As we head into the last day of the 2018 Aintree Grand National Meeting on Saturday 14th April 2018 we’ve five more LIVE ITV races to enjoy.
The Stayers’ Hurdle and Maghall Novices’ Chase are always decent events, but really – it’s all about one race on the Saturday – the Randox Health Grand National.
As always here at TRAINERS-QUOTES we’ve got all the key stats for the main LIVE ITV races – these will help build-up a better profile of horses that have done well in each race over the years.
SATURDAY, 14th April 2018 (ITV/RUK)
2.20 – Mersey Novices´ Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 2m4f ITV
2017 Winner: Finian’s Oscar (3/1 fav)
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Jockey: Robbie Power
14/15 – Won by a horse aged 5 or older
13/15 – Raced 39 days or less ago
13/15 – Won by a horse aged either 5 or 6 years-old
11/15 – Priced 9/2 or shorter in the market
11/15 – Placed in the top three last time out
10/15 – Raced in the Supreme (3), Neptune (6) or County Hurdle (1) last time out
7/15 – Favourites to win (2 joint) (6 of the last 8 favs have won)
6/15 – Won their last race
4/15 – Won by the Paul Nicholls yard
4/15 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
2/15 – Trained by Willie Mullins
2/15 – Ridden by Barry Geraghty
2/15 – Won by the Nicky Henderson yard (inc two of last 7 runnings)
16 of the last 20 (80%) winners were either fav or 2nd fav
14 of the last 21 (67%) winners finished 6th or better at the Cheltenham Festival
Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson have won 6 of the last 14 (43%) runnings between them
6 of the last 8 runnings went to a 5 year-old
TQ VERDICT: Some very promising sorts on show here but it looks like trainer Nicky Henderson, who has won this race twice in the last 7 years, could hold the key again. The Seven Barrows maestro has already fired in many winners at this meeting and has the unbeaten ON THE BLIND SIDE running here. This 6 year-old missed Cheltenham so we’ve not seen him since winning at Sandown in December. He’s 3-from-3 over hurdles and is also a course and distance winner here at Aintree. Yes, a bit has to be taken on trust with such a lay-off but he’s a horse held in high regard at Seven Barrows and looks set to go to the very top. His running style has often seen him off the bridle and chivvied along at times but he’s been ending his races in the style of a horse that might even need further very soon. He’s the highest-rated runner in the field at 153 and, really, it’s only a lack of a recent run that could be deemed as a negative – 13 of the last 15 winners of this had raced in the last 39 days. On a plus, we’ve seen 13 of the last 15 winners aged 5 or 6 so this 6 year-old ticks this stat – something, however, another leading fancy – Black Op – doesn’t. This 7 year-old still sets a fair standard though after running Samcro to 2 ¾ lengths last time at Cheltenham in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Before that, however, he was only ¾ of a length second to another Henderson runner – Santini – so you would feel the Seven Barrows yard would know where they stand with this one. Of the rest, Euxton Lane has caught the eye in winning his last two for the Oliver Sherwood yard and shouldn’t be under estimated, while the former useful flat performer – Silver Concorde – has done little wrong in winning 3 of his 4 hurdles starts since joining the Keith Dalgleish yard but this opposition will be much, much harder. The consistent Momella, from the Dan Skelton yard is another one with a lively and if fully fit after a break should be involved too. She also gets a 7lb mares’ allowance and was only 2 ¼ lengths behind On The Blind Side at Cheltenham back in November. Yes, she’s got a 119 day break to overcome but has gone well fresh in the past, while with just 4 career runs we’ve probably not seen the best of her just yet.
