2 weeks and counting to the start of the Cheltenham Festival but focus was switched to the Crabbies Grand National last week as weights were revealed at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House
Now that the weights are out the marks can’t be changed and no doubt some runners will begin to show themselves in a better light after previous attempts this season when they turn up for Aintree’s showpiece on Saturday 11th April
As pointed out in last years preview of the race there are some statistics that come to the fore every year which I follow and a shortlist of the most likely winners for me has emerged
Weight; carrying 11 stone or less a big positive. Between 1984 and 2005 nothing managed to win carrying over this barrier. When Don’t Push It won carrying 11st 5lbs in 2010 it did start to appear that maybe weight (and a less difficult course) could be less of a factor as the class of the race was improving. However since then, out of the 160 runners taking part 37 have carried over 11 stone and only 6 have finished in the first 10 placings. So for now, the weight barrier is still very important to me.
Stamina. It’s a big asset to have this proven and that means being competitive either in this race before or in one of the other ‘Nationals’ or competitive long distance handicaps in excess of 3ml 4 furlongs. (I slightly passed by Pineau De Re’s claims last year as not counting the Ulster Grand National into this mix – otherwise he would have been a perfect stats pick)
Age ; 9, 10 or 11 is the most likeliest. 8 or 12 does occasionally win but anything else we might as well just put a line through
Runs this season. Not a stat I’ve focussed on too much before until recently seeing someone else put up that of the last 24 winners, nothing had come into the race with less than 3 runs that season.
This isn’t to say that if a runner doesn’t meet all of these stats it won’t win – it just gives an adavantage to those that do meet all the criteria on all known evidence.
I’ve already put up Godsmejudge as a selection on an earlier posting this year https://thefinalfence.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/january-ante-post-selections-cheltenham-and-grand-national/
He fits all of the stats – 10st 8lbs is an ideal weight, he’s now 9 and his Scottish National record marks him as having no holes with stamina. His win in that race as a novice in 2013 was al the more meritorious as he himself carried more weight than was the norm for that race. I hope there are some parallels to be had with Earth Summit who won the Scottish National as a novice before triumphing in this race on his first attempt 4 years later.
He’s had a quiet preparation so far, being highly in need of the race first time up and pulling up. Last weekend, he raced over a trip too short but put in a much improved performance running on stoutly at the finish. Alan King plans to run him once more before the big race which should give him the required 3 runs. 25/1 is still available and highly recommended to those not on already.
There is another that stands out as already meeting all requirements and I will now add in as a further selection…..
Monbeg Dude finished 7th in the race last year and arguably could have been closer. He had crept into a lovely position next to eventual second Balthazar King by Bechers second time round. Things didn’t go quite as well from then on as he lost his pitch slightly with slow jumps probably caused by running into some in front of him. The effort to get back to the leaders probably cost him getting a better placing.
This year Aintree again seems the aim. He’s 10 and a previous Welsh national win is his main stamina pointer. His run at Haydock last time looked very mindful of weights being released soon after and he now gets a mark of 144 (2 less than last year) giving him a lovely 10st 7lbs. He’s already had 4 runs this season and is scheduled to have one more before the big race according to connections.
33/1 is a fairly widely available and too big to ignore for me.
The most obvious marker put down for the National since weights were published was by Rocky Creek at Kempton last Saturday and I cant finish without giving him a mention.
He is one of the few 11st+ horses to reach top 10 in this race having finished 5th last year.
He fails on the weight issue as he has 11st 3lbs currently (weights could conceivably rise by 2-3 lbs if a couple of top weights drop out) but is on a 2 lb lower mark than last year – he should be carrying more on that last piece of form so is theoretically ‘well in’
He seemed to fall short of stamina last year and doesn’t meet that criteria but a breathing operation and being in front less soon (last year the running out of Across the Bay at start of second circuit did leave him in front earlier than expected) could see an improvement.
I can’t put anyone off supporting him each way as think he may well get placed again but the negatives are enough to sway me from putting him forward as a selection.
There’s another of note right down the weights I wil also mention. Raz Da Maree finished 8th last year coming from another parish to get that placing in the home straight. He needs another run to meet the ‘3 run’ mark but could be an interesting outsider come the day if the ground did happen to come up soft. This doesn’t happen too often but would be crucial to his chances
Current Grand National odds can be found here: http://www.oddschecker.com/grand-national/winner
1 pt ew Monbeg Dude 33/1 (widely available but take the ¼ 12435 option available with firms such as 365, BetVictor, Paddy Power if possible)
Already recommended 1pt ew Godsmejudge at 28/1 but boosting that now with a further 0.5 pts ew taking 25/1 (365 or BetVictor ¼ 12345)
Thanks for reading once more and comments are welcome as always
The blog will be back just before Cheltenham to preview all races on a daily basis
Best of luck
• Initial bank 50pts
Current balance 23pts
Ante Post bets 27pts staked (with some updated info on previous selections :
2pts ew Saphir Du Rheu 8/1 World Hurdle
• (now around 5/1 jt fav after the withdrawal off ante post fav More of That – stablemate Zarkandar appears the main danger)
1pt ew Champagne West 16/1 RSA Chase
• (unfortunately out for the season with hock injury – so with ante post rules this bet is now a loser unless the race does not take place)
1pt ew Southfield Theatre 20/1 RSA Chase
Now down to around the 8/1 mark
1pt ew Blaklion 12/1 Albert Bartlett Hurdle
1pt ew Godsmejudge 28/1 Grand National
• 0.5pts ew Godsmejudge 25/1
• 1pt ew Monbeg Dude 33/1 Grand National
• 2pts ew Vibrato Valtat 7/1 Arkle Chase
• (now 11/2 best price available)
• 2pts ew Jezki 6/1 NRNB Champion Hurdle
• (6/1 NRNB now disappeared – 11/2 best currently available with that concession)
• 1pt ew double Vibrato Valtat 6/1 & Jezki 6/1
• 1pt ew Windsor Park 12/1 Neptune Novice Hurdle
• (put up by Pricewise today despite some mutterings that he may go for 3 mile option if ground is good last week – obviously IO hope that doesn’t happen and he sticks to the Neptune where he hovers around 10/1 currently)