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Friday, 9 April 2021

The 2021 Grand National - final thoughts

The Grand National.
A race with a history entwined in not just horseracing, but the nation.
This blog is to try and find the winner from the final 40 horses declared to run on Saturday.
When I looked at this race last week, I arrived at the following selections based on what horses were expected to run.
The Storyteller:  22/1 generally 5-places 5th-odds (William Hill)
Acapella Bourgeois:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Anibale Fly:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Takingrisks:  40/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Lord Du Mesnil:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
The Storyteller was withdrawn at the 48hr declaration stage, so my £3 ew stake was refunded.
I have £3 ew on the remaining 4 selections.

Most bookmakers will be offering 6-places to 5th odds a place.
Bet365 have a great offer to existing clients in offering a 50% immediate cash-back on ew wagers up to a maximum of £125, but they are only paying 5th odds on the 1st-5.
I'm looking for potential 1st-6 finishers.
Top-weight with 11st 10lb will be Bristol De Mai: 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.
Chris's Dream is on a tough handicap mark of OR164, and while he's won over 3-miles I think that's his limit, and the jockey doesn't inspire confidence.
Yala Enki needs soft ground and while he will stay all day long, he's a bit of a plodder, but he could make the 1st-6 finishers, and Bryony Frost gets the best out of him, at 33/1 he's interesting.
This will be the 2nd GN for Ballyoptic, and I can't see him winning, or finishing, as he appears to have lost his sparkle this season.
Ditto Definitly Red: he's not the horse he once was, he's unlikely to finish.  
The same for Lakeview Lad, his career is going backwards, and is unlikely to be in the places. 

That's everything with more than 11st to carry, and the only one likely to be in the 1st-6 is the 33/1 chance Yala Enki . Of those with under 11st to carry:-
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, and he's 8/1.
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, latest odds 20/1.
I don't think Talkischeap is good enough, he's certainly not OR155 level. 
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, and odds of 25/1 look attractive.
Mister Malarky is a right-hand track specialist, and I think he'll not enjoy this race; he's the sort who cold be in the 1st-3 or pull-up after 3 fences, and I'm more inclined to the latter.
Kimberlite Candy handles this course well having come 2nd twice in the December "Becher" Chase over 3m2f. He runs best off a long break and he's sure to go well, he's 10/1.
Any Second Now is one that's been aimed at this race, and as a "Kim Muir" winner over 3m2f he should be capable of being involved, 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, he's been highly tried though and will stay this trip, so he may well complete, but in his own time. 
Alpha Des Obeaux is another who has seen better days, and I doubt he will complete.
One horse I've never rated is Ok Corral and while he's won at 3-miles, 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. He won competitive handicap LTO and I'm happy I took 40/1 on him as he's now 25/1 and that looks decent still, as he should be in the 1st-6. 
I was surprised to see Shattered Love declared for this race, as this mare isn't good enough. 
Jett is another who may struggle in this race, and is not likely to complete. 
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 that he stays the trip at top-level, and while he would prefer softer ground, he's going to take some beating: he's 33/1.
The December 2019 Welsh National winner Potters Corner loves these marathon races, and he's not very many miles on his clock for an 11yo. He'd probably prefer soft ground on the day, and he's not going to be far away if he completes, but that's debatable.
Class Conti is on a tough handicap mark considering his last win was as a novice chaser over 2m5f. However, he should stay this trip but at his own pace, and may make the 1st-6.
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.  In his favour he has the top amateur rider Mr JJ Codd in the saddle, and he will make sure this horse gets the best of the opportunity: at 33/1 he looks interesting.
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 won 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, but he looks a good place chance at 14/1. 
Vieux Lion Rouge has had his chance, he loves this course but he doesn't stay the 4m2f trip.
Cloth Cap is the 9/2 fav, and looks chucked-in off OR148 considering his win LTO which suggests he's 10-14lb well-in.  But remember, he could only come 3rd behind Takingrisks in the Scottish GN off OR134, and he only meets that rival on 1lb better terms now when you compare the form via Aye Right who has been 2nd to both of them this season. 
I was surprised to see Cabaret Queen in this race, as I'm not confident of her staying the trip. 
Minellacelebration has run once over these fences and didn't shine. 
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. He carries just 10st 4lb, and if he enjoys this race he could go well, there are much worse 40/1 chances.
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 there.  Being a 7yo, history is against him as there hasn't been a 7yo winner since 1940, but I think he's a touch of class about him. 
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, but you never know.  Odds of 9/1 are tight. 
Sub Lieutenant will be ridden by Tabitha Worsley who won the Foxhunters Chase over these fences in 2019. He's won over 3m1f but I feel this 12yo will struggle to complete
Hogan's Height qualified to run in this when winning the Grand Sefton Chase over these fences in Dec19, but his recent form is poor, and he will be lucky to complete.
Double Shuffle was a top-class chaser, but it's a long time since he was rated 160+ and he pulled up in the GN of 2017 when he was a much better horse than he is now.
Ami Desbois is interesting; this 11yo does stay well, and jumps well, and while he may not win he could be in the 1st-6: odds of 100/1 are attractive.
Blaklion was going well in this to be 4th in 2017, but he's been a shadow of himself in 3 runs this season (after 18 months off the track), unlikely to complete.

From the above, with the fav CLOTH CAP looking a sure-thing, we should concentrate on finding value in the places, and those worth considering are:-
Yala Enki  @ 33/1 - given number of contenders, he's too slow
Burrows Saint @ 8/1 too short in the betting
Acapella Bourgeois @ 20/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew
Anibale Fly @ 25/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew 
Kimberlite Candy @ 10/1 too short in the betting
Takingrisks @ 25/1 - already on at 40/1 for £3 ew 
Lord Du Mesnil @ 33/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew
Milan Native @ 33/1 with Skybet 6-places 5th odds a place
Discorama @ 14/1 too short in the betting
Ami Desbois @ 100/1 with Skybet 6-places 5th odds a place

To my 4 existing £3 ew wagers, I'm adding MILAN NATIVE @ 33/1 and AMI DESBOIS @ 100/1
Making a total of 6 wagers @ £3 eachway = Total staked = £36

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