Grand National 2018


Welcome to my annual posting where I try to break through some previous statistics and throw in a bit of form analysis. The end aim is to try to find the winner of National Hunt racing’s premier event.

This season has been uncommonly damp. As with the Cheltenham Festival, the ground is much softer at Aintree than the norm.

The last soft ground National in 2016 proved very successful for this blog with a 34.5 pt profit (Rule The World 1st and Vics Canvas 3rd both recommended). Hopefully the wetter ground shows the blog in a good light again. When the ground wasn’t so soft last year,the winner One For Arthur came out well on the stats but was marginally edged out of my selections – Saint Are recommended then came out best in 3rd.

With the ground being so soft I would expect a low weight and proven stamina to be the overriding factors again in making selections

The runners and odds from various bookmakers can be found here

As per last year I must point out the following when going through these:

Note that place terms may well vary with some firms paying 4 places, some 5 and some 6 or even more. During the last year some firms have even offered 1st 8 for some top handicaps so don’t be surprised to see that…it’s gold dust if you can get paid out for first 8 and get a good win price into the bargain! I cannot stress highly enough that (unless betting win only) there is a much bigger advantage on your side the more places are available. If you are betting each way then avoid the firms only paying 4 places unless the win odds are markedly higher than others. Also be sure to take a price (rather than SP) as most will shorten up as we get closer to the race. There may be some competition to be best in the market tomorrow so best to check markets on Saturday morning – those that haven’t been put up by Pricewise (comes out at 8pm) or by the Sporting Life the night before might be have their best offers then

Copied from previous posts the main factors are broken down into points as such

Weight. ( W )
11 stone or less a big positive = 3pts
11st 1lb to 11st 6lb – less of chance but still not insurmountable (particularly on decent ground) = 2pts
Over 11st 6lbs = 0 pts
Stamina (S)
It may seem obvious but there was a train of thought once that 2.5 mile horses were ideal for this (largely stemming from Fred Rimell/Gay Trip victory). There is nothing to back this up nowadays.
A winner over more than 3 miles is necessary so we give 1pt for that
Not having won over at least 3 miles in hurdles or chases is such a big negative to me that it carries MINUS 1pt
Proven stamina in a competitive National like Handicap (3ml 4fur or more) =3pts
*Please note I do not consider Cheltenham’s NH Chase in that last criteria. It is over 4 miles but is for amateur riders and usually slowly run so can give a misleading stamina impression. Likewise the 3ml 7furlong Cross Country race at Cheltenham doesn’t count either as it is run at a totally different pace. 
Age (and Chasing experience) (A)
9,10 or 11 is the desired age bracket to have here and gets 2pts.
Since the turn of century (and not counting Red Marauder’s heavy ground freak race) that covers all but two winners (Bindaree 8yo in 2002, Many Clouds 2015), and all but 6 winners since 1980.
Those 8yos that have prevailed did have chasing experience on their side so get 1 pt if they have had at least 10 runs over the big fences
Streetwise 12yos can also triumph occasionally but would need a previous run over the National fences to get 1pt
A 7yo hasn’t won since 1940 so that has to be a big negative and gets MINUS 1pt. There have been 33 to try in this millennium and the best was Big Fella Thanks with 6th place in 2009 (two of this years runners Vieux Lion Rouge and Cause of Causes both returning this year tried and failed at 7.
13 and 14yos don’t often run and their price would reflect that they are past their prime. No points for them but don’t be surprised with a top 10 finish as National veterans Swing Bill and Hello Bud have done in the last 3 years. And then there was Vics Canvas of course in 2016, who might well have won but for near catastrophe at Bechers Brook on the first circuit.
Runs This Season (R)
When you realise that none of the last 24 winners came into the race without having at least 3 runs it has to be important and so is given 2pts. A run since Christmas is also important so we’ll take off a point for any that haven’t
These I think are the key statistics for which to base a scoring system and I will apply to each horse below. A total score of 10 pts is therefore possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

Here’s how the runners in this year’s renewal come out applying these factors:

GRAND NATIONAL 2017 TOTAL PTS WEIGHT PTS STAMINA PTS AGE PTS Runs this season additional comments
Chase The Spud 10 3 3 2 2 pulled up last 2 runs
Houblon Des Obeaux 10 3 3 2 2 regressing as he gets older?
Milansbar 10 3 3 2 2 needs to get into a rhythm
Thunder and Roses 10 3 3 2 2 fell on last 2 runs and didn’t finish last year
I Just Know 9 3 3 1 2
Regal Encore 8 3 1 2 2 stamina?
Vieux Lion Rouge 8 3 1 2 2 stamina?
Seeyouatmidnight 8 3 3 2 0
Raz Da Maree 8 3 3 0 2 needs heavy ground!
Bless The Wings 8 3 3 0 2
The Last Samuri 7 0 3 2 2 first time tongue tie
Valseur Lido 7 2 1 2 2
Total Recall 7 2 1 2 2 fell last time
Perfect Candidate 7 2 1 2 2
Tiger Roll 7 3 1 1 2 stamina?
Warriors Tale 7 3 0 2 2 needs decent ground?
Gas Line Boy 7 3 1 1 2 stamina?
Saint Are 7 3 3 1 0 needs decent ground?
Virgilio 7 3 1 2 1 wind op since last run
Baie Des Iles 7 3 3 -1 2 age?
Buywise 7 3 0 2 2
Final Nudge 7 3 0 2 2
Road to Riches 7 3 0 2 2
Delusionofgrandeur 7 3 1 1 2
Shantou Flyer 6 2 1 1 2
Carlingford Lough 5 2 1 0 2
The Dutchman 6 3 1 0 2
Pleasant Company 6 3 1 2 0 stamina? (going well until mistake last year)
Maggio 6 3 1 0 2
Captain Redbeard 6 3 -1 2 2
Walk in the Mill 6 3 0 1 2
Blaklion 5 0 1 2 2 stamina? wind op since last run
Alpha Des Obeaux 5 2 0 1 2 prefers decent ground
Tenor Nivernais 4 2 0 2 0
Pendra 5 3 0 2 0 wind op since last run
Double Ross 5 3 -1 1 2
Anibale Fly 4 0 1 1 2
Ucello Conti 4 3 -1 2 0 stamina?
Childrens List 4 3 1 0 0
Lord Windermere 4 3 1 1 -1 stamina? Fell last run

Some notes now on the main points scorers and a few other notable runners:

The 4 top point scorers here are all big priced contenders


‘The Spud’ represents the popular Fergal O’Brien stable and would be a big contender here if his chances were based solely on his Midlands Grand National win last season and his seasonal debut at Haydock this year. This proved his stamina in soft ground. It is what has happened since that it concerning with him being pulled up twice. It’s possible he didn’t like Chepstow when doing that in the Welsh National (hadn’t run well there before). However he then pulled up again in conditions that should have suited him ideally at Newcastle


10th last year and never seen with a chance but the ground would have been too lively for him then. The softer ground should see him in a better light and I can see him improving on that. In common with many French breds he does seem to be regressing at the age of 11 (wasn’t far off Gold Cup class earlier in his career) but that is mitigated now with a lower handicap mark. He has plenty of form in National type races and is well in with Chase The Spud on Midlands National form last year. Trainer Venetia Williams won this with 100/1 shot Mon Mome in 2009. That one was 10th the previous year. Could lightning strike twice?



The mount of Bryony Frost is another with strong form in National type races. His best effort came in one such race at Warwick earlier this year. Bryony was able to claim 3 lbs then but can’t this time. However she seemed to get on really well with him that day and got him in a perfect rhythm early. That seems to be the key to this horse – his two disappointing efforts in the Welsh National coincided with him getting out of position early and always on the backfoot. If his very able rider can get in a good position and relaxed with his jumping he’s a notable contender here




We have been here before. Thunder and Roses also scored top marks last year but got no further than the 9th fence when badly hampered by another faller. I have to wonder what impact that had on him and he’s also fallen in his last two starts. He is a former Irish National winner but his form this season gives much less confidence in his chance than this time last year


Just below top points is Sue Smith’s runner who just falls short on the age category. He qualifies on stamina from a win in Catterick’s North Yorkshire Grand National. He won that well but it wasn’t the strongest field and he has paid by having his mark raised a massive 14 lbs here.

