Need some guidance for the Grand National? We asked five of our popular Captains to send us their views on the big race.
Biggest Racing Syndicate win: £11,856 (Gowran Park – Win 6)
All eyes will be on Tiger Roll who has done nothing wrong in the build up to this year’s big race but, in price terms, he is far too short to support. I am siding with Pleasant Company who very few seem to remember finished just a head behind Tiger Roll last year and is now 2lb better off. He has plotted the same path to this race and clearly handles the trip and the obstacles, the value each-way pick of the race in my opinion.
In terms of one to avoid, it breaks my heart to say it but Don Poli aka Don Slowly. Up for sale the Thursday before the National and not the same animal these days. Has been pulled up in three of his last five races, I will happily place my money elsewhere.
Winner: Pleasant Company
One To Avoid: Don Poli
Biggest Racing Syndicate win: £15,100 (Tramore – Win 6)
The less rigorous stamina and jumping test seems to have favoured younger horses in the last few renewals, with six of the last 12 placed horses aged eight, as well as three of the last four winners (the other was nine). This looks material.
An interesting outsider is Dounikos. Winner of a trial over 3m5f, he’s progressive, jumps, stays well and is 40/1. Two of the three recent 8yo winners also won last time out – that checks out with Dounikos and also with Jury Duty, who won a big race in the US before easing clear in a 3m2f race a fortnight ago. He’s 5lb well in and is a 25/1 chance.
Mind you, Tiger Roll could just smash the lot of them. He’s impossible not to love. I’ll be against anything Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson run. They’re collectively 0/45 (three places) since Hedgehunter won in 2005.
Winner: Tiger Roll
Outsider: Dounikos / Jury Duty
One To Avoid: Any Willie Mullins or Nicky Henderson horses
Biggest Racing Syndicate win: £10,402 (Cheltenham – Win 6)
I like Vintage Clouds. Gets in down the bottom this time after being balloted out 12 months ago. Second in the Ultima Chase at Cheltenham, first run after a wind operation, delivers him in perfect condition for Saturday.
An outsider who could deliver the shock factor is Ultragold. Adores Aintree, has won the Topham twice and ran third in the Becher Chase last December. Ignore recent Cheltenham run, has never run well there.
One to swerve is Tiger Roll. He’s the obvious favourite and has a big chance to repeat but every syndicate will have him in their perms, will be swerving him on our biggest tickets for value reasons.
Winner: Vintage Clouds
One To Avoid: Tiger Roll
Biggest Racing Syndicate win: £3,849 (Lingfield – Place 6)
I fancy Anibale Fly. Ran well in last year’s race and showed well with a very taking run in the Gold Cup.
At a price Tea For Two is a Grade 1 winning chaser who was placed in last years King George behind Might Bite, was running well in the Cross Country before unseating. However, with a clear round he can make the frame off a much lower mark.
Avoid Vintage Clouds, I just can’t see him being good enough to beat the classy Anibale Fly or the legend that is Tiger Roll
Winner: Anibale Fly
Outsider: Tea For Two
One To Avoid: Vintage Clouds
Biggest Racing Syndicate win: £15,242 (Cheltenham – Place 6)
Tiger Roll may be small for a chaser but has never fallen in 34 races and only has one unseating to his name. Four pulled ups (two lame), 11 wins, six seconds, three thirds and four fourths.
In the last 20 Grand Nationals, 14% of horses were unseated, 2% were brought down, 23% fell, 2% refused, 20% pulled up and less than 1% didn’t finish for other reasons. So with a rough 62% chance that something will happen during the race it is pivotal to select a horse that can improve those odds as much a possible and clearly the chance of Tiger Roll falling is less than most others.
However, some other points also stand. For example, the chance of getting brought down remains as he nearly found out on the first circuit at Becher’s Brook last year, when it was only the superb, quick reactions of Davy Russell that prevented him from running into ‘I Just Know’ who fell in front of him. He was that close from being yet another ‘winner that wasn’t’, so the risks are real regardless of how well handicapped he might look.
But again, let’s remain impartial and work it out as best we can. With the aid of my trusty PC, I have determined that I deem the risks of this year to be 11% unseated, 2% brought down, 6% falling, 2% refused, 17% pulled up and less than 1% other reasons. That’s around 39% and swings the balance firmly in favour of Tiger Roll for me
One outsider I’m looking forward to watching run is the 14 YO Gordon Elliot horse, Bless The Wings.
Winner: Tiger Roll
Outsider: Bless The Wings