been a pleasure to watch. A win at Carlisle was followed by a fluent success in the Hennessy, before heading to Cheltenham in January where he bagged the BetBright Cup. Deep down though, I would love to know if trainer Oliver Sherwood would like to run here, or save him for the 2015/16 campaign? Either way, this is a race his owner Trevor Hemmings quite understandably loves to target, and he’s a confirmed starter. Certainly has the class to have a say, but faster ground than ideal may be his undoing. Has the assistance of last year’s winning rider Leighton Aspell in the saddle.

3. Unioniste
Third in Newbury’s Denman Chase behind subsequent Gold Cup hero Coneygree last time we saw him, this seven-year-old is really tough, and operates on any ground. His season has consisted of a sixth behind Many Clouds in the Hennessy, a win at Sandown Park, and that aforementioned run at Newbury. Has plenty of experience despite being just seven years of age.

4. Rocky Creek
Like Unioniste is trained by bang in form Paul Nicholls, and brings very strong credentials to the table. Fifth in this race off a 2lbs higher mark in 2014, he comes here fresh off the back of a 49-day break since his win in the old Racing Post Chase at Kempton Park. Also second in a Grade 1 at Down Royal this season. Major form contender.

5. First Lieutenant
Ridden by the excellent Nina Carberry, fresh from her Foxhunter win on On The Fringe, this horse has been second or third 13 times in his 23 chase starts. A Cheltenham Festival winner in 2011, he is without a victory since taking the Betfred Bowl in 2013. This will be a very different examination to the single figure fields he normally finds himself in.

6. Balthazar King
Hard not to be excited by this horse’s chances. The sunny weather and decent ground seem to bring out the best in him, he’s ultra-consistent and stays all day long. Had a sighter when 15th in 2013, but came of age in this race 12 months ago, following up his Cross Country win at the Festival with a fine second off a mark of 146. Trainer Philip Hobbs couldn’t be certain it wasn’t those same Cheltenham exploits that took the edge off him and ultimately cost him victory that day, so this time around he has swerved the Cotswolds to be cherry ripe for the big day in Liverpool. He’ll need to be sharp as he’s three pounds higher (153), but granted luck in running he looks a major player.

7. Shutthefrontdoor
The Champ AP McCoy’s final ride in the race (and possibly his last ever if he wins!), and a last chance to add to his 2010 win on Don’t Push It. On an identical mark to Balthazar King, he is going to be the falsest of false prices due to the hysteria regarding his rider’s retirement, but the horse doesn’t know his price! Terrible value aside, he’s a stout stayer who powered home to win the Irish National at Fairyhouse 12 months ago. Only seen out once this season, when scoring easily at Carlisle pre-Christmas. Goes on any ground.

8. Pineau De Re
Catapulted his genius trainer Dr Richard Newland into the spotlight 12 months ago, when taking this at 25/1 under Leighton Aspell. It’s Daryl Jacob in the saddle this time around and he’s racing off a mark 151 instead of 143. Down the field in his prep run – the Pertemps at the Festival – as opposed to third in 2014. May have had his day in the sun.

9. Ballycasey
Demands plenty of respect, if only because he’s the sole representative from the all-conquering Willie Mullis stable, and has Ruby Walsh on board. A winner at Gowran Park in November, he was pulled up in the Ryanair Chase last time out.

10. Spring Heeled
Stablemate of top weight Lord Windermere, like him he also won at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, taking the Kim Muir. Tough stayer who handles quicker ground, since his last win he’s been fifth in the 3m 5f bet365 Gold Cup, fourth in the Galway Plate, plus fourth in Fairyhouse’s Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase. Stable having a tough time.

11. Rebel Rebellion
A third string to Paul Nicholls’ bow, Ryan Mahon takes the ride. Huge question mark about his stamina as he has been mainly campaigned at two and a half miles, but handled these fences okay when fifth in December’s Grand Sefton. Arrives in form after winning at Newbury last time out.

12. Dolatulo
Ex-Paul Nicholls horse, now with rising star Warren Greatrex. Sent off favourite for the Grand Sefton over these fences in December, but could finish only eighth. Better when taking Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick at Christmas time. Campaigned over hurdles since.

13. Mon Parrain
A fourth string to Paul Nicholls’ bow, top conditional Sean Bowen takes the mount (but cannot use his claim). Second in the Topham of 2011, he perhaps hasn’t fulfilled his early promise. Well beaten off this mark of 148 when last seen in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase, but did pop up in first time blinkers to win at Cheltenham on January 1st under this rider. Unsurprisingly the blinkers are retained.

14. Carlito Brigante – NON RUNNER
A 16/1 winner of the Coral Cup for Gordon Elliott back in 2011, this lad finds himself rated 147 nowadays after a 12 months which has yielded an excellent second in Uttoxeter’s Summer Cup, plus a wide margin win at Kelso in October.

15. Night In Milan
A first taste of the big fences for a horse who loves Doncaster, as his third place finishes this season in both the SkyBet and Grimthorpe Chases suggests.

16. Rubi Light
Third in the Ryanair of 2011 and fifth in the same race in 2012, his only previous UK starts. A field of 16 is the biggest he’s ever experienced in Ireland, so an new assignment. Comes here bang in form though, and on a hat-trick after Soft ground wins at Thurles and Wexford.

17. The Druids Nephew
At only 34, trainer Neil Mulholland is creating massive impression in his field, and a win with this horse at last month’s Cheltenham Festival only re-enforced that notion. A strong traveller who jumps well in the main and handles decent ground, he can certainly play a part with Aidan Coleman booked to ride.

18. Cause Of Causes
It was Silver Birch back in 2007 that announced trainer Gordon Elliott’s arrival into the big time, and he hasn’t looked back since, including when winning the four miler with Cause Of Causes at last month’s Cheltenham Festival. An extremely tough horse who has also previously been second in both a Leopardstown Paddy Power Chase and a Kim Muir, my one abiding concern would be his jumping. Top amateur Jamie Codd had to survive a few hairy moments early on at Cheltenham, and over these fences Paul Carberry will have to be at his best. If he is then expect a mighty run.

19. Godsmejudge
A thorough stayer, this horse has bags of marathon chase form on his cv, including a second in Warwick’s Classic Chase, a third in the Cheltenham four miler, a win and a second in the last two runnings of the Scottish Grand National, plus a third in the bet365 Gold Cup. Has had a very quiet season and was never sighted over hurdles at Bangor last time (worse than expected), but could bounce back. Has long had this race as his aim, and the better ground will be a bonus.

20. Al Co
Popped up at 40/1 off a mark of 140 under the sidelined Jamie Moore to take last April’s Scottish National. It’s Denis O’Regan who’ll be on board this time, as this talented but unpredictable horse tries to cope with a mark of 145 on his first spin over the big obstacles.

21. Monbeg Dude
A raft of big race experience, including a creditable seventh in this race 12 months ago when he might have got closer but for a couple of blunders. Has to be a negative that Paul Carberry prefers Cause Of Causes, but even so this horse has been there and done it, with a cv that boasts a win and a fourth in the Welsh National, two thirds in the Haydock Grand National Trial, plus a fourth in the Hennessy. Lively outsider for an excellent stable.

22. Corrin Wood
Three from seven over fences but very disappointing when last seen in Haydock’s Peter Marsh Chase back in January. Never run in a field bigger than 17, and that was in his bumper days.

23. The Rainbow Hunter
Season to date has yielded 57 winners for The Rainbow Hunter’s trainer Kim Bailey, and he’ll be hoping for a big run from the 2014 Sky Bet Chase winner. However, he blundered and unseated at the first Valentines a year ago, and a clear round will be the first priority. Pulled up tamely in the BetBright Chase on his only subsequent appearance.

24. Saint Are
Obvious stamina doubt about a horse who was ninth in this two years ago. Albeit on Soft ground, he faded into a distant third over 3m 3f at Cheltenham pre-Christmas, but goes well over these fences as his third to the old boy Oscar Time in December’s Becher Chase suggests. Arrives here off the back of an authoritative win at Catterick in February.

25. Across The Bay
Trained, like Corrin Wood, by Donald McCain, this horse has met all sorts of trouble in running when finishing 14th two years on the bounce. Has some good form in the book but tough to fancy on his most recent efforts.

26. Tranquil Sea
Ex-Edward O’Grady inmate, now in the care of Warren Greatrex (also runs Dolatulo). Is 13 years young now and didn’t shape as if he was a National winner waiting to happen on sole appearance this season.

27. Oscar Time
At 14 the oldest horse in the field. Coming into this season the vibes were that he wouldn’t be asked to attempt this race again, but after he gamely fended off 24 rivals to win the Betfred Becher Chase back over the big fences back in December that was hastily re-assessed. Second off a 3lb higher mark in 2011, fourth off a 3lb higher mark in 2013, his amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen riders these fences as well as anyone. Despite his advancing years he could be a live contender to pick up more place money.

28. Bob Ford
Powered through the mud at Ffos Las to win the West Wales National in attritional conditions at the end of January, but either side of that run was pulled up Chepstow and Uttoxeter. On the plus side top Irish jockey Paul Townend has struck up a great partnership with trainer Rebecca Curtis.

29. Super Duty
Outstanding novice over hurdles and fences for Donald McCain, but injuries affected his progress and is now with Ian Williams, for whom he hasn’t sparked yet in two starts over fences. Got within a whisker of winning the 2013 Kim Muir, but difficult to recommend based on more recent evidence.

30. Wyck Hill
Has completed over these fences, finishing ninth in the 2013 Becher Chase. Also has stamina to burn, as proven by his win in the 4m 1f Betfred Eider Chase in February 2014 (on Heavy ground). Fell when trying to win the same race for a second time last time out, but not too many miles on the clock and Tom Cannon a good booking in the saddle for this lightly weighted contender.

