This year’s Grand National looks a classy renewal with a Gold Cup winner (Lord Windermere) heading the weights, closely followed by this year’s Hennessey winner (Many Clouds) and a half brother to a previous winner (Unioniste) – however all of them will have to equal or beat the weight-carrying record.
There are also a few horses that are well-in after winning impressively since the weights came out including Rocky Creek, The Druids Nephew and Cause of Causes.
Alvarado, Oscar Time and Balthazar King top the list of horses that have previously been placed in the race, whilst Godsmejudge, Al Co and Monbeg Dude have won a two Scottish Nationals and a Welsh National between them.
I’ve narrowed down the shortlist to 8 horses – hey this is the National – and I’m backing two selections.
2lb lower than when 5th last year and is officially 9lb well-in after winning at Kempton after the weights were framed. His trainer Paul Nicholls also thinks he’s cured all his charge’s ailments, and Nicholls’s string remains in brilliant form. Looks to have every chance.
The National looks to have been a long-term plot by his shrewd trainer who’s managed to get his charge’s mark down to a stone lower than when he beat none other than Menorah and Siviniaco Conti at Aintree in the 2013 Betfred Bowl.
Cause of Causes
Being held-up for a late run isn’t easy in the National – but he has the perfect jockey on board in Paul Carberry to execute it.
2nd in last season’s Scottish National off the same handicap mark, after winning that contest off a 6lb lower mark the previous season. Targeted at this race and has every chance with a clear round with stamina seemingly guaranteed.
Getting on a bit now but that didn’t stop him winning the Becher Chase in November from a 6lb lower mark. Twice placed in the National off a 3lb lower mark and wouldn’t be surprised if he reaches the frame again.
Another to win a Scottish National but is 7lb higher here, which brings him and Godsmejudge very close together on form.
Stayed on into 4th last year after being hampered and could get closer with a clear run off just 1lb higher.
Younger than the usual winner but is a half-brother to previous winner Neptune Collonges, and has a chance for the same connections.
What I’m backing
First Lieutenant is typical of many winners in that he’s got the prerequisite class but has slipped down the handicap after a baron spell. Should love the ground and promises to stay for Nina Carberry who was ice cool over the fences when winning this year’s Foxhunters on On The Fringe
First Lieutenant 2 points each-way @ 25/1 (Betway) ¼ odds 1-2-3-4-5
The second tip is Alvarado who has definitely been laid out for the race by his up-and-coming trainer. A jockey who knows how to get round the course, an obvious form chance, and a light-weight will do for me.
Alvarado 2 points each-way @ 20/1 (Various) ¼ odds 1-2-3-4-5