Grand National: Every Runner Reviewed & Rated | 11th April 2015 | Channel 4


The Voice of Value is back and this time it’s personal! After a successful Cheltenham Festival he’s attacking the Grand National at Aintree and aiming to continue his run of finding value in the big races.

Here he previews each potential runner ahead of the declarations on Thursday, in a horse-by-horse guide that gives his opinion on their chances over the fences in the greatest horse race in the world.

Grand National Runners & Riders

1. Lord Windermere

Best Odds: 40/1 (Bet365)

Age: 9 Weight: 11st 10lbTrainer: J H CullotyJockey: Robbie McNamaraValue Rating: 1/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: If he lines up on the day he carries top weight and after his tame performance (pulled up) in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham it would be a huge surprise to me if he managed to haul this weight around and even manage a place. Jim Culloty had a real go at Davy Russell (jockey) after the Gold Cup and said he will never be given a ride on any of Culloty's horses again which I thought was a bit on the harsh side. Horses carrying top weight in the National have a horrendous record. If this one wins I'll buy everyone a pint.

2. Many Clouds

Best Odds: 25/1 (Bet365)

Age: 8Weight: 11st 9lbTrainer: Oliver SherwoodJockey: Leighton AspellValue Rating: 2/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Another one carrying a mighty big weight. He will need soft ground to run at his best and despite plenty of hype he was below par in the Gold Cup. Also a year too young in my opinion. If I was his owner I would be saving him for another good season next year rather than risk him in the National. I'm not his owner unfortunately.

3. Unioniste

Best Odds: 25/1 (William Hill)

Age: 7Weight: 11st 6lbTrainer: Paul NichollsJockey: Noel FehilyValue Rating: 4/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: With one breath I'm saying look out for the Paul Nicholls runners and with the next breath I'm now telling you to ignore two of them. Unioniste is a great horse but he is too young (no 7 year old has won since the war) and he won't be able to give weight away to so many of these. If the horse is going to be a Grand National winner it won't be this year.

4. Rocky Creek

Best Odds: 10/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9Weight: 11st 3lbTrainer: Paul NichollsJockey: Sam Twiston DaviesValue Rating: 8/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Now we're starting to get to the juicy stuff. I wrote this last year about Rocky Creek: "Paul Nicholls thinks he will stay. I don’t. He is a year too young for the perfect age profile and I think he will probably get round but run out of puff". Not one to blow my own trumpet but that is more or less what happened. Actually, he performed better than I expected - leading over the last fence before fading into 5th. Due largely to a very shrewd training performance this year the horse is now carrying slightly less weight than last year but is in even better form. He is a year older which also lets him fit into my 9-11 year old category. This one has a fabulous chance in my book.

5. First Lieutenant

Best Odds: 28/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10Weight: 11st 3lbTrainer: M F MorrisJockey: Nina CarberryValue Rating: 2/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: This one fits the age profile, isn't carrying an impossible weight and his class isn't in question - I fancied him for the Gold Cup a couple of years back. However, he is quite fragile and this isn't the race for fragile horses. Most importantly though, his form this season has been brutal, beaten comfortably every time including what should have been a cake walk last time in a hunter chase over in Ireland. It would be a miraculous turnaround if he could bounce back and win this. I can't see it.

6. Balthazar King

Best Odds: 10/1 (William Hill)

Age: 11Weight: 11st 2lbTrainer: Philip HobbsJockey: Richard JohnsonValue Rating: 8/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: I love this horse as much as the horse loves his racing and jumping a fence. He is always keen - sometimes too keen - and he might have shot off a little too early two years ago when he faded to finish 15th. Last year though he was so close to winning and he might be there or thereabouts again this year if ridden with the same patience. I have a slight concern that he hasn't run since November. Philip Hobbs is on record saying he has kept the horse fresh for this but I think I would rather have seen him have a prep run in the last month or two. Maybe we just have to trust Hobbs' judgement on that. To paraphrase Kevin Keegan I would absolutely love it if he could win.