3.00 – Doom Bar Maghull Novices´ Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 2m ITV
2017 Winner: San Benedeto (4/1)
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Nick Schofield
15/15 – Won by a horse aged 8 or younger
15/15 – Winners from the first 3 in the market
15/15 – Priced 9/2 or shorter in the market
13/15 – Won by a horse aged 7 or younger
12/15 – Ran within the last 35 days
12/15 – Placed in the top three in their last race
10/15 – Ran in the Arkle Chase last time out
9/15 – Won by a horse aged 5 or 6 years-old
7/15 – Won their last race
6/15 – Favourites that won
5/15 – Won by either Ruby Walsh (3) or Barry Geraghty (2)
3/15 – Irish-trained winners
4/15 – Won by the Paul Nicholls yard
2/15 – Won by the Nicky Henderson yard (inc two of last 7 runnings)
2/15 – Won by the Henry de Bromhead yard (inc two of the last 5 runnings)
Since 1989 there have been just 3 Irish-trained winners – 2013, 2015 & 2016
Since 1999 trainer Paul Nicholls has had 6 winners and 7 runners-up
18 of the last 23 (78%) winners ran in the Arkle Chase that season
TQ VERDICT: With Brain Power having swerved this race for one earlier in the week then this has paved the way for PETIT MOUCHOIR and really barring accidents it’s hard to see beyond the Arkle third not taking this in what looks a weak renewal with little depth. Yes, Petit Mouchoir got into a cat-and-mouse battle with Saint Calvados at Cheltenham last time to set the race up nicely for Footpad – but he should have that problem here. A decent hurdler, that was third in the 2017 Champion Hurdle, and despite not quite looking top-class over fences he’s still run three fairly solid races over the bigger obstacles. He jumps well and the Aintree track will suit him well – he was a close second to Buveur D’ Air at this meeting a few years ago over hurdles. Rated 157, he’s the top-rated in the field by some way and his trainer Henry de Bromhead has also landed this race twice in the last 5 years – he looks very likely to get back to winning ways here. Of the rest, trainer Paul Nicholls has a good record in the race – winning 4 of the last 15 – so his Diego Du Charmil can do best of the rest. Yes, he fell last time out and will need to jump better here but was in the process of running a big race that day at Ascot. Delegate is closely-rated with Diego Du Charmil but might be better over further, while the 140-rated Lady Buttons can’t be totally ruled-out getting a 7lbs mares allowance from all the others. She won well at Newcastle over fences last time and is actually 2-from-2 over fences.
3.40 – Betway Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 3m1f ITV
2017 Winner: Sizing Codelco (10/1)
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Jockey: Robbie Power
13/15 – Carried 11-1 or less in weight
13/15 – Had run within the last 35 days
12/15 – Won by a horse aged 8 or older
10/15 – Priced 9/1 or bigger in the market
9/15 – Raced at the Cheltenham Festival last time out
9/15 – Unplaced in their last race
3/15 – Won their last race
3/15 – Won by the Philip Hobbs yard
2/15 – Won by the Nicky Henderson stable
2/15 – Won by the Jonjo O’Neill stable
2/15 – Favourites that won
1/15 – Number of Irish-trained winners
12 of the last 21 (57%) winners raced at that season’s Cheltenham Festival
Only 3 of the last 19 (16%) winners were aged 10+
Only 2 winners carried more than 11st in the last 14 years
Just 1 Irish-trained winner in the last 41 runnings
6 of the last 8 (75%) winners were rated between 134 and 139
TQ VERDICT: A tough handicap to solve here but there are some decent trends to apply to the race. A massive 13 of the last 15 winners carried 11-1 or less in weight and last ran 35 days or less ago – so these will help knock a fair few out. 12 of the last 15 winners were also aged 8 or older, plus 9 of the last 15 ran at Cheltenham last time out. Don’t be too concerned if your fancy didn’t run well last time as 60% of the last 15 winners were also unplaced in their most recent race. Last year’s winner – Sizing Codelco – was 15th in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham so this is another example that recent form can’t be taken too seriously in this race. Viconte Du Noyer was pulled-up in their Cheltenham race and also represents last year’s