31. Gas Line Boy
A second runner for Philip Hobbs, and a horse who was in blistering form before Christmas, winning races at Exeter and Haydock. Pulled up in the Welsh National though, and a well beaten fourth in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park latest. Jumping has to be a concern.

32. Chance Du Roy
A third runner for Philip Hobbs, and a horse who loves the unique test posed by this course. Won the Becher Chase in December 2013, sixth in the National off a 2lb lower mark 12 months ago, and then fifth off this mark in the most recent renewal of the Becher. Each way claims for this streetwise 11-year-old.

33. Portrait King
Thorough stayer and effective on a range of ground. Won the 2012 Eider Chase at Newcastle (4m 1f), and was ninth in this year’s renewal. Prior to that run was second in Punchestown’s Grand National Trial, and has since opened the pipes with a spin over hurdles at Down Royal. Not without a squeak each way.

34. Owega Star
No win since October 2013 but no stranger to big field staying chases, having found only Balbriggan too hot to handle in Navan’s Troytown Chase back in November. Since then fifth in the valuable Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown, and sixth in the Leinster National at Naas.

35. River Choice
The sole French-trained representative in this year’s field, he represents owner Fergus Wilson and trainer Richard Chotard, who is based in Picardie in northern France. Won a 2m 3f claimer at Enghien back in November, and warmed up with a run over hurdles at Fontainebleau. Rarely runs on anything other than Soft or Heavy going.

36. Court By Surprise
A first trip to Aintree for this hat-trick seeking son of Beneficial. Thorough stayer who was second in the 2013 London National at Sandown Park, and started off this season on a high note with a comprehensive win at Exeter. Scored an unusual victory at Wincanton in November, being promoted to first after the disqualification of The Young Master, who had finished seven lengths ahead of Emma Lavelle’s runner. Still a creditable run, and put away to protect his handicap mark in readiness for this test.

37. Alvarado
Jockey Paul Moloney rides these fences better than most, and got a great ride on this horse 12 months ago when finishing fourth. He’s a pound higher this time, but comes here a fresh horse having been seen out only once this time around. Stays all day and could improve on last year’s fantastic effort.

38. Soll
Has completed on both occasions he’s tackled these fences, firstly when finishing seventh behind Auroras Encore in this race in 2013, and then when managing 11th in the Topham a year ago. Comes into this race in a rich vein of form after victories at Exeter and Newbury.

39. Ely Brown
Quality hurdler a couple of years ago, but lacks experience over fences, with only four career starts to date. Two of those have yielded wins, but in small fields at Leicester and Wetherby. Out of sorts last time we saw him in January.

40. Royale Knight
As well as last year’s winner Pineau De Re there could be another big contender for a repeat win for the Worcestershire stable of Dr Richard Newland, with Royale Knight sneaking into the race by the width of a fine coat of paint. He isn’t without a shout either, having been campaigned over hurdles since his easy win in Sedgefield’s Durham National back in October.

Good luck!

4.15 Aintree – Crabbie’s Grand National – 6 Balthazar King (each way) @ 10/1 Betfair

4.15 Aintree – Crabbie’s Grand National – 30 Wyck Hill (each way) @ 66/1 (BetVictor n.b. 6 places)

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Posted 2 years, 5 months ago

10 Apr
2015

Irish Eyes To Smile At Aintree‏

The sight of Arctic Fire clambering to his feet after a heavy fall, a near 46/1 double for trainer Paul Nicholls (who also got on the scoresheet at Taunton) courtesy of 16/1 shot All Yours and 7/4 Silviniaco Conti, plus the win of Jezki for AP McCoy were the highlights of a brilliant day one at a sun-drenched Aintree, with a massive crowd showing their appreciation for a terrific opening instalment in Liverpool.

Fingers crossed it’s more of the same for day two, with seven more races for punters to target…

The Grade 1 Betfred Mildmay Novices’ Chase over 3m 1f is race three on the card, and boasts a short-priced favourite in World Hurdle runner-up Saphir De Rheu, as the grey Al Namix gelding has another taste of the larger obstacles.

Prior to his excellent run at Cheltenham, when finding only Cole Harden too hot to handle, he won the Cleeve Hurdle by a neck, but also had three mixed runs over fences:

The first of those saw him unseat at Newbury, the second was a win at Exeter, followed by a fall at Kempton.

He may go on to be a terrific chaser, but the dilemma rests in whether we want to be taking 6/4 about a horse who has failed to complete in 66% of his chase starts to date?

Grade 1 opponents will surely expose any flaws in his technique, and Saphir De Rheu’s compressed odds mean there are some cracking value alternatives at more attractive odds.

David Pipe’s Ainsi Fideles has won seven out of eight over fences, Neil Mulholland’s Carole’s Destrier is on a hat-trick, while Irish visitor Rawnaq comes off the back of two fantastic runs when firstly winning Navan’s Grade 2 Flyingbolt Chase, and then when managing third in a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last time out.

Ironically though the biggest danger to Saphir De Rheu could come from within his own stable, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Irish Saint primed for a big run in the hands of Nick Scholfield.

This’ll be his first try beyond an extended 2m 5f, but on an easy track like Aintree it shouldn’t be an issue given his ability to act at more testing venues like Cheltenham and Sandown.

On a flat circuit is where he shows his best form though, and this very smart jumper can continue his trainer’s excellent run.

Fourth in the JLT last time out is the only time Irish Saint hasn’t either won or made the frame in six spins over fences, and at 11/2 with either BetVictor or Paddy Power he looks the each way value.

We got a great sight of action over the National fences on Thursday, when On The Fringe bolted up under Nina Carberry to complete a Cheltenham/Aintree Foxhunter double, and the big fences are back in action on day two for the extended 2m 5f Topham Chase.

Go back 12 months and you find Jonjo O’Neill’s Eastlake finishing third in this race under AP McCoy (off a mark of 146), on the back of a decent sixth in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival.

Fast forward to 2015 and the circumstances are not dissimilar…..the Champ is again the man on board, the handicap mark involved has been nudged up very slightly to 148, but that’s because Eastlake ran even better in the Grand Annual, finishing second.

Proven over these fences and with faster ground not an issue, he can help give his rider a famous send off.

BetVictor are paying five places on the race and will lay us 11/1.

Good luck!

Friday’s best bets at Aintree:

2.50 – Betfred Mildmay Novices’ Chase – 6 Irish Saint (each way) @ 11/2 (BetVictor or Paddy Power)

4.05 – Crabbie’s Topham Handicap Chase – 6 Eastlake (each way) @ 11/1 (Betvictor)

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Posted 2 years, 5 months ago

09 Apr
2015

The Kingdom & The Glory For McCoy?

They kick-off at 1.40pm with the Manifesto Novices’ Chase, in which the Cheltenham Arkle form gets a rigorous re-examination, with third Josses Hill, fourth Vibrato Valtat, eighth Clarcam and ninth Three Kingdoms all returning to the coal face.

Huge crowds will be wishing perennial Champ AP McCoy well in his final visit to Aintree, and despite riding the least successful strictly in terms of the Arkle placings, he could be on a winner.

The three horses who finished ahead of him 30 days ago all had hard races, but after a mistake down the back he was allowed an easy time of it, coasting home down the field.

Combine that less gruelling visit to the Cotswolds with a flatter track, the step up in trip to two and a half miles, better ground and the McCoy factor, and we have the ingredients for a wager.

The 500lb gorilla which is Un De Sceaux isn’t around to duff them up, and on ratings Three Kingdoms doesn’t have too much to find.

In a race where the market principals may struggle to show their best form Three Kingdoms looks a value play at the 8/1 available with any of bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes.

After all, his very best form is on flatter tracks like Kempton Park, Newcastle and Doncaster.

His trainer John Ferguson could have a tasty each way double on his hands in the opening two races, with stablemate Devilment the play in the Grade 1 Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at 2.15pm.

Better ground and a bigger emphasis on speed at this track are also likely to favour him, and though he has 10 lengths to make up on the re-opposing Hargam from the Triumph at Cheltenham, that is far from impossible.

Devilment was very good in winning at Wetherby and Doncaster pre-Cheltenham, and given that Hargam is 8/11 and Devilment is 10/1, it’s worth chancing that the March form can be reversed.

Race three is the Betfred Bowl (2.50), where perhaps surprisingly last year’s winner Silviniaco Conti isn’t favourite, despite also being a dual King George winner on Kempton’s frying pan flat circuit.

You have to respect last year’s Topham winning mare Ma Filleule off the back of her fine Ryanair second, but the reason Silviniaco isn’t top of the pops is because of the presence of rising star Holywell for Jonjo O’Neill and AP McCoy.

Holywell finished three places ahead of Conti in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup (when a fine fourth), and that was on ground softer than ideal.

He’s had a relatively light campaign, and as a the younger of the two it’s impossible to forget his dazzling Grade 1 novice win here 12 months ago.

With better ground right up his street and this track his ideal it’s easy to understand why SkyBet make him their 9/4 market leader.

Last but not least, what about a big price upset in the Grade 1 Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle at 3.25pm?

Champion Hurdle second and fourth Arctic Fire and Jezki are likely to command the lion’s share of the attention, along with last year’s runner-up in this race, Rock On Ruby.

The last named is the fresh horse having swerved Cheltenham, but perhaps the danger lurks from one of the young guns, with one of the Nicky Henderson pair Volney De Thaix my suggestion.

