The weights for the John Smith’s Grand National were announced today. Punters are digging through seeking value, always aware that a large price taken now is worthless should your selection meet with some mishap before the big day on April 14th (the standard non-runner/money back rule does not apply to ante-post betting).
I find it one of the best betting races of the year, far from the lottery that it is often branded. After lengthy consideration, I’d normally bet three or four in the race, but there is one whose price of 25/1 will, I think disappear pretty quickly – Prince De Beauchene, so I’m recommending a bet on him now with Ladbrokes, the only company I can find offering that price (he is as low as 16/1 with other bookmakers.
Top trainer Willie Mullins has spent almost £12,000 on entries in the National and if all 12 of those horses were to turn up on the day (spectacularly unlikely) his entry costs would go up to over £50,000 – an extra amount is paid at each ‘declaration stage’ as the race approaches.
Mr Mullins trained Hedgehunter to win the National in 2005 and he recently took charge of Prince De Beauchene for top owners Andrea and Graham Wylie. The horse has had just one race for the yard, a very encouraging 5th of 25 in a competitive handicap chase, a run which drew the following comment from Racing Post summarisers:
Prince De Beauchene had plenty against him off top weight and ran a fine race. His rider briefly lost his iron down the back and the horse was slightly impeded again shortly afterwards, so it was a fine effort to keep going on a return from 232 days off the track.
PDB was most impressive when winning at Aintree last year – over standard fences, not the National fences (Aintree has two separate tracks). That was his first run on good ground and he jumped extremely well, led for most of the final circuit then battled back after looking beaten. He’s also won on heavy ground and on soft but there’s a fair chance, I think, that good ground might suit him best and there’s a reasonable likelihood he will get that on National day.
PDB has won twice at 20 furlongs, showing that he has speed and is not just a stayer. His Aintree win was over 25 furlongs (the National distance is 36 furlongs) and although it’s impossible to be certain a horse will stay farther than he has already raced over, I believe PDB is worth risking at the price. He has just 10st 6lbs to carry and there’s every chance that Mr Mullins can get quite a bit of improvement out of him.