winning connections and with 11-1 in weight and being a 9 year-old does fit a few of the few trends – of those at a bigger price he can’t be ruled out of a mark of 144, which is 4lbs lower than when he last won. We’ve only seen one Irish-trained winner of the race in the last 41 runnings too, while with just 2 winners carrying more than 11st in the last 14 years I’m prepared to overlook those at the head of the weights. Thomas Patrick has been popular in the betting for the in-form Tom Lacey yard and with 10-10 he gets in here with a nice weight. Upped in class and raised 8lbs for a recent 8 length Newbury win and he’s 2-from-3 over fences. The champion jockey – Richard Johnson – is in the saddle and I expect him to run a big race. ROCKLANDER falls just outside the key weight trend by only a few pounds but is one I still like. He ran a blinder to be third in the Close Brothers Chase at Cheltenham and despite being 3lbs higher that run still makes him a big player. I expect the flat Aintree track to suit and he’s generally a string traveller in his races. Yes, he’s yet to win over this far but has run some solid races around this trip so on this easier track I can’t see any issues on that front – he’s one for the shortlist. The 10 year-old ON TOUR is a proven course winner and is the other one I’m going to side with. His last two runs here at the track have seen him finish 1st and 2nd , so it’s clearly a place he saves his best for. The trip is a slight question mark but he’s worth another crack at it on a track we know suits him and he’s only 2lbs higher than when winning here over 2m4f back in November by 3 lengths. Ibis Du Rheu was 5th in the Close Brothers Chase last time – beaten 15 lengths – so has a bit of ground to make up on Rocklander – but he did stumble in the closing stages that day so probably would have got a lot closer. Casse Tete was 8th in the Ultima Chase at Cheltenham and travelled really well that day but didn’t quite see out the 3m1f trip so that would again be the concern here for this 6 year-old.
4.20 – Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Reg as the Liverpool Hurdle) (Grade 1) Cl1 3m110y ITV
2017 Winner: Yanworth (9/4 fav)
Trainer: Alan King
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
14/14 – Priced 11/2 or less in the market
12/14 – Won or finished 2nd at this meeting previously
13/14 – Ran within the last 30 days
10/14 – Placed 4th or better in that season’s Stayers’ Hurdle (Cheltenham)
10/14 – Placed 1st or 2nd in their last race
10/14 – Won by a horse aged 6 or 7 years-old
8/14 – Won their last race
8/14 – Favourites to win (6 odds-on)
6/14 – Raced in that season’s Cleeve Hurdle
4/14 – Won by the Paul Nicholls yard
4/14 – Ridden by jockey Ruby Walsh
2/14 – Trained by Alan King
2/14 – Trained by Nicky Henderson
1/14 – Number of Irish-trained winners
Whisper won the race in 2014 & 2015
7 of the last 9 winners won a race at that season’s Cheltenham Festival
6 of the last 9 winners won the Stayers’ Hurdle (Cheltenham) before winning this
TQ VERDICT: All eyes here will be on Sam Spinner, who was well-fancied for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out but could only manage fifth. Previous to that he’d landed the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot – beating L’Ami Serge by just over 2 lengths. Off a mark of 164 he’s the highest-rated in the field and should take all the beaten in this slightly easier-looking race. He still had Lil Rockerfeller in 13th, L’Ami Serge back in 8th and backed that form up by winning Thursday’s Aintree Hurdle, while that could also be good news for The World’s End , who was 7th in the Stayers’ Hurdler. I wasn’t too taken on Sam Spinner’s jumping the last day – he was a bit sloppy at a few hurdles – so it might be that now he’s been pitched at the very highest level in this sphere he’s finding things happening a tad too quick. He’s still a very promising staying hurdler and is only 6 years-old though so has plenty of time to iron that out. However, he’s had a hard season for such a young horse and I think he could be vulnerable again here, plus, for me, is certainly no real value in the betting. As mentioned THE WORLD’S END was only just behind him last time at Cheltenham but I expect the Aintree