Second to Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham in December, he was a fine fifth at the Festival under a massive weight in the Coral Cup, and he certainly looks a possible improver with ground in his favour and David Bass riding out of his skin.

Only two places are available, but despite that I’m on each way. He’s 12’s with any of bet365, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes.

Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets at Aintree:

1.40 – Manifesto Novices’ Chase – 4 Three Kingdoms (each way) @ 8/1 (bet365, BetVictor or Ladbrokes)

2.15 – Betfred Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle – 4 Devilment (each way) @ 10/1 (bet365 or Coral)

2.50 – Betfred Bowl Chase – 2 Holywell (win) @ 9/4 (SkyBet)

3.25 – Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle – 7 Volnay De Thaix (each way) @ 12/1 (bet365, Paddy Power or Ladbrokes)

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Posted 2 years, 5 months ago

04 Apr
2014

2014 Crabbie’s Grand National Preview

Racing pundit, Tom Lee, of Channel 4 Racing and RTE in Ireland, writes weekly on betting-directory.com, providing visitors with his thoughts on all the big races with a few tips for good measure. Here’s what he’s got to say about the 2014 Grand National in a bumper column…

First run 175 years ago in 1839, the Crabbie’s Grand National is the world’s most famous race, and with its unique fences, massive media build up, huge attendance, and vast worldwide audience, commands a place in the minds of once a year punters as well as hardened aficionados of the turf.

There’s something uniquely thrilling about seeing a field of 40 charging towards the first fence as they embark on their near four and a half mile journey, and that’s only heightened by the fact this year’s race is the first time ever the National will be run for a total prize fund of £1,000,000, with £561,300 going to the winner.

So, aside from pointing out the absolute folly of betting with anyone except the firms offering a very generous six places to each backers (step forward Bet Victor) without further ado, who’ll be adding their name to the roll of honour and pocketing that not inconsequential sum?

Tom Lee’s 2014 Grand National Selections:

9. Balthazar King (each way) @ 20/1 (BetVictor – going SIX PLACES each way)

29. Pineau De Re (each way) @ 20/1 (Betfred)

………………………………………………………………

Here’s the low down of all 40 declared runners: Click here for the latest Grand National betting.

1. Tiday Bay – Paul Nicholls & Sam Twiston-Davies (bet on Tidal Bay)

No 13-year-old has won the National since Sergeant Murphy way back in 1923, but to be fair there aren’t too many 13-year-olds (or essentially equine pensioners in circulation) who possess Tidal Bay’s iron constitution.

An extraordinary horse, the handicapper has given him a big chance by allowing him to run from a mark of 161, some seven pounds lower than his official mark, though he does of course still have to face up to the challenge of lugging top weight, a feat no horse has managed since the great Red Rum back in 1974!!!

His jockey was celebrating after winning on The New One at Aintree on Thursday, and despite his advancing years Tidal Bay is very much a live contender to add this race to a CV that already boasts an Arkle, a Grade 1 win over fences at Aintree as a novice, a Cleeve Hurdle, a bet365 Gold Cup, successive runnings of the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle, a Lexus Chase, a Hennessy second (when giving the subsequent Gold Cup winner six pounds and beaten only three lengths), and a Welsh National third.

Unseated at fence no.10 in his only previous try in the National in 2010.

2. Long Run – Nicky Henderson & Sam Waley-Cohen (bet on Long Run)

Perhaps it’s important to be called Sam and own a double-barreled surname to ride one of the top weights in this year’s National?!

Joking aside, Long Run is another formidable contender who has been cut some slack by the handicapper.

Racing here off 160, this son of Cadoudal saw off the combined might of Denman and Kauto Star to win the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup, and is also a dual King George VI Chase winner, as well as having been placed in two more Gold Cups in 2012 and 2013.

He seems to have been around forever, but still only nine years of ago it makes sense to take aim at a National at a time when his three mile form seems to have dipped a little.

The Waley-Cohen’s are already enjoying an Aintree to remember after Warne’s emphatic display in the Foxhunter, and Long Run could out them on cloud nine with a famous National victory.

They’ll be praying his sometimes questionable jumping holds together.

3. Hunt Ball – Nicky Henderson & Andrew Tinkler (bet on Hunt Ball)

Nowadays a stablemate of Long Run, this horse was one of the stories of the 2011/12 National Hunt season when in the care of trainer Keiran Burke and running in the silks of colourful owner Anthony Knott, he progressing from a mark of 69 in November, to end the campaign rated 157!!!

A seven race winning spree culminating in a novice handicap at the Cheltenham Festival fuelled that euphoric rise, and even then there was enough juice in the tank to run third behind Follow The Plan in the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl at Aintree.

Sold for big money to race in America, the style of racing and quicker ground in the States was anything but his cup of tea, and he’s now back and in the care of Nicky Henderson.

His fourth in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival proved at least some of the old spark is still there, and it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise to see him hogging the headlines once again.

4. Triolo D’Alene – Nickly Henderson & Barry Geraghty (bet on Triolo D’Alene)

No seven-year-old has landed the Grand National since Bogskar way back in 1940, but a lively contender to snap that trend is the Nicky Henderson inmate Triolo D’Alene.

A winner of two races in his native France before joining team Henderson, this horse has made rapid strides in the last 12 months, winning the extended 2m 5f Topham Chase over the National fences a year ago, before going on to win the Hennessy at Newbury at the end of November.

A very popular each way bet prior to finishing tenth in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, the biggest question is perhaps how much that run took out of him and whether he’s ready to deliver in another attritional contest?

5. Rocky Creek – Paul Nicholls & Noel Fehily (bet on Rocky Creek)

Paul Nicholls won this race with 33/1 shot Neptune Collonges back in 2012, and possesses another strong contender to get his hands on the prize once again in the shape of talented eight-year-old Rocky Creek.

Kept fresh since a second at Cheltenham at the end of January, there are no concerns about this horse recently having had a hard race.

Pre-Christmas he was a gutsy second when conceding four pounds to Triolo D’Alene in the Hennessy, and at the end of last season picked up prize money when third in a Grade 1 novice chase at Aintree.

Noel Fehily guided Silviniaco Conti home for Nicholls in the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl at Aintree on Thursday, and they’ll be hopeful of landing an even bigger prize here.

6 Quito De La Roque – Colm Murphy & Brian O’Connell (bet on Quito De La Roque)

The highest rated Irish contender, Quito De La Roque is a front or at least prominent runner who might prefer conditions a little softer than he’s likely to encounter here (though he has won on Good ground).

Fourth in last year’s Betfred Bowl, his jumping has let him down at times in the 2013/14 campaign, especially when pulling up in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February.

7. Colbert Station – Ted Walsh (Bet on Colbert Station)

A talented stayer on his day, Colbert Station comes with a bit of a warning attached given that he has unseated and then fallen in two of his last three runs, and indeed unseated at the Chair in last year’s National.

Trained by my RTE colleague Ted Walsh, who won the National in 2000 with Papillon, he’d be a very popular winner, but only if he can eradicate those niggling mistakes.

8. Walkon – Alan King & Wayne Hutchinson (bet on Walkon)

Won a Grade 1 here over hurdles way back in 2009, and showed his affinity for the big fences on the National couse when second to Triolo D’Alene in the Topham a year ago.

The big query for fans of Walkon has to be his stamina – will he stay an inch beyond three miles?

That, allied to his two disappointing runs, make him a less likely winner among those towards the top of the weights.

9. Balthazar King – Philip Hobbs & Richard Johnson (bet on Balthazar King)

Course experience (15th in this 12 month ago) and stamina to burn from a horse who’ll jump pretty much anything as long as he has his preferred Good (ish) ground make Balthazar King a tempting each way prospect.

A remarkably consistent winner of 11 of his 22 starts over fences, this horse has been very happily re-invented as a Cross Country marvel by his ultra shrewd trainer.

He was as tough as old boots to successfully carry top weight around the 3m 7f of Cheltenham’s demanding banks course to win the Cross Country at the Festival 24 days ago, and if he’s over those exertions then he must hold a major shout.

His racing weight (10.13) is a pound less than the likes of recent winners Mon Mome (2009) and Ballabriggs (2011), and given that he thrives on his racing and has conditions to suit then quotes around the 25/1 mark look quite enticing.

It’s worth remembering 2007 National winner Silver Birch used the same Cross Country preparation enjoyed by this horse.

10. Wayward Prince – Hilary Parrott & Jack Doyle (bet on Wayward Prince)

The small Gloucestershire stable of Hilary Parrott will be dreaming of Grand National glory with this talented sort whose last win came over regulation fences at Aintree some 16 months ago in December 2012.

Four years ago he won a Grade 1 here over hurdles, but it’s his more recent form which tempers enthusiam…

A narrow 50/1 second in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in November (when just seen off by Harry Topper), Wayward Prince hasn’t sparked the last twice, pulling up at Aintree and then trailing in a long way behind in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase.

11. Mr Moonshine – Sue Smith & Ryan Mania (bet on Mr Moonshine)

Sue Smith and Ryan Mania supplied a 66/1 surprise when adding their names to the National roll of honour 12 months ago with Auroras Encore, and this time they team up with the in-form Mr Moonshine.

Pulled up four from home a year ago, he seems a much happier and more settled horse now, and is well worth another try at this huge prize.

He proved his aptitude for the big fences when finishing third in the Becher Chase behind the re-opposing Chance Du Roy back in early December, and progressed from there to record wins at Musselburgh and Warwick, before a solid second behind the useful Maggio at Kelso.

Those good results mean he has to race from a mark of 149 in this year’s race as opposed to 139 in last year’s, but it’s also a reflection of his improvement and he won’t go unbacked by many looking for an each way contender at a nice price.

