Top advice on backing the Grand National winner

Updated: April 14, 2012

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Grand National Preview:

The day has finally arrived and it’s time to sit down, relax and take in what is simply a magnificent spectacle. The Grand National is the perfect horse race. Jumping, speed, stamina, guts and determination come to the fore as 40 equine-athletes charge around 4m4f of Aintree Racecourse.  One thing is for sure, you need an enormous amount of luck to win the Grand National and without luck you can have all the speed, stamina, guts and determination you want, you won’t be winning the World’s greatest race.

Synchronised: Outstayed his rival’s in this year’s Gold Cup and is certainly the class horse in the field. The rain yesterday will have helped his chances and he is one of the toughest horses in training. Deserves his favourite’s tag but it will be a tough ask off top-weight.

Ballabriggs: Last year’s winner of the race, he has been trained all year with today in mind. He is trained by Donald McCain, son of Ginger McCain and when it comes to the Grand National you can never write off a McCain runner. He has gone up 10lbs since last year’s victory and it is a very tough ask to win the National off a career high mark. He is sure to run well.

Weird Al: Also trained by Donald McCain, he was fancied to run well in this year’s Gold Cup but he never raised a gallop and was eventually pulled up. I’m confident he’ll stay and with Timmy Murphy on his back he will get a quiet ride around. He has a lot of class and I can see him running a big race at a big price.

Neptune Collonges: Paul Nicholls’s sole representative, he is a previous triple Grade 1 winner and although his best years are behind him he is still capable of a big performance. However, it will be a surprise if he proves good enough to win.

Calgary Bay: Is currently in the form of his life and has really clicked for his jockey Dominic Elsworth, with impressive wins at both Cheltenham and in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster beating Shakalakaboomboom in a tight finish. He now has a career high mark to contend with of 157 and his weight of 11st 6lb and hold up tactics will make it hard for him. Let’s hope he goes better than last year when falling at the 4th fence. (

Alfa Beat: Trained by John ‘Shark’ Hanlon, he was disappointing over the National fences in the Topham last year. He is a former Kerry National winner but he was disappointing in the Bobbyjo Chase last time out and it is hard to see him winning.

Planet Of Sound: A former Grade 1 winner in the Punchestown Gold Cup in 2010. He has been lightly raced since but if the rain stays away he could well at a decent price, as his excellent second in the Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury shows he is still capable of being competitive off this sort of handicap mark. (

Black Apalachi: Absolutely loves these fences and is sure to give you a good run for your money. Runs off the same mark as when he finished second to Don’t Push It in 2010 and has a good E/W chance.

Deep Purple: One of three runners for Welsh trainer Evan Williams and probably the least fancied. He followed a win at Sandown with a poor performance in the Racing Plus Chase when falling 5 out when beaten at the time. He is very much hit or miss and I would be backing him to be a miss in this race. (

Junior: A very tough and consistent horse who is fancied by many to run a big race. However, he is known to make a bad mistake or two throughout his races and he won’t get away with a mistake around here.

Chicago Grey: Will definitely stay after winning the four-miler at Cheltenham last year. Needs to get into a good rhythm early and if he does he has a great chance. You’ll know your faith with him after five fences.

Tatenen: Seems to reserve his best form for Ascot with his last 2 wins being there. However has stamina doubts and is a very unlikely winner. (

Seabass: A revelation for Ted Walsh this season and a Grand National winner would be the perfect present for Ted who is 67 today. He is unbeaten in his last seven races and connections are confident he will stay. Ted’s daughter Katie takes the ride and the Walsh’s have won the race before with Papillion. Tremendous chance!

Shakalakaboomboom: A very consistent type he had a spin over these fences last year in the Topham chase and has been trained this year for the National. In good form all season including a close second to Calgary Bay in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster. He looks sure to give the superb Barry Geraghty a great ride and should go close. (

West End Rocker: Won the Becher Chase in December by 22-lengths and comes into the race as a big fancy. His experience of the course should suit and a very good run is expected. Big chance!

According to Pete: Has been in great form this season with wins in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby and the Peter Marsh at Haydock and he looks sure to give a bold sight up with the pace for a long way. Further rain would increase his chance of hitting the money for the Malcom Jefferson yard who continued its good form with Cape Tribulation winning on Thursday. (

On His Own: Would’ve been Ruby’s second choice in the race with Prince de Beauchene declared a non-runner. Whether he had the option to ride Seabass or not no-one knows but he has found a very capable replacement in On His Own. Hacked up in the Thyestes Chase and the more rain the better for this horse.