7. Shutthefrontdoor

Best Odds: 7/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8Weight: 11st 2lbTrainer: Jonjo O´NeillJockey: A P McCoyValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: This year's hype horse but for an understandable reason - it looks like the champ Tony McCoy will ride him in his last ever Grand National and the champ has suggested that he will retire immediately afterwards if he wins the race. Is it written in the stars then? Perhaps. If anyone can get a little bit extra out of a horse it is McCoy, the greatest jumps jockey of all time, but I don't think it is anything like a good bet here at odds of around 7/1 at the time of writing. No doubt he will go off even shorter than that. Ignoring the McCoy Factor, the horse won the Irish Grand National last year which is undoubtedly good form but he is comparatively short of experience over fences (just 6 runs) and I would rather see him get more experience then come back next year. His jumping style is very efficient which is ordinarily a good thing but not so much over the bigger obstacles. I would rather see him give them plenty of air the way Balthazar King does for example. I don't know whether Jonjo O'Neill has been schooling him over the bigger fences and knows more than we do but that would be a slight concern for me. He also hasn't had a run since November which isn't ideal because there is no recent form to go on. No value for me at these prices with a couple of question marks.

8. Pineau De Re

Best Odds: 25/1 (William Hill)

Age: 12Weight: 11st 0lbTrainer: Dr Richard NewlandJockey: Daryl JacobValue Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Last year's winner who won us a few quid at a nice price. The stats for former Grand National winners are horrendous - most never win another race again in their career, never mind another Grand National. We now know this lad stays well and he remains pretty well handicapped - he is 8lb higher in the official ratings than last year but if the top weight (Lord Windermere) stays in the race then the actual weight that Pineau will carry is only 1lb higher than the 10st 13b he carried last year (I won't bore you with the detail but the weights are determined by the rating of the top horse in the race who always carries 11st 10lb and the rest of the weights are set from there according to the comparative official rating). He didn't run particularly well in his prep race over hurdles at Aintree (11th this year compared to 3rd in the same race last year) but I wouldn't read a huge amount into that. I prefer horses in the 9-11 years bracket but 12 year olds have won in the past and older horses like Oscar Time have performed admirably in recent years. Can he become the first horse since Red Rum to win back to back Nationals? It's unlikely but I might just have a little bit of last year's winnings on him for sentimental value... Just in case we see history being made.

9. Ballycasey

Best Odds: 40/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8Weight: 10st 13lbTrainer: W P MullinsJockey: Ruby WalshValue Rating: 3/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: As Willie Mullins' only entry in the race this one may end up being the mount of Ruby Walsh but I'm not sure the horse has much else going for him. He often takes a chance with his fences and fell at Fairyhouse last year. I'm not sure he has enough experience over fences and he doesn't fit into my age bracket either. He may well make a classy chaser in the fullness of time but there is nothing to suggest he is a thorough stayer and to be honest I'm surprised he is being entered here. I'll be avoiding.

10. Spring Heeled

Best Odds: 22/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8Weight: 10st 12lbTrainer: J H CullotyJockey: Nick Scholfield Value Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Same owner and trainer as Lord Windermere the top weight. Won a good race at Cheltenham last year (2014) but hasn't shown much since and he doesn't look particularly well-handicapped to me. Maybe a year too young for this. As his name suggests he is a good jumper but I'm not sure he will have the stamina to be in there challenging as they come over the last.

11. Rebel Rebellion

Best Odds: 33/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10Weight: 10st 12lbTrainer: Paul NichollsJockey: Ryan MahonValue Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: A fascinating contender this one. He won the Grand Sefton (run over the National fences) in 2013 and ran well enough in the same race this season. His recent form has been excellent, winning two of his last three and losing out to Soll in the other one. I think he will travel well enough and probably get round but I just wonder whether he will have that extra bit of stamina required here. He looks more like a 2.5 mile horse to me rather than a 4.5 miler but we'll see. I haven't ruled him out. He is versatile in terms of the ground.