Of the 8 point scorers REGAL ENCORE is most interesting. He finished 8th her last year when given a quiet ride out back (running alongside eventual winner One For Arthur for the first circuit). That wasn’t quite enough to convince me as yet that he qualifies on stamina as he could have just been passing tired horses who raced more prominently (would have been 10pts but for that). He’s long had ability but been  a bit disappointing and a little quirky. He does seem to go well for Richie McLernon though and it would be no surprise to see him involved.

Interestingly, Regal Encore was once beaten at 1/4 by 66/1 shot SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT over hurdles and they haven’t met since then. The latter subsequently proved a classy animal and a third in the Scottish National in 2016 augurs well. What isn’t on his side is a troubled preparation this year. He’s had only one run which isn’t normally good for this race and he’ll need to come on considerably from that form. He likes to race prominently

VIEUX LION ROUGE has been here twice before and looked to fail on stamina both times. He was better fancied for both of those efforts and his form this year isn’t the same standard

RAZ DA MAREE and BLESS THE WINGS both fall short on the age statistic but I wouldn’t count that too much against them on deep ground. ‘Raz’ can’t have the ground soft enough and if anything wants more rain to hit the course and the trip to be five miles. His problem is he is likely to get well behind early on but if the ground is really soft they could come back to him.

Age also falls against 7yo BAIE DES ILES at the opposite end of the spectrum. A 7yo can’t possibly win this race everyone cries (including me normally).. but let’s hang on here as this is no ordinary 7yo. French breds can reach maturity much earlier then UK and Irish bred horses and she was already chasing at the age of 3! She’s already won a Grand National trial and ran very well in both the Welsh and Irish Nationals when only 5. I’m very much reminded of Paul Nicholl’s mare L’Aventure when assesssing her. That one was unlucky to win the Welsh National in her 5th year and then made up for that when 6. Furthermore, one of the most impressive performances over the National fences in recent years came from another French 6yo mare, Ma Filleule, who won the Topham Trophy in 2014. In my mind, Baie Des Iles already has the maturity of a 9yo and that would make her a full 10 point scorer.


Katy Walsh (3rd on Seabass in 2012) takes the ride as per usual on this almost white mare. She is trained by her husband, Ross O’Sullivan but it would be a surprise if father Ted and brother Ruby haven’t had their say in her preparation for the big race

There are some big priced contenders that do fall flat on the scores here

ANIBALE FLY is undoubtedly on an attractive mark compared to his Gold Cup third but the weight he has to carry and lack of form in similar races are against him. I’d also have a slight concern how much that Gold Cup run on deep ground could have taken out of him.

BLAKLION came to win this race last year but stamina then hit. Under a bigger weight and in softer ground he’ll need something special from his recent wind operation to get home here I think

THE LAST SAMURI was second two years ago and has paid for that with high handicap marks since. He got too excitable in overly long preliminaries last year which trainer Kim Bailey blamed for a lack-lustre 10th. He’s a solid horse generally but the rain is against him….on better ground I think he would have been a solid bet to finish in the frame. He is wearing a first time tongue tie tomorrow


TIGER ROLL‘s form at 4 miles comes from the two races I don’t count as genuine trials for this. He’s a very enigmatic type who seems to save his best for Cheltenham now. He disappointed in the Irish National last season after winning at the Festival. For that reason, I find his price plenty short enough to follow up another Cheltenham Festival win this year

Gordon Eliott seemed worried about the ground for him when interviewed on Racing UK today. He was more upbeat about stablemate UCELLO CONTI but that one has a stamina question mark for me on his run in 2016 (unseated rider when still going well at Bechers second time round last year – too far out for stamina issues to play a factor then)

I must also mention old friend SAINT ARE who made a valiant attempt last year. He’s slipped off the age scores now at 12 but much more importantly soft ground is not his cup of tea and his form this season has been poor
So its down to the shortlist and this year I come down to these from my scores









I have to take out Thunder and Roses from these due to his recent efforts and also discount I Just Know as think he is too badly handicapped

This leaves us with six possibles. I cant get too gung-ho about Chase The Spud’s chances on his two most recent runs but because he does have some proven attributes I will have a small win only interest.

Raz Da Maree and Houblon Des Obeaux are both types who I can’t really see winning but can see getting placed. I would be looking at them with firms who pay out more than 6 places (if any exist) and if anyone offers Top 10 finish prices

Regal Encore is another excluded from larger bets due to his stamina question mark but I will still be getting involved for smaller stakes

Therefore my main two fancies  at this stage are MILANSBAR and BAIE DES ILES who will both operate in the conditions and have proven stamina. Neither have raced over these Aintree fences before but both are very experienced. Both are ridden are women and the latter is a grey. Statistics may point against both those facts but the two jockeys here are a class above many other women who have ridden here…and any trends about grey horses are totally insignificant for me. The one disappointment is the price on Baie Des Iles. She was 50/1 a week ago but she’s been gambled all week as her chance became more apparent…that price has long gone now

I’ll add some bet recommendations this evening when overnight prices and place terms become revised.

…and the final recommendations when seeing tonight odds are:

2pts ew Baie Des Iles 18/1 currently with Corals paying 1/4 odds 12345

1pt ew Milansbar 33/1 currently with Corals, Ladbrokes, William Hill all paying 1/4 12345


I was hoping to see extra places added to place an each way bet on Houblon Des Obeaux but nothing that stand out this evening. He remains interesting for top 8 market on Betfair exchange along with Raz Da Maree. 

There isn’t quite the same place terms offer out there as have seen for previous years – much more of 1/5th odds rather than 1/4 which makes the use of picking out 5 or 6 horses this year a little less attractive. This is slightly surprising given that its currently 14/1 the field on Betfair exchange right now indicating this is one of the most open Grand Nationals for years. Getting at least 5 places remains a must as it is so competitive.

If any firm does a special price on a woman rider winning the Grand National it may also be of interest as that covers the two recommendations (plus Alpha Des Obeaux thrown in)

thanks for reading and best of luck to all




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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 4 – 2018

After further overnight rain on, Thursday’s conditions were officially ‘soft, heavy in places’

TV coverage showed that the old course which had been used for the first two days was in a pretty bad state but the new course is now being used and until today had been untouched.

It may get a bit churned up after Thursday’s racing but at the moment there is only an early morning window with further rain forecast. Times in early races suggested that the ground (for now) may be slightly better than on the first two days.

It’s unlikely to dry out to any great degree and I think we can still expect Friday’s ground to be hard work with stamina and soft ground form remaining at a premium


Onto the races:

1.30 Triumph Hurdle 2ml 1 fur

Gumball was early ante post favourite for this race until comprehensively beaten by Apples Shakira in November on the course. The filly has been favourite ever since.

Gumball’s stable has been very out of form since and I wouldn’t take that form completely on face value. He did look to have Apples Shakira in trouble at one point but then found himself racing on much worse ground and finished the race absolutely legless.

He does add value to this race as is likely to be making it a good gallop with Sussex Ranger.

Apples Shakira is now 3 out of 3 on the course and proven on soft ground. She is the one to beat but my one small doubt is that she often seems to get outpaced coming down the hill before the uphill finish brings her into her element. Her chance has been improved for the smaller field this year to combat this.

The main Irish trial was won by Mr Adjudicator from Farclas. The time of that race compared very favourably to other races on the card won by Samcro and Supasundae suggesting the form was high level.

Mr Adjudicator looks a thoroughly professional type who has made the transition from flat racing well. Farclas is a different type who stood out in the paddock that day as a horse for the future. He may be able to find the improvement for this (Tiger Roll has beaten in same race for same connections before turning the form around here). If Farclas doesn’t win and retains his novice status this season he’s definitely one to keep on side of for next years Supreme!

