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)

The Grand National.

It’s that time of year when betting shops see an unusual surge in attendance, as the nation gathers to place their yearly bets on the worlds biggest steeplechase.

As 40 runners depart into the Merseyside wilderness, the world holds it’s collective breath as they maraud down to the opening fence, clutching their betting slips with more hope than expectation.

In a 21 year life, I have only ever managed to back the winner of the race twice (Red Marauder and Amberleigh House), yet that never stops me coming back every year, with the mindset that I have finally found ‘the one’.

Aintree 2

I get more texts in the days leading up to the Grand National, than I do for the rest of the year combined usually, with my racing knowledge deemed worthy for one race a year.

Hopefully I won’t let you all down!

Anyways, on with the racing, and as there are 40 runners, I won’t bore you with low-downs of each horses strengths and weakness, I will simply highlight what I believe the first four home will be.

FIRST – CAPPA BLEU

Evan Williams’ 11yo was fourth in the race last year, and has been laid out for another crack at the big prize.

He has finished second on his two starts this term, pleasing his trainer with both runs.

Connections know what it takes to run a big race, after State of Play was placed in three nationals with Paul Maloney on board, as-well as Cappa’s fourth place last year.

Cappa Bleu’s run was impeded several times and he looked as though he would struggle to land any sort of blow, before staying on best of all on the flat, eventually knuckling down and staying on for fourth.

He manages to get into the race on a relatively low weight of 10 stone 11lbs, which he should be able to carry comfortably.

His jumping is impeccable, and if he manages to avoid trouble tomorrow, his jumping strength, tied in with his stamina and connections’ nous of making sure their mounts run a big race, the 12/1 on offer looks incredible value.

SECOND – SEABASS

Katie Walsh’s mount finished third last year, and will be hoping to go two better, as he lines up once more.

The Ted Walsh trained 10yo looked the likely winner last year, before fading up the run in.

The 75 yards less to run this year, will definitely play in to his hands, and he looks to have a real chance of allowing Walsh to become the first female jockey to ever land the Grand National.

A close third in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse last time out is solid form, and it would be no surprised to see the gelding go off as favourite come Saturday afternoon.

A solid jumper, a great relationship with his jockey and a slightly shortened trip suggest a big run is expected from Seabass and he can fill up one of the places.

THIRD – ACROSS THE BAY

Owners of the 9yo turned down a six-figure sum for their only horse last month which in itself shows just how much potential they think he has.

He has already beaten leading fancy Cappa Bleu this season, albeit when the latter was in need of the run. However this is solid form, and Donald McCain’s gelding has since had a wind operation which has helped considerably.

The 9yo landed the Grade 2 Rendlesham at Haydock on his only run since the operation, and the manner of his success suggested the step up in trip is likely to suit.

He tends to lead from the front, which is the best place to be in the national, in an attempt to keep away from the carnage that a faller would bring to the middle of the pack.

Trainer Donald McCain knows what it takes to get a horse right for the big race, having done so with Ballabriggs in 2011.

40/1 looks too big to ignore, and is sure to receive some each-way interest before the race begins.

FOURTH – CHICAGO GREY

Gordon Elliot’s charge will be hoping to carry on the success of grey horses in the race, after Neptune Collonges finally got rid of the voodoo last year.

The 10yo never really managed to get into the race last year, as he was brought down at the fifth fence, but will be hoping for a big run come Saturday.

He was last seen landing a Grade 2 at Navan, staying on best of all to beat a high-class trio.

The form of the race has worked out extremely well as the runner-up since come out and landed a Grade 2 himself.

Chicago Grey’s form is rock solid, and with Paul Carberry on board, the stylish jockey is sure to give the grey his best chance of winning.

A low weight of 10 stone 7 lbs, strengthens his case further and it would be no surprise to see the 10yo make the frame.

Overall Prediction:

1st: Cappa Bleu (12/1)

2nd: Seabass (10/1)

3rd: Across the Bay (40/1)

4th: Chicago Grey (14/1)

Advice:

1 point e.w: Cappa Bleu @ 12/1 (Various)

 

2013: +23.11

Grand National Meeting – Day of Redemption

It’s that time of year again, when the nation unites for it’s annual bet on the most valuable steeplechase in Europe.

But before then comes two quality day’s of high-class racing, beginning with the Aintree Hurdle on Thursday.

ACER

It looks set to be a day of redemption for two fallers at the Cheltenham Festival, with Grandouet being my first selection of the meeting.

Nicky Henderson’s 6yo was arguably travelling best of all in the Champion Hurdle before crashing out at the fifth fence, and will be looking to make amends in the Grade One on Merseyside.

His only previous run of the season was a respectable second behind Zarkandar, making his re-appearance after a 371 day lay off.

He was clearly in need of a the run and looked to have came on a lot for it at Cheltenham. He was brought down at Aintree two years ago, when travelling best of all in a race won by Zarkandar, and the fact that Barry Geraghty has deserted Oscar Whisky who has won the race for the previous two years, is a tip in itself.

Both Henderson and Geraghty know what it takes to land the big race, and look set to have just a bit too much class for the young pretender that is the New One.

The New One has to be respected after showing such a brilliant turn of foot to land the Neptune at Cheltenham, as-well as already having course form in the book, after landing the bumper at this meeting last year.

Geraghty will likely sit behind Twiston-Davies on board the New One and stalk his prey, as the race is set up in front by the gutsy Zarkandar.

Countrywide Flame re-appears after his respectable third in the Champion Hurdle and holds solid each-way claims, while dual winner Oscar Whisky will have to put his Cheltenham run behind him if he is to have any chance.

This all points towards Grandouet having a major chance, with the 4/1 on offer looking great value.

The second horse seeking redemption is Silviniaco Conti in the the Betfred Bowl.

Paul Nicholls’ gelding held every chance in the Gold Cup when falling three out, and would’ve almost certainly been troubling the eventual winner Bobs Worth.

It is hard to say whether he would have gone on to win, but that piece of form would’ve been by far the best coming into this race anyway, and he is currently trading as Even money favourite.

He had won his previous four races before the Gold Cup, including a dominant performance in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at this meeting last year, which has been his only visit to the Merseyside track.

The Walsh/Nicholls combination has not had much luck lately, but this race looks made for the 7yo tp get back to winning ways,

Ryanair second, First Lieutenant re-appears, but will be without jockey Davy Russell who is still not allowed to ride in the UK following an injury picked up at Cheltenham.

The 8yo had a tough race last time out and the step back up in trip is unsure to suit, so there seems to be better each-way alternatives, including Quito De La Roque who is also owned by Gigginstown Stud.

He has a 100% record when ridden by Paul Townend, and also has solid course form after landing the Mildmay at the course in 2011.

There is question marks about whether or not he performs better at shorter distances, but the gelding never fails to travel like a dream, and the longer Townend can keep him on the bridle, the better chance he has.

The Giant Bolster, Cape Tribulation and Menorah all has slight each-way chances, but will need to pull out something special if they are to match Silviniaco Conti.

Usually there seems to be little point in advising an Even money shot, so we can combine the two selections together into a tasty double to kick-start our Aintree meeting.

Advice:

1 point double: Grandouet/Silviniaco Conti – 9/1 (Various)

2013: +15.77