Grand National: Your complete runner-by-runner guide

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IT'S one of the biggest races of the year and also one of the hardest to call so let Voice of Value (@TheVoiceOfValue) mark your card ahead of the 2018 Grand National with his thoughts on all 40 runners.

Grand National | Saturday 14th April 2018, 17:15 | ITV

Many of you will have heard me harp on about the Grand National stats, facts and betting tips and hints over the years but there are one or two points that are worth emphasising again:

Get extra places from the bookies. These days if you are only getting four or five places you are being ripped off. Shop around online and even f you are an old fashioned ‘in-shop’ type you should still be getting six places with some high street bookies.

Take the price. Take the price. Take the price. Starting prices can be poor at the best of times but in the Grand National they bordering on a national disgrace. Get on the night before or early on the morning of the race. Almost all online bookies will now be offering best odds guaranteed anyway. Take advantage.

Don’t be afraid to have more than one bet. Only one horse can win but a placed horse at 66/1 is as good as a 10/1 winner sometimes and if one your horses falls at the first (I’m thinking Vicente last year) you still have a chance of a return (like the brave Cause of Causes last year).

1. Minella Rocco

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Jonjo O'Neill
  • Jockey: Noel Fehily

Carries top weight over the marathon trip of 4 miles 2 furlongs. Only Red Rum has ever achieved that. Minella Rocco is good but he aint no Red Rum. Also a dodgy jumper at times. Very little chance of a win in my view and his price is far too short.

Value Rating: 3/10

2. Blaklion

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
  • Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

Loves the National fences, winning the Becher Chase (same fences) in December. Looked as though he was a good thing mid-race last year until he ran out of puff and finished 4th. He carries 8lb more weight this year and I can't see him finding the extra stamina required. May hold on for a place but not great value as one of the likely favourites.

Value Rating: 5/10

3. Anibale Fly

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Tony Martin
  • Jockey: Barry Geraghty

Classy 8 year old who finished an excellent 3rd in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, finishing better than the rest of the field. Should enjoy the 4.25 miles here and is very well handicapped but no guarantee he will stay the trip carrying a big weight.

Value Rating: 6/10

4. The Last Samuri

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Kim Bailey
  • Jockey: David Bass

Many will recognise the name because this is his 3rd attempt at the race, finishing 16th last year and a gallant 2nd in 2016. I suspect his chance has gone now that his handicap mark is much higher than in 2016. No value here for me.

Value Rating: 3/10

5. Valseur Lido

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
  • Jockey: Keith Donoghue

At his peak this lad was rated at 169 (158 now) which would make him the best horse in this race. He has hardly landed a glove this year though and it's hard to advise a bet. Unlikely to stay the trip either.

Value Rating: 3/10

6. Total Recall

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Willie Mullins
  • Jockey: TBC

One of the likely favourites. Improved considerably for the switch to Willie Mullins' yard this season, winning the Ladbrokes Trophy in December and he is now widely regarded as being a classy horse. I'm not convinced and I think he was just well handicapped earlier this season. I can't have him at the short prices.

Value Rating: 5/10

7. Alpha Des Obeaux

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Mouse Morris
  • Jockey: Rachael Blackkmore

A horse with a bit of class but he looks correctly handicapped to me and nothing to suggest he will improve over the longer trip. Doesn't have the right profile so I'm passing him over.

Value Rating: 5/10

8. Perfect Candidate

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Fergal O'Brien
  • Jockey: TBC

His behaviour was far from perfect for Paddy Brennan last year but he did stay with for quite a while before tiring. If he behaves a bit better and doesn't make life difficult for himself he might have a chance but I can’t recommend him despite his big price.

Value Rating: 5/10

9. Shantou Flyer

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Richard Hobson
  • Jockey: James Bowen

A classy horse who must be a nightmare to own – he’s been 2nd in his last 4 races. Pulled up last year and not sure the extreme stamina test is for him although he was only a 7 year old last year. Good young jockey in the plate.

Value Rating: 6/10

10. Tenor Nivernais

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Venetia Williams
  • Jockey: TBC

I thought he might have had a sneaky outside chance last year but could only manage 17th place and hasn’t beaten a horse since then in two runs. Huge odds this year reflect his chances.

