Weights for the Randox Health Grand National were unveiled today and the one that caught my eye was As De Mee who, at 66/1, looks at least twice the price he should be.
As De Mee is an 8-year-old, as was One For Arthur who won last year. Rule The World in 2016 was 9, and the 2015 winner Many Clouds was 8. Prior to that a run of comparative oldies won five in a row: three were 11 and two 10, but the shape of the race changes over the years as the handicap is tinkered with and the quality of entries, in general, improves.
There’s nothing of standout quality this year. Bristol De Mai, a horse I’m fond of, will miss the race, according to his trainer, to run in a three-miler over Aintree’s conventional fences. Top weight is the improving Definitly Red who is also bound for the Gold Cup, a race that will take plenty out of him.
Bristol De Mai’s trainer, politely called enigmatic by some, has the antepost favourite for the Grand National in Blaklion who had a smooth victory in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December. Blaklion was 4th in the 2017 National and there’s no denying his chance here. But he’s very short at 12/1.
As De Mee is something of a character and that has undoubtedly helped boost his price for this. Sometimes he responds to pressure and sometimes he doesn’t. He tends to carry his head high in a finish but shows no signs of temperament during the race and he appears to enjoy jumping. Crucially, he particularly appears to enjoy the unique Grand National fences notwithstanding his recent unseat in Blaklion’s Becher.
As De Mee had run over the Grand National fences three times previous to that, finishing 7th of 29 and 5th of 29 in The Topham, and winning the Grand Sefton. His stamina needs to be taken on trust although he won nicely on his first attempt at 3m 2f at Kelso to beat Wakanda seven lengths. Wakanda went on to win the Skybet Chase at Doncaster. Of the Kelso run, Sean Bowen, his jockey reported that he’d got into a good rhythm and that once he hit the front it was plain sailing.
Still, he’ll have to cover a mile and half a furlong more at Aintree in April and his pedigree doesn’t offer many clues. His sire Kapgarde has had just 15 runners in the UK and Ireland beyond 3m2f and none has won, though the sample is very small. His dam Koeur De Mee has had just one other runner and that one – Capsy De Mee – has not run beyond 3 miles.
The dam’s sire Video Rock has had one winner from 6 runners at 3m4f and is 0 from 27 beyond that distance (UK & Ireland figures only).
So, I’m not concerned about As De Mee’s jumping, but there has to be a stamina concern and until he’s tried this, we simply won’t know. But the risk is well compensated for in the price, I think.
He has 10st 8lbs allotted although the weights will go up if the top horses drop out. I think there’s a very strong chance that Bryony Frost will ride. She rode him to be 2nd on his seasonal debut in October and the Stewart family, who own As De Mee in partnership with Dame Judi Dench, are big fans of Bryony’s skills. Bryony is a fantastic character and half the media are already in love with her. If she does ride this, you are looking at him going off perhaps 50 points shorter than he currently is. Dame Judi’s involvement will add to the public interest.
As De Mee is a good looking, rangy individual (the long header image at the top of this page was taken at Kelso in October and As De Mee is the horse showing in 2nd. The featured image on this blog post is of him jumping that fence you see in the top photo). He’s improving, having achieved his highest official rating this season, he’s hopefully mature enough, loves the Aintree fences and if he stays this trip and has luck in running, he’ll take some beating off 10.8, although if he leads at the Elbow and puts his head up, you’ll have the most exciting finish – one way or another – of your life.
As ever, the usual antepost caveat applies; if he doesn’t turn up at the start your money is lost. For those who want to forego a 16-point advantage to ensure a non-runner-no-bet clause then Skybet (online only) offer 50/1. He will be half that on the day and even shorter if Bryony rides and I recommend you bet him at the price of your choice. 66/1 is available with a number of online bookies. Ladbrokes are the only High St bookmaker offering 66/1.
Full list of prices at Oddschecker.
Remember the lazybet motto: don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.