12. Dolatulo

Best Odds: 40/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8Weight: 10st 11lbTrainer: Warren GreatrexJockey: Dougie CostelloValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: A year too young for me and doesn't jump out as being particularly well-handicapped. Wasn't great in his prep run at Cheltenham over hurdles and probably doesn't have enough experience over fences for my liking. That said, he did manage to get round in the Grand Sefton although he clattered a few fences in the process. Not jumping out at me as the winner. Interesting that Gavin Sheehan would probably have had the option to ride this one but has chosen to go with Tranquil Sea instead.

13. Mon Parrain

Best Odds: 50/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9Weight: 10st 11lbTrainer: Paul NichollsJockey: Sean BowenValue Rating: 6/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: A good age, plenty of experience over fences and a passable performance in the Becher Chase in December (over the National fences) without looking brilliant. He looks like a solid stayer and may well get round but I just wonder whether they might go a bit too quick for him. Haven't completely ruled him out though.

14. Carlito Brigante (Non-Runner)

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9Weight: 10st 10lbTrainer: Karen McLintockJockey: Brian HardingValue Rating: N/A
Voice of Value's Verdict: Withdrawn from the race on Friday.

15. Night In Milan

Best Odds: 25/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9Weight: 10st 9lbTrainer: Keith ReveleyJockey: James ReveleyValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Won a decent race at Doncaster a year ago and he seems to like that track. He doesn't quite have the top class form I would be looking for to allow me to get behind him given that he is unproven over the National fences. He was 3rd in a class 3 chase at Catterick over a marathon trip but that wouldn't be anywhere near as tough a race as this. I think he might be lacking the touch of class needed to win.

16. Rubi Light

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10Weight: 10st 9lbTrainer: Robert Alan HennessyJockey: A E LynchValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: In decent form with two recent wins so is theoretically well-handicapped but his stamina is taken completely on trust given that he has only once run at 3 miles and didn't perform well. I said something similar about Seabass a couple of years ago who had never run at any sort of challenging distance but he still managed to finish 3rd. I would be very surprised if Rubi Light could do something similar.

17. The Druids Nephew

Best Odds: 12/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8Weight: 10-9Trainer: Neil MulhollandJockey: Aidan ColemanValue Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Undoubtedly well-handicapped as he demonstrated with a cracking win at Cheltenham where it looked like he could go round again if he wanted to. This is a different kettle of fish though and his jumping and stamina will be tested to the maximum. He is perhaps a year too young but it would be daft to rule him out given that he has about 10b of weight in hand. A lively contender but probably not the winner in my opinion. Wouldn't put anyone off him though. Aidan Coleman is a good choice of jockey in the absence of Barry Geraghty.

18. Cause Of Causes

Best Odds: 16/1 (William Hill)

Age: 7Weight: 10st 9lb Trainer: Gordon Elliott Jockey: Paul Carberry Value Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Overlooked by AP McCoy and about to be overlooked by the Voice of Value... Technically still a novice over fences, his excellent win at Cheltenham in the 4 mile race being his first chase win. That perhaps doesn't tell the full story though because he was a very close second in three very good races last season. The win at Cheltenham proves that he stays but I would be concerned about his age and his relative lack of experience compared to a few others here. I'm also not sure that a strenuous 4 mile race is the ideal preparation for this one even though there are four and a half weeks between the races. I suspect he may have reached his peak for this season at Cheltenham and might be one for future Grand Nationals.

19. Godsmejudge

Best Odds: 22/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9Weight: 10st 8lbTrainer: Alan King Jockey: Wayne Hutchinson Value Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Another fascinating contender. This lad seems to peak in the springtime having won the Scottish National two years ago (when I thought he was perhaps a year too young) and then finishing a close second to Al Co in the same race last year. He has a nice weight here and would have a strong chance if he can bounce back to the form of last spring but I was concerned by his prep run over hurdles in March when he wasn't in the race at all. That might just have been a lack of sharpness and if so he has every chance if taking to the National fences.