Value Rating: 2/10

11. Carlingford Lough

  • Age: 12
  • Trainer: John Kiely
  • Jockey: Mark Walsh

A cracking season in 2016 but has been honking since then. If he suddenly had a resurgence he would have a great chance but there is more chance of Donald Trump resigning to take up Buddhism before Saturday than that happening.

Value Rating: 2/10

12. Vicente

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Paul Nicholls
  • Jockey: TBC

I strongly fancied Vicente last year if he could take to the National fences and he duly fell at the first. He then went on to win the Scottish National for the second time and he has more chance there than he has in this I think.

Value Rating: 5/10

13. Tiger Roll

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Gordon Elliott
  • Jockey: Davy Russell

This is a cracking wee horse but the important word there is ‘wee’. He should stay the distance no bother at all given his wins over 4 miles and in the Cross Country chase at Cheltenham. His jumping could be the problem though. He is a small horse who is very low over his jumps and that might be a problem. Too short in the betting for me to take a chance on that but I do understand the attraction of the horse to some people and if you want to have a punt on him just keep your fingers crossed. If he gets into a rhythm and gets over the first few fences he should stay the trip no bother.

Value Rating: 6/10

14. Regal Encore

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Anthony Honeyball
  • Jockey: Richie McLernon

This is an interesting one. He was 8th last year and is in better form coming into the race this year but runs off the same handicap mark. Probably unlikely to win but could run into a place if he gets a clear round. Don’t rule him out.

Value Rating: 6/10

15. Vieux Lion Rouge

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: David Pipe
  • Jockey: Tom Scudamore

Sixth last year, 7th the year before and should be primed for another big run this time. I was amazed he managed 7th when he was just a 7 year old and I think he could get a little bit closer this time. Not many horses have the experience that he does over the National style fences. Definitely on the short list although wouldn't want the ground turning heavy.

Value Rating: 7/10

16. Chase The Spud

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Fergal O'Brien
  • Jockey: TBC

If you ignore his last two races (pulled up twice) he would look like a contender if it ends up being very soft ground but those last two performances take the edge off and suggest he is out of form.

Value Rating: 4/10

17. Warriors Tale

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Paul Nicholls
  • Jockey: Sean Bowen

Definitely a progressive horse who has yet to be tested over a marathon trip which has been the profile of quite a few winners in recent years. Apparently he has schooled well over the National fences at home. I really like Sean Bowen the jockey too. Interesting candidate.

Value Rating: 8/10

18. Seeyouatmidnight

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Sandy Thomson
  • Jockey: Brian Hughes

The horse has just been sold this week – rather confusingly going from the Thomson family to the Thompson family – but stays with the Sandy Thomson yard for training purposes. A solid chaser but doesn’t have tons of experience and hasn’t won enough races for my liking despite some nice pieces of form here and there. May be well handicapped but untried over National fences and was adequate without looking an exceptional stayer in the Scottish National two years back.

Value Rating: 7/10

19. Gas Line Boy

  • Age: 12
  • Trainer: Ian Williams
  • Jockey: Robert Dunne

Fifth last year and took his form to a new level when winning the Grand Sefton chase over the National fences in December. Not much higher in the weights this year and I can easily see him getting a place again. Versatile with the ground too. Despite being 12 he looks better than ever and I like his chances.

Value Rating: 8/10

20. The Dutchman

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Colin Tizzard
  • Jockey: Harry Cobden

Potential to improve again but I suspect his win over Captain Redbeard damaged his handicap mark and will make this tricky for him now. Pulled up last time out which isn’t the ideal prep for the National.

Value Rating: 6/10

21. Pleasant Company

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Willie Mullins
  • Jockey: TBC

Ninth last year off a similar handicap mark and although he looks like better value now at much higher odds I can’t imagine him doing significantly better this year.

Value Rating: 6/10

22. Ucello Conti

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Gordon Elliott
  • Jockey: Daryl Jacob

Sixth in 2016 but unseated his rider last year. Always quite a popular horse in the betting without too much to back that up. I can’t see him winning it this year at the third attempt. If he was huge odds he might be worth a small each way punt but he is too short for that.