Redicean has shown an impressive turn of foot in Kempton wins and trainer Alan King knows how to win this race. He does look the one in the race who might be best suited to a speed race and I’m not sure he will get his optimum conditions here

It’s very hard to rate Stormy Ireland on the back of one wide margin win against weak opposition and she appears plenty short enough in odds against more proven opponents at this level.

Sussex Ranger shouldn’t be discounted either with stamina being an asset. He probably pulled a bit too hard when beaten by We Had A Dream at Chepstow (winner injured and misses this). I’m just a little concerned he might not settle again here after doing similarly in his flat race prep at Kempton recently

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy have won the opening races on both Wednesday and Thursday and as he’s such a nice type I’m erring on the side of Farclas to do the same on Friday


1pt ew Farclas 7/1 (888/Unibet paying 1/4 odds 123)


2.10 County Hcap Hurdle 2ml

A very competitive handicap as always with cases to be made for many

I’ll just throw up one big price here. William H Bonney looked the best horse in the race when 5th in the Greatwood Hurdle here in November on similar ground. He pulled a bit too hard that day but came to win the race until earlier exertions told close home

He hasn’t gone on from that but all his best form comes on this course and so I’m inclined to back him now he’s back here. He’s got a nice low weight and his mark as actually dropped since that notable effort


0.5pts ew William H Bonney 33/1 (Corals paying 1/4 odds 1234 – expect firms to offer extra places here later tonight)


2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle 3ml

This race is actually the one I have been looking forward to most this week!

That’s because my favourite racehorse this year, Poetic Rhythm, is here and I think the race is made for him.

Take a look at the winner role call and you’ll see its one where hardened street fighters have a great record and ‘Gorgeous George’ as he is known at home has that quality in spades


He made hard work of winning in bad ground last time but was suffering from colic only 3 weeks previously and did amazingly well to win in the circumstances. His earlier close third on the course reads very well as was giving weight to two very useful sorts that day.

Three miles isn’t really proven but he’s always shaped like he can handle it.

Santini’s defeat of Black Op reads very well now after that one’s effort on Wednesday. He is probably the form choice here but doesn’t have the experience that is usually required for this race

I may be looking with rose-tinted glasses here but there’s only one horse for me in this race and I think he’s overpriced at double figure odds


1.5pts ew Poetic Rhythm 12/1 (Hills paying 1/5 odds 1234)


3.30 Gold Cup 3ml 2fur

There was already no shortage of a pace angle in this race before front-runner American was supplemented last week. With him, Might Bite, Native River and Our Duke all happy to be at the front of affairs there is going to be no hiding place for this year’s Gold Riband

Our Duke bounced back from a kissing spine problem earlier in the season to beat Wednesday’s impressive RSA winner Presenting Percy last time (giving him weight). His odds have predictably shortened since and his win in the Irish Grand National under top weight last season was some performance for a novice.

The downsides here are the occasional jumping blips (the other three front-runners may force him into mistakes as they are all very good in that department) and his lack of course experience.

Might Bite showed his quirks when nearly throwing away the RSA last year – without running all over the track he would have been a shorter price here after killing his rivals with an amazing pace set from the front throughout. The softer ground is his Achilles heel.

Native River was my selection last year but ultimately the quicker ground that day was against him and he could never shake off Sizing John who did him for finishing speed. He’s had a quieter preparation this time and looks to have his ideal conditions.

The likely killer pace up front here could set it up for one to stalk and pounce and if there is such a horse it is Definitly Red who might prosper here. He has course form, goes on the ground and stays very well. I’m not sure the stamina is there for Road To Respect to capitalise in the final stages and Minella Rocco just has too many jumping frailties for me.

Edwulf is another strong stayer but there has to be a question mark about him returning to the course after a bizarre incident here last year when his career looked to be over at the time.

Killultagh Vic’s fall last time doesn’t inspire confidence when he’ll need everything to work in that department when competing at this level

I’m going for Native River again simply because he I think he is the most solid of the main protagonists on this ground and am struggling to see him out of the frame again


2pts ew Native River 9/2 (Unibet/888 paying 1/4 odds 123)


4.10 Foxhunters Chase 3ml 2fur

I’m not a point to point form specialist so will leave this one for now with no selection

I have heard good words for Volnay De Thaix from that sphere but there are some stamina questions

Grand Vision’s jumping has been a joy to watch this season and I think he could put a few in trouble from the front here


4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle 2ml 4fur

This race had more entries than any other at the 5 day stage and there will be plots abounding.

As a former pupil of Martin Pipe, Gordon Elliott has long been trying to win it and finally did that last year. I doubt he will settle at that one win and is again well represented

No views at this stage – if that changes I will add something this evening


5.30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Hcap 2ml

The getting out race (and a very good one for the blog last year!)

Another race named after a trainer and so I was an early bettor of Nicky Henderson’s Theinval here. He ran very well in the same race last year and his mark has skillfully been brought back to the same after down the field attempts over longer trips.

The fact he took part in a gallop with two stable stars in Buveur D’Air and Might Bite speaks volumes for me about how much this race means

The stumbling block is very much the ground as he’s a much better horse on a decent surface. He would be a confident pick despite the competitiveness of this race if the going here was what it was last year but on soft/heavy it’s going to be tough now

Last year’s winner Rock The World (worse off with Theinval) and his fancied stablemate Don’t Touch It are also ones that need a better surface.

I’m not sure what the stable have been doing with Vaniteux (once chasing up Douvan in Arkle before falling at the last) this season but he’s another potential plot – however he’s priced up already to allow for that

This could let in the novice North Hill Harvey who skipped the Arkle on Tuesday to run here.

Front runner Gino Trail is an admirable sort who will put them all to the sword from the front.

I prefer his stablemate Top Gamble if conditions persist. A strongly run 2 miles on deep ground and a stiff track appeal as this one’s optimum conditions. Davy Russell knows him well and it’s interesting to note that cheekpieces are now applied after a slightly sub-par effort last time out

He has dropped 10lb in the handicap than this time last year but I don’t think he has regressed to that degree and is nicely weighted now.


1pt ew Top Gamble 18/1 (Corals/Ladbrokes)


Thanks for reading once more and good luck for the final day


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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 3 -2018

Day two began with the ground still described as ‘dead’ and very much on the soft side. The forecast suggests we could have a lot of rain overnight and so ground could worse again tomorrow (check going reports in morning to see just how much but we could get some real ‘gloopy’ conditions)

Onto the races tomorrow:

1.30 JLT Novices Chase 2ml 4fur

This doesn’t have the same look of class as the two other novice chase championship races.  Finians Oscar was ante post favourite for this early in the season but after a good start his season certainly hasn’t gone to plan and it looked unlikely he would ever make it here. His bravery at jumping has been questionable but he does have the ability to win this. There has to be a question mark over him though still.

I’d like to see some course form for the favourite Invitation Only – and it’s also noticeable that Benatar’s career has been at flat tracks until now. Terrefort is unbeaten in the UK and will like the ground but also is missing any form at this track.

Shattered Love did race here last year and didn’t look to enjoy the experience so am also wary there.

Modus does have course form but I’m not fully convinced that he is up this level as a chaser.

I’m finding it possible to make a case and a negative for nearly everything here.

It’s only because I think the price is too big that I’m going to have a small play on Kemboy (probably high odds because he is perceived to be the Mullins second string).

Having seen him as a novice hurdler at Leopardstown last year he had a look of a horse who would be better in time as a chaser. He performed fairly well over hurdles here last year and I think he can cope with deep ground


0.5pts ew Kemboy 20/1 (365 paying 1/4 odds 123)


2.10 Pertemps Hcap Hurdle 3miles

Quite likely to be a bit of a slog and I think the one that sticks out as being suited to this kind of test is Forza Milan. It’s always a plus in my eyes to see anything sired by Milan when ground gets bad

I’m often exasperated in trying to guess the plans of the Jonjo O’Neill stable but think he may have had this race in mind for some time here and it’s interesting that cheekpieces are reached for first time now

Killian Moore always rides him and claims a handy 3lbs off in the ground.

He has performed well before after a break so I’m not too concerned by a near 3 month absence in the run-up to this (that could all be about keeping his mark in check).