20. Al Co

Best Odds: 25/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10Weight: 10st 8lbTrainer: Peter BowenJockey: Denis O’ReganValue Rating: 8/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: An old favourite who has obliged several times not least when bolting up in the Scottish National last year at fancy prices. That race demonstrated his stamina and although this is a step up again he has looked in fine form over hurdles recently. He was pulled up in the Becher Chase on his first try at the National fences in December but he was always behind and I don't think he was given the hardest ride, perhaps with this in mind and he jumped well enough over the fences to put a tick in that column for me. The horse owes me nothing but I think he has an each way chance again here. Will be interesting to see who gets the nod as jockey with his usual partner Jamie Moore unavailable.

21. Monbeg Dude

Best Odds: 40/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10Weight: 10st 7lbTrainer: Michael ScudamoreJockey: Liam Treadwell Value Rating: 6/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Monbeg Dude is what they call a 'hold up horse'. That doesn't mean he is a getaway ride for bandits in the Wild West but rather that he is usually waited with at the back of the pack by the jockey before slowly moving through towards the front as the race progresses. Those can be tricky tactics at the best of times but in the Grand National with all the spills and thrills it is even tougher still. That said, the horse definitely stays this sort of distance as proven by his Welsh National victory and he was a very respectable 7th in last year's National when he stayed on past beaten horses without ever threatening the winner or the placed horses. I was slightly surprised by that given that his jumping style can be a bit ropey at times. Hopefully he will get round successfully again but I don't think he will be the winner.

22. Corrin Wood

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8Weight: 10st 7lbTrainer: Donald McCainJockey: DJ CaseyValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: A classy chaser on his day but perhaps lacking in experience having just had the seven runs over fences. Last seen when pulled up at Haydock in January and that recent form would also be a bit of a negative for me. He is untried beyond 3miles 1 furlong and doesn't jump out at me as a potential winner. You wouldn't put it past Donald McCain to have something like this up his sleeve but there are too many question marks for me.

23. The Rainbow Hunter

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 11Weight: 10st 7lbTrainer: Kim BaileyJockey: David Bass Value Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Arguably a bit unlucky over the last two years having unseated his rider on both occasions but he has also fallen in other races in the past and so it is easy to look past him for that reason. He had a decent win at Doncaster in January over 3 miles but he doesnt have any decent form over longer distances (pulled up over 3m4f at Sandown last year). If you see a rainbow somewhere on Saturday morning by all means treat that as a sign and steam into this lad but I wouldn't have too many other reasons to recommend him.

24. Saint Are

Best Odds: 33/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9Weight: 10st 6lbTrainer: Tom GeorgeJockey: Paddy BrennanValue Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: A very interesting one for me. His jumping has not been faultless over the years and he fell over normal fences at the Aintree festival last year but he has twice completed over the National fences - once in the Grand National two years ago (when only a seven year old) and then again in the Becher Chase in December (finishing a close 3rd). He was beaten fully 50 lengths back in 9th in the 2013 Grand National but he went straight in the virtual notebook after that because I was impressed with the performance given that he was only a 7year old. It's still not clear if he is an out and out stayer but there are signs that he could be. My theory is that if he is ridden a little more prominently by Paddy Brennan and doesn't get too far behind the leaders then he could be much more competitive. This is certainly his most consistent season to date having finished third on three occasions and winning his last race comfortably.

25. Across The Bay

Best Odds: 40/1 (William Hill)

Age: 11Weight: 10st 6lb Trainer: Donald McCainJockey: Henry Brooke Value Rating: 6/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Last year's unluckiest horse without a doubt, having been carried wide by a loose horse when going well in front. He almost certainly looked to be going too quick at the time and would no doubt have tired but it would have been interesting to see how he finished had he not been so unlucky. He also completed in 2013 but faded near the end. Looked like he also ran out of puff in the Becher in December and he looks like another one who should get round without winning.