Value Rating: 4/10

23. Saint Are

  • Age: 12
  • Trainer: Tom George
  • Jockey: Adrian Heskin

Another Grand National veteran who is now 12 years old and has finished 3rd, pulled up, 2nd and 9th in four attempts at the race over the last 5 years. Not a bad record at all. He has been poor in two runs since finishing 3rd in last year’s race and it’s difficult to see him winning but I wouldn’t put you off an each way bet at a big price because there is every chance he could grab a place again.

Value Rating: 6/10

24. Beeves

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Jennie Candlish
  • Jockey: Sean Quinlan

A decent-quality staying chaser who notched up three wins in a row last spring but we know everything about him at this stage and I can’t see him causing an upset.

Value Rating: 4/10

25. Raz De Maree

  • Age: 13
  • Trainer: Gavin Cromwell
  • Jockey: Robbie Power

Had the best win of his career at the ripe old age of 13 when winning the Welsh National in January. Despite his age he is running better than ever and if it turns out to be heavy ground don’t be surprised to see this lad staying on late after plenty of others have chucked it.

Value Rating: 7/10

26. I Just Know

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Sue Smith
  • Jockey: TBC

Gets into the race by virtue of a cracking 15 length win in the North Yorkshire National at Catterick. That wasn’t the strongest race and it remains to be seen if he can raise his game to this level. Soft/heavy ground would probably help. Can’t quite rule him out but his price is a bit short.

Value Rating: 5/10

27. Virgilio

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Dan Skelton
  • Jockey: TBC

Hasn’t been tried yet over an extreme distance or over these special Grand National fences but he does love Aintree having run well on the other course several times and could relish the test. You could find worse 100/1 shots and he seems to be the popular choice for an outsider this year amongst some shrewd judges.

Value Rating: 7/10

28. Baie Des Iles

  • Age: 7
  • Trainer: Ross O'Sullivan
  • Jockey: Katie Walsh

A really interesting runner. Katie Walsh aims to be the first female jockey to win the National and rides this mare for her husband Ross O’Sullivan (which would make for a great story in itself) but a seven year-old mare would not be your typical idea of a Grand National winner.

Most people reading this won't have been born the last time a seven year-old or a mare won the race. She has proven stamina though and has plenty of experience over fences for her relatively young age. The form of her last run has also worked out well but I’m not tempted given the current best price of 20/1.

Had she been 66/1 I might have ignored the stats and had an each way tickle. If you are a bit of a romantic and like the idea of being part of a bit of history by all means charge on.

Value Rating: 5/10

29. Maggio

  • Age: 13
  • Trainer: Patrick Griffin
  • Jockey: TBC

A 13 year-old veteran who hasn’t had too much racing recently and isn’t a proven stayer. It’s probably unlikely he will stay the trip. Would be lovely to see him win though for the owners who are great supporters of National Hunt racing, particularly in Scotland and in the north of England and were successful with my old pal Auroras Encore a few years back.

Value Rating: 4/10

30. Pendra

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Charlie Longsdon
  • Jockey: TBC

A very lightly raced horse who was 13th in the race two years ago and has only had two runs since – both at the Cheltenham festival. He doesn’t look a likely sort to me at all.

Value Rating: 3/10

31. Buywise

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Evan Williams
  • Jockey: TBC

A bit of an old character who had a habit of being placed in big races without winning but he did get his head in front this season and has gone up enough in the handicap to get into the field this year. Previously finished 12th two years ago and hard to imagine that he can do much better this time.

Value Rating: 5/10

32. Children List

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Willie Mullins
  • Jockey: TBC

Only had 4 chase runs which isn’t nearly enough experience for my liking and if he was my horse I wouldn’t be risking him over the fences with that level of experience to be honest.

Value Rating: 2/10

33. Lord Windermere

  • Age: 12
  • Trainer: Jim Culloty
  • Jockey: Andrew Lynch

Winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014 but has struggled for form since then and has failed to win another race. Finished 7th last year which was a very reasonable effort but has since fallen in the Becher Chase in his only run this season and it’s not easy to recommend him.