The stable have won this race three times before and know what it takes to win it


1pt ew Forza Milan 14/1 (365 paying1/4 odds 12345)


2.50 Ryanair Chase 2ml 5 fur

With many firms still quoting Douvan here at 3/1 prices are bound to change as soon as he becomes a non runner after running today.

It would be great to see Cue Card bounce back to win this but can’t help thinking his last race was a brutal one that may have taken a lot out of him.

Cloudy Dream will be suited by the drop back from 3 miles but is a better horse on good ground.

It’s currently advantage to last years winner Un De Sceaux in my mind but doubt I will be betting on this race


3.30 Stayers Hurdle 3miles

Sam Spinner has been the revelation in this division this season and the deeper the ground the more it goes against his rivals and favours him.

Not having course form is the negative for this throughly likeable galloper but he can be expected to be attacking his rivals early and exploit any stamina weaknesses from a long way out

I would have fancied a few to be able to challenge him on better ground but on this going he is going to take some beating.

He would undoubtedly be shorter if trained by a more fashionable stable



2pts win Sam Spinner 4/1 (several offering but beware any who still quote Apples Jade and may impose a Rule 4 when that one gets taken out as expected)


4.10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Hcap  2ml 5 fur

Far too difficult a race for me to solve at the moment and I’ll readily pass for now…


4.50 Mares Novices Hurdle 2ml

I think the Irish mare Laurina holds all of the aces hre and will be very difficult to beat but the price is too short to tempt me.

Cap Soleil may improve for the return to deep ground and is the one I might be looking at each way or in markets without the favourite


5.30 Kim Muir Challenge Cup 3ml 2fur

A handicap with amateur riders.

Squoauteur has been the subject of handicap plots before and with Jamie Codd on board he’s already priced in anticipation of the same.

Mall Dini also has a top amateur on board and wasn’t far away in this last year. He has also probably been aimed at this for a while but the ground looks likely to be against him

I’m happy to swerve these two and prefer another ridden by a top Irish amateur – Final Nudge.

He ran a great race under a big weight in the Welsh National and looked to be feeling the effects of that still when down the field at Sandown a few weeks later.

He won’t mind this ground and after a decent break since am hopeful he can bounce back here as he has the class to defy a high weight here. (was still travelling very well in the ultra testing Midlands National last year when departing late on last year – this race can’t be any more attritional than that)


1pt ew Final Nudge 22/1 (Corals)


Thanks for reading once more and good luck!



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Posted by on March 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 2 -2018

Day one did indeed have softer ground as we expected – some described it as dead – but it doesn’t appear to be that 1980 style ground I was expecting and race times suggest it’s not as bad as envisaged. Thankfully there doesn’t appear to be a huge course bias either. While it’s still soft the forecast suggests that it certainly won’t get worse tomorrow and with drying conditions it might not be too attritional on day 2

Onto the races:

1.30 Ballymore Novices Hurdle 2ml 5fur

Samcro is a very impressive individual and will take a world of beating but this race does have a history of short priced ones getting beat. He is the big talking horse in Ireland this year and many will be very disappointed if he is turned over.

It would not surprise me to see him win but I would rather go for an each way alternatives.

I’m happy to see Duc Des Genievres rerouted here. He was beaten by Samcro last time but was the most obvious to take from that race who would benefit from a longer trip. I think he can give the favourite something to think about. (Third horse Paloma Blue ran very well on Tuesday despite pulling away his chances again)

I also like Black Op’s chances. He probably would have won last time but for a last hurdle blip and had been in front plenty soon enough. The New One won this race after getting beaten similarly in the same race so that defeat shouldn’t detract from his chances

Next Destination is too short a price for me in relation to the other two I just mentioned. Vision Des Flos was impressive last time and his stable look to be going well now but I think he still has something to prove on form

Getting a firm that offers ¼ odds for each way purposes is pretty important here if there are similarities in win odds


1pt ew Black Op 10/1 (365 1/4 odds 123)

1pt ew Duc des Genievres 14/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook 1/5 odds 123)


2.10 RSA Novices Chase 3ml

This could be one the races of the festival and there will be no more popular winner than Black Corton and Bryony Frost. This one has a fantastic attitude and done nothing but improve all season. His jumping his assured and it will take a serious horse at the top of their game to beat him.

Elegant Escape beat Black Corton at Newbury earlier this season but the second was giving weight that day and reversed form on level terms at Kempton. The stiffer track may be in Elegant Escape’s favour….but on the other side Black Corton has course winning form

I don’t think there will be a lot between these two but the Irish pair of Presenting Percy and Monalee may be a step ahead of both.

Both have fine previous Festival form over hurdles and both always promised to be better chasers.

Presenting Percy would probably prefer better ground and did have quite a hard race last time when receiving weight and a beating from Our Duke ( the winner is a serious candidate for Friday’s Gold Cup)

Monalee’s season hasn’t gone quite to plan after a fall midway through it. It was good to see him bounce back from that next time – especially as I believe he had a slight setback just before the race – his effort can be marked up because of that.

I have backed Monalee ante post here at bigger prices so won’t be going in again at 7/2. I think he is the one to beat here but there is a slight niggle in my mind about jumping now if he is being taken on at any stage in the race.

It’s not a strong conviction though and I could equally see some attractiveness in backing Black Corton or Elegant Escape each way here.

No recommendations for now


2.50 Coral Cup 2ml 5fur

Always a very competitive handicap

I really liked Burbank’s run at Ascot last time. It signalled a return to form after disappointing efforts earlier in the season. He ran really well at this meeting last year and Nicky Henderson looked like he couldn’t contain his liking for this one on two recent preview evenings.

Really soft ground is something we just don’t know that will suit him or not but he is at the top of my shortlist…any maybe the ground won’t be quite so bad anyway tomorrow

The ground could also be better for Mount Mews but this one has won on it before. He wasn’t as adept over the bigger fences as his rivals at Ascot last time and has been brought back to hurdles. That could be a shrewd move as he has a decent mark here and this trip could be ideal

These two will be my main plays

1pt ew Burbank 18/1 (Hills, Betfred/Tote)

1pt ew Mount Mews 16/1 (Ladbrokes, Corals, Boyles)

  • an extra recommendation added here on Wednesday morning with the sponsors paying a generous 1/5th odds a place for the first 7. Graceful Legend is a tough mare who seldom runs a bad race and gets on very well with her 5lb claiming jockey. I think she paid for taking on the favourite in her last race and doesnt probably stay 3miles. She’s better judged on previous course form here and doesnt deserve to be as big as 66/1  0.5pts ew Graceful Legend 66/1 (corals 1/5th 1234567)


3.30 Champion Chase 2miles

Hard to get involved in the 2 mile chasing championship. Altior is the one to beat but hasn’t had the most straightforward of seasons and was the subject of a last minute scare at the beginning of the week. Douvan has also had a chequered career since disappointing in this race last year – he was almost retired earlier this season.

This could let in Min although I doubt he has the talent to beat either of the other two if they are on song (Ruby Walsh choosing to ride Douvan might be a slight negative but as todays Champion Hurdle showed having Paul Townend on board instead isn’t too much o a downside). He hasn’t done much wrong this year though in his preparation for this

Politologue will go on the ground and might appeal to each way punters. Not for me though given his previous form on this course (including a bizarre running out earlier in his career) which suggests to me that he is more effective elsewhere.

Reigning champion Special Tiara would have been my each way choice but the softer ground has gone against him

If Altior is 100% I’d expect him to be too good but with a few doubts seeded about his wellbeing it’s a just a race to watch for me now

No Bet at the moment but I would be very tempted by Min each way if the other big two were backed and he got to 9/2 or bigger


4.10 Cross Country Chase 3ml 6fur

A specialist race in every sense and never been one I’ve been keen on. Strong messages for both Cause of Causes and the enigma that is Tiger Roll coming from Ireland during preview nights but I’ll happily sit this race out

No bet – put the kettle on time!


