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Tuesday 5 April 2022

What's going to run in the Grand National? Early thoughts

There are 73 horses still in Staurday's Grand National, but only 40 can go to post, so which are the horses likely to run? I will not name them all, to save on space I will just mention those that I think won't run. 
Easysland: hasn't completed a race for over 12 months, I can't see him starting.
Brahma Bull: looks badly handicapped on recent form.
De Rasher Counter: his run on 12th Feb was his first in 16 months, and I wouldn't run him.
Court Maid: recently transferred to Henry De Bromhead, at her best on soft/heavy ground.
Top Ville Ben: at his best in soft/heavy ground, he's not the horse he was.
Anibale Fly: no odds being quoted so it looks as though this 12yo is a non-runner.
Freewheelin Dylan: it's no secret that he's being aimed at the Irish National.
Agusta Gold: no odds being quoted so it looks as though this one is a non-runner.

If I'm right about 6 of those 8 above, then we should see 
(41) Death Duty - winner of a decent race over 3m4f in Feb
(42) Domaine De L'Isle - stayed on to be 4th in the Becher Chase here in December
(43) Eclair Surf - won the Warwick Classic h'cap over 3m5f and then chased home Saturday's Scottish National winner Win My Wings in the 4m1f Eider Chase h'cap - looks well-in on OR143.
(44) Fortescue - has improved with every run this season, but seems best on soft ground.
(45) Commodore - bold front runner, and goes by far the best when fresh - so not having run since December (when he won) is no handicap - could be very exciting.
(46) School Boy Hours - has been crying out for marathon trip, and wasn't given a hard race when beaten after making a mistake LTO. Another interesting contender.

I've looked at the race and produced a shortlist. 
The McManus-owned Any Second Now was 3rd in this race last year with 10st 9lb (OR152).  He ran a cracker LTO at Fairyhouse beating Escaria Ten and looks primed for a big run. Remember, he was badly hampered mid-race last year, dropping-out and looking a beaten horse as they entered the 2nd circuit; but then made-up a lot of ground over the final mile to be 3rd - so he looks very interesting if finding a clear run.  
And don't overlook Escaria Ten who was beaten "on-the-nod" by Any Second Now. That was a great prep for him as he looks a horse who wants a marathon chase, and he was probably in front for too long in that race.  Remember, he was only 3-lengths behind Galvin in the NH Chase over 3m6f in Mar2021 (with Snow Leopardess a well beaten 4th) and, off OR152 with 11st 1lb, he must go close.

A horse who looks weighted to win this is Fiddlerontheroof: not beaten far by top novice Monkfish in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in 2021, he only just failed to win the Ladbroke Trophy in November, on ground similar to what he will encounter at Aintree. He was giving 10lb to the winner that day, and jumped well, was nimble enough to avoid a fallen horse late-on, and ran on very strong.  I think he was beaten by the soft ground LTO at Ascot, as he needed a lot of cajoling mid-race.  Given how much he hated the ground, I thought that was a cracking effort. In 10 chase races, the only time he's not finished in the 1st-2 was when last of 3 in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Aintree last April.  
Last year, Discorama ran in this off a break of nearly 5-months and was in with a chance 2-out before fading on the run-in. Another who is a graduate of the NH Chase (ran 2nd in 2019), he may have only won his chase debut, but he never runs a poor race. He's had a prep-run this time over 3-mile on 9th Feb, just failing behind Full Time Score who is fancied to go well in the Irish National; so I reckon Discorama will run a big race.

Eclair Surf has to be in with a chance if getting a run: the form of his win in the Warwick Classic over 3m5f was excellent (Corach Rambler in 4th and Gericault Roque in 2nd - they later finished 1st & 2nd in the Ultima Chase at the Festival); and then pushing subsequent Scottish National winner Win My Wings in the 4m1f Eider Chase LTO was a stonking effort. Even on OR143, he could be 7lb well-in here, maybe more.

The only other that I would add to the list is Commodore, but he needs 5 above him in the handicap to be withdrawn - so he has to be a NRNB selection.

If pushed to plump for just the one selection, it would be FIDDLERONTHEROOF as he's guaranteed a run, should stay the trip, it's his "National" debut, and will love the ground.
DISCORAMA went off at 16/1 for this race last year when carrying the same weight as the winner Minella Times. This year he's getting 13lb from that horse, and I think he has a better chance - yet he's available at 40/1 - he must be a eachway wager. 

Good luck, and more later in the week.

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