The Ashes, Wimbledon, the F.A. Cup, Boat Race, London Marathon, there are some sporting events that regardless of whether you are a fan of the sport in question or not you know them. The Grand National at Aintree is most definitely on that list. Whether it is Granny having her annual pound each-way, that guy you know who ‘has a tip’ or a group of family, friends or colleagues organising a sweepstake, millions of people across the country will be sat in front of a TV to cheer on their horse come race time 5.15 on Saturday 14th April.
The race has a long history and many a story has unfolded down the years. Red Rum winning three times in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and Bob Champion winning on Aldaniti in 1981 being just two. One of my favourite stories from the race concerns one of the most famous fences on the track Becher’s Brook. The story goes that the fence took its name from Captain Martin Becher who fell here from his mount, Conrad, in the first official Grand National back in 1839 and took shelter in the brook to avoid injury. Reportedly upon climbing out, thoroughly soaked, he commented on how he hadn't realised how filthy water tasted without the benefits of whisky.
And so to this year’s race and most importantly those horses in with a chance of winning the Grade Three Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase to give it it’s full title. Run over a distance of four-miles two-furlongs and 74 yards with the small matter of 30 obstacles to negotiate, two laps of 16 fences, the first 14 of which are jumped twice, and we have a total of forty runners to choose from.
Blaklion has been at the top of the Bookmakers list for a while and has form having finished fourth last year. Kim Bailey will saddle The Last Samuri again who was second in 2016 losing out in the last 150yds and returned in 2017 when he went well for a long way before fading out of contention. There has been money for a couple in the build-up to the race who will be coming across the Irish sea in the shape of Total Recall from the yard of Willie Mullins who fell in the G.1 Gold Cup last time and Tiger Roll trained by Gordon Elliott the later having won the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Two other Irish raiders worth considering are another from the Mullions yard Rathvinden who advertised his wellbeing when winning the Grade Two National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase at the Festival last month and Cause Of Causes, another trained by Elliott, who is back again having been second last season; he was eighth on his previous try back in 2015. The ten-year-old has not had the best of build-ups this year though.
For those of you looking for one at a slighter larger price to consider Seeyouatmidnight is available at around 25-1 at the time of writing, the ten-year-old won’t mind one bit if the British spring weather continues with most of his wins coming on the soft or heavy ground. Shantou Flyer is another that won’t mind it wet under hoof and has put together a string of placed efforts recently. Pulled-up last year having been hampered at the eighteenth, at 33-1 the eight-year-old is one that should get you a run for your money at a fair price if the showers continue.
A lot can change yet so it is probably best to take a watching brief this far out from race day but if you can’t wait till the day to have a bet look out for the Bookmakers offering ‘non-runner no bet’ when placing your wager.
You can follow all the action, news and get the tips for the three day meeting from Aintree including races such as the Foxhunters’ Steeple Chase, Topham Steeple Chase and Aintree Hurdle right here at: www.girdysgeegees.com