track to suit him better – he’s the only proven course and distance winner in the field after winning well at this meeting 12 months ago. Yes, he has been beaten three times already this season by Sam Spinner but got much closer to him last time. He might have liked better ground but has won on soft before so underfoot conditions are not a real concern. WHOLESTONE is the other one against Sam Spinner. He finished third in the Stayers’ Hurdle last time out – two places ahead of Sam Spinner – yet will be a bigger price here. He’s rated 161, just 3lbs lower than Sam Spinner, but he’s a consistent hurdler at this level that has been placed in the top three in 11 of his 14 races (winning 5). This will be his first run at Aintree but the long straight will suit and he’s a horse that always sees out this 3m trip well. I feel he looks the value against Sam Spinner – a horse he finished ahead of last time too! Old Guard is also worth a mention and worth a crack up to 3m again. He will be fresher than most and trainer Paul Nicholls has won this race 4 times in the last 14 years. He won last time out at Fontwell – beating Lil Rockerfeller – while 10 of the last 14 winners of this race were aged 6 or 7 and had also been placed 1st of 2nd last time out. Finally, Coole Cody will catch the eye of punters with a string of wins next to his name. He’s done very well this season, winning all three starts and is still lightly-raced. However, this is a huge step up in grade and he’s got upwards of 10-14lbs to find with the main players there – we’ll find out how good he is after this but it would be a shock if he’s taking this.
5.15 – Randox Health Grand National Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) Cl1 4m3f110y ITV
2017 Winner: One For Arthur (14/1)
Trainer: Lucinda Russell
Jockey: Derek Fox
Aintree Grand National Trends (Last 27 Runnings)
– 26/27 – Ran no more than 55 days ago
· 26/27 – Officially rated 137 or higher
· 25/27 – Had won over at least 3m (chase) before
· 24/27 – Had won no more than 6 times over fences before
· 23/27 – Aged 9 or older
· 22/27 – Returned a double-figure price
· 21/27 – Ran no more than 34 days ago
· 21/27 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
· 21/27 – Carried 10-12 OR LESS
· 18/27 – Had won between 4-6 times over fences before
· 16/27 – Carried 10-8 OR LESS
· 16/27 – Finished in the top 4 last time out
· 16/27 – Aged 10 years-old or younger
· 15/27 – Placed favourites
· 14/27 – Aged 9 or 10 years-old
· 14/27 – Won by an Irish-bred horse
· 9/27 – Ran at Cheltenham last time out
· 8/27 – Trained in Ireland (inc 5 of the last 12 years)
· 6/27 – Ran in a previous Grand National
· 5/27 – Won by the favourite or joint favourite
· 5/27 – Won last time out
· 2/27 – Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies
· 2/27 – Ridden by Ruby Walsh
2/27 – Ridden by Leighton Aspell
· 0/27 – Won by a horse aged 7 years-old OR LESS
Aintree Grand National Facts
Since 1978, 120 horses have tried to win with more than 11-5 – with just two winners – Many Clouds (11-9) in 2015 & Neptune Collonges (11-6) in 2012
14 of the last 19 winners were bred in Ireland
Only 1 horse that won at the Cheltenham Festival that same season has won since 1961
The last 7 year-old or younger to win was back in 1940
12 of the last 21 winners had won or been placed in a National-type race before
No horse aged 13 or older has won since 1923 or placed since 1969
3 of the last 9 winners ran in the Scottish National the previous season
9 of the last 15 winners had run over hurdles at some stage earlier in the season
5 of the last 16 winners had been unplaced in the National last year
Only three 8 year-olds have won the last 24 renewals
Just one past winner or placed horse from the previous year’s race has won for 33 years (76 have attempted)
19 of the last 21 winners had fallen or unseated no more than twice in their careers
The last horse to win back-to-back Nationals was Red Rum in 1974
Aintree Grand National Trends (15 Year)
14/15 – Had won over at least 3m previously
13/15 – Won by a horse aged 9 or older
13/15 – Ran less than 50 days ago
13/15 – Officially rated 137 or higher
9/15 – Won by horses aged in double-figures
8/15 – Winners from the top 8 in the betting
8/15 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