12. Teaforthree – Rebecca Curtis & Nick Scholfield (bet on Teaforthree)

An out and out stayer who has never fallen in a combined total of 18 starts over fences (including four Point to Points), this fella has topped the market for weeks.

Proved his relentless stamina as far back as two years ago when winning the four miler at the Cheltenham Festival, since then he’s been second in a Welsh National and third in this race 12 months ago.

Perhaps a little surprisingly he’s allowed to race from a two pounds lower mark this time around, though to be fair he hasn’t won in three runs since, with his most recent effort an eighth place finish in the Gold Cup.

An excellent jumper, he might be even shorter in the betting had he not run in Cheltenham, though in a 40-runner handicap some will argue his single figure price is too short given the fact we’ve been treated to winners at 100/1, 33/1 and 66/1 in the last five runnings.

You have to go back to Kirkland in 1905 to find the last Welsh trained winner…

13. Across The Bay – Donald McCain & Henry Brooke (bet on Across The Bay)

Fourteenth in last year’s race and eighth in December’s Becher Chase over the big fences, Across The Bay would be a big danger if he could iron out the creases in his jumping.

Highly capable on his day, such as when winning at Haydock in December, his bad habits resurfaced when unseating Jason Maguire back at Haydock last time out.

14. Double Seven – Martin Brassil & AP McCoy (bet on Double Seven)

One of the key antepost horses in this year’s betting, Double Seven is the mount of AP MCoy and is trained by the man who prepared Numbersixvalverde to win this race back in 2006.

A never dangerous sixth at Leopardstown on his prep run after a five month break, Double Seven is better judged on a five race winning spree from June to October, when he hoovered up prizes at Kilbeggan (x 3), Limerick and Wexford.

The last of those was off 146 (148 here), but he has to prove he can handle his first ever run outside of Ireland, as well as a huge step up in trip and much bigger fences.

15. Battle Group – Johnny Farrelly & Brendan Powell (bet on Battle Group)

Quirky but richly talented, this horse won twice during the three day National meeting in 2013, first over hurdles and then by bolting up over regulation fences on Grand National day.

Since then things have gone pair shaped to such a degree Johnny Farrelly must be at his wits end, with three runs this season resulting in a moody display in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, a total refusal to race at Newbury, and then another disaster when he dropped anchor at Ascot.

Impossible to trust, even if you were betting with stolen money, if he did decide to put a shift in then he wouldn’t be without a squeak!

16. Buckers Bridge – Henry de Bromhead & Andrew Lynch (bet on Buckers Bridge)

The winner of a Maralin Point-to-Point, two bumpers and three chases, this horse has never jumped a hurdle in public so keen were his connections to kick on and get stuck into his chasing career.

A winner at Gowran Park in November, this step up in trip is a journey into the unknown, and he was well beaten in the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse last time out.

On what he’s shown to date he’s an unlikely winner of this year’s race.

17. Lion Na Bearnai – Tom Gibney & Davy Russell (bet on Lion Na Bernai)

A long way behind Buckers Bridge when fourth in the Bobbyjo last time out, this guy would be another shock winner.

Amberleigh House a decade ago was the last 12 year old winner, though County Meath trainer Tom Gibney has managed to enlist the services of Davy Russell.

In fairness he was successful in the 2012 Irish Grand National, but pulled up in the Scottish equivalent a year ago.

18. Prince De Beauchene – Willie Mullins (bet on Prince De Bauchene)

One of the unluckiest horses in recent National history, this horse has been prepared for the last two runnings of the race, only for fate to intervene and injury to rob him of his chance when he on both occasions he was prominent in the betting markets.

Third time lucky?

It’s worth remembering his impressive handicap win at Aintree in 2011 when in the care of Howard Johnson, plus a string of solid efforts for Willie Mullins, including a victory in the 2012 Bobbyjo.

That was two years ago though, and there’s a little bit to be taken on trust this time given his 2013/14 form: a Grade 1 third at Down Royal, a mid division finish in the English Hennessy, last of nine in the Lexus and a fourth at Thurles.

19. Monbeg Dude – Michael Scudamore & Paul Carberry (bet on Monbeg Dude)

Carberry produced one of the rides of the season to win on Guitar Pete at Aintree on Thursday, not a million miles removed from the one he conjured from Monbeg Dude when winning the 2012 Welsh Grand National.

A hold up horse, he’ll need luck in-running if he’s to stay out of trouble, especially given his sometimes erratic jumping, though the availability of Carberry is a massive plus.

That said, Tom Scudamore guided him to a superb win at Cheltenham in December, powering home after jumping fluently.

Ticks many boxes as a horse who’ll go down a storm with the housewives and general public, given the multiple public interest angles with the Scudamore family tie in with the race, his part owner being rugby star Mike Tindall, and his jumping coach being none other than Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter!

20. Big Shu – Peter Maher & Peter Buchanan (bet on Big Shu)

Third to Balthazar King at Cheltenham, this Cross Country specialist is an excellent jumper and a thorough stayer who completed the Cheltenham and Punchestown banks course Festival double in 2013.

Perhaps not blessed with such an appealing profile overall as Balthazar King, he has been deserted by Carberry who favours Monbeg Dude, but still very much possible to envisage him getting involved.

21. Burton Port – Jonjo O’Neill and Brian Harding (bet on Burton Port)

Second to Weapon’s Amnesty in the 2010 RSA Chase and a Grade 2 winner over fences at Aintree just three weeks later, how this horse has not gone on to become a superstar is a mystery!

A combination of injury problems is probably the biggest factor, but the 2010 Hennessy second endured a 14 month wait until his next race…

Fourth in the 2012 Gold Cup and second in the 2012 Betfred Bowl represent impressive form, and having made the switch from Nicky Henderson to Jonjo O’Neill last autumn it’ll be interesting to see if a wind operation can help him further.

His one run since the op brought a veterans’ chase second at Newbury at the start of March, and if he has a bit of luck then surely he has the class and stamina to get involved.

22. Our Father – David Pipe & Denis O’Regan (bet on Our Father)

David Pipe was another trainer celebrating on day one at Aintree as Doctor Harper notched in the concluding handicap hurdle.

The highest rated of his three National runners is Our Father, who isn’t the most experienced and let the side down when sent off the 11/2 favourite for the Hennessy in November, trailing in a well beaten 2o lengths behind the winner.

Further disappointments have followed when only fifth in the Haydock Grand National Trial and ninth in the Kim Muir.

23. Mountainous – Richard Lee & Jamie Moore (bet on Mountainous)

A wonderful horse who has already done plenty to contribute to a good season for my own family’s training operation, winning the Welsh National in typically gutsy fashion in the hands of Paul Moloney.

The in-form Jamie Moore (has ridden him before) takes over with Moloney unavailable on this occasion, and if a drop of rain arrives to soften the ground then he could very well excel at this unique test.

His last piece of fast work was excellent, and he’s enjoyed plenty of practice over a purpose built National style fence at home.

That said, to inject a bit of balance into these remarks it’s worth remembering he is a whopping nine pounds worse off with top weight Tidal Bay for less than length margin of victory at Chepstow.

Rag Trade, Corbiere and Earth Summit are the three horses who’ve managed to complete the Welsh/English National double in the same season.

24. The Rainbow Hunter – Kim Bailey & Aidan Coleman (bet on The Rainbow Hunter)

Showed the benefit of a wind op when a shock 25/1 winner of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January.

He unseated in this race at the Canal Turn (fence no.8) a year ago though, and does tend to make mistakes.

25. Vintage Star – Sue Smith & Brian Hughes (bet on Vintage Star)

Has loads of ability, stays forever and goes on pretty much any ground, as showcased by his win on Heavy at Carlisle, and then a narrow second in Newcastle’s Rehearsal Chase on Good ground pre-Christmas.

Maybe a bigger concern is his sometimes sketchy jumping, but if he takes to the fences and gets into a rhythm under an excellent jockey then there’ll definitely be worse 50/1 shots to choose from, especially given his stable’s recent record in the race!

26. Chance Du Roy – Philip Hobbs & Tom O’Brien (bet on Chance Du Roy)

Second and ninth in the last two runnings of the Topham, and put that experience over the big fences to good use when seeing off the old boy Baby Run in the Becher Chase in December.

Plenty going for him, but not so good in two runs since and has to prove as effective off his revised mark of 143.

27. Hawkes Point – Paul Nicholls & Ryan Mahon (bet on Hawkes Point)

Only an eighth chase start for a horse so narrowly denied in the Welsh National, splitting the re-opposing pair of Mountainous and Tidal Bay.

Both wins under rules have come on Heavy ground which he’s unlikely to find here, and well beaten in the Haydock Grand National Trial.

28. Kruzhlinin – Donald McCain & Wilson Renwick (bet on Kruzhlinin)

Two wins at Kelso this season (both pre-Christmas), but this is far deeper and was well beaten behind The Rainbow Hunter in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

Would be a surprise winner.

29. Pineau De Re – Dr Richard Newland & Leighton Aspell (bet on Prineau De Re)

Came within a whisker of landing the Pertemps Hurdle Final at the Cheltenham Festival last month, denied in a thrilling three way finish by Fingal Bay and Southfield Theatre.

The Pertemps was the same preparatory route used by 2010 winner Don’t Push It, and Pineau De Re is trained by a very astute handler in Dr Newland, a man who combines running a number of business concerns alongside a select string of just 12 or so horses.

His 19 winners over the larger obstacles this season have arrived at a stunning 28% strike-rate, and this horse scored very easily over fences when striking in a veterans’ chase at Exeter in January.