26. Tranquil Sea

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 13Weight: 10st 5lbTrainer: Warren Greatrex Jockey: Gavin Sheehan Value Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: An interesting runner for Warren Greatrex who is in fine form this season. It seems like Tranquil Sea has been around forever but he has been lightly raced recently and appears to have been trained specifically for this race. For me he has question marks over his age and whether he can get anywhere near this marathon trip but stranger things have happened and if you fancy something on him you can still get fancy prices on the exchanges at the time of writing.

27. Oscar Time

Best Odds: 50/1 (William Hill)

Age: 14 Weight: 10st 5lb Trainer: Robert Waley-CohenJockey: Mr S Waley-CohenValue Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Very much the Ryan Giggs of Aintree. No, not in that way you dirty buggers. I mean that both Giggs and Oscar Time seem to have the secret of eternal youth. Time catches up with all of us as Giggsy will testify and it would be asking a huge amount for Oscar Time to win this. His record over these fences reads 2nd, 4th, 1st and there is no doubt that he relishes it and will probably complete the course once again. I suspect he will find a few of the others a bit too quick for him but might still be worth a small each way with a bookie who is paying 5 places given his proven love for the course.

28. Bob Ford

Best Odds: 100/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8 Weight: 10st 4lb Trainer: Rebecca CurtisJockey: Paul TownendValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: His form is a bt up and down but there is no doubt that he is a proven stayer when he is in the mood. There is an argument that he would prefer soft or heavy ground and I suspect he might be outpaced when they all go off like whippets over the first few furlongs. In addition his jumping was ropey in the Grand Sefton over these fences in December and I'm not convinced he will be able to hack it in the big one.

29. Super Duty

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9 Weight: 10st 4lb Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Will KennedyValue Rating: 2/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Quite a lightly raced horse who as yet has given no indication that he would relish this sort of stamina test and doesn't have too much to advertise his chances as the potential winner. His recent form is also bang average.

30. Wyck Hill

Best Odds: 50/1 (William Hill)

Age: 11 Weight: 10st 4lb Trainer: David BridgwaterJockey: Tom CannonValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Proved himself a thorough stayer when winning the Eider Chase at Newcastle last year but he fell in the same race this year which was not the ideal preparation for this race. His career has been littered with jumping errors and were it not for that he would look like a good prospect given his low weight and confirmed stamina but I can't recommend a horse with ropey jumping to win the National. If he has a clear round of jumping he might be there coming round the elbow but that doesn't seem too likely I'm afraid.

31. Gas Line Boy

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9 Weight: 10st 4lb Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: James Best Value Rating: 6/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Won easily at Haydock in November over a long trip in soft ground thus proving that he can stay this sort of distance. It will be very interesting to see whether he is as effective on better ground or whether he will end up outpaced. I suspect the latter but if he takes to the bigger fences he could be one that runs into a place late on.

32. Chance Du Roy

Best Odds: 40/1 (William Hill)

Age: 11 Weight: 10st 4lb Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Tom O'Brien Value Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Sixth last year and wasn't beaten a million miles. Performed well again in the Becher Chase in December finishing 5th and proving once again that he has no problem with these fences at all. Should get round again and Tom O'Brien will be looking to improve on last year. Another one with a solid chance although he might not quite have that finishing kick that is required to win.

33. Portrait King

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 3lb Trainer: M Phelan Jockey: Davy CondonValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Reasonable form in lower level staying chases over the last few years including a win in the Eider at Newcastle three years ago. He hasn't quite hit those heights since and it might be a big ask for him to win the National. Doesn't have any form over the National fences so hard to say whether he will take to them or not. His jumping is reasonable although he jumps to the left at times which could get him into trouble.