Value Rating: 5/10

34. Captain Redbeard

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: Stuart Coltherd
  • Jockey: Sam Coltherd

I think this lad is very interesting indeed. He is untested over a long trip but he has had some experience over the fences which went well, he is a reasonably classy chaser and could still have some improvement in him.

With no disrespect to the trainer Stuart Coltherd, I think if the horse was with a bigger yard he would be a much shorter price. I can see him running a big race and if he stays the marathon trip he could very well make it two wins in a row for Scotland.

Can't wait to collect my pieces of eight from the bookies and toast this old buccaneer with a bottle of rum on Saturday night.

Value Rating: 8/10

35. Houblon Des Obeaux

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Venetia Williams
  • Jockey: Charlie Deutsch

Regular readers will know that I tipped up Houblon Des Obeaux a couple of weeks ago at 100/1. I think the best you can get now is 66/1 but he is still a value bet.

He definitely gets a run, has had lots of classy performances over the years, has drifted down to a very fair handicap mark despite winning a race earlier this season. Soft/heavy ground would be ideal for him and I keep watching his run last year where he finished strongly having been stuck out the back of the field for the whole race.

If he is ridden more prominently this year by Charlie Deutsch I think he has a lovely chance to end his career in style. There will be a few pints of Guinness tucked away on Saturday night if this old boy does a Mon Mome.

Value Rating: 8/10

36. Bless The Wings

  • Age: 13
  • Trainer: Gordon Elliott
  • Jockey: Jack Kennedy

Yet another 13 year old who has plenty of experience in staying chases. Likely softer ground will be no issue for him but he was disappointing at Fairyhouse in the Irish National a few weeks ago.

This is his first run in the Grand National after failing to get in once or twice in the past including last year. He is another contender to be running on late to snatch a place but doesn’t strike me as the winner.

Value Rating: 7/10

37. Milansbar

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Neil King
  • Jockey: Bryony Frost

I love this horse and he has won me a few quid over the last few years but he prefers to be a front runner and that would take a herculean effort in the Grand National so I’m going to leave him unbacked. He is also prone to a ropey jump from time to time.

Capable young jockey Bryony Frost takes the ride and along with Katie Walsh and Rachael Blackmore is aiming to be the first female jockey to win the race.

Value Rating: 4/10

38. Final Nudge

  • Age: 9
  • Trainer: David Dennis
  • Jockey: Gavin Sheehan

A solid enough chaser but doesn’t look to have much improvement in him and doesn’t look to be an out and out stayer. I would be surprised to see him win.

Value Rating: 5/10

39. Double Ross

  • Age: 12
  • Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
  • Jockey: Jamie Bargary

Past his best now and was pulled up in the race two years ago. Nothing to suggest that he will take to it any better this time round.

40. Road To Riches

  • Age: 11
  • Trainer: Noel Meade
  • Jockey: Sean Flanagan

Needs non-runners before he gets a run. Finished third in the Gold Cup in 2015 when I fancied him strongly. His form over the last year or two has been poor and although he was top class at one time I would have liked to see something recently to suggest that he is in form. Also unlikely to stay 4 miles plus.

Value Rating: 4/10

RES. Thunder and Roses

  • Age: 10
  • Trainer: Mouse Morris
  • Jockey: TBC

Needs non-runners before he gets a run. Won the Irish National three years ago but his jumping is too dodgy for Aintree. Unseated rider last year and has fallen in his last two starts elsewhere.

Value Rating: 3/10

RES. Delusions of Grandeur

  • Age: 8
  • Trainer: Sue Smith
  • Jockey: TBC

Needs non-runners before he gets a run. Solid enough staying chaser who may have some more improvement to come but this is a big ask for him.

Best Bets

Grand National – Captain Redbeard (25/1 BetBright)

Grand National – Houblon Des Obeaux (50/1 Ladbrokes)

Grand National – Warriors Tale (50/1 Ladbrokes)

Grand National – Gas Line Boy (33/1 BetBright)

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About Author

'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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