The 469th edition of the Wayward Lad blog.
Today we have the Grand National - the greatest horse race in the World - being run at Aintree, a track that is just a few miles from where I grew up. Last year I gave 3 horses for the race on my blog and included the winner BALLABRIGGS. By comparison, none (not one) of the Racing Post tipsters (of which there are many) named the winner despite each putting-up 4 horses as a shortlist.
But first, the Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f at 2:50 and if anything beats ROCK ON RUBY in this race then it is seriously a good hurdler. I was on Zarkandar in the Champion Hurdle and he was staying-on that day, but Aintree is a speed track and if Zarkandar was caught for pace at Cheltenham he’ll really struggle to stay in contention here. Do not underestimate Thousand Stars who was 2nd in this race last season beaten just a ¼-length. I’m tempted to do a forecast; Rock On Ruby to beat Thousand Stars.
For the Grand National, earlier this week, I suggested WEST END ROCKER, PLANET OF SOUND, ACCORDING TO PETE and MIDNIGHT HAZE. The more I look at PLANET OF SOUND, the more I like him and he should be the best of those carrying 11st+. The drying ground (it is now officially “good”) will help him, but it will hinder WEST END ROCKER who would prefer it to be softer (his last 2 wins have been on heavy going). Similarly, ACCORDING TO PETE has never won a chase on ground faster the good-to-soft. There is a lot of pace in this field with nearly 30 of the 40 runners classed as “prominent” runners in the Weekender assessment. This means that it will be unlikely that anything will come from off the pace and win, unless they go too fast on the 1st circuit and the pace collapses in the 2nd circuit – as happened when MON MOME won at 100/1. Killyglen was up with the pace till falling 4-out last year, and that was because he was tired. Prior to his LTO win over 3m2f on soft, his form beyond 3-miles was F/6th/PU/2nd/ PU/PU which suggests in a true run race he won’t stay this trip. I personally think it is very hard for a horse aged 11yo or older to win this race, and so I’m not considering anything in this category, including last year’s winner BALLABRIGGS who is an 11yo. However, I expect STATE OF PLAY to be in the 1st-6 home (he’s run 4th / 3rd / 4th in the last 3 Nationals) and at 50/1 with Bet Victor who are paying to 6 places, he’s worth a ew “fun” punt. Another that I really like is MIDNIGHT HAZE. He may have done all his winning going right-handed, but Aintree is the longest circuit in the country and they race mainly in a straight-line. If he jumps Bechers without mishap on the 1st circuit then he could be in for a big race as he’s won 3 of his 6 races at trips beyond 3-mile, he’s a prominent runner, and Kim Bailey also trained the winner of the race in 1990 (Mr Frisk who still holds the course record time)
Onto my selections. For me PLANET OF SOUND – even tho’ he’s carrying 11st 5lb – at 33/1 (Bet365 & Stan James who go 5 places eachway) is great value. And - at 125/1 with Bet365 – I cannot ignore MIDNIGHT HAZE. Generally, the winner goes off at odds under 20/1 and from those only WEST END ROCKER at 16/1 and SYNCRONISED at 9/1 look capable of winning the race. At 9/1, I cannot have Synchronised tho’ I would expect him to be in the 1st-5 home.
Aintree 4:15, PLANET OF SOUND, ¼pt eachway @ 33/1 (Bet365, ¼ odds 5 places, BOG)
Aintree 4:15, MIDNIGHT HAZE, ¼pt eachway @ 125/1 (Bet365, ¼ odds 5 places, BOG)
Total = 1pt staked
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