4.50 Fred Winter Hcap Hurdle 2ml

Eragon Du Chanay has crept in at the bottom of the race after a dominant win on bad ground at Sandown last Saturday. He probably didn’t beat a lot that day but is well in on the back of that. It is a huge ask though to run two races in that short space of time on very bad ground.

Paul Nicholls has a great record in the race – and so do the highest rated flat horses who appear here. Both stats heavily favour Act of Valour who has to be at the top of my shortlist.

I also like his Newcastle victim Look My Way who looks to have gone forward since. This one has also won on heavy at Ffos Las. The ground can be really bad at that track and so whatever he encounters here will hold no fear. He ran really well here behind Apples Shakira last time when really putting it to the Triumph favourite. I’m sure they won’t press on quite as early here with her not to worry about


1.5pt ew Act of Valour 9/1 (Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook/Betfred/Tote/Bet Victor)

1pt ew Look My Way 12/1 (365, Hills)


5.30 Champion Bumper 2miles

The Leopardstown race where Blackbow beat Rhinestone looks the strongest piece of form here.

My initial impression was that the second might reverse on better ground at Cheltenham but that hasn’t materialised. Rhinestone’s chance is still boosted by virtue of Barry Geraghty picking him instead of Didtheyleaveuoutto. Blackbow certainly looked the better long-term prospect but I was worried about his action that day and how he would cope with better ground. That might not be such a problem now

Acey Milan has done nothing but improve this season and being by Milan should have no issues with deep ground. ( I need to see how MS Parfois performs on Tuesday first – as stated in day 1 blog I was a bit worried about stable form here)

This looks a strong race and well worth watching for future prospects. Tom George’s pair The Big Bite and Seddon both are highly regarded and shouldn’t be totally disregarded at big odds ( the trainer started the meeting in the perfect way when winning Tuesday’s opener).

(Adrian Heskin made a point of picking out Seddon as a really nice type in a recent preview evening – he didn’t have to do that but obviously holds him in some regard)

I couldn’t put anyone off Blackbow, Rhinestone or Acey Milan but will go for a slightly more speculative recommendation at big odds

0.5 pts ew Seddon 50/1 (Boyles) – would take 40/1

Thanks for reading once more


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Posted by on March 13, 2018 in Uncategorized


Cheltenham Festival Day 1 – 2018

The blog is back for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival!

It will be a shorter and more condensed run through than recent years due to my own time constraints this year.

I’ve detailed a few important stats when looking for winners in previous years but anyone looking to expand on that is recommended to visit the excellent site. (A lot of work has gone into this so if you do find it useful be sure to leave a donation to the worthy cause it has been done for)

It’s a completely different looking meeting to recent years though with heavy ground looking a possibility on the opening day. We have to go back to the early 1980s the see anything similar and it does put a completely different spin on trying to anticipate the likely winners this year. The stats I have used in the past may well be affected by this difference. Ability to act on the going could well have a far greater bearing than usual and could throw other statistical trends up in the air.

Reminiscence time now to see just what this sort of ground can do to decimate a field can be seen here in the 1980 renewal of the RSA chase

A lot of plans made through the winter may be up in the air now with the anticipated Good to Soft going on Day 1 no longer materializing.

We’ll know a lot more after racing has started on how bad the conditions are. There has been a marked tendency at this course when it has become very boggy in recent years for hurdles races to be dominated by horses racing on better ground on the far rail. I’m hoping this isn’t the case here but if it is I expect there to be a fight to secure the prime spot

Onto the racing – odds for each race can be found via – I will list best available price I can find at time of posting where applicable for any selections


1.30 Skybet Supreme Novices Hurdle 2miles

There didn’t seem to be an overwhelming vote of confidence for Willie Mullins’s favourite Getabird at preview evenings in the run-up the big meeting. I was half expecting 3/1 to be available on the day but his price has firmed up since and he looks likely to start much shorter now. That’s a lot to do with the softer ground (good ground would have been a concern). There is still a question mark over his ability to race left-handed (same applies to his Punchestown victim Mengli Khan). It is that, and some doubts I have about the form of that race (Mengli Khan seemed to run well below previous efforts), that make me uneasy here.

Kalashnikov is most fancied of the home team and comes here after an impressive Newbury win against seasoned handicappers. He showed soft ground held no fears there but truly heavy conditions may not suit quite as much. He was beaten on bad ground at Sandown by Summerville Boy before then. That race had a slightly unsatisfactory feel about it to me at the time and I’m not so sure the winner can uphold the form given that Kalashnikov lost a shoe in the race.

First Flow is another to consider as he is also proven in deep ground but he needs to improve on what he has achieved so far. The potential is definitely there though.

Slate House has good course form earlier this season but seems to have gone backward since.

Claimantakinforgan and Western Ryder will both struggle on this going from what I have seen from them this year

The other interesting one is Paloma Blue. He was the only one to come close to the much vaunted Samcro on paddock inspection in terms of looks on his last start at Leopardstown. He took a strong hold during the race but travelled as well as the favourite turning into the straight. The earlier antics then took their toll and he weakened into third. I’d be worried that with the big atmosphere certain here he might not settle again – in which case the final hill will almost certainly find him out. If he can be settled by Davy Russell though he is a player

Marginal preference is for Kalashnikov here. He would have been an each way bet for me at 5/1 or better on soft ground but on heavy ground I’ll probably be holding fire now


2.10 Arkle Trophy 2 miles

The presence of some high quality novices at the front of the market here has frightened all but rank outsider Robinshill off and we just have 5 runners.

With three of them all racing from the front this year many are anticipating a burn-up which could have let something come in to pounce from behind.

Brain Power is the one that doesn’t need to lead but a last run fall and some below par course form don’t attract me to him.

Saint Calvados hasn’t got the hurdling form of others but has impressed greatly with his jumping in some easy wins this season. He has the ground to suit him but there is some question mark with his rather pronounced action that this undulating course may not suit as much as the flat ones he has been winning over.

Many seem to have been marking Footpad as another who needs to race from the front. He lead Petit Mouchoir at Leopardstown but I don’t believe it’s something he has to do – he certainly didn’t as a hurdler. He’s been leading simply because his jumping has been so proficient and I actually think that he might be better here because he has a rival he can give him a lead.

Petit Mouchoir reopposes again and can be expected to improve on that effort. He was the best hurdler out of these but he did make some errors on that last start. I can’t help thinking that with two better jumpers taking him on he might be drawn into mistakes again – and that will cost him here

Footpad is my choice to win this. He was about 6/4 a couple of days ago but is nearer to Evens tonight. That’s a little bit too short to make him a recommendation in ground that has been suggested could be ‘puddingy’


Likewise I am loathe to oppose two short priced favs later in the card.

Buveur D’Air is around 4/7 for the feature event – the Champion Hurdle at 330 – but it’s hard to oppose him in his bid to repeat last year’s success. Previous winner, Faugheen, didn’t look the same horse on his last start. Faugheen’s stablemates – Yorkhill (ran abysmally last time out and avoided by the main stable jockeys here) and Wicklow Brave ( talented but quirky – has been known to plant himself at the start) I am also happy to discount.

My Tent Or Yours would have been an each way bet here for me given his previous record in this race but the heavy ground has to be a negative for him.

There’s easily potential for a big priced outsider to hit the frame here – it’s just that finding it is the problem with so many looking to prefer better ground. For reasons noted last year, I hope that Ch’tibello is one that can do that but he did run flat last time and was still feeling the effects of an attritional performance at Haydock. It could be that his Wincanton conqueror, Elgin is the one to grab a place. He is proven on bad ground at Cheltenham already this season (when he stuck to the far rail like glue!)

Apples Jade (also around 4/7) looks the other short-priced one that can’t be opposed in the Mares Hurdle at 4.10. She also comes here to defend her crown and looks a better horse than last year. Her opposition looks weaker still to me and so would be the more attractive option to me of the two hotpots at that kind of price. Benie Des Dieux is a more unexposed than the rest and the only who I could see representing any kind of threat


On the rest of the card I find the Close Brothers Handicap at 530 practically impossible to solve at this stage.