34. Owega Star

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 8 Weight: 10st 3lb Trainer: Peter Fahey Jockey: Robbie Power Value Rating: 3/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Nothing to suggest he will stay this distance and his form is patchy in lower class races. Would be a surprise to me if he won and doesn't look like a value bet.

35. River Choice

Best Odds: 100/1 (William Hill)

Age: 12 Weight: 10st 3lb Trainer: R ChotardJockey: David CottinValue Rating: 4/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: I must admit this isn't one that I know much about given that he has run exclusively in France until now. It's very tricky to interpret that form but there certainly isn't anything that stands out. He was comfortably beaten in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris last year and was pulled up in another Grade 1 chase this season over 3m2f so he doesn't look like a stayer to me.

36. Court By Surprise

Best Odds: 40/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 3lb Trainer: Emma Lavelle Jockey: Richie McLernon Value Rating: 6/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Hasn't been seen since he finished 2nd at Wincaton in November (subsequently awarded 1st due to disqualification of the winner). His jumping is sound and he finished a close second in the London National in 2013 on the one occasion where his stamina has been given a real test (3 miles 5 furlongs) so it's not outwith the realms of possibility that he could be competitive here. I would probably have liked to have seen him have a run more recently than November but if the trainer thinks he has a chance then he could go close if he can keep up with the early pace. Potential each way shout.

37. Alvarado

Best Odds: 20/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 3lb Trainer: Fergal O´BrienJockey: Tom MoloneyValue Rating: 8/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Finished 4th last year and I expect Paul Moloney will ride him again although that is still TBC at the time of writing. Moloney is a specialist at riding a horse into a place in the National but has yet to win it which must be quite frustrating for him and the owners Mr & Mrs Rucker for whom Moloney has now ridden a staggering SIX placed horses in a row in Grand Nationals from 2009 to 2014 including State of Play (three times), Cappa Bleu (twice) and Alvarado . Alvarado has been put away this season and trained specifically for the National and it feels like the script is written for the horse to sneak a place again. Can he break the tradition and finally bag Moloney and the Rucker family a win? With last year's experience under his belt it is possible and Alvarado looks a solid each way bet to me again this year.

38. Soll

Best Odds: 20/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 2lb Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Tom ScudamoreValue Rating: 9/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: "Stop sitting on the fence and just pick one" - If I had a pound for every time one of you have told me that. Ok, here he is - Soll is my top selection. He jumps, he stays, he's carrying hardly any weight, he has experience over the big fences, he should be at least 7lb higher in the handicap and he has a top jockey on board. What's not to like? His owner transferred him to David Pipe's yard in October and he wasn't seen until the week before the National weights were decided in February when Pipe produced him like a rabbit from a hat to win a good quality 3 mile chase. He promptly went up in the weights to just the right level where he could sneak in here. Once the weights were set he was then produced again by Pipe to win a veterans race at Newbury. The Pipes have clearly had this race in mind since they got the horse in October. I can't believe you can still get 20/1 at the time of writing and he looks like top value to me.

39. Ely Brown

Best Odds: 100/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 2lb Trainer: Charlie LongsdonJockey: Brian HughesValue Rating: 2/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: This lad has had only 5 races over fences, one of which was back in 2011, so I would have real concerns that he is lacking experience for this. His form is decent enough in novice chases but his only race since February 2014 was when he was pulled up in a hurdles race in January and I'm a bit baffled as to why he is lining up here. Perhaps Charlie Longsdon knows something that we don't but I'm struggling to find any reason to back this one. I hope the owners enjoy their day out...

40. Royale Knight

Best Odds: 28/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9 Weight: 10st 2lbTrainer: Dr Richard Newland Jockey: Will Kennedy Value Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Trained by last year's winning trainer, this lad is a bona fide stayer. He has wins at 4 miles and 3 miles 6 furlongs and a few other solid placed efforts. In the past he would have been a confident each way selection but I wonder if he'll have that extra touch of class and turn of foot that I think they need in order to win a National these days. Every year the quality of horses in the race is improving and I don't think it is good enough to simply be an out and out stayer that jumps well. You also need a high cruising speed and I'm afraid this lad might just be left behind. Could run into a place near the end but he doesn't look like the winner to me.

