When the Grand National weights came out I recommended As De Mee at 66/1 and that horse is well on track for the big race on April 14th. I was hoping Bryony Frost would get the ride, but trainer Nicholls says As De Mee is Sean Bowen’s ride and he will be in the plate.
That left Bryony available and she’s been confirmed for the 11-y-o Milansbar, currently down to carry 10.5 (weights can increase depending on the horse who finally tops them, although the handicap balance remains the same). Age does not put me off Milansbar; three 11-y-olds have won the National in the past six years. The horse first caught my eye when winning at Warwick (the same race won by last year’s Grand National winner One For Arthur). That was his first run in blinkers and the first time Bryony rode him.
Next time at Newcastle, in blinkers again, he disappointed (Bryony didn’t ride). He’d been pulled up on his only previous run at Newcastle and there’s a chance he just doesn’t care for the track, although there is far from enough evidence to draw that conclusion. He returned to run close to his Warwick form last Saturday in the Midlands Grand National, impressing with his enthusiasm given that he’s had some tough tests this season. He was ridden by 7lb claimer Jack Andrews.
The Racing Post Rating of 151 he achieved at Warwick was the joint best of his career, suggesting either Bryony Frost got some improvement from him, or blinkers did, or perhaps a combination of the two. His Saturday run suggests blinkers are doing no harm at all.
Regular readers will know my feelings on the importance of establishing a good rhythm in in staying chases; it can be worth many pounds in my opinion to have a horse settled and galloping rhythmically from fence to fence with its eye in for the fence. You tend to see such horses executing the same jumping arc at every fence when in this very important zone. Bryony Frost is particularly effective in getting steeplechasers into a rhythm.
One factor that seems to be important to Milansbar is soft or heavy ground. Aintree appear to be taking a Cheltenham-type approach with Grand National ground in trying to make it at least good to soft. Given how wet the winter has been, Aintree must have a chance of soft ground this year. Anyway, at 50/1 non runner no bet (NRNB)it is worth taking the chance, in my opinion.
The only bookmakers offering 50/1 NRNB at the time of writing are Bet365 and Betfred. Milansbar will need five horses rated more highly to be withdrawn before final declarations (for the big race to satisfy the safety limit of 40 runners). I expect at least five to come out and even if they don’t, Milansbar would be considered as ‘ballotted out’ and your cash would be returned. But anything can happen to a horse to cause withdrawal at any time and protecting your stake with NRNB is strongly advised.
Milansbar is a ‘recommended’ bet* (see here for interpreting confidence)
Good luck and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.