Grand National Saturday is the one day of the year that millions of people who don’t bet regularly part with a bit of their hard-earned cash in what is now a traditional annual battle to beat the bookies.
With 40 horses to choose from and 30 fences for them to navigate safely, it’s a great idea to try and come up with a short-list of potential winners – especially if we can find one or two at working man’s prices.
Cast your mind back a year, and Battle Group (50/1) won a hurdle race on the Thursday and a chase on the Friday at this meeting, taking his record at the Aintree Festival to 3 wins and one second-place from 4 runs. So far this year he’s showed little zest, but that was the case last year, and all roads look to have led back here. If he does turn up in the same form as last year, jumps and stays – he could be the one!
If there’s one horse that’s been crying out for this sort of trip all of his career – it’s Quito De la Roque (50/1), which isn’t bad when you consider he’s won seven chases including a grade-one novice chase on the Mildmay Course. Always at this best in the spring, he seems to have been prepared solely for the big race this year and could really appreciate the slower pace and marathon trip.
The third horse that looks worth adding to our betting slip is The Package (25/1). Touted for this race after finishing third at the Cheltenham Festival, his chance looks to have been further boosted by yesterday’s winning exploits of Holywell and Ma Filluele, the two horses who finished in front of him at Cheltenham.
There are no certainties in National Hunt racing, and especially not the National, but I’d be surprised if Teaforthree (10/1), carrying 10-12, doesn’t at least finish in the first five home granted a clear round.
Tidal Bay (16/1) promises to stay and nearly carried top-weight to victory in this season’s Welsh National – and I can see him sneaking a place.
Of the others, I thought Monbeg Dude might run a big race, but Paul Carberry may miss the ride after a Friday fall and that’s a big negative. Meanwhile, Double Seven has come in for loads of support since AP McCoy nailed his colours to his mast – but looks underpriced because of it.
The other short-priced one is Long Run, and it’s not often you get a horse running in the National that has won two King Georges and a Gold Cup. However, the connections have targeted the National all season with their charge, and he’s always looked strong at the finish of his races at around three miles. He’s also used to carrying big weights, but I think the petrol might just run out over the 4½ mile trip – but if it doesn’t everyone’s in trouble.
Tim’s Top 5
1. Battle Group 50/1
2. Quito De la Roque 40/1
3. The Package 25/1
4. Teaforthree 10/1
5. Tidal Bay 16/1