General

My Grand National Tips

 

national_jumpersFor those in a hurry, the selections are immediately below the next paragraph.

I’ve listed the best odds available for each, and you can check which bookmakers those prices are with at Oddschecker. Make sure you take that price. DO NOT take SP as bookies tend to shorten the price of as many horses as they can to take advantage of novice punters (SP – starting price – is decided on the prices offered by the bookies at the track)

 

 

 

 

 

Tidal Bay – main selection – 16/1

Best of the rest…

Walkon 50/1

Mr Moonshine  50/1

Battle Group  50/1

Prince de Beauchene  20/1

The Rainbow Hunter  33/1

Golan Way 100/1

Rose of the Moon  50/1

Last Time D’Albain  50/1

The Grand National used to be one of my favourite betting races of the year. It was seldom the ‘lottery’ many claimed it was. List the solid stayers and good jumpers and whittle it down into ‘Grand National types’ – horses whose general racing attitude, and often their build – I prefer compact horses over the big rangy ones – give them an advantage. Red Rum was a classic example of a compact, well-balanced horse.

I was often left with just 5 or 6 horses and would back them all and very often land a nice profit. But things changed last year when the fences had their wooden cores removed. Arguably, that should have been done years ago. Their removal has taken much of the danger from the race, and I accept that means some of the ‘spice’ has left with it. But I’d rather have the certain knowledge that the race will continue than risk it being banned as serious casualty numbers mounted.

The removal of those wooden cores (now replaced by plastic) means horses can brush through the loose spruce, often dragging twenty pounds of the greenery off the fence without any noticeable penalty to the horse. Horses can now treat these fences with much less respect than those on a ‘normal’ racecourse like Newbury or Ayr. The Aintree fences still look frightening and that will spook a handful of horses, but once over the first three or four jumps, they will find that there’s nothing to worry about.

An 'undressed' Becher's in the 1990s

An ‘undressed’ Becher’s in the 1990s

The fascination now lies in how the jockeys will ride the race. Back in the old days, many jockeys would ‘hunt round’, meaning they just went a steady pace for the first circuit, before starting to race properly second time around. My suspicion is that this will start happening again. It might take a few years to do so, but I believe it will happen. The new soft fences allied to adrenaline will see many set off as though the devil were on their heels, and these will draw a few others with them, perhaps most of the field. Steadily, horses will run out of energy. They’ll falter and be pulled up and those brave enough to have hunted round the back should be able to pick their way through the stragglers and deliver a challenge jumping the last.

A classic example of a horse who naturally ‘hunts round’ in many of his races is Tidal Bay, my main fancy for the race this year. He’s a top class animal despite his quirky ways. He often drops out early as though he can’t be bothered, only to wake up with a couple of fences left to jump and come with a storming run. The National should suit him perfectly. If you were to sit down to design a race which would give Tidal Bay a real advantage, you’d come up with the modern Grand National. Soft fences (he’s not the best of jumpers at times) and a long, long trip for him to do his customary ‘thing’.

Add to this the fact that the handicapper has allowed him to concede half a stone less than he normally would to his rivals. If this race took place at any other racecourse in Britain, Tidal Bay would be half a stone worse off in the handicap. Think about it…that’s a hell of a lot of weight. It happened because the handicapper (wrongly, in the view of many) allows for what he calls the ‘Aintree Factor’. In essence, this kindness to classy horses is really a bribe to tempt connections to run their horse.

So Tidal Bay is the main selection. I’ll have a few other small bets for fun on the following:

 

Walkon 50/1

Mr Moonshine  50/1

Battle Group  50/1

Prince de Beauchene  20/1

The Rainbow Hunter  33/1

Golan Way 100/1

Rose of the Moon  50/1

Last Time D’Albain  50/1

 

Good luck to you and all horses and jockeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: General

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