7/15 – Experienced the National fences
6/15 – Carried 11-0 or more in weight
5/15 – Won by a horse aged 10 years-old
5/15 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
3/15 – Winning favourites (2 joint)
3/15 – Won their last race
2/15 – Won by the McCain yard
The average winning SP in the last 15 renewals is 28/1
TQ VERDICT: BLAKION was fourth in the 2017 Grand National and has been popular in the betting ever since. Yes, he landed the Becher Chase here back in December – beating another popular National horse – The Last Samuri by 9 lengths. Of course, having experience of these fences is a big plus but let’s cut to the chase – he’s not for me! Why? Well if he couldn’t win the race 12 months ago carrying 11st1lb then why is he going to this time with 11st9lbs on his back? That’s 8lbs more and he’s also now rated 161 as opposed to 152 last year. Okay, many will feel he’s a better, stronger horse and being another year older at 9 then is now at the peak of his powers. Add in a recent wind operation then there could be room for improvement. However, he also heads here off the back of a very tough race at Haydock, when beaten 54 lengths in heavy ground. But another main stumbling block for me is that in the last 33 years we’ve seen just one past winner or placed horse from the previous year’s race……..and 76 have tried. With 11-9 to carry he’ll also be looking to become only the third horse since 1978 to win with more than 11-5 on his back! He’s simply got too many negatives for me.
MINELLA ROCCO ran a blinder to be second in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup and if finding that level of form certainly brings a lot of class to the race. However, he’s not really built on that since and did you know he’s actually only won once from 13 races over fences? That victory came in the 4m race at Cheltenham so we know he stays but it also came over 2 years ago! With 11-10 to carry then he’s another that will be looking to become only the second horse since 1974 to win with 11st10lbs or more………oh, and that was the mighty Red Rum, who carried 12st to victory! As you can probably guess he’s another of the main runners I’m ruling out.
ANIBALE FLY has a very similar make-up to Minella Rocco but, on a plus, has more recent decent form to take into the race. We last saw this 8 year-old running on well to be third in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup and was only beaten just over 8 lengths. With the Grand National weights out before that race then many feel his mark of 159 looks very attractive – if he could the handicapper would surely reassess him and give him more weight. Having said that, he’s still a horse that has 11st7lbs to carry and will also be going into unknown territory regarding the trip – the Gold Cup (3m2f) is currently the furthest he’s been. With two of the last three Grand National winners aged 8 then he ticks that trend and certainly brings a lot of class to the race. It is also worth pointing out he did fall heavily two starts ago at Leopardstown, which would be a concern over these fences. So, another that is sure to be popular with punters but also another I’m prepared to overlook.
THE LAST SAMURI has been a stalwart of recent Grand Nationals, having run in the last two. He was 16th last year but many punters will remember him finishing second in 2016 as the 8/1 joint favourite. In fact, he’s raced over these fences four times as he’s been second and third in the Becher Chase before too, so certainly brings plenty of course experience to the table. He’s rated 2lbs lower than 12months ago but it’s worth pointing out he’s still a massive 10lbs higher than when runner-up in 2016. He only carried 10st-8lbs that day but has 11st-7lbs to lump round this time. Yes, a recent third in the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival was a cracking run and he should be spot-on for this. He’s certainly one to consider but, for me, he’s more of a horse that will get round, and perhaps place, rather than actually win. I’m a firm believer that you only get one crack at the National and if he’s failed to win the race twice before – and, don’t forget, he completed both times, then he’s one of those that might just have had his opportunity.
