The Randox Health Grand National is just around the corner, and with over a million pounds in prize money, let’s take a closer look at this year’s contest.
After last year’s downpour led to a very soft ground Grand National, it does appears that we could be seeing a good ground renewal this time. The weather forecast is predominantly dry between now and the big day.
Vieux Lion Rouge is at the head of the market, and won the Becher Chase over these fences in December. The first five home that day all re-oppose, and were separated by just a total of three lengths (Highland Lodge – second, The Last Samuri – third, Ucello Conti – fourth, and One For Arthur – fifth).
Highland Lodge’s stamina would concern me over this extra mile, The Last Samuri is 12lbs higher having finishing second last year, Ucello Conti keeps on finding a few too good, therefore, One For Arthur could easily overturn the form with the lot of them.
In his next start, the Lucinda Russell trained eight-year-old won a gruelling stamina test at Warwick, and arrives here in fine fettle. Vieux Lion Rouge, then got the better of Blaklion in the Haydock Park National trial in February, but I think there’s every possibility that the runner-up could reverse that form.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has gone through a quiet period of late, but this Grade One winner arrives 3lbs better off with his Haydock conqueror, and is just the type to thrive in a race like this.
Owner JP McManus won this race in 2010 with Don’t Push It, and has a typically strong hand of challengers. Three times Cheltenham Festival scorer Cause Of Causes merits plenty of respect, given he has stamina to burn. JP also owns 2014 Stayers Hurdle victor More Of That, who warmed up with a highly respectable sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and top weight Carlingford Lough, who is a multiple Grade One winner, and arrives here in fresh condition, having raced just twice this campaign.
Others to consider include the Brian Ellison progressive trained eight-year-old Definitly Red. Impressive wins at Wetherby and Doncaster throw him into the mix, and he has attracted plenty of support in the betting.
Paul Nicholls still has hope of winning the trainers title, and in Saphir Du Rheu and Vicente he has two interesting contenders. The former ran a screamer in the Gold Cup to finish 5th, and now looks very well handicapped (6lbs well in), as does Scottish National winner Vicente, who runs off a very tempting mark.
Willie Mullins saddles nine-year-old Pleasant Company who won an attritional Bobbyjo Chase, whilst Ruby Walsh’s Father, Ted, saddles in-form Foxrock. Having dined at the top table in graded races in Ireland, the decision this season was taken to run this nine-year-old in Hunter Chases, and he’s now won four races in a row.
And despite Gigginstown House Stud’s protests about the weights of this race, I would expect them to be mob-handed too. They won the race twelve months ago with Rule The World. Let me leave you with some pointers ahead of the race; Six of the last seven winners had never previously raced on the Grand National course.
The shortest price winner in the last five years has been 25/1. The last seven-year-old to have won the race was Bogskar way back in 1940. Rule The World was the first Irish trained winner (2016) since Silver Birch back in 2007.
I like the profile of Blaklion in this year’s race, but respect the claims of Carlingford Lough and Foxrock. And don’t forget that if you are a NEW customer, then you are being rewarded with DOUBLE the ODDS when you place a bet on the Grand National from 6pm, Friday April 7th.
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