Friday, April 08, 2016

Aintree Grand National 2016

The changing nature of the National is reflected in the fact that most of the horses I fancied this time last week have failed to make the cut...

Last year's winner Many Clouds bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Nationals since Red Rum (1973 and 1974); Leighton Aspell aims to become the first jockey to record three consecutive wins in the race, having ridden Pineau De Re to victory in 2014.   

In his 'today's tip' selection, Coral's David Metcalf makes a cogent, persuasive case for Many Clouds; from a handicapping perspective, the favourite looks favourably treated. His chance is certainly respected but the gelding has to carry top weight over four and a half miles on ground far more testing than encountered last year.

The last horse to carry top weight to victory was Red Rum. Suny Bay, second to Earth Summit in 1998, is the only other top-weight to make a place since - in a race of forty runners, I'm happy to look elsewhere for some value.

There have been some big-priced winners in recent years including Silver Birch at 33/1 in 2007; Mon Mome at 100/1 in 2009; Neptune Collonges at 33/1 in 2012 and Auroras Encore at 66/1 in 2013. The last two winners, Pineau De Re and Many Clouds, were both sent off at odds of 25/1.

Those who like to pick their own horses will find the BBC's Grand National Pinstickers' guide a valuable tool; for everyone else there's this...   

The stats suggest the winner will be aged between nine and twelve and will have had at least one run since the turn of the year. With further rain forecast overnight, the ground is likely to remain on the soft side so I've concentrated on horses carrying no more than 11-0.

Selections are shown below with prices correct at the time of publication; note the majority of High Street bookmakers are paying a quarter the odds five places - check yours is one of them.

1. Morning Assembly
Looks to have been trained with this in mind and ran a decent trial in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham three weeks ago (25/1).
2. The Druids Nephew
In with a major chance last year when coming to grief with an indifferent leap five from home; four pounds worse off with Many Clouds at the weights (16/1).
3. Saint Are
Put up as the best long-priced outsider last year finishing one and three quarter lengths behind Many Clouds; soft ground isn't ideal (16/1).

4. Kruzhlinin
Better expected when behind Morning Assembly in the Ultima at Cheltenham. Completed in tenth in the 2014 renewal and seventh over the same fences in the Becher Chase the following December (25/1).

5. Ucello Conti 
Not guaranteed to stay, a comment that applies to several in the field. Switched to Gordon Elliott to be trained for this; soft ground no problem (25/1).

Good luck!

Finally, spare a thought for the lady who organised our annual work sweepstake.

Keen to get the job done and dusted early on, she wandered into the office Tuesday lunchtime with just a handful of horses left to sell. I paid my £2 and drew Bob Ford; my colleague drew Godsmejudge. A quick glance at her list and I saw Lord Windermere at the head of the handicap.

'Out of interest, where did you get this list?' I enquired. 'Google' came the reply.

Harsh, I know, but it had to be done - I pointed out she was using a list of last year's runners. Required action: return stakes to the individuals concerned and start afresh.

The 'revised' sweepstake arrived in the office late yesterday afternoon; I paid my £2 and drew Devon Loch.


TW said...

Thanks for the Aintree Festival posts and good luck with your National selections.

The Last Samuri comes into this with a perfect preparation, every chance he will stay the extra yardage and I think he is the most likely winner. 12/1 is just a bit too short for me in a race such as this so in the hope of recovering my losses from the first 2 days I’m investing in Frodon in the last, I’m sure he will prove to be better than his mark of 139 and perhaps he might even do that today.

GeeDee said...

Respect to Chris McGrath of i newspaper; his piece in Saturday's paper entitled 'Rule The World is 50-1 outsider with talent to be king of Aintree' proved particularly prescient. The winner went off at 33/1.

The Last Samuri (8/1jf) put up a bold display from the front on going that was described as soft, heavy in places but he had no answer to the winner's turn of foot at the elbow.

An outstanding effort too from thirteen-year-old Vics Canvas (100/1) in third who nearly came to grief early on in the race.

No money back from the selections, I'm afraid.

Morning Assembly (16/1) finished a respectable eighth. Racing wide he appeared to be in with a shout three from home but was running on empty and was unable to go with the leaders.

Surprisingly The Druids Nephew (16/1) did not jump well from a very early stage. A bad mistake at the fourth effectively put paid to his chance and further errors followed; he was pulled up on the second circuit.

Saint Are (16/1) raced prominently on the first circuit but the mistakes started to creep in on ground that really didn't suit. He lost his pitch from Becher's onwards and was eventually pulled up.

Kruzhlinin (33/1) started at the back and stayed there! Eventually pulled up before the twenty seventh flight but a respectable effort from Ucello Conti (25/1) who made headway on the second circuit to come sixth.

All horses returned safe and sound; I'm sure we'll do it all again next year.