That win proved he was none the worse for a tumble in the Becher Chase over these fences a few weeks previously, and if he can build on that experience then he could definitely play a part.

Formerly with Philip Fenton in Ireland, he is at home on any ground.

30. Golan Way – Tim Vaughan & Michael Byrne (Golan Way)

Highly talented dual purpose horse who flew the flag for Sheena West and her small East Sussex operation for a number of seasons.

Missed a year through injury and has re-surfaced in the care of Tim Vaughan, winning a hunter chase at Warwick last month.

31. Twirling Magnet – Jonjo O’Neill & Richie McLernon (bet on Twirling Magnet)

Struggling when unseating his rider two from home in the Kim Muir.

Enjoyed himself last spring/summer with a couple of wins at a lower level, and struck again at Cheltenham in October.

This’ll be his first start at Aintree, but he does appear to prefer a left-handed track.

32. Vesper Bell – Willie Mullins (bet on Vesper Bell)

Just one win in eight tries for this eight-year-old, who appears to prefer the ground a good bit softer than it’s likely to be here.

Verg good effort when just worn down by Goonyella over 3m 6f at Punchestown last April, but fell over these fences at the first in the Becher Chase, and then got it wrong again when unseating David Casey in the Classic Chase at Warwick.

33. The Package – David Pipe & Tom Scudamore (bet on The Package)

Comply Or Die landed the spoils for David Pipe and his team back in 2008, and on this occasion he’ll be hoping for an improved showing from the talented but inconsistent sort The Package.

Now an 11-year-old, he doesn’t run too often and it’s hard to know what to expect from a horse who unseated Graham Lee at the 19th fence in this race four years ago.

He’s only run eight times since then, but warmed up for this with a handicap chase third at the Cheltenham Festival.

Other noteworthy pieces of form include a fourth in the 2012 Hennessy, as well as a win in that season’s Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton.

It’s hard to be in any way confident where The Package is concerned, but equally he’s impossible to totally discount.

34. Raz De Maree – Dessie Hughes & Davy Condon (bet on Raz De Maree)

Dessie Hughes struck with Guitar Pete in the opening Grade 1 contest on Thursday, and his National runner Raz De Maree brings National winning form to the table, though not necessarily what you might expect…

Successful in both the Munster National at Limerick in October, and then the Cork National three weeks later, he’s another who might well really prefer softer ground than is likely to be encountered here.

Has also struggled after being catapulted up the weights (from 123 to 140) for those two wins.

35. Rose Of The Moon – David O’Meara & Jake Greenall (bet on Rose of the Moon)

Three wins from six starts over fences, and all in small fields.

Worst displays over the larger obstacles came when pulled up after endless mistakes in the 2013 National Hunt Chase, and then when not overly impressive over these fences when down the field in the Becher Chase in December.

Would have to find some improvement to play a part, though talented pilot gets on very well with him and rides this course with great skill.

36. Shakalakaboomboom – Nicky Henderson & David Bass (bet on Shakalakaboomboom)

Huge chance if he could recapture some of his old ability, and was sent off 8/1 joint favourite for this race in 2012 when finishing ninth.

That said, missed nearly two years with injury, hasn’t sparked in three runs since his return (sent off 50/1 for a Cheltenham handicap latest) and Barry Geraghty prefers stablemate Triolo D’Alene.

37. Alvarado – Fergal O’Brien & Paul Moloney (bet on Alvarado)

Very strong stayer, at home on Good ground, who scored at Cheltenham over three and a half miles in November.

This’ll be a first taste of Aintree and has to prove his last outing when pulled up at Cheltenham in January was just a blip, but might be a lively outsider in the hands of a jockey who doesn’t accept defeat easily.

38. Last Time D’Albain – Liam Cusack & Robbie Colgan (Bet on Last Time D’Albain)

Fascinating contender in that he was third in both the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December 2012, and then the Topham here last April.

Trainer seemingly keen to preserve the resultant mark of 139; he’s had a couple of quiet runs over hurdles this time around, plus one chase start.

Not inconceivable he could rediscover last year’s exciting form under a feather weight, though rain might be ideal.

39. One In A Milan – Evan Williams & Adam Wedge (bet on One In A Milan)

Usually campaigned on either Soft or Heavy ground, this’ll be just a seventh chase start for One In A Milan, who sports a first time visor on this occasion.

Third in last year’s Midlands National and fourth behind the re-opposing trio of Mountainous, Hawkes Point and Tidal Bay in the Welsh National, he certainly won’t lack for stamina.

Has to prove he can handle the Aintree fences, but like Last Time D’Albain it’s intriguing to see his mark possibly being protected with a warm up over hurdles.

40. Swing Bill – David Pipe & Conor O’Farrell (bet on Swing Bill)

The old men of the field bookend the race, with top weight Tidal Bay joined by Swing Bill in trying to become the first 13-year-old to win the National since Sergeant Murphy back in 1923.

Certainly not a prolific winner, but has been a wonderful horse for connections, and knows his way around these famous fences almost blindfolded!

Fifth in the 2011 Topham, tenth in this race in 2012, fourth in the 2012 Becher, sixth in this race last year and fifth in the 2013 Becher Chase.

Might nick a bit of prize money once again.

Good luck!

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Posted 3 years, 5 months ago

06 Apr
2013

National Fever! Saturday’s Selection For The John Smith’s Grand National

The distance may have been cut by a furlong to try and reduce the speed of the maximum field of 40 charging towards the first fence, but there’s no mistaking the identity of the race which will hold not just the nation but millions of punters worldwide in its grip, shortly after 4pm on Saturday afternoon (live on Channel 4).

Worth a staggering £547,268 to the winner, the John Smith’s Grand National will command a vast television audience, as well as a monster crowd here at a sold out Aintree Racecourse.

The standard of the race seems to creep higher and higher year on year, but the quality on display in 2013 is not to be argued with:

2013 Grand National Selection:

12. Join Together – Track, trip and ground could be ideal for a couple of contenders in this year’s race, none more so than the Paul Nicholls trained Join Together. He acquitted himself very well over the big fences back in December in the Becher Chase, and can go one better on the day that counts. Nicholls has had to endure a frustrating campaign watching chief rival Nicky Henderson sweep up many of the major honours, but this exciting eight year old could well land a sizeable blow for the Ditcheat team.

Back Join Together each way at 20/1 with Paddy Power, all of whom are offering each way punters a quarters of the odds down to five places.

Best odds for all 40 runners from leading bookmakers at

http://grand-national.betting-directory.com/odds.php

_________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s a summary of the rest of the field…

1. Imperial Commander – Nigel Twiston-Davies – Sam Twiston-Davies

Off a mark of 158 he has to shoulder top weight, but bounced back from a 22 month absence with a powerful display when second in the Argento at Cheltenham. Forced to miss the Gold Cup last month, but that could be to his advantage here. Won the 2010 Gold Cup. Foolish to rule out, especially as Neptune Collonges scored under 11st 6lbs a year ago.

2. What A Friend – Paul Nicholls – Sam Thomas

Won Betfred Bowl at this meeting in 2010, but out of form this year and hard to envisage him winning the National. Would be a shock winner.

3. Weird Al – Donald McCain – Timmy Murphy

A dazzling novice in his days with Ian Williams. Nothing seems to have gone right for him lately though, and fell in this race four our in 2012. Has been known to break blood vessels.

4. Quel Esprit – Willie Mullins – Paul Townend

Won Irish Hennessy in February 2012 but stamina doubts and sometimes makes jumping errors. Opposable.

5. Big Fella Thanks – Tom George – Denis O’Regan

Hardy veteran who gives his all. However, form figures of 6, 4, 7 in three previous assaults on this prize suggest he doesn’t quite get the marathon trip. Place prospects at best.

6. Seabass – Ted Walsh – Katie Walsh

Third a year ago when sent off a gambled on 8/1 joint favourite. That was from a 5lb lower mark, but has shaped well over fences and hurdles in the interim, and must be considered a major threat. Trainer won the race with Papillon back in 2000.

7. Roberto Goldback – Nicky Henderson – Barry Geraghty

A sixth run for current trainer after transferring from the care of Dessie Hughes. Acts on better ground and proved there’s still fire in his belly when taking Ascot’s United House Gold Cup in November (off 4lb lower). Could be involved.

8. Sunnyhillboy – Jonjo O’Neill – Richie McLernon

Connections clearly believe his is feasibly handicapped off 152 given he hasn’t jumped a fence in public since finishing second by a nose to Neptune Collonges 12 months ago (off 142). Prior to that he won the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, and deserves maximum respect despite the fact AP McCoy shops elsewhere. Trainer won the race in 2010 with Don’t Push It.

9. Ballabriggs – Donald McCain – Jason Maguire

The McCain family enjoy an indelible assocaition with this race, not just for the exploits of the great Red Rum, but also for this wonderful horse’s victory in the 2011 renewal. Managed sixth a year ago, but pulled up in the Becher Chase here in December, and perhaps the years could be catching up as he’s now a 12 year old. That said, he’s now only two pounds higher in the weights than when winning.

10. Teaforthree – Rebecca Curtis – Nick Scholfield

A first taste of Aintree for this dour stayer who did this column a mighty favour when grittily landing the four miler at the Cheltenham Festival 13 months ago. Second in the Welsh National in January and stable on a high after the win of At Fishers Cross at Cheltenham. Acceptable racing weight, big chance. No Welsh trained winner of the race since 1905!!

11. Across The Bay – Donald McCain – Henry Brooke

Mixing regulation fences & hurdles has run well here in the past on more than one occasion. Loves testing ground. Has had a wind op. Unlikely to be good enough.

