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Friday 2 April 2021

Grand National - early thoughts

The Grand National.
A race with a history entwined in not just horseracing, but the nation.
It wasn't run last year due to covid; but it's back next week and the race looks like being a cracker.  The field is packed with decent horses.
This blog is to try and find a few interesting antepost wagers that give us a chance of having a decent win. If I have time then I will add a few notes on the Irish Grand National run on Easter Monday.
As you can see, I'm starting this with a clean slate, no pre-formed ideas - I find writing the blog helps me assess the form in an unbiased fashion.
Top-weight with 11st 10lb will be Bristol De Mai, as he's guaranteed a run and in trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who won the race with Bindaree, he's in good hands. He will have no problems with the ground (good-to-soft) and being a prominent runner he should go well.  I just worry about the weight and the trip. Since the distance was revised, there have been 7 GN's and 11 horses carrying 11st or more have finished in the 1st-6 (most bookmakers will be paying on the 1st-6 places) from the 42 places available, which is 15.2%. The number of horses in those 7 years carrying 11st or more is 77, or 28% of the total runners (which was 276): so horses with 11st+ are good to go. However, only 3 of those 11 carried more than 11st 5lb. If you combine that with the fact that in the 3 longest races he's run in he's not seen out the trip, he might struggle over the final half-mile.
The Storyteller is interesting; he's a top-class chaser but I feel the handicapper has been a bit tough on him with OR165. That and he likes to be covered-up in his races and he may need a bit of luck, but I expect him to stay the trip well.
Chris's Dream is another on a tough handicap mark of OR164, and while he's won over 3-miles I think that's his limit.
Yala Enki needs soft ground and while he will stay all day long, he's a bit of a plodder.
This will be the 2nd GN for Ballyoptic, and I can't see him winning.
Ditto Definitly Red: he's not the horse he once was.  The same for Lakeview Lad, his career is going backwards. 
That's everything with more than 11st, and of those the only one that tempts me is The Storyteller.
Burrows Saint (10st 13lb) won the Irish GN in Apr19, and has been aimed at this race all season. He ran a good prep race LTO, and the ground & trip will suit him. He'll go close.
Magic Of Light was 2nd to Tiger Roll in 2019, and she could well run another good race, but she's been campaigned much differently this time, and I feel she's had her chance.
Acapella Bourgeois is a prominent runner who will be in the van throughout, he comes here in good form and has a fair weight (10st 12lb) and he's interesting.
I don't think Talkischeap is good enough. Tout Est Permis was one of my Cheltenham Antepost's that didn't run and he then went and fell LTO (blood found in nose post-race), he's not one I'm confident over.
Another aimed at this race is Anibale Fly: twice placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice placed in the GN, he looks "chucked-in" off OR155 with 10st 12lb. He looks a place certainty.
Mister Malarky is a right-hand track specialist, and I think he'll not enjoy this race.
Beware The Bear is too slow - he's need to be at his very best to win this. His stablemate Pym is more interesting, as he's a prominent runner and was going well till blowing-up 4-out at Cheltenham. That was his first run since November, and he will be a lot fitter next week.  I like the look of Pym.
There are many Irish-trained entries and some look speculative. Any Second Now is one that's been aimed at this race, and as a "Kim Muir" winner over 3m2f he should be capable, but he's looked one-paced in other races of 3-mile or more. Balko Des Flos hasn't won a race since March 2018, and Alpha Des Obeaux is another who has seen better days. I'll be surprised if Brahma Bull starts the race, but if he does he needs he will need to have recovered his novice chase form to go well. 
One horse I've never rated is Ok Corral and I really can't see him winning this as he finished lame LTO.
He may be a 12yo, but Takingrisks is in top form this season, and he's won a Scottish GN, so the ground and trip hold no worries. 
I will be surprised if Shattered Love lines-up and this mare isn't good enough. Ditto Jett. As for The Jam Man, he'd an interesting entry, and just the sort who might be thereabouts coming to 2-out.
When I saw the weights published for this year, the first horse on my list was Lord Du Mesnil, and he duly went and won the GN Trial at Haydock over 3m4f on 20Feb. His 2nd in the NH Chase over 3m6f at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival showed he stays the trip at top-level, and he's going to take some beating.
Dec19 Welsh National winner Potters Corner loves these marathon races, and he's not many miles on the clock for an 11yo. He'd probably prefer it soft on the day, but he's not going to be far away.
Class Conti is on a tough handicap mark considering his last win was as a novice chaser over 2m5f.
Milan Native, who I had a wager on when disappointing LTO, should be capable of going well; but I'm not a fan of winners of the "Kim Muir" chase in this race.
There's been a lot of money for Discorama and he was the 2nd horse on my list (there were only 2) when the weights came out: I wish I had followed my instinct as both Lord Du Mesnil and Discorama were 40/1 at the time. Discorama has only run once by he's run some great races in defeat, I just feel OR149 is a bit high for him to be able to win this race. 
I feel Vieux Lion Rouge has had his chance, he loves this course but he doesn't stay the 4m2f trip.
Cloth Cap is the 7/2 fav, and looks chucked-in off OR148 considering his win LTO which suggests he's 10-14lb well-in.  But he could only come 3rd behind Takingrisks in the Scottish GN off OR134, and meets that rival on 1lb better terms now, and that is confirmed on a line thru' Aye Right who has been 2nd to both of them this season. 
I will be surprised if Cabaret Queen and Minellacelebration line-up for this race.
Canelo is an interesting horse, he may have been flattered to win the Rowland Meyrick handicap on Boxing Day as his OR147 rating is tough, but he's only an 8yo and may enjoy this race.
The Long Mile ran well LTO which was the longest trip he's raced over, but whether he can step-up to this distance considering he's raced mainly over 2m4f is debatable.
The 11yo Give Me A Copper has had lots of problems so this will only be his 10th chase race. Winning this would be a miracle.
Farclas is another of my recent Cheltenham Festival anteposts, and he went close in the 2m4f handicap.  He also holds an entry in the Topham Trophy earlier in the meeting, and I expect this 7yo will go for that, but if he runs in this race, I have high expectations as I think he's a touch of class about him.
That's the top-40 in the entries, so any others with lower handicaps require some of those above to withdraw. From my notes above, possibly 8 will not run, but I can't see anything lower being worth a mention; not even Minella Times. There's nothing much between him and Farclas as they've met a couple of times this season; but whereas I feel Farclas has potential to stay 4m2f, I can't say the same about Minella Times 
From the above, the latest odds on those that are worth considering are:-
The Storyteller: is 22/1 generally 5-places 5th-odds (William Hill)
Burrows Saint: is 12/1 qtr-odds 4-places (Skybet) and 10/1 generally
Acapella Bourgeois: is 33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Anibale Fly: is 33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Takingrisks: is 40/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Lord Du Mesnil: is 33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Personally, I think 12/1 about Burrows Saint is a bit on the short-side, so for now I'm going to pass on him. But the other 5 horses all have scope to be placed in the 1st-5 and I could find a winner.
It's £3.00 eachway on all 5, which is £30 staked.

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