In the earlier Ultima Handicap at 250 I think it would take a monster effort from top weight Gold Present to win in these conditions. Last years second, Singlefarmpayment, I also have to rule out on the likely ground. My short list for this race are  three novices – Coo Star Sivola, Vintage Clouds and Ramses de Teillee.

Coo Star Sivola and Ramses de Teillee would both struggle on previous stats as 6yos but as they are French breds I’d be willing to ignore that as they do tend to mature earlier. Coo Star Sivola has good previous Festival form and looked improved for stepping up in trip last time. He was 8/1 a few days ago but there isn’t much juice in the 5/1 now (I’d like a bit more in the price to counteract the one negative in my mind which is the jockey). Ramses de Teillee comes from a stable that has to be respected in this race and will like the going. My concern here is that all his best form appears to be at Chepstow and that can be a track for specialists.

Vintage Clouds is a second season novice and was running well in this last year until falling. I think this year’s ground will be far more to his liking. Unfortunately he has been found in the market too and the 14/1 that was freely available on Sunday is long gone!

With the prices all a little below what I would want on all three it’s another no bet race for now


The final race to consider is the 4 mile National Hunt Chase at 4.50. Over this trip and on this ground this is going to be a severe test of stamina. I’m not convinced that favourite Jury Duty has the fortitude for it on this going. There were two that stood out to me as likely to appreciate both going and trip.

Firstly, the mare MS Parfois will relish the ground and has won at the course. She would have been a bet until I noticed some fairly horrendous form from her stable in recent weeks. This is a little offputting.

Therefore I am drawn to her Warwick victim, Duel At Dawn, who looks another who could be ideally suited to such a test. He ran well at this course when beaten by reopposing Sizing Tennessee but is 5lb better off with that one today and also looks a stronger stayer than his conqueror there


I wouldn’t have been nominating this one on normal ground but he could well come into his own in this likely slog and is an each way recommendation with some firms offering 4 places


1pt ew Duel At Dawn (use firms offering 1/5 odds 1234 – paddy power have best price of 16/1 at time of writing)


Good luck to all once more and thanks for reading




Summary of selections

1.30 Kalashnikov 

2.10 Footpad

2.50 Coo Star Sivola/Ramses de Teillee/Vintage Clouds

3.30 Buveur D’Air

4.10 Apples Jade

4.50 Duel At Dawn (recommended bet ew with 4 places)

5.30 PASS!


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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized


Epsom Classics 2017

Epsom Classics 2017

A quick summer outing for the blog with Classics weekend at Epsom looming. The Oaks (for fillies) kicks comes first on Friday but the 238th running of the Epsom Derby (for both sexes – though it’s usually only colts) is the centrepiece on Saturday.

Northern stables can hardly claim to much success in the big race with Dante being the last horse to bring back the Blue Riband to Yorkshire in 1945.

He was trained in Middleham – just like Mark Johnston’s Permian this year – and I really think this one has very strong claims to end the Northern drought in this race.

He certainly wouldn’t be a stats pick on where he is trained – neither on the fact that he has graduated from a handicap win earlier in his career. What is in his favour is that he is highly progressive and comes here after winning one of the most notable trials – the Dante Stakes in decisive fashion at York last time. That win saw him come through a battle and ultimately win going away at the finish. He looked like a horse who would be even better stepping up to Saturday’s mile and a half trip

In both that and previous races he has looked a horse with good tactical pace – something that often is vital around the Epsom track. With a potentially large looking field, being able to secure a handy spot just behind the pace could be even more invaluable this year.

He has already proved himself around the tricky Epsom track with a close second to Cracksman (reopposing again) here earlier in the season. The form of that race has looked extremely solid – in years past it was a notable trial and for once, it would seem to be doing so again this year.


Permian has probably improved since then but on the bare form it may look like he may struggle to reverse placings with the winner. Cracksman’s big problem for me comes with his breeding. He’s by Frankel out a mare by Champion sprinter Pivotal. That really doesn’t scream a 12 furlong horse and I have a feeling that he may have been winning over his optimum trip on 10 furlongs that day

Another horse in the race, Best Solution, would also seem an unlikely winner on breeding which suggests him to be more of a miler. He confounded that by winning the Lingfield Derby trial impressively. What is notable here though is that he is owned by Godolphin – as are Dubai Thunder and Benbati. William Buick would most likely have the choice of ride of any of these yet has picked Permian (owned by another member of Dubai’s ruling family) who was especially supplemented to the race on Monday at a cost of £85,000.

As usual there is a big representation from Ireland from the Aidan O’Brien stable. While they have strength in number, the lack of choice of a mount yet from Ryan Moore tends to indicate there is no stand out performer amongst them. The market favours Cliffs of Moher most out of the raiding party. This one won the Dee Stakes last time (beating Bay of Poets – 3rd beind Cracksman and Permian at Epsom). He did look to be tapped for toe that day when Max Zorin quickened the tempo up front – that does worry me when it comes to the tactical pace aspect in this race

Eminent, another son of Frankel, is also high up in the betting. He’s the one bringing Group One 2,000 Guineas form into this but was a bit of a disappointing 6th that day. Again stamina here wouldn’t be assured on his pedigree.

For me this is a weak looking Derby. Whilst it is a Group 1 race, I’m not so sure there is a genuine Group 1 mile and a half furlong performer in the race this year. Cracksman may well prove up to that level but I suspect at 2 furlongs less. If such a type were to emerge, then Permian might well find one too good. But in the belief that he definitely won’t find three that good I make him a solid each way proposition

There are two interesting ones at much higher odds that I’ll be backing my main selection up with.

Sylvester Kirk’s Salouen ran creditably at Group level last season. He’s only run once this year when just touched off by the reopposing Khalidi – the latter had race fitness on his side. It’s fairly likely that lack of a run beat him that day yet he is available now at more than twice the odds of his rival.


He wouldn’t like the soft ground that Epsom had earlier in the week but that is drying all of time and 66/1 seems far too big. It’s just the fact that his trainer is less known that is making the odds here

John Gosden’s main hope may be Cracksman but it’s also interesting that Crowned Eagle is still a likely runner here despite his best piece of form being a Windsor handicap win. That day he did look like a Group performer in waiting – and that’s no surprise given he is a sibling of 3 Group race winners at this trip. The main worry again was that he really had to be scrubbed along early in that race to get a good position early – the tactical pace angle may be a problem. He is the one horse in the field who I can most envisage being a Group 1 performer over this distance in time – it may just be too early for him.

The 48 hour declarations for this race will be released tomorrow morning. From then on, Rule 4 deductions could be imposed to prices. Betting now would normally be Ante Post rules and non runners would be deemed losers. There are plenty of firms who do offer Non Runner No Bet and so that could be wise to use in some cases

(odds available here: )


2.5 pts ew Permian 11/1 (Boylesports paying ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts ew Salouen 66/1 (32 red/888/Unibet – all paying NRNB ¼ odds 123)

0.5 pts win Crowned Eagle – taking 33/1 NRNB here where available – 40/1 is available with Hills but not 100% convinced he will run yet and would prefer comfort of stakes being returned.

Whilst, I am not sure there is a proven Group 1 performer in the Derby, there most definitely is in Friday’s Oaks in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s 1,000 Guineas runner-up Rhododendron. That form was emphatically boosted by the winner, Winter, last weekend. While her stamina has yet to be proved, she is by Galileo and that has to be a positive. Her ability to act on a track like this is also something we don’t know and would be the main thing that would dissuade me from taking odds of around Evens for her to win. It’s not really that original to pick 2nd fav Enable as her main danger. Stamina looks assured and her impressive win at the tight Chester circuit gives every confidence that this track should hold no fears. The O’Brien stable will no exactly how they stand on that form having had the second Alluringly (reopposes again). The strength of money on the day for the favourite should tell us all we need to know here – the signs so far have all been positive though. 48 hour declarations have already been done for this race earlier today and 10 runners will go to post

No recommendations at current odds though I think the favourite will be hard to beat


Good luck to all with whatever you back this weekend


Thanks for reading




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2017 Grand National

2017 Grand National

Welcome to another blast of stats that hopefully will pinpoint the winner of this year’s big race at Aintree.

