RACING fan Pete Hamill (@RiskForRewards) picks out favourite fancies from the Grand National on Saturday.
Grand National | Saturday 10th April 2021, 17:15 | ITV
Background: The Grand National may not be the race it once was but it is still one of the greatest spectacles of the year. The days of Red Rum jumping fences made with a foundation solid enough to build a house and the height to build one to live in.
The amendments made to the race have seen it become a much friendlier option for the horses reducing both injuries and fallers. These changes have made the horse required to win fit a very different profile to the old style ‘wooden’ race.
There are many statistics to be considered but at the same time they are there to be broken. The race is tending to gravitate towards the head of the market in the more recent renewals. However every race is different a prime example but would be to ask those who watched the Irish grand national winner roll home on Monday at a record breaking 150/1 starting price.
An important consideration when placing your bets is the idea is to make money but also have fun enjoying the race. Everyone wants to find the winner of the race to claim they have got the winner but many bookmakers will offer each way place markets up to 8 or possibly even 10 places. If you get a horse to place in the race it may pay more than backing the winner itself.
On to the race itself and towards the head of the market currently are unexposed horses who have plenty in their favour most of which are competing in the race for the first time. The ground has been running good with conditions shaping well for market leaders Cloth Cap and second favourite Burrows Saint.
The national statistics list is endless so I have tried to use only a few of the most important.
Statistics: 10/12 winners having first start in race. 19/24 aged 8-10. 34/36 had not won or placed in previous Grand National. 21/23 had not fallen more than twice in their career. 8/11 had ran at the national (but not in the Grand National). Last 3 winners won last time out. 3 of last 4 were Gigginstown but two of those were Tiger Roll. 5/10 ran at Cheltenham. 12/15 won at 3m1f or further.
11 trends horse who fit those statistics: Any second now, Caberet Queen, Canelo, Cloth Cap, Glen Forsa, Jett, Kimberlite Candy, Lord Du Mensil, Jett, Milan Native, Mister Malarkey, Shattered Love.
Betting statistics show; 10 of the last 17 winners came from the top 8 in the betting market with. During this time 6 of the last 28 running’s have been won by the favourite (21%), while 16 of the last 29 (55%) market leaders were placed (top 4 finish)!
English vs Irish: 6 of the last 15 winners came from Irish-based stables, including 3 of the last four.
A stat for one horse only in Secret Reprieve were he to get in to the race as he is currently a reserve 0/29 – Won by a horse aged 7 years-old or less.
Cloth Cap (11/2 Paddy Power)
The current favourite and market leader in the 40-runner event. He has been well campaigned with the view that the grade 1 listed contest he won last time out would have put him up 14lb up in the weights due to the achievement.
However, due to the fact the weights were already published the handicapper does not have the opportunity to put him up this weight for the race. This allows him to race ahead of the handicap offering an opportunity to be higher rated horse than the weight he has to carry.
His most impressive performance so far this year was in winning the Ladbrokes Trophy over 3m2furlongs of which is a great trial for this. Having already raced over 3m8f in the Scottish national when beaten only four lengths this trip should be well within his grasp.
This year has looked a reformed character under front running or prominent rides under good ground conditions. It looks like the stars are aligning for him in that the conditions that suit will be presented on Saturday with the ground being good or good to soft at worst.
The fact that he races prominently will also be a huge advantage in such a race because if getting in to a rhythm in front he should avoid any hustle and bustle caused by any other runners if they were to fall. The one concern is that he is a very deliberate jumper so he will need to conserve his energy for the latter stages.
Whilst many will say I do not want to back a favourite he has very good reason to be a shorter price than most. He is a short price but he does look the worthy market leader, ticks all of the statistics, 14lb well in and most importantly his prominent race style will see him avoid chaos.
Burrows Saint (10/1 Bet365)
Burrows Saint is next in the betting market as the second favourite. Another who has shot to market prominence due to the good ground forecast (said to be a much better horse on better ground). He has already won an Irish Grand National (another good trial for this event) over the 3 miles trip last season.
This will be his first attempt at the race and in the saddle will be the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins. An amateur jockey by name but he is one of the most experienced jockeys in the saddle and will be much more at home than many of the professionals.
He is renowned for his motionless position in the saddle and will be looking to switch Burrows Saint off and travel powerfully throughout. He has not won since the Irish national win but with a mark of 156 (10-13 weight carried) he is another who fits the statistics.
The concern would be his tendency to jump right in his last run but this could be put down to the heavy ground and his tiring nature of that race. He has had the required 3 runs for the season all of which have been underwhelming on heavy ground. You would have to think this was by design in order to keep the horse fit without increasing the handicap mark.
He is another who has plenty in his favour and will appreciate the drying ground for a trainer who has won this race once before.
Discorama is another horse who has come in for recent market support now currently priced 14/1. He is a horse who relishes a battle but does enjoy coming second once too often. It would be easy to make a solid case for the horse but he does have a large stat to overcome in having only had the two runs this season of which every previous winner had 3 runs minimum.
Minella Times would be seen as the horse of the moment for the yard who all conquered Cheltenham. I see this being the gamble horse that could be much shorter (currently 12/1). He has been backed from 40/1 in to 10/1. Just a reminder a horse does not know if it is being backed or drifting and this does not enhance or help a horses winning chance. He is another who is set to benefit from the better ground.