Always Right: A good third in last year’s Scottish National proving his stamina for this sort of test was followed by an impressive reappearance win at Kelso in December. Since then however he has disappointed badly, being pulled up at both Wetherby and Haydock. Hard to know what to expect now but has a chance on his best form.

Cappa Bleu: One of my fancies for the race, he was an impressive winner of the 2009 Foxhunters and is trained by a man who knows how to train a horse for the National. He was a good third in the Welsh National and this has been his target for some time now. The drying ground will be a big help and a huge run is expected.

Rare Bob: Has bits of form that would give him a shout off this mark including when running very well at this meeting last year before unseating his rider two out. The good ground will suit him and gives him a better chance of getting home as his stamina is not proven for this test. (

Organisedconfusion: Has been given a typical National preparation by trainer Arthur Moore after winning last year Irish version and he looks to give the other female jockey Nina Carberry the historic win. The ground and trip should be fine but seven-year-olds have a terrible record in the race and an early fall at Leopardstown in January certainly wasn’t part of the plan. (

Treacle: He ran well when second in the Paddy Power Chase in December and followed that with a good run when third in the Hennessy Gold Cup behind Quel Esprit with Thursday’s Aintree Bowl winner Follow The Plan just behind in fourth. Fits a lot of the stats needed to win a National and no surprise to see him go well. (

The Midnight Club: He was running a very big race in this last year, despite an early mistake, until he was hampered and lost all chance after that. He was sent off favourite on that occasion so considering he is a 33/1 chance now he looks great value and has an outsiders chance of running into a place.

Mon Mome: Previous winner of the race, hard to see him winning.

Arbour Supreme: Two incompletions in his two attempts over the National fences doesn’t boast as a good record. He has had a spin over hurdles as his preparation for this which suggests this has been the plan since last year. E/W Chance.

Sunnyhillboy: Cheltenham winner this year where he plugged back Becauseicouldntsee up the hill. Will love the test of stamina but has jumping worries. Not much between him and Becauseicouldntsee.

Killyglen: He will be a very popular selection for many as he fits most stats required to win the race. He was still in with a chance when falling four out last year and a recent win at Down Royal shows he is in form but he is not one I want on my side on the long run in as he has been known not to find much off the bridle. I suspect that may be the case again. (

Quiscover Fontaine: He hasn’t run over fences since an excellent fourth in last year’s Irish National and he could go well at a price if his stamina holds out. That looks the main doubt with this one.

Tharawaat: Very hard to make a case for Gordon Elliott’s second string. He is only seven which is a big negative and he doesn’t look in any sort of form to buck that trend.

Becauseicouldntsee: He ran well to be second in the Kim Muir behind Sunnyhillboy last time out and he looks an interesting contender as long as he can get into a rhythm early which didn’t happen in last year’s race when he came down at only the second fence.

State Of Play: An excellent National record of being placed in the last three runnings although he never looking like winning any of them. Now 12 it will be a bit surprising if he can make the frame for the fourth year running.

Swing Bill: He won on his reappearance this year at Cheltenham in November but it has been downhill since and it will be a shock if he troubles the judge here after a poor effort back at Prestbury Park last time.

Postmaster: Will be a huge shock if this one can deliver! Even though he has won his last two races this is a major step up in class and he won’t be up to it.

Giles Cross: Had been well backed this week when the rain arrived, but that seems to have dried up and his winning chance might have too unless there is further rain as he loves the mud. The worry is he may struggle to lie up on genuine good ground and he’s also lacking his regular partner Denis O’Regan.

Midnight Haze: Represents Kim Bailey who won the 1990 running with Mr Frisk and the trainer has been fairly bullish about this one’s chances recently. Not a complete no hoper but will have to produce a personal best to make the frame.

Vic Venturi: Has failed to get round in the last two running’s of the race and after disappointing at Leopardstown last time out behind Salsify, he can’t be backed with any confidence.

In Compliance: Finished a well beaten 13th last year when his suspect stamina was stretched to breaking point. Hasn’t been in much form recently so will do well to beat last year’s finishing position.

Viking Blond: The season started well with a win at Chepstow but that was the only highlight and he can’t be seriously fancied. The trainer’s son Sam Twiston-Davies has chosen Hello Bud who is one of the outsiders!

Hello Bud: Tremendous servant for connections who always runs well over these fences. Should produce a bold display for a long way again but his winning days are probably over I’m afraid as a 14-year-old.

Neptune Equester: Was very well thought of earlier in the season by his trainer Brian Ellison. However, his recent form is not backing up the handler’s regard for him and it will be a major shock if he gets involved at the business end of the race.


  • The Midnight Club
  • Cappa Bleu
  • Arbour Supreme
  • Synchronised
  • Weird Al

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