The most-watched jumps race in the world is upon us. Everyone loves the Grand National, but not everyone can have the winner!
Finding that one amongst 40 is a devilishly tough chore, but it won’t stop us trying.
Before we get to the selections and fancied runners, a nod to the stats and trends – which you really have got to pay attention to.
The winner will be aged 8-11, will have won a race over three-miles of more already and run at least 10 times over fences and, finally, is likely to have run in the last two months.
Weight – so often the standard-bearing statistic in the past – is much less so since the weights were compressed. Winners now routinely carry 11st of more (six of the last 13).
With those stats in mind, it should at least make the studying that bit easier and hopefully trim the field down to a more manageable number before final selections are made.
The top of the market is dominated by horses that fit the bill – of course.
Tiger Roll, last month’s Cross Country Chase winner at Cheltenham, will love this test according to trainer Gordon Elliott, who won the Irish National at Fairyhouse recently.
There are few more likable performers than Tiger Roll and he’s got a fine chance at 11/1.
Last month’s Gold Cup form is one of the key pieces we have to study here. Anibale Fly was third in that race and trainer Tony Martin is confident he’s going to be able to back it up at Aintree. In the JP McManus hoops, he is jostling for favouritism alongside side Total Recall.
Willie Mullins’ Total Recall was impressive in winning the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury earlier in the season and was moving well in the Gold Cup before he fell. This should suit him better and at 11/1, he might get the better of Anibale Fly this time.
At the head of the market for most of the season has been Blaklion for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has twice before landed this famous race.
He’s a 10/1 chance and he advertised his claims with a storming win over the National fences in the Becher Chase earlier this season. It is hard to forget that he came with a strong chance 12 months ago when taking up the running at four out, only to have his stamina found out in the closing stages.
Blaklion should go well once more, but will he last home?
Lady riders enjoyed quite the run at Cheltenham last month and Baie Des Iles, one of the big gambles of the week and now 16/1 to win, will carry Katie Walsh’s hope of bettering her third place on Seabass in this race. At seven, the mare has got the trends to fight here.
For a couple against the field I’ve landed on Seeyouatmidnight and Shantou Flyer.
Seeyouatmidnight, rated a 16/1 chance, is proven in this sphere with a third in the 2016 Scottish National and boasts some useful form while he has he excellent Brian Hughes on board. On his second start after a wind operation, he could find that extra burst.
Shantou Flyer was going well deep in this race a year ago before being badly hampered and pulled up. He’s a 28/1 chance but has really has been thriving this year for new connections, including a fine second at Cheltenham last month.