While the Cheltenham Festival is the meeting for the racing purists, Aintree’s Grand National Festival is a slightly less serious affair. However, the racing doesn’t fail to disappoint over the three days with the highlight being the world’s most famous horse race, the Randox Health Grand National.
As per, it’s a deviously tricky puzzle to solve with many of the 40 runners looking to have genuine claims of taking the crown won by One For Arthur last year.
One thing that’s almost certain is that the race is going to be a proper marathon test with all the rain that’s fallen, meaning stamina is going to be needed in abundance and any potential non-stayers are going to be found out.
Here are my thoughts on this year’s race.
All possess obvious claims, but I will leave off Tiger Roll straight away as I’m worried by the three-time Cheltenham winner’s size in relation to the fences he will encounter. There is no doubt that he is well handicapped and if anyone can produce him correctly it’s the man of the moment Davy Russell, but there are nagging doubts and at 11/1 I’m not convinced.
Of the other two, Anibale Fly is preferred. He looked to be travelling better when Total Recall fell in the Gold Cup and the way he stormed up Cheltenham’s hill suggests this marathon distance will be well within his capabilities. He’s also officially 9lbs well-in too and seems to come alive at this time of the year.
It could be a big day for J P McManus as he also owns the other horse I’m interested in and that’s the Antony Honeyball-trained Regal Encore.
He’s been very in-and-out in recent seasons and his price of 33/1 reflects that, but two of his last three runs have shown that he’s a very solid campaigner on his day.
He finished third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December and horses who perform well in that race tend to possess plenty of stamina which can only be a bonus with the likely testing conditions.
His last run at Ascot where he took a competitive handicap showed he’s coming into form nicely and he’s running off the same mark here.
I’m a big fan of horses who have completed the National before and Regal Encore finished eighth in the race 12 months ago. The race really is nothing like any other and it really pays to have experience over the fences as well knowledge of the hustle and bustle that goes on.
There are mistakes a plenty and if Regal Encore can stay out of trouble and get into a rhythm like last year, I’m quietly confident of him going close at 33/1.
Grand National – Saturday, 5.15 Aintree
Each Way Terms: 1/5 1-2-3-4-5-6
Anibale Fly e/w – 11/1
Regale Encore e/w – 33/1