What are the best bets for the Grand National?
This year’s Grand National looks as tough as ever and the more I look at the race the harder it seems to work out. However, it’s time to get off the fence and give you my idea of the winner…
I’ll start, though, by saying I don’t think that Tony McCoy’s mount SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR is a bad price at the current 10/1 (William Hill). Sure, he’d be a bigger price if AP wasn’t riding him but he still looks a worthy favourite given he’s an unexposed Irish Grand National winner who has been trained specifically for the race by one of the best trainers of staying chasers, Jonjo O’Neill. Bookmakers are predicting that one in five bets will be placed on the the eight-year-old, with a starting price of 5/1 or 11/2 the favourite with Betfair. In which case, he’s potentially one to back with a view to laying off at a shorter price, though I will probably end up having a saver on him at current odds – do take a price on all your selections as the greedy bookmakers will squeeze the prices before the off!
The first of my four against the field is the Tom George-trained SAINT ARE, who I put up as an ante post pick a few weeks back. I haven’t changed my mind since and I’m rubbing my hands now the ground has dried out as he’s much better on good ground. He warmed up for this with a confidence-boosting win at Catterick and I’m expecting a much better show than he put up in 2013, when he blundered his way round to finish ninth to Aurora’s Encore as a raw seven-year-old. He’s looked far more the finished article since joining his current stable, including when finishing third in the Becher Chase in December, and he has a fine record at Aintree, winning at the meeting in 2011 and 2012. French-born horses like him have won three of the last six renewals. Need I say more?
SOLL has always been best at marathon trips but was plagued by inconsistency. Since joining David Pipe, though, he’s turned over a new leaf and has come good on his last two starts, landing veterans’ chases at Exeter and Newbury. That was clever placement by his trainer as he’s no back number at the age of ten and he is effectively 7lb well in here due to the fact the weights had been framed before he went on his winning spree. Only ninth in the 2013 renewal, he’s a far more experienced and healthy horse now and he should give Tom Scudamore a great ride.
Pineau De Re was a shock winner for trainer Dr Richard Newland 12 months ago and he should go well again, having given the impression he was peaking over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival last time. However, I think his stablemate ROYALE KNIGHT has an even better chance. He has crept into the race off bottom weight and, while he’s off a much a higher mark than when winning the Durham National over 4m in October, he’s far from exposed over marathon trips. This good-ground performer has had a couple of runs over hurdles since, finding the ground too soft on each occasion, and his shrewd handler certainly knows what it takes to land the big one.
The final pick goes to the Keith Reveley-trained NIGHT IN MILAN, who will also be suited by the drying ground. A superb jumper in the main who has fallen just once in 18 chase starts, he ran an eye-catching trial when third in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, a race he won in 2013, and gets in here with a nice racing weight of 10st 9lb. There are classier sorts in the race for sure but he’s just the sort of horse to get into a good rhythm over these fences and that could carry him deep into the race. We’re in the dark as to whether he stays this far, but you can say the same about the majority of these.
I’ll be placing all my each-way bets with bet365 as they are giving back half the stake back for every each-way bet that you place, up to a maximum total refund of £125 per customer, providing your bets are on before midday on Saturday. Not to mention they are paying 1/4 odds for the first five places!