Forty thoroughbreds will line-up at 5.15pm Saturday afternoon to face the four-mile, 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.
If you are one of the many ‘once a year punters’ remember to shop around for the best odds, and take those odds in the morning as they nearly all shrink as we get closer to the off and if you’re betting each-way always check the each-way terms the Bookmaker is offering; whether they are paying on four, five or six places for example.
Best bet for the Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase 2022
One thing to remember is the weights for the Grand National are announced in February so do not take into account any improvement a horse may make between then and the race in April. In short if the trainer times it right a horse may go up several pounds in the handicap official ratings in those couple of months but get in to the race carrying a weight based on its old handicap mark.
Gordon Elliott is responsible for eight of the forty runners giving the Irishman an outstanding chance of winning the race again even without Tiger Roll running! I tipped Run Wild Fred in the Grade Two 3m6f National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase at Cheltenham last month where he was second. The eight-year-old is high enough in the weights but he must have a chance, I think he will stay the trip and his jumping is pretty sound, plus he will be ridden by Davy Russell which is a positive. Delta Work is another that has to be shortlisted coming the Tiger Roll route having beaten that horse in the Cross Country at Cheltenham, the race the two-time winner won in 2018 and 2019 before triumphing here (also won in in 2021 before finishing fourth here).
Any Second Now was third last year and is back again with a chance having won his prep at Fairyhouse. Also owned by J P McManus last year's winner Minella Times can’t be ignored be he is on a handicap mark 15lb higher this year which should anchor him. Fiddlerontheroof runs well consistently and is interesting stepping-up to the extreme distance. He has looked a potential stayer at times staying-on over three-miles and could have a say in the finish. Santini has flattered to deceive somewhat in his career but has been in with the best and if the stamina test that the National is suits he could place up at a decent price. Sneaking in towards the bottom of the weights are Snow Leopardess and Eclair Surf and both have to be considered. Snow Leopardess is a home-bred owned by Marietta Fox-Pitt, mother of leading eventer William Fox-Pitt who is married to ITV Racing presenter Alice Plunkett. She won the Becher Chase over the National fences back in December, which I always feel is a bonus, and there has been steady support for the mare seeing her move into favouritism for the big one. The grey had a couple of years off the track from late 2017 to November 2019 and actually visited Derby winner Sir Percy at Stud and had a foal, so she can be considered a working mum! She will be a popular bet with the housewives I have no doubt.
Connections of Eclair Surf must have been sweating as they still needed a couple not to run to get into the starting line-up of forty at the start of the week and even had to go into a ballot with Fortescue as both horses were rated the same – the gelding snuck in at the very bottom of the weights on Thursday morning with 10-6 to carry off a mark of 143. That mark will rise to 147 after this so he has 4lb in hand in theory. The eight-year-old will stay this marathon trip, was second in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase over 4m1½f at Newcastle in February, and is generally a pretty solid jumper. He did fall at Bangor in a handicap won by Snow Leopardess in November last year, the pair both going well three out when it happened, but I can forgive that and he does get a 3lb pull in the weights here on that rival. I took 12-1 on Thursday.
Best bets for the rest of the Aintree card
I backed Shan Blue each-way in the G.1 Ryanair Chase at the Festival when he was sixth and hopefully a little compensation can be gained in the Grade Three Betway Handicap Chase at 4.15 over 3m1f. As I said last month he put in some decent efforts at the top level as a novice and looked very good in the G.1 Charlie Hall Chase last October over three-mile before taking a tumble three out. Usually, a solid enough jumper this slight drop-in class should see him back to winning ways as I think his mark of 148 definitely underrates him. I have the 5-2 overnight.
Edwardstone will be odds-on for the Grade One Poundland Maghull Novices' Chase and unbackable; I considered Third Time Lucki for an each-way punt but his price isn’t big enough for me. The Grade One Liverpool Hurdle for the stayers sees the usual suspects line-up barring Paisley Park and it wouldn’t surprise me if Flooring Porter Thyme Hill and Champ finish in similar order to what they did at Cheltenham. That said the form could be completely reversed and that wouldn’t surprise me either!
Best bet for the horse racing at ThirskUp at Thirsk they race on the Flat and there is one up there that should be backed. Mutasaabeq goes in the 7f Join Our Bet Club At Vickers.Bet EBF Michael Foster Conditions Stakes at 2.40. Seventh in the 2,000 Guineas last year he didn't reach the heights connections probably hoped for last year following an impressive win at Newmarket early in the season. He should be winning Pattern races this season and as such should prove too strong for this field. The colt goes well fresh so the fact he hasn't been seen since August is of little concern and though plenty short enough at 6-4 he is strongly fancied.