TOTAL RECALL has already had a cracking season and it might not be over yet. From the Willie Mullins camp that won this in 2005 with Hedgehunter, he was in the process of running a big race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time until falling three out. Yes, it’s unlikely he’d have won that day but there was every chance he’d have grabbed third. Therefore, that form links him in closely with Anibale Fly and would surely be another that would be rated higher if the handicapper could reassess him. With 11st-4lbs then he gets in just under the key weight trend and since 2010 we’ve seen three winners carry 11-5, 11-6 and 11-9 so his burden of 11-4 is a winnable racing weight. His chase mark has also been slightly protected by running over hurdles this year while having won the Ladbrokes Gold Trophy Chase (Hennessy) back in December then he’s another that brings plenty of class to the race. 3m2f is the furthest he’s gone to date but is a horse that runs as if he’ll stay the trip. Okay, many will feel that coming into race off the back of a fall isn’t ideal but prior to that he’d been a sound jumper and the Mullins camp are sure to have brushed up on that area in recent weeks. At 9 years-old he’s at the perfect age – 4 of the last 13 National winners were aged 9 – while the only Willie Mullins-trained winner of this race was – you guessed it – also 9. Of the fancied runners then he’s certainly one I like more and, therefore, the first to go on the shortlist.
TIGER ROLL was last seen winning the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival and since then has been very popular in the betting for the National. He’s taking the same path as his stablemate – Cause of Causes – did 12 months ago and that horse ran a cracker to be runner-up in this. At 8 years-old there could even be more to come and whereas most of the others at the head of the betting have some stamina question mark – he doesn’t. He won the 4m race at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017 so basically stays all day. He gets in here off a mark of 150, which looks very attractive and that means he can race off an eye-catching 10st12lbs. The experienced Davy Russell, who will be looking for his first win in the race, gets the leg-up and having negotiated his way round the tricky Cross Country course at Cheltenham then that’s a good very good indication he’ll handle the Aintree obstacles too. He’s a horse that acts on most ground too and with proven stamina then he’s another I’ll be adding to my National portfolio this year.
Best Of The Rest……………………….
The other key trend I always like to apply to the race is the days last ran. With a massive 26 of the last 27 Grand National winners having raced no more than 55 days ago then this is too big a stat to overlook. Yes, there are quite a few runners that are on 56 days so I’m prepared to give these the benefit of the doubt, but there are also several fairly well-fancied runners that fall down on this trend – including Gas Line Boy (98), Pleasant Company (79), Ucello Conti (79), Minella Rocco (69), Warriors Tale (77) & Raz De Maree (98). If you want to take this stat a bit further than it might pay to note that 21 of the last 27 (78%) winners actually last raced 34 days or less ago – Tiger Roll (31) and Total Recall (29), who are two already on my shortlist, get a thumbs up here too.
I’ve already touched on the two key age brackets to avoid too – 7 year-olds, plus any horses aged 13 or older. Bless The Wings (13), Raz De Maree (13) and Baie Des Iles (7) are three that fall down here.
Vicente ticks a lot of boxes too. Owned by Mr. Grand National – Trevor Hemmings – who is looking for his fourth win the race and trained by Paul Nicholls, who’s only victory came in 2012. Staying won’t be an issue for this 9 year-old as he’s already landed a National – the Scottish version – twice in fact! He got no further than the first fence last year when well fancied but that exit turned out to be a blessing as he won the Scottish National a week later – a race he’d surely have missed had he had a hard race in this last year. The same could happen again as he’s still in the Scottish race next Saturday as he bids for a famous three-timer, but a good run here is not out of the question. As mentioned the trip is fine but it is worth pointing out he is 4lbs higher than last year when sent off a well-backed 16/1, while although he’s got form with cut all his wins have been on good-to-soft or quicker ground suggesting he might just find the underfoot conditions a tad too testing.
Vieux Lion Rouge was sixth in the race 12 months ago – beaten 27 lengths – but actually races off the same 10st12lb weight and is also officially rated a pound higher this time. Based on that, then it’s hard to get too jiggy about his chances with 27 lengths to find from last year.