Runner, riders and all of the odds can be found here

(scroll down the page to find full list of odds and place terms from every firm)

Note that place terms may well vary with some firms paying 4 places, some 5 and some 6 or even more. I cannot stress highly enough that (unless betting win only) there is a much bigger advantage on your side the more places are available. If you are betting each way then avoid the firms only paying 4 places unless the win odds are markedly higher than others. Also be sure to take a price (rather than SP) as most will shorten up as we get closer to the race. There may be some competition to be best in the market tomorrow so best to check markets on Saturday morning – those that haven’t been put up by Pricewise (comes out at 8pm) or by the Sporting Life the night before might be have their best offers then

In common with the last 2 years I have attempted to pinpoint the main factors needed to find the winner of the big race.

In 2015, Many Clouds defied most of these (too young, carrying too much weight) but subsequently proved himself to be an exceptional winner. Sadly, this warrior gave his all in beating the new star of the NH chasing scene, Thistlecrack, earlier this year and he is no longer with us.

In 2016, the system proved much more effective highlighting the winner Rule The World (advised 50/1) and 3rd Vics Canvas (advised 80/1) as selections. A 34.5 profit such as from last year will be hard to replicate but we can but try!

The key factors I look for are weight, stamina, age and number of runs this season. 2015 was run on good ground and 2016 had softer conditions. I think it’s likely that on decent ground the weight factor becomes a bit less important – currently it’s looking that we will have fairly similar conditions this year. However, with only one horse carrying more than 11st 6lb this year (The Last Samuri), this factor won’t be dismissing too many runners at all

The factors are broken down into points as such (taken from my 2015 post)

Weight. ( W )
11 stone or less a big positive = 3pts
11st 1lb to 11st 6lb – less of chance but still not insurmountable (particularly on decent ground) = 2pts
Over 11st 6lbs = 0 pts
Stamina (S)
It may seem obvious but there was a train of thought once that 2.5 mile horses were ideal for this (largely stemming from Fred Rimell/Gay Trip victory). There is nothing to back this up nowadays.
A winner over more than 3 miles is necessary so we give 1pt for that
Not having won over at least 3 miles in hurdles or chases is such a big negative to me that it carries MINUS 1pt
Proven stamina in a competitive National like Handicap (3ml 4fur or more) =3pts
*Please note I do not consider Cheltenham’s NH Chase in that last criteria. It is over 4 miles but is for amateur riders and usually slowly run so can give a misleading stamina impression. Likewise the 3ml 7furlong Cross Country race at Cheltenham doesn’t count either as it is run at a totally different pace. 
Age (and Chasing experience) (A)
9,10 or 11 is the desired age bracket to have here and gets 2pts.
Since the turn of century (and not counting Red Marauder’s heavy ground freak race) that covers all but two winners (Bindaree 8yo in 2002, Many Clouds 2015), and all but 6 winners since 1980.
Those 8yos that have prevailed did have chasing experience on their side so get 1 pt if they have had at least 10 runs over the big fences
Streetwise 12yos can also triumph occasionally but would need a previous run over the National fences to get 1pt
A 7yo hasn’t won since 1940 so that has to be a big negative and gets MINUS 1pt. There have been 33 to try in this millennium and the best was Big Fella Thanks with 6th place in 2009 (two of this years runners Vieux Lion Rouge and Cause of Causes both returning this year tried and failed at 7.
13 and 14yos don’t often run and their price would reflect that they are past their prime. No points for them but don’t be surprised with a top 10 finish as National veterans Swing Bill and Hello Bud have done in the last 3 years. And the there was Vics Canvas of course last year, who might well have won but for near catastrophe at Bechers Brook on the first circuit.
Runs This Season (R)
When you realise that none of the last 24 winners came into the race without having at least 3 runs it has to be important and so is given 2pts. A run since Christmas is also important so we’ll take off a point for any that haven’t
These I think are the key statistics for which to base a scoring system and I will apply to each horse below. A total score of 10 pts is possible for the ‘ideal stats fit’

So here is how this years runners stack up given these criteria:

Houblon Des Obeaux 10 3 3 2 2
Bishops Road 10 3 3 2 2
Saint Are 10 3 3 2 2
Just A Par 10 3 3 2 2
Rogue Angel 10 3 3 2 2
Thunder and Roses 10 3 3 2 2
Gasline Boy 10 3 3 2 2
The Young Master 9 3 3 1 2
One For Arthur 9 3 3 1 2
Vicente 9 3 3 1 2
Raz Da Maree 9 3 3 1 2
Bless The Wings (res) 9 3 3 1 2
Cause of Causes 8 3 1 2 2
Regal Encore 8 3 1 2 2
Ucello Conti 8 3 1 2 2
Pleasant Company 8 3 1 2 2
O’Faolains Boy 8 3 1 2 2
Lord Windermere 8 3 1 2 2
Measureofmydreams 8 3 3 2 0
Goodtoknow 8 3 1 2 2
Doctor Harper 8 3 1 2 2
Viva Steve (res) 8 3 1 2 2
The Last Samuri 7 0 3 2 2
More of That 7 2 1 2 2
Perfect Candidate 7 2 1 2 2
Wonderful Charm 7 2 1 2 2
Tenor Nivernais 7 2 1 2 2
Definitly Red 7 3 1 1 2
La Vaticane 7 3 1 1 2
Saphir Du Rheu 6 2 1 1 2
Roi Des Francs 6 2 1 1 2
Wounded Warrior 6 2 1 1 2
Blaklion 6 2 1 1 2
Ballynagour 6 3 -1 2 2
Highland Lodge 6 3 1 2 0
Stellar Notion 6 3 -1 2 2
Cocktails At Dawn 6 3 -1 2 2
Drop Out Joe 5 2 1 2 0
Double Shuffle 5 3 1 -1 2
Knock House (res) 5 3 1 1 0
Sambremont (res) 5 3 3 -1 0
Shantou Flyer 4 2 1 -1 2
Vieux Lion Rouge 4 3 1 0 0
Le Mercurey 3 3 -1 -1 2

***Now confirmed that all 4 reserves will not get into the race***

Now some comments for the top points scorers from this list:



Venetia Williams’ charge seems to have been around for years but is still only 10. In his pomp he was rated as high as 162 and capable of holding his own in the highest class. Like many French-breds he seems to have regressed a bit earlier and is down to a mark of 149 here. Runs in the Welsh and Midlands Grand Nationals this season confirm his stamina. His best form has always come on soft ground and unlikely to get conditions here. I’m not sure his hard slog in the Midland Grand National so recently will be a great prep for this and that was also off a 5lb lower mark


Kerry Lee’s runner was very fancied for this last year but failed to make the cut. He ran in the Topham instead but got no further than the first fence. His form this season has not been so good and he has a marked preference for much softer ground than he will get here



Second in this race in 2015 (from a mark of 143) and fancied last year off 146 (was one of the blog selections) but was pulled up. The ground is the key here and the rain that came last year effectively killed his chances. The stable is in good form and the booking of Davy Russell is a positive. At the moment the ground looks to be in his favour although I’m sure connections would have wanted to see no watering taking place. It should still dry out enough by 515 to not be an inconvenience to him. Strangely for an 11yo tomorrow will see him wearing blinkers for the first time (has worn a visor before)


His record in the Whitbread Gold Cup (2nd and 1st in last two years) gives this one his stamina credentials. He hasn’t performed over this course in two previous tries although the ground could be an excuse. Should get his favoured conditions tomorrow though he had them at Musselburgh recently and was pulled up then.



