Definitly Red Can Land Grand National Glory

The Grand National is a race that drags people into the racing whirlwind for ten adrenaline-pumping minutes, once a year.

The once-a-year punters that pick names, colours or maybe their lucky number, are all glued to the television screen as forty horses descend across 30 obstacles on Merseyside.

As always, it looks like a very difficult race to dissect, with so many different variables to take into account. Ground, stamina, course form, ability to jump a fence, weight… and of course, luck.

For the 2017 renewal, we’ll be taking a chance on Definitly Red. It’s not the most fashionable choice, given his place towards the head of the market but he looks as solid a selection as you will find.

He’s only ever been out of the first three once if he’s completed (appreciate that could be a big IF at Aintree) and that was in the Champion Bumper back in 2014. Since then he has gone from strength to strength and he boasts a plethora of really strong form in the book.

After a nice start to the season, he snatched the headlines when running away with a competitive looking Rowland Meyrick Chase, beating Wakanda and Blaklion with ease. He was never going to trouble to runaway winner on his next start at Haydock, where he was hampered and unseated his rider three out.

This could have dented his confidence, so it was pleasing to see him no ill effects as he put in his biggest performance to date last time out. He showed he enjoyed a stamina test, as he bounded clear over 3m 2f last time, putting clear distance between himself and the field.

He was getting 12lb off The Last Samuri, last year’s Grand National runner-up and again at Aintree, he receives the same amount. He’s 10lb well in on figures and although the lack of experience over the Aintree fences is a negative, trainer Brian Ellison has given glowing reports after the horse schooled over similar style obstacles.

Ellison appears very bullish and with the current good ground, which could be a major positive for the horse, the 12/1 looks a fair bet.

Selection: Definitly Red (Grand National) @ 12/1 (Various)

Follow Don Poli On Grand National Trail

After another emotional weekend at Cheltenham, the dust has begun to settle. Nicky Henderson’s stable star Sprinter Sacre was retired after a glistening caterer before Simonsig’a resurgence was tragically cut short after a fall on Sunday. It shows the lows of the game and my thoughts are with all at Seven Barrows.

Looking to the future, Nicky will have a number of big runners to try and have some small silver lining, with My Tent Or Yours and Vyta Du Roc looking to hold major claims shortly.

However today I’m looking slightly further ahead, bypassing even the Cheltenham Festival. The Grand National is a race for the nation, that the purists aren’t too keen on overly investing it.

With 30 fences and four and a half miles to travel, there is plenty that can go wrong but with recent moderation, fallers are rarer than ever.

So, it may be worth taking a small punt on a horse that looks tailor made for the race, given his class and scope to enjoy a stamina sapping trip.

That horse, is last years Cheltenham Gold Cup third, Don Poli. Having won twice at the Cheltenham Festival precious to that, including a staying-on effort in the RSA Chase, he’s proven he has tons of ability, though it’s always been fairly obvious that he’s not a horse blessed with raw speed.

Often referred to a ‘boat’, Don Poli stays on gamely in nearly all of his races, shown to full effect in last years Gold Cup, when he was woefully outpaced before rattling up the hill to take third.

A true test looks ideal for him and connections gave him a spin at Aintree last year, where he looked a sitting duck for the strong travelling Many Clouds (that years Grand National winner), before out battling him despite saddle problems.

It may have been a run to test out suitability for the track with a future Grand National run in mind and given Gigginstown often have a strong hand in the race (won it last year with Rule The World), it looks likely that Don Poli will have his season plotted around Aintree in April.

He has moved to Gordon Elliot’s yard after Michae O’Leary moved his horses from Willie Mullins and this may not be a bad thing with Aintree in mind.

Elliot sprung on to the scene as an exuberant young trainer as Silver Birch won the Grand National back in 2007, in a campaign that showed he could get one ready for its big day.

Mullins had struggled with Iuck and finding the ‘right horse’ at Aintree, so a move to Elliot could be a blessing for his National chances.

His last run is a slight concern, given he failed to show any remnants of last seasons quality but he was hampered and he is sure to strip fitter for that effort.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him revert to hurdles for a spell and maybe try his hand in a couple of big chases, which could see his mark slip for a crack at the big one in April.

Don Poli is currently available at 25/1, which seems fair at this point in time and bet365 are already offering five places.

Selection: Grand National – Don Poli @ 25/1 (Various)

The Grand National – Ante-Post Preview

In a little over two months time, the nation will unite for the one day a year where horse-racing takes centre stage.

The Grand National never fails to draw a mass worldwide crowd, and betting shops fill up with the ‘one race a year punters’ who love to have their pennies on a mount in the Aintree spectacular.

With 40 runners likely to line-up, it is always incredibly difficult to select the winner, as so much can happen across the four and a half mile venture, with 30 obstacles to negotiate.

However, at this time there are plenty of value bets to get stuck into, and hopefully you will be able to watch the price drop and drop until the day of the big race, which makes it all the sweeter.

Obviously we have less to work with at this stage, such-as we don’t know the official weight, whether they will get to the race in top shape etc, but this is all reflected in the price.

Feeling Bleu;

Unfortunately, my biggest fancy for the race would have been the consistent Cappa Bleu who has gone close in the previous two years, however he has been ruled out of the big race after picking up a knock. Trainer Evan Williams has stated a bid for the 2015 Grand National to be on the cards, but unfortunately he will miss what looked set to be a great opportunity.

Tea for me;

However, Wales will still be very well represented in the race, with last year’s third placed finisher Teaforthree lining up again for another crack at the big race.

He looks ideally suited to the stamina test at Aintree, and proved his capabilities in handling the track when putting in an inch perfect round of jumping, before staying on at one pace towards the end of the race.

The fact he has never fallen on a racecourse is a major plus, as the Aintree fences, although having been amended over the last few years, still take no prisoners. There are no stamina doubts for the 10-y-o, and his added touch of class may well prove extremely hard to peg back.

A sold run in the Welsh National in December will have acted as a perfect blowout, and the performance was enough to show he has retained his ability, and he should well be able to outrun his current 25/1 odds.

Time to Walkon;

Alan King is yet to win the Aintree feature, however he knows what it takes to win a big race, having landed last year’s Scottish National with Godsmejudge who is currently 33/1 for the English equivalent.

However the Barbury Castles handler is double handed in this year’s race, and it’s his other intended runner, Walkon, which is of more interest.

walkon

The 9-y-o grey excels in big field races, and looks the ideal candidate to attack the obstacles at Aintree. His last visit to the Grand National meeting was a semi-successful effort, finishing runner-up in the Topham Chase, over the National course last year. This effort is enough to instill effort in the punters who know the gelding can handle the unique Aintree obstacles, and if he has retained any of his previous class he should be able to mount a serious challenge.

He disappointed on his last visit to Merseyside, unseating when favourite for the Old Roan chase in October. He makes his re-appearance on Saturday in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham, and a good run there could see his price shorten severely. The 66/1 currently on offer looks very generous, and if he manages to line-up safe and sound come April, there is no way he will be the same price.

Selections;

Teaforthree @ 25/1 (Various)

Walkon @ 66/1 (Various)