Saint Are is another popular Grand National horse that will be running in the race for a fifth time. His form figures read well too – 9-2-PU-3. So, having been runner-up and third in the race before then this 12 year-old certainly has the credentials to be placed again. He gets in here with a pound less in weight (10st9lbs) than last year.
Seeyouatmidnight would be a huge winner for the small Sandy Thomson yard and he’s got a lively chance too. He’s lightly-raced for a 10 year-old with just 16 runs but has already been placed in a National when third in the Scottish version back in 2016. He’s had his issues with only four runs since but should be a lot fitter for a recent run at Newbury – his first for 364 days! With 10st10lbs to carry then he’s got a nice racing weight and is another that has been known to race up with the pace so this will help keep him out of trouble. Certainly not one to rule out lightly.
I JUST KNOW hails from the Sue Smith yard that won the race in 2013 and with just 10st7lbs then he gets in with a very light burden to carry. He’s raced 10 times over fences and has only been outside the top three twice. He’s won over 3m6f in the past too so the trip should be fine but it is worth pointing out he’s racing off a 14lb higher rating than when last seen running over fences. Connections have given him a spin over hurdles recently though (March), which should have him spot-on for this and being a recognised front-runner at least he’ll be out of trouble from fallers. I think he looks an interesting contender of the outsiders.
VINTAGE CLOUDS (4th Reserve) is another from the Sue Smith yard that catches the eye of those at a bigger price. Yes, he’ll need some ahead of him to come out of the race to make the final 40, but if enough do then he could be worth an interest. Owned by Mr Grand National – Trevor Hemmings, who has won the race three times in the past, then this is the first plus. Ok, with just one chase win from 12 starts he might not win enough but having finished in the top three in 8 of those 12 runs then he’s never far away. We last saw him running well to be third to Coo Star Sivola in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and he gets in here off the same mark of 141. With only 10-3 to carry then he’ll have a featherweight on his back and he’s also a track winner on the Mildmay course. The trip should be fine too as he was 7th in the Scottish National last year at Ayr over 4m, plus he was a staying-on fourth at Chepstow in the Welsh National back in January after getting hampered a few times too. He also had 11-1 to carry in that Chepstow race so with 12lbs less on his back here then this will give him an obvious boost over this gruelling trip. ** It’s worth noting though he’s currently the 4th reserve so would need 4 ahead of him to come out.
HOUBLON DES OBEAUX is another of the outsiders that can be given a squeak too. The main reasons being this 11 year-old is 5lbs lower than 12 months ago when 10th but if the ground comes up softer than last year (when it was good-to-soft) this will help his cause. The Venetia Williams camp are also no strangers to causing a bit of a shock in this race – don’t forget, they had Mon Mome go in at 100/1 back in 2009! A recent third at Ascot was a decent prep run too, while the Venetia Williams stable could not be in better form – this midweek they’ve fired in bundles of winners – which further adds to his chance. Yes, at 11 years-old many will feel he’s too old – wrong! We’ve seen three of the last six winners aged 11, so in recent years the older brigade have certainly shown they can pay their way.
Regal Encore is another worth a mention. This JP McManus owned runner was last seen winning well at Ascot over 3m but was also third in the Ladbrokes Gold Trophy back in December. He was just 9 lengths adrift of Total Recall that day but had to give him 3lbs. The weights, however, are a lot different here with a 9lb pull in favour of Total Recall. He also has history in the race after running 8th behind One For Arthur last year. He gets in off the same mark (150) but carries a pound lower this time too. Yes, he’s a horse that can often be a bit in-and-out, and based on last year’s run in the race does have a bit to find but this year he comes into the contest off the back of a decent win and can be expected to improve on his 8th from 12 months ago.
I JUST KNOW
HOUBLON DES OBEAUX
VINTAGE CLOUDS (4th Reserve)