12. Join Together – Paul Nicholls – Daryl Jacob

Bindaree in 2002 and Party Politics in 1992 are the last eight year old winers of this contest, but this guy has stamina to burn, handled these fences with aplomb when second in the Becher Chase back in December, and hails from the stable that won the race 12 months ago. A mark of 150 means he is reasonably weighted with 11st 2lbs, and you can out a line through his prep run when pulled up at Doncaster having been badly hampered. Avoided Cheltenham specifically to target this prize, and looks primed to deliver a big challenge as Daryl Jacob searches for a repeat win in the saddle. Not too much mileage on the clock and loves decent ground.

13. Colbert Station – Ted Walsh – AP McCoy

The Walsh family hold a very strong hand in the race, with Ted saddling both Colbert Station and Seabass, while son Ruby rides favourite On His Own. Colbert Station is the choice of champion jockey AP McCoy, and hails from the strong staying family of Witness Box. Winner of the valuable Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas time, he followed up with a win over hurdles in a Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown in February. In the form of his life, and this will be just his sixth appearance over fences.

14. Forpadydeplasterer – Tom Cooper – Andrew McNamara

Won over three miles at Thurles in November, but major stamina doubts have to be the prime concern for the 2009 Arkle winner. His odds of 66/1 would appear to be an accurate reflection of his chance.

15. On His Own – Willie Mullins – Ruby Walsh

A faller in this race 12 months at Bechers second time around. Prior to that he was a facile winner of the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January 2012, but could a lack of experience count against him? He’s three from seven over fences, but bounced back from the injury suffered in this race a year ago by scoring in Navan’s Boyne Hurdle
in February. Short price appears to be based on that run and the formidable team he represents – they were successful with Hedgehunter in 2005.

16. Joncol – Paul Nolan – Robbie Power

No win since November 2011 but bags of experience over fences, with six wins from 18 outings. Won the Irish Hennessy in 2010, but not guaranteed to stay and also not in the best of form.

17. Balthazar King – Philip Hobbs – Richard Johnson

Nicely weighted and stays all day, as proven by his Cross Country win at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival. Drying ground a plus and definite each way squeak.

18. Cappa Bleu – Evan Williams – Paul Moloney

Strongly fancied 11 year old from top Welsh stable. Races off a mark of 145 despite running on strongly to grab fourth in this off 2lbs higher a year ago. Ground no problem and trained all year with this in mind. Good warm up second to Vino Griego at Ascot. Promising.

19. Oscar Time – Martin Lynch – Sam Waley-Cohen

Second to Ballabriggs in the 2011 renewal off an identical mark. Missed a year after that and yet to show similar level of form this term, plus is now a 12 year old. Would appreciate rain.

20. Always Waining – Peter Bowen – Tom O’Brien

Comes alive over these unique fences, bagging the Topham in 2010 (off 128), 2011 (133) and 2012 (138). Has eaned a bash at the big one, but is 12 now and rated 144, plus there has to be a massive stamina concern.

21. Tatenen – Richard Rowe – Andrew Thornton

Sent off a 100/1 outsider when unseating at fence eight a year ago. Sixth in the Grand Annual latest and unlilely to figure prominently.

22. Treacle – Tom Taaffe – Andrew Lynch

Fell in this a year ago but goes well in big field handicaps, hasn’t been over-raced for a veteran, will like the ground and won his prep race. Not written off.

23. Lost Glory – Jonjo O’Neill – Mark Walsh

Won four of his last five, striking at a lower level at Uttoxeter, Southwell, Stratford and Chepstow. Another big step forward required to get involved here.

24. Swing Bill – David Pipe – Conor O’Farrell

A winner of four of his 30 chase starts, this inconsistent old horse is capable on his day and likes these fences. Made it home in 10th a year ago, and showed up well when fourth in the Becher in December. Also fifth in the Topham of 2011. Might be booked for another mid-division finish.

25. Saint Are – Tim Vaughan – Dougie Costello

Not the best in the jumping department (one from 11 over fences) but scored over hurdles in Grade 1 company at this meeting two years ago, and followed up over regulation fences last season. Ground a plus and lightly weighted.

26. Chicago Grey – Gordon Elliott – Paul Carberry

Bit of a character and takes the odd chance with his jumping. Was unlucky to be brought down at the fifth in last year’s race (went off 20/1), but can now race off a nine pounds lower mark. Has had a wind op since then, which presumably contributed when he popped up at 25/1 to win his prep race at Navan.

27. Quiscover Fontaine – Willie Mullins – David Casey

Out of form of late over shorter trips, and wasn’t exactly flying when he fell in this race at the 17th last season. He did however run well to be fourth in the 2011 Irish National (3m 5f).

28. Rare Bob – Dessie Hughes – Bryan Cooper

Brought down at the fifth when sent off at 40/1 off a six pounds higher mark 12 months ago. Did however show up well for a long way when fifth in the 2011 Becher Chase over these obstacles. Ridden by man of the moment Bryan Cooper and a back to for third in the Leinster National at Naas last time out. Not dismissed.

29. The Rainbow Hunter – Kim Bailey – Aidan Coleman

Scored in May at Southwell and again after a break at Ascot in November, but couldn’t cope with Heavy ground at Chepstow in December, and well beaten at Ascot in February. Hard to say how he’ll adapt to these fences and others preferred.

30. Becauseicouldntsee – Noel Glynn – Martin Ferris

A towering horse having his third run in the race. Two falls haven’t put connections off trying to make it third time lucky, but he didn’t make it past fence two in 2011, and fence eight in 2012. Was a fair fifth in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival 23 days ago, but it’ll be a big shock if he can pull this off.

31. Harry The Viking – Paul Nicholls – Ryan Mahon

Best known for being in the part ownership of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, this lightly raced eight year displayed his ample stamina by finishing second to Teaforthree in the 2012 National Hunt Chase. Out of form in four starts since, most recently in the Kim Muir, but not impossible to envisage a resurgent display here.

32. Mr Moonshine – Sue Smith – Peter Buchanan

Without a win since November 2011 but solid and consistent and performed well to finish second to Cape Tribulation at Wetherby at Christmas time. Surprising if he’s good enough to figure here.

33. Mumbles Head – Peter Bowen – Jamie Moore

Twice a winner at Perth last summer and third here in a veterans’ chase in October, but fell at the first in the Becher Chase and then pulled up in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock Park three days before Christmas. Hard to fancy.

34. Ninetieth Minute – Tom Taaffe – Slippers Madden

Just one win from 11 starts over fences for this 10 year old son of Old Vic, that sole success arriving in a beginners’ event at Fairyhouse in February 2012. Warmed up for this with a second to stablemate Treacle at Down Royal last month. Difficult to imagine him winning.

35. Auroras Encore – Sue Smith – Ryan Mania

Won a handicap hurdle here at this meeting in 2008, and beaten a head in last year’s Scottish National. That said, three runs this year have seen him beaten 46 lengths to finish a tame fifth in the Classic Chase at Warwick, fall at Doncaster and then beaten out of sight at Kelso. Slim chance unless something can spark a revival.

36. Tarquinius – Gordon Elliott – Wilson Renwick

This’ll be run number 14 of a packed season for Tarquinius, one which has yielded wins at Punchestown, Leopardstown and Fairyhouse. Solid and consistent and sneaks into the weights with 10st 2lbs. Trainer won this race six years ago, but doubt whether this horse is good enough to repeat the feat.

37. Any Currency – Martin Keighley – Ian Popham

Gets in here flush off 10 stone and has bags of stamina. Will like the ground and won over 3m 4f at Wincanton in November. However, unseated in the Becher Chase on only attempt at these fences, and could only manage ninth in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival.

38. Major Malarkey – Nigel Twiston-Davies – Tom Scudamore

Lively outsider but very infrequent visitor to winners’ enclosure – last victory December 2010. Stacks of experience at marathon trips though, including narrow second in 2012 Midlands National.

39. Soll – Jo Hughes – Mark Grant

Two pounds out of the weights but lightly raced and has potential to improve. Formerly with John Quinn and then Willie Mullins, but recorded first win for current trainer when making all on Heavy ground to win off 132 at Sandown Park last month. Could be more to come.

40. Viking Blond – Nigel Twiston-Davies – Adam Wedge

Hard to make a convincing case for….crashed out at the first in this a year ago, and though he goes well at Cheltenham this is surely too big an ask.

Good luck!

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago

21 Apr
2012

All Aboard The Merigo Round On Scotland’s Sunny West Coast‏

Greetings from north of the border!

We’re up in Ayr where the sun’s out and the track looks in great nick ahead of their big day, with the Coral Scottish National (3.25pm) forming the centrepiece of Channel 4’s seven race bonanza on Saturday afternoon.

Having not been to the track since 2003 I have to say i’m impressed by both the atmosphere and the layout, with a big crowd more than happy to lend their support to the Friday fixture, though the sight of my ashen-faced colleague Trifleman clambering from a taxi shortly after a turbulent flight up from London wasn’t quite how i’d envisaged being welcomed to the course.

If he recovers in time I’ll definitely be telling him to keep on the right side of 2010 winner Merigo, as the 11-year-old goes in search of a second win in the big race following a gallant second to Beshabar when significantly higher in the ratings 12 months ago.

To say Dumfries trainer Andrew Parker’s chestnut gelding saves his best for this place is something of an understatement – in seven runs at the track he’s never been out of the frame, with fours wins to his name alongside two seconds and a third.

He won his prep race here in March to illustrate a heartening return to form, definitely goes on the prevailing Good ground, and pleasingly is re-united with Timmy Murphy who won the big one on him two years ago, and was also in the saddle when he finished second.

