Randox Grand National Handicap Chase 2023

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 2023

I say this every year, but it is worth remembering, 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 into the race carrying a weight based on its old handicap mark from February and in theory be ‘well-in’ at the weights.  

Corach Rambler went to the head of the market following a second victory in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Allocated a weight off a mark of 146 back in February he is now up to 156 in the official ratings meaning, on paper, he carries 10lb less than he would in any other race. If his heroics at the Festival haven’t taken their toll he has to be considered. Delta Work won the Cross Country at Cheltenham, as he did last year before finishing third in this, so he is another who’s chance can’t be ignored. He races off an official mark a pound lower than last year but actually carries 5lb less than he did in 2022 under race conditions. Any Second Now is back again having finished second last year and third in 2021. He clearly loves it round here but has steadily gone up in the weights and isn’t getting any younger at 11-years-old. He has to carry top-weight this year, 11-12, and though might be able to make a minor place he looks up against it trying to win. Last year's winner Noble Yeats will defend his crown but is 6lb higher in the ratings than last season and, to my eye, hasn’t looked in that great form recently. You can’t discount him but I think he is going to find it difficult this time round. Mr Incredible has been on my shortlist for a while. Since he was assigned 10st 4lb in the weights for the Grand National he finished third in the 3m2f Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (I tipped him). He looked to be finishing well there and for a moment I thought he would go on and win before a final-fence mistake took the wind out of his sails. Despite the defeat his mark was duly raised to 147. He looks an out and out stayer and still has the potential for improvement off the back of just nine starts under rules. He has been a bit of a rascal in the past but behaved impeccably at Cheltenham and Willie Mullins appears to be getting the best out of him. Longhouse Poet is another that's been on my mind for this having won well at Down Royal last time but he is prone to the odd mistake which has to be a concern round here. He finished sixth last season generally jumping well but he did go through a couple, made quite a mistake at Foinavon on the second circuit, and that surely damaged his chances in the end. He will need a near perfect round of jumping to have any chance of winning. The Big Breakaway is one at a bigger price that has an each-way chance having finished second in the Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase back in December. He was pulled-up in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham though and that has to be a concern. Lifetime Ambition rarely runs a bad race and is another to consider each-way though this distance is considerably further than anything he has tried in his career. He has looked as though a real test of stamina would suit him and if he stays could be in the mix at a decent price. He is a good jumper who gained valuable experience of these fences when finishing fourth in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase here in November. Gaillard Du Mesnil was my tip for the 3m6f National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase at the Festival and duly got the job done there. I thought he’d want a real stamina test and he was staying on as others cried enough at Cheltenham; he wasn’t in front till they started up the famous hill and he looked to love every yard of the gruelling trip. I'd have to say the grey ran a cracker of a ‘trial’ for this to my eyes and bearing in mind how many Willie Mullins runs it is interesting Paul Towned, stable jockey, has chosen to ride the seven-year-old. Ultimately I have decided to back Gaillard Du Mesnil at 12-1 to win as I have a feeling he will enjoy every yard of the four-mile, two-furlongs and 74 yards and can see him staying on up the straight as others begin to falter; there has only ever been three greys win the race so hopefully he can buck that trend! I have also had an each-way investment at 28-1 (six places) on Lifetime Ambition in case the eight-year-old sees out the trip, as if he does he may go very close.

Here’s hoping for a great race and that all horses and jockeys return safe and sound.

Best bets for the rest of the card at Aintree

Jonbon will be odds-on and unbackable in the Grade One EFT Systems Maghull Novices' Chase. The first race of interest to me on the card in the 3.00 the Grade One 2m4f Turners Mersey Novices' Hurdle. Hermes Allen was one of my stronger fancies at Cheltenham and was somewhat disappointing in the 2m5f G.1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle when sixth; a mistake two out running his chance when he looked to have every chance, at the time connections also said he was unsuited by the soft ground on this occasion which in their opinion was riding tacky. None of the Irish raiders that beat him that day are here and Paul Nicholls was certainly bullish about the horse pre-Cheltenham so you would like to think that run was simply a blot on the copybook rather than his true self. I think compensation awaits. I am on at 4-1overnight.

Maries Rock was another I backed at Cheltenham but was disappointing, finishing seventh in the 2m4f G.1 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle. I said at the time that she was on my mind for the Stayers but connections chose the Mares, well she gets to go over the longer trip now in the Grade One 3m½f JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle at 3.35. She gets the 7lb off the boys and I think will love the extra half-a-mile. Hopefully she can belatedly prove me right that she is a class staying hurdler. I am on overnight again at 4-1. Flooring Porter, Sire Du Berlais, Home By The Lee, Dashel Drasher and Champ are all closely matched; Sire Du Berlais of course winning the Stayers at Cheltenham at 33-1. I was kicking myself as he has won me a few bob at the Festival down the years and I didn’t have so much as a brass farthing on him this year!

Best bets for the horse racing at Wolverhampton

Tranquil Rose but in a decent effort when second on debut here at Wolverhampton over 1m11/2f  in March, caught late on by the promising newcomer Verbier, she lead nearly every yard, perhaps got a bit lonely out front on her own as she looked about a bit, but she definitely looked a prospect. She is down in trip for the 8.00 the 1m 1/2f  Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Fillies' Novice Stakes at 6.00. With William Buick out in America to ride a couple at Keeneland, see previous post, James Doyle is in the saddle this evening and is a more than capable stand-in of course. Out of Needleleaf she is a half-sister to Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Native Trail, she is by Kingman and will surely go on to win better races than this. I will be sniffing around for the best price Saturday morning. 

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