This horse has left little unexposed in coming second twice this year in competitive handicaps and winning another. He is unproven over further than the 3 mile trip but has looked a very proficient jumper over all trips so far. The downside is that he is 16lb higher than his last winning mark but he is an improving novice. He is still racing off a very low weight of 10-3 (146), which fits him in all of the correct statistics and remains an unexposed chaser coming in to the race for the first time.
This horse could well become the gamble horse when ITV get involved with the golden girl Racheal Blackmore in the saddle and the trainer of the moment.
Any Second Now, Lord D Mensil and Milan Native has every chance but connections have made no secret in that softer ground would be of serious help. Not saying they cannot win but you have to look for reasons to knock a few down the list.
Magic of Light (20/1 Bet365)
A horse who has raced here previously in the last renewal of the Grand National finished second behind Tiger Roll. This year she has had a very indifferent preparation. She raced carrying 10-11 that year and will be 2lb higher for this event. She put distance between her and the third that day and if you take the legend Tiger Roll out she would have won well.
She does have a tendency to throw in the odd ropey jump and the footage of her ploughing through the second last but staying on her feet is still shown regularly. Take that mistake out and she could have been even closer to the winner. She is another who will be ridden prominently and enjoys the better ground. The yard have been under a cloud this season but they are currently operating 6-43 (14%) at the right time.
Minella Celebration (100/1 Bet365)
It wouldn’t be a national without trying to make a case for a horse at a bigger price one of those is Minella Celebration. This is a thoroughly exposed horse at the age of 11. His track record is 3/6 around the course showing a liking to the unique Aintree fences.
Whilst 11 year olds do not have a great record in the race he is only 8lb higher than his last winning mark. He has raced the obligatory four times this year including twice at Aintree in which the first occasion beating the 127 rated Pobbles Bay comprehensively.
Since then the jockey unseated twice of which one of those was when hampered by another runner and the other the jockey lost his iron. The last time this horse won was on seasonal debut after a three month break. Freshened up here again for this occasion whilst there are plenty of negatives the course record would point me to optimism that a 100/1 shot could feature.
Alpha Des Obeaux – is a horse trained by Denise Foster under jockey of the moment (dual group 1 winner this week) Jody McGarvey. This horse is actually 3lb below his last winning market and runs in the colours of Gigginstown (3 of last 4 winners of the race but two of those were Tiger Roll).
Having been sent off 33/1 in the 2018 National he was travelling well that day prior to falling at the chair. He returned to Aintree to December 2019 in the Becher when finishing third behind Kimberlite Candy (14/1 for tomorrow) and Walk of the Mill (previous national winner). That day he was giving 1 stone 8lbs to Kimberlite Candy when finishing 8 lengths behind. Whilst on Saturday he will receive 1lb from that rival.
If he ran the exact same race again he would have finished a fence or more in front of that rival of which he is 5x the price. His most recent run is the most key piece of form for me in that he finished a staying on fourth in the Cross Country chase. A race which has been used by Tiger Roll and Cause of Causes (second in national) in previous years prior to running very well in this.
He obviously remains a lot more exposed than many in here and has jumping issues. He is however fairly weighted and if getting in to a rhythm he could feature in the places at a big price. His main downfall will be the fact that he tends to be held up so will be in amongst the trouble.
Taking Risks (25/1 Unibet)
Taking Risk will be another horse that will be a popular selection by the public due to his name. He shouldn’t be underestimated though in such an event. He is another unexposed horse who ran the race of his life last time out achieving an RPR of 155 when winning the Sky Bet handicap chase when beating Aye Right. He won that day at odds of 40/1 and is only 4lb higher for that victory.
In racing prominently he will be another who should avoid most of the early race chaos and if producing another run like last time out he could feature at a huge price. Having won the Scottish national over 32 furlongs the trip will be of no issue. He also ran back to back races in both March and April in 2019 and it would be no shock for a repeat big performance here.
Placing National Bets
With regard to placing your bet it would be favorable to wait until the Friday evening or the best time would be Saturday morning to place your bets. The country gets excited and wants to put their bets on early as possible but on the morning of the race bookmakers will push horses out and take on the horses they dislike and level the books.
For example the favourite Cloth Cap could be 5/1 or bigger or horses that are 8/1 may be double figures. It is also important that if available to you that you get best odds guaranteed to ensure you get a good price.
This is the Grand National of which only comes around once a year so enjoy it. If you like a name of a horse then go for it. The list I have included here is only of a few of the 40 horses running on Saturday. It is there just to provide some insight in to a few runners.
I would normally be at the Grand National meeting and know from personal experience you can pick 10 and get not one in the places or you can go with one and hit it. So I have tried to pick a horse in each price range for a shortlist of 5.
If I had to pick only one horse for the Aintree Grand National it would be Burrows Saint and he has long been the selection for me but I would not put you off any of those on the shortlist below.
Grand National – Cloth Cap (11/2 Paddy Power)
Grand National – Burrows Saint (10/1 Bet365)
Grand National – Magic of light (20/1 each-way Bet365)
Grand National – Taking Risks (25/1 each-way Unibet)
Grand National – Minella Celebration (100/1 each-way Bet365)