He got the job done off a handicap mark of 127 in 2010, and only narrowly lost out in a bid to follow up off 142.

On Saturday afternoon he’ll think he’s got loose under a feather weight of 10.2 (off 134), and the rash of money which saw big sponsor Coral’s initial quote of 14/1 obliterated may indeed prove to have been well placed.

His big white face will make him easy to spot, and it’s a face the layers will be none too keen to see gracing the winner’s enclosure.

You can back Merigo each way at 15/2 with Paddy Power, and pleasingly the Irish firm are offering a valuable fifth place concession.

But what of the favourite I hear you ask?!

Paul Nicholls has lined up seven year old Harry The Viking – never out of the first two in six career starts and a gallant second in the Cheltenham four miler – to try and complete a lightning quick Grand National smash and grab, after the victory of Neptune Collonges at Aintree last Saturday.

He was available at 8/1 with Coral when the sponsors first priced up their race, and is now available at a top offer of 6/1 (clear favourite).

He ran a mighty race to be second to Teaforthree at the Festival, but the stats for the Scottish National are nothing if not discomforting if you’re considering backing the jolly in a 25 horse race:

– The last 10 favourites have all been beaten, six of which failed to complete the course

– Nine of the last 10 winners carried 10 stone 9lbs or less (HTV lines up under 10.11)

– Only three of the last 12 winners had run at that season’s Cheltenham Festival

– Of the last 46 seven years olds to line up in the race only one was successful

All things considered i’m more than happy to look elsewhere and chance my arm on Merigo – an in-form course specialist looking to enhance a brilliant record in the race.

Also live on C4 is the grandly titled Isle Of Skye Blended Whisky Scottish Champion Hurdle, which is in fact a handicap, albeit a serious and valuable one with Clerk’s Choice burdened with top weight off a mark of 147.

Certain to go off a relatively short priced favourite is the Paul Nicholls charge Edgardo Sol, who lines up eight pounds well in off 144 after seeing his rating rocket skyward after winning easily at Aintree over fences last Saturday.

For all that he looks like the proverbial good thing it’s probably also worth remembering his record over hurdles – just one win from 10 attempts, although there is a County Hurdle second in there from March which is obviously attractive in this context.

That said, prior to the County he was chinned three times on the bounce off lower marks this season, and having had a whopping 10 runs during the current campaign he looks worth taking on at cramped odds, especially as Ayr is a million miles from Ditcheat and this could turn out to be one race too many.

So with Edgardo Sol ruled out there has to be value lurking at bigger prices, and the one that appeals most is Donald McCain’s Red Merlin, who returned to the track with a bang from an 11 month absence under top weight in a 0-130 (his handicap debut) at Newcastle last month.

Up only five pounds he gets in here with a lovely low weight, has knocked in four on the spin over timber, goes on the ground, and having been a very good horse at up to a mile and half on the Flat it’d be no surprise were he to snag this valuable prize in the hands of Jason Maguire.

The stable’s runners continue in good heart, as displayed by Lexi’s Boy who bagged the opener from the front at Ayr on Friday, and don’t forget this is the race in which a certain Overturn rose to prominence two years ago!

To put it another way, if Harry The Viking and Edgardo Sol do the business and Paul Nicholls has a big race double I’ll be having a truly miserable afternoon!

The final word this week goes to my C4 Racing colleague Nick ‘Buzz’ Lightfoot, a star behind the scenes in our operation, and a thorough stayer on firm ground, though he’ll need to be given that he lines up in the London Marathon on Sunday Morning!

He deserves a pat on the back after a gruelling training regime, and I’m on at 150/1 that he completes in under four hours.
Good luck!
Saturday’s best bets at Ayr:

2.50 – Isle Of Skye Blended Whisky Scottish Champion Hurdle (Limited Handicap) – 8 Red Merlin (each way) @ 6/1 (Boylesports, BetVictor, Paddy Power or Stan James)

3.25 – Coral Scottish Grand National – 13 Merigo (each way) @ 15/2 (Paddy Power)

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Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

14 Apr
2012

Irish Eyes Set To Smile In The 2012 Aintree Grand National‏

What a race! Run over four and a half unique miles a maximum field of 40 horses are declared to contest Saturday afternoon’s John Smith’s Grand National, and if you believe bookmakers Coral it’s a day that could spark a £300 million betting bonanza, with Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool preparing to do battle in their FA Cup semi final at Wembley, before their home city hosts the National Hunt race that captures the imagination of the entire nation and beyond.

There’s a typically rich pre-race narrative going into the race, with the McCain family going for a sixth win in the race with last year’s winner Ballabriggs (he’s bidding to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to follow up), Gold Cup winner Synchronised attempting to add the Aintree feature to his Cheltenham heroics (none has managed it since Golden Miller way back in 1934!), and not one but two examples of sibling rivalry as Ruby Walsh rides On His Own for boss Willie Mullins, while sister Katie rides Seabass for their father Ted, plus the Carberry clan are at it too with 1999 winner Paul aboard Chicago Grey, while sister Nina gets the leg up on 2011 Irish Grand National winner Organisedconfusion.

Barring a miracle it’s AP McCoy’s mount Synchronised who’s going to go off favourite, but given his propensity for dropping off the pace and throwing in some howling errors it’s a brave man who’d back him at as short as 6/1 in a 40 horse race, especially as he’d bidding to the first top weight since Red Rum to triumph.

He’s not a big horse, but his is as thorough stayer as you could ever wish for, and time may prove that he’s thrown in here despite having to carry top weight, but in a race of this nature, over these fences, I’m definitely keen to shop elsewhere.

I’m also not bowled over by the idea of backing Donald McCain’s Ballabriggs – what a training performance it would be if he could coax another National out of this fella givent that he’s 11 years of age now, racing off a mark of 160 (won off 150 last year) which means a big racing weight to shoulder, plus his prep run at Kelso was only okay rather than dripping with promise of more to come.

There’s West End Rocker for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson, but a couple of warm, sunny, breezy days have seen the ground dry out, and it might just count against him.

Those same concerns about the Good-ish ground apply to Giles Cross more than most, while backers of Victor Dartnall’s Haydock Trial winner also have to contend with the fact jockey Denis O’Regan deserted Giles Cross in favour of Black Apaplachi following concerns about his ability to get down to 10 stone and one pound to take the mount.

David Pipe won the National in 2008 with 7/1 joint favourite Comply Or Die, and here he relies on the blinkered Junior in the hands of Tom Scudamore.

Such is his versatility Junior must be a wonderful horse to own – he won the Ascot Stakes on the Flat at the Royal Meeting in 2010, and went on to score at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011.

His prep run at Donacaster was good, the form of which has been franked when the winner Ikorodu Road scored again at Newbury next time up.

Junior will like the drying ground, but for anyone considering a wager stop and remember his lack of experience – just the eight starts over fences, plus the handicapper has not been kind – a mark of 153 means he’s a whopping 19 pounds higher than when winning at Cheltenham.

Also sure to be popular Cappa Bleu lines up for Vale Of Glamorgan trainer Evan Williams, aiming to become the first Welsh trainer National winner since 1905!

He’s a lovely jumper and has a definite chance, but whether or not he’ll stay is the burning question…

Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins fires three shots in a bid to win the race again following Hedgehunter’s win back in 2005, and Thyestes winner On His Own looks to be the one the stable rate as their best opportunity given that he’s the choice of Ruby Walsh.

A lack of experience and some occasionally haphazard jumping are off-putting though, and Ruby will have to be at his brilliant best to guide him home in front.

In choosing On His Own Ruby Walsh also turned down the mount on his family’s horse Seabass, so that has to be a clue as to his likely chances, while Pricewise Tom Segal suggested Treacle as a big priced alternative when interviewed by Gary Wiltshire on BBC2 on Thursday afternoon.

Unfortunately, like Junior he’s facing a pretty stiff mark (145), while there hasn’t been a winner older than 10 years of age since Amberleigh House in 2004.

It’s also not entirely clear how his jumping will hold up over the big fences given how he struggled in that department when faced with the Mildmay course back in October.

So if it isn’t to be any of the big guns, we can concentrate on trying to find one at fancy odds to try and cause something of a shock.

Trained at Larne in County Antrim over in Northern Ireland my suggestion for the winner of the 2012 John Smith’s Grand National is a 20/1 shot in the shape of trainer Stuart Crawford’s 10-year-old Presenting gelding KILLYGLEN, a tough as nails sort who displayed the benefit of a wind operation to win his prep run at Down Royal with ease.

Although sent off an unconsidered 66/1 shot in this race a year ago he was travelling with real menace and staying on strongly when he fell four fences from home, and with that experience under his belt plus a lower mark and indeed a lower racing weight 12 months on, I really fancy him to be involved at the business end of the race.

You get the impression his trainer knows exactly what he’s got up his sleeve given that rather than risk his handicap mark (141) he chose to campaign him almost exclusively over hurdles this season, giving him just one run over the larger obstacles at Haydock in November prior to the framing of the National weights.

Crawford’s patience has certainly paid dividends – his pride and joy arrives here fit as a fiddle with a lovely racing weight of just 10 stone four pounds.

His age group have won four of the last six runnings of the race, jockey Robbie Power already has a National to his name courtesy of 33/1 shot Silver Birch back in 2007, and he has been trained to the minute for another assault on this huge prize.

The drying ground will hold no fears for Killyglen, and given how well he was travelling when coming to grief in 2011 we can be confident the petrol light won’t be flickering on empty if he can reach the elbow in touch with the leaders.

Killyglen can be backed for National glory at 20/1 with Coral, although I must also say hats off to Gibraltar-based firm BetVictor who are the only firm going out on a limb offering six places to each way punters.