Res: Baileys Concerto

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 9 Weight: 10st 2lb Trainer: Dianne Sayer Jockey: TBCValue Rating: 3/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: Doesn't owe punters anything after he won five in a row last year and my big mate Lefty is a fan as a result of that run of victories. Those wins were all at distances of around two and a half miles though and there is nothing to suggest he is a stayer. It's very difficult to support him on that basis. Needs one of the horses above him to drop out before he is guaranteed a run.

Res: Duke Of Lucca

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 2lb Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Michael NolanValue Rating: 2/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: I backed this one as part of a successful each way treble this time last year so I have a soft spot for the horse but he has hardly landed a blow in his six races since then and it is difficult to pick out any positives. He has been tried at marathon distances a few times without impressing and he has also fallen and unseated his jockey a couple of times. Needs two to drop out before he gets a run.

Res: Raz De Maree

Best Odds: 66/1 (William Hill)

Age: 10 Weight: 10st 1lb Trainer: Ms Sandra Hughes Jockey: TBCValue Rating: 7/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: I tipped this one a few weeks back and I'm still pretty keen on his chances. He is a proven stayer and managed to finish 8th last year when his form coming into the race was pretty poor. I tipped him as an outsider last year on the basis of his form way back in 2012 but his staying-on 2nd in the Midlands National last time out was a return to that sort of form once again. He will probably need soft ground to be seen at his best so if there is a bit of rain he might be the one to back each way. Also needs three horses to come out before he is guaranteed a run. His chances have been boosted with the win for his trainer Sandra Hughes in the Irish National with Thunder and Roses who was ridden brilliantly by Katy Walsh. It will be interesting to see if Sandra Hughes and the owner James Swan ask Katy Walsh to ride this horse too and attempt to become the first female jockey to win the race. At the time of writing I don't think she has a ride and it could make for an incredible story.

Res: The Package

Best Odds: 33/1 (William Hill)

Age: 12Weight: 10st 0lb Trainer: David PipeJockey: TBCValue Rating: 5/10
Voice of Value's Verdict: He needs another four horses to defect before he gets a run. Looked like a non-stayer last year when fading to finish 12th but he is in cracking form at the minute with a great win at the Cheltenham Festival that leaves him 10lb ahead of the handicapper. On that basis he can't be ignored completely but I would be concerned that he won't last the distance so can't recommend him.


In summary then I think it is fair to say that there are plenty who are in with a chance although I hope the guide has helped you narrow things down a bit.  As I’ve said before, it’s tricky to pick just one runner with any certainty – given the madness of the race he could easily be brought down at the first fence through no fault of his own.
On balance I think SOLL and ROCKY CREEK are both well handicapped and have very strong claims.  BALTHAZAR KING and ALVARADO should be there or thereabouts again this year with their previous course and distance experience giving them an edge. RAZ DE MAREE would be a great each way shout at a huge price if the ground ends up being soft and AL CO completes the short list largely due to his great win at Ayr last year.

Final Shortlist

  1. Soll
  2. Rocky Creek
  3. Balthazar King (good ground or good to soft at worst)
  4. Alvarado
  5. Raz De Maree (soft ground)
  6. Al Co

Notable Mentions

  • Saint Are
  • Pineau De Re
  • The Druids Nephew
Good luck, have fun and if anyone has any questions just drop me a message on twitter: @TheVoiceOfValue.

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About Author

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'The Voice of Value’ column is written by Paul Gallagher who is an amateur tipster with a love for racing and jumps racing in particular. He caught the bug at an early age when his grandfather had a share in a winning chaser and his annual Grand National and Cheltenham guides have been well received over the last few years. Paul also enjoys the flat racing and football.

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