Mouse Morris won this with Rule The World last year and has two great stats fits running here as these two have won the last two runnings of the Irish Grand National. Mouse has few peers in getting one ready for a big race so although something for both to find on form this year we can be sure they will be primed for this. Bryan Cooper had the pick of 5 runners this year from the Gigginstown team and sided with Rogue Angel (he did pick the wrong one last year though!). Rogue Angel did have a spin over these fences in the Becher Chase before Christmas – that was down the field but probably just a sighter for this – and more importantly it didn’t push up his handicap mark


The Ian Williams stable is in fine form recently and that has to be a positive on this one’s side. There are some negatives to balance though. He got no further than the first fence in this contest in 2015 and has been a horse in the past who seems to need things to go his own way to be seen at his best. In a big field like this he may struggle with that. Stamina points come from a win at Haydock in 2014 where things did go his way – but there have been a few other attempts where he has struggled to get home. Although Gas Line Boy does get full points they may be misleading in this case



Being an 8 year old he may be a year too young but he’s be far more experienced than most his age as he started chasing at 5. Although ridden by an amateur in Sam Waley-Cohen that can’t be construed as a negative here. Sam is the most successful jockey riding over the National fences with 5 wins over the course on his cv and a close call with Oscar Time in this race. I’m not always convinced that the Whitbread Gold Cup which he won last year is as good a stats pointer as other distance hcaps but it was still a good performance for a relatively your horse to win as he did. Trained specifically for this race by Neil Mulholland he ran a nice trail when 5th at Cheltenham in his last run


Representing Scotland. Another who is really a year too young but displayed some dour stamina qualities when winning at Warwick in January. He had previously ran very well over this course in the shorter Becher Chase when staying on strongly in 5th. His Warwick win has seen him rise substantially in the handicap here to a mark of 148 from 137. That puts him worse in with the 4 horses who beat him in the Becher. This longer trip will be totally in his favour but connections would probably have been happier with some rain to soften the ground



Bought by Trevor Hemmings to replace Many Clouds. Another 8yo but being French bred that might not be such a negative and again he’s quite experienced for his age. Demonstrated that stamina was his forte when winning the Scottish Grand National last season. He got good ground there and that’s a must – conditions are looking right for him again. Trained for the race and is a noticeably better horse in the Spring. The one negative would be if he is a good enough jumper. In days of yore I think he would have struggled more but the easier fences these days will help his cause. The booking of top northern jockey Brian Hughes is a bonus.


At 12, this Irish challenger could be a year too old but he has some fine performances in staying chases on his cv. His second to Native River earlier this year was probably a career best but that did come on his favoured soft ground. On the likely conditions tomorrow it’s easy to see him getting too far behind as he did here in 2014 when staying on late into 8th


At number 41 in the list he is first reserve and needs one to drop out to get in. Another 12yo so maybe a year too old but his second in the Irish National last season puts him into the mix. Denis O Regan has gone close in the race before on Black Apalachee. Likely to be held up and the sort to run into a place if he gets in

** Update – now confirmed that with no withdrawals Bless the Wings and the other three reserves will not get into the race ***

That covers all those with 9 pts or more

Of those with 8 I have to give particular note to CAUSE OF CAUSES. He’s a bit of an oddity in that he has US flat breeding and started off looking like a 2 mile hurdler. He tried this race as a 7yo in 2015 off a mark of 146 and finished 8th. In the last 2 seasons he was won the 4 mile NH Chase at Cheltenham and the 3ml 7furlong Cross Country Chase. As previously noted I really err on the side of caution in using those two races as stamina guides for this. If I did include either he would get 10 points. It’s also worth noting that for the 3 previous seasons after excellent performances at Cheltenham he disappointed on his following start. This may be an indication he was trained for that meeting far more – that could be the case again

I won’t go into detail on every other single runner but here’s a few notes on others that are well fancied in the betting and the negatives I have that sway me against them:


6th last year and 4th in the Becher Chase this season. That shows the fences hold no fears but he still hasn’t conclusively proven he has the stamina. His form also looks fairly exposed now and the handicapper hasn’t let him off enough to make me think that a place might be the best he can hope for


Anything ridden by Ruby Walsh has to be given a second look but his stamina for such a test is a big question mark. All his form comes on a softer surface also


Fine effort to be second last year off 10st 8lbs. That effort and another fine performance over the course in the Becher Chase since have not gone unnoticed by the handicapper and the burden of 11st 10lbs is likely to prove his undoing for me. He’s a real trier but not the biggest horse to shouldering top weight in this test


Former brilliant winner of the World Hurdle but had problems since. Still a classy individual who was 6th in the Gold Cup (worse off with Saphir Du Rheu who was one place ahead). His stamina over this trip is completely unproven but much the biggest issue with me is the fact he has only had 8 chase runs in his life and lacks the requisite chasing experience I would be looking for. He is the choice of Barry Geraghty to ride in this over Cause of Causes



Another Northern hope who is vying for favouritism. Stamina certainly not proven for me and he gave no encouragement for that before falling in the 4mile NH Chase at Cheltenham last season. Has had a largely upward curve this season except for his Haydock effort. That was much the most competitive race he faced and his jumping was put under pressure there. I have a feeling this one may prefer smaller fields and will be out of his comfort zone with 39 others in the race


5th in the Gold Cup and so could have a fair mark from that effort. Stamina this far is unproven though and his jumping has looked suspect more than once in his career. Also at 8yo he could be a year to young


Last seasons RSA winner was outstayed by Vieux Lion Rouge at Haydock. His stamina for this is also a question on his earlier Hennessy Gold Cup effort and at 8 he may be a year too young


Has demonstrated these fences hold no fear for him when winning the Becher Chase in 2015 and second in the same race this year. He might have been unlucky then as looked the likely winner but idled on the long run in to let Vieux Lion Rouge get past. Stamina looks to be a big issue over this longer trip though and only having one run this season is a big negative also


At 7 the stats are totally against him and his stamina is totally unproven (related to Nil Desperandum who was 4th in this and a very strong stayer). He could be a National horse of the future but worrying that connections thought he sulked when fancied at Cheltenham in November. The big field here may not be ideal.



Has been vying for favouritism since his Becher Chase win and another dour effort at Haydock. That might have confirmed his stamina but he didn’t look to get home last year. It could be the combination of age and ground were against him then but he hasn’t had the requisite 3 runs this season either. Far too many negatives for me for the price being offered


Of the full 10 pt scorers I am particularly drawn to the Mouse Morris pair – Rogue Angel and Thunder and Roses. They are both really strong stats fits for me. The lack of experience over the course for the latter’s jockey Mark Enright is the biggest negative I cand find here.

Saint Are has to be selected as well as the ground looks to be right for him this time. If it does rain or if they water the ground too much then I would have less hope

Vicente and The Young Master have both done enough by this point of their careers to suggest that being 8 might not be such a negative for them.

Narrowly missing from the final list are Houblon De Obeaux and One For Arthur (both would become more interesting if the ground were a bit softer). Bless the Wings is another with definite place chances but at time of writing is still the first reserve and needs one to drop out to get a run.

Once again with extra places being offered I have no problem giving several selections here but taking extra places is imperative (and taking 1/4 odds rather than 1/5th)


2pts ew Rogue Angel – take 25/1 with firms offering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

1pt ew Thunder and Roses – take 33/1 with firms oofering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

1pt ew Saint Are – take 40/1 with firms offering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

1.5 pts ew The Young Master – take 20/1 with firms offering 1/4 oods 5 places or more

1.5pts ew Vicente – take 25/1 with firms offering 1/4 odds 5 places or more

Total outlay 14pts – (1 point can equal £1, £10, £20..whatever equates to budget in all cases)

Good luck to all with whatever you back (and as always lets hope all runners and riders come back safely)




One For Arthur wins for Scotland! As mentioned he was very close to being one of the selections but I thought the ground had just gone against him. Hopefully some were less dissuaded by that and stuck with him as stamina firmly won the day again. He fitted every stat needed except age where ideally he would have been a year older.

As for the actual selections, it was unfortunate to lose Vicente, The Young Master and Thunder and Roses all quite early. Rogue Angel had a great spin up front for most of the way but ultimately faded away badly in the home straight.

It was left for Saint Are to run onto into a place and rescue some returns from the recommended investment.

1pt EW at the recommended 40/1 would have returned 11pts – therefore a loss of 3pts on the day from the suggested 14pt investment.

The great news is that all 40 runners and riders returned safely from the event.

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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

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