Needless to say they’ve had to tighten up their margins accordingly, but their 14/1 each way is a fair offer given that you’ll be paid out down to sixth.
Good luck!
Tom Lee’s 2012 John Smith’s Grand National tip: 27 Killyglen (each way) @ 20/1 Coral/@ 14/1 BetVictor (1/4 odds 1-2-3-4-5-6)

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Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

12 Apr
2012

Tips For Day One Of The 2012 Aintree Grand National Meeting

A card right out of the top drawer ushers in the first of three days crammed full of quality at Aintree, and faced with the enviable task of being there for all of them i’ll try and get the ball rolling with a winner on a day when the force of nature which is Big Buck’s tries to extend his extraordinary run of victories.

The cream of the four year old speed hurdlers are up at 2.30pm live on BBC2 as Triumph winner Countrywide Flame attempts to do the double in the Grade 1 Matalan Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle – it’d be no surprise if he were to do it either, but this is a thriving renewal of the race, and with Triumph third Grumeti, fourth Dodging Bullets, sixth Sadler’s Risk and well placed faller Pearl Swan all back for another tilt it’ll be anything but easy for him.

By far the biggest price of any of those mentioned is Philip Hobbs’ runner Sadler’s Risk, who’ll benefit from a more sedate pace than the helter skelter gallop that ensued at Cheltenham, and will love the return to a flatter track.

Highly rated on the Flat, there’s likely to be further improvement to come on what he’s showed so far over timber (trounced his rivals at Kempton on debut), and with only three runs over hurdles to date this fella is a definite value selection each way at 9/1 with either Stan James.

Just after 3pm there’s a race to make you drool if you’re a jump racing connoisseur – with Ryanair first and third Riverside Theatre and Medermit renewing acquaintances, alongside Gold Cup fourth Burton Port, last year’s winner Nacarat (fresh from winning the Racing Post Chase no less!), handicap sensation Hunt Ball, and Paul Nicholls’ high class What A Friend – in the Betfred Bowl.

There’s a very definite argument for not getting involved at all such is the strength in depth here, but if you don’t roll the dice you can’t throw a six, and I suggest rowing in with the solid option in the shape of one of title chasing Nicky Henderson’s three runners in the shape of Burton Port.

Still only eight years of age this lad feels like he’s been around forever, but having bounced back from a year out with two fine performances (second to Long Run at Newbury followed by the Gold Cup) it’d be no surprise to see him bag one before bowing out for the season.

He’s a course and distance meeting at this fixture a year ago meaning his stamina is guaranteed (unlike major rival Medermit for example), the ground is perfect, the gap between races is ideal, AP McCoy is available to ride and everything looks set fair for a big run.

Lest we forget this horses has only once been out of the first two in 10 starts over fences! And that was when fourth in the Gold Cup.

By taking the 9/2 with Stan James or Blue Square we’re doing everything possible to ensure a run for our investment in the hottest of hot races. Win bet.

Later on the card bookmakers will be keeping everything crossed they can get Al Ferof beaten in the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices’ Chase run over 2m 4f at 4.50pm, and for them it obviously makes sense to try and lay a young horse who made a race ending mistake last time out when he has so little experience over fences (this is run number 5).

The problem for them is trying to identify what’s going to beat him in such a small field, in that Ruby chooses Al Ferof in preference to Jewson flop Cristal Bonus, Menorah’s chasing campaign has been memorable for multiple mistakes, while Alasi has a mountain to find on ratings.

That only leaves Venetia Williams’ mare Pepite Rose, unbeaten in four bloodless successes over fences and very much on a roll.

Clearly this is far, far harder than the races she’s been contesting, but the manner in which she’s been winning means she’s earned a crack at this, and again on value grounds the 3/1 with BetVictor or Blue Square looks hard to ignore.

The mares’ allowance helps redress some of the ratings gap with Al Ferof, and a minor upset could be on the cards.

Finally, they also race down at Newton Abbot and Jonjo O’Neill’s Spot The Ball could be the solution in the lucky last.

Predictably it’s not a great contest for a 3m 3f handicap hurdle worth £2,060 to the winner, but the Jackdaws team won’t be complaining if their thorough stayer run his usual consistent race.

Today’s pilot Maurice Linehan has won on Spot The Ball on both occasions the pair have teamed up, and unlike short priced jolly Terfel’s Toscar he’s had a nice break between races and is proven in excess of three miles.

An interest in the 9/2 with BetVictor may pay dividends.
Good luck!

Thursday’s best bets:

2.30 Aintree – Matalan Anniversary Four-Year-Old Juvenile Hurdle – 11 Sadler’s Risk (each way) @ 9/1 (Stan James)

3.05 Aintree – Betfred Bowl Chase – 1 Burton Port (win) @ 9/2 (Blue Square or Stan James)

4.50 Aintree -Betfred Manifesto Novices’ Chase – 5 Pepite Rose (win) @ 3/1 (BetVictor or Blue Square)

5.45 Newton Abbot – SISLive Handicap Hurdle – 1 Spot The Ball (win) @ 9/2 (BetVictor)

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Posted 5 years, 5 months ago

09 Apr
2011

2011 Grand National Day Tips

It doesn’t seem five minutes since Don’t Push It was forging clear up the elbow to propel AP McCoy even deeper into the realms of National Hunt legend, but racing’s day on the front pages is once again upon us, and with it, the 40 horse puzzle which is the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National (live on BBC1, 4.15pm).

The best backed horses in recent times have been McCoy’s mount, once again, Don’t Push It, as under top weight he bids to become the first horse to win back to back runnings of the great race since Red Rum, Willie Mullins’ Arbor Supreme, as well as Paul Nicholls’ What A Friend, who lines up in the colours of Ged Mason and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

In the car on the way to the races today my great mate Nick ‘Buzz’ Lightfoot was boasting about an antepost voucher in his possession bearing a rather attractive quote of 33/1 about strongly fancied Irish runner The Midnight Club for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

The ten year old is now second favourite and generally available at just 10/1, a rather perspicacious piece of punting you might say!

Victor Chandler is the only bookmaker paying 1,2,3,4,5,6 on each way bets in the 2011 Grand National

What the unfortunate Buzz doesn’t yet know is that I’ve formulated a plan to get my hands on it before the day is out…..currently hobbling around on crutches after being mercilessly beaten by his girlfriend, my idea is to hide the crutches and steadfastly refuse to return them unless he’s willing to trade them in for something of equivalent or higher value. Genius.

Back to the serious job of what to back though, and there honestly are a raft of possibilities to sift through.

The one I’d love to see win is Haydock Grand National trial winner Silver By Nature.

The ten year old is trained by one of the nicest people in racing Lucinda Russell, and with a feasible handicap mark and a strong likelihood he’ll stay the marathon trip it must just happen.

The only thing that puts me off is the Good ground – all his best form has come on Soft or Heavy, and for that reason I’m not prepared to invest.

I firmly respect the chances of a number of the fancied runners at shorter prices, but the two I’m backing are a pair of 33/1 shots.

The first of which is equine pensioner Hello Bud for the Twiston-Davies team. I know plenty of people will read this and think I’m totally bonkers putting up a 13 year old to win the Grand National, but at 33/1 each way with Victor Chandler, who are paying six places, he’ll jump, stay, gallop, loves the track and ground, knows the fences, and could well make the frame or even go and win the thing!

A hugely creditable fifth in this race last year, another tilt at the big one has been the aim ever since. Sam Twiston-Davies knows the horse like the back of his hand, and if he can get that lovely jumping going he’ll give him a great spin.

If you saw Hello Bud win the Becher Chase over the big fences at Aintree in November I think you’d agree he’s no back number – he had to really knuckle down, and gave everything to see off Royal Rosa in a very exciting finish.

Get a £25 Free Bet when you Join Victor Chandler and bet on the Grand National

You can put a line through his only subsequent run in the Classic Chase at Warwick. It was absolutely bottomless that day, I walked the track before racing and nearly sank.This is a far superior horse on better ground.

The winner of the 2009 Scottish National, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to me to see him right there and pitching at the business end of the race.

My other National fancy is another horse with very fond memories of the famous fences – Evan Williams’ State Of Play.

Not seen since finishing third a year ago, Evan tells me he’s got him simmering perfectly in preparation for another attempt on the big one.

Fourth in 2009 we definitely don’t have any stamina worries with this fella, he loves the big fences and hails from a top stable.

A former Hennessy and Charlie Hall winner we know he has bags of class, and like Hello Bud, comes here with a lovely racing weight. I can’t resist getting involved at 28’s.

What I must also say is bet with Victor Chandler! The Gibraltar based firm are putting their necks on the line by going each way 1/4 odds 1-2-3-4-5-6! A cracking offer which should be snapped up accordingly.

It’s not just about the National though, with the mighty Peddlers Cross lining up over two and a half miles in the Grade 1 John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle (2.50pm).

As was the case in the Fighting Fifth I firmly expect him to put Binocular in the shade, and I’m lining up a full win bet at 13/8 with Ladbrokes.

For now though, duty calls; I’m off to hide those crutches.

Good luck, and enjoy what is certain to be a fantastic occasion.

Saturday’s best bets:

2.50 Aintree – John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle – 5 Peddlers Cross (win) @ 13/8 (Ladbrokes)

4.15 Aintree – John Smith’s Grand National Chase – 24 State Of Play (each way) @ 28/1 (Victor Chandler)

4.15 Aintree – John Smith’s Grand National Chase – 27 Hello Bud (each way) @ 33/1 (Victor Chandler)

Full List of Grand National Runners & Riders

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Posted 6 years, 5 months ago