Randox Grand National Handicap Chase 2024

Under new race conditions thirty-four thoroughbreds (down from forty) will line-up at 4.00pm 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. Other alterations that you will notice this year is that the horses will walk in and then stand at the start (hopefully we won’t get a false start) and the run to the first fence has been made shorter; both changes it is hoped will mean the horses meet the first at a slower pace. 

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. The ground is now soft, good to soft in places on the Grand National course after a dry night at Aintree but they may get a shower or two during the day.

Best bet for the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase 2024

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 heads the market as last year's winner looks to join the list of horses to win the race back-to-back. An excellent third-place in the G.1 Cheltenham Gold Cup last time saw his odds shorten drastically and it looks as though Lucinda Russell's plan for her star this season is coming together nicely. Now officially rated 162 he is 3lb well-in here off a mark of 159. Willie Mullins has a plethora of entries with I Am Maximus the shortest priced having won the G.3 BobbyJo Chase last time; often seen as a ‘trial’ for the National out in Ireland. He won the 3m5f Irish Grand National last season and clearly has to be considered. 2022 winner, fourth last year, Noble Yeats has taken a slightly unorthodox route to this years race having been running in Stayers Hurdles all season. He jumps and stays so has to be shortlisted for the shrewd operator that is his trainer Emmet Mullins. Limerick Lace, whose brother Inothewayurthinkin won at the meeting on Friday, has been the big market mover shortening in the market recently from 25-1 in to around 10’s having won three of her last four starts including a victory at the Cheltenham Festival last time out. Trainer John C McConnell has been aiming Mahler Mission at this with everything he has done so far being about ensuring the eight-year-old is primed for Saturday afternoon. A couple of second-place finishes in both of his two appearances this season suggest the plan is going as hoped. The one question is will he stay? Panda Boy is a consistent type that has been running well over around three-miles and could go well, whilst Vanillier, a strong-finishing second in this last year, has a big shout again as long as they don’t get too much rain; probably wouldn’t want it heavy. Nassalam won the Welsh National over 3m6f on heavy going in eye-catching style but has a 16lb higher mark today. Coko Beach has gone well for a fair way here twice in this but seems to find the marathon trip just too far, though he is arguably in the best form of his career so could run a race whilst stablemate Delta Work is another that could run a big race at a price; third in this in 2022 and unseated last year. 

Kittys Light has bottom-weight and will be popular. Last season's Scottish National hero is around a 14-1 chance to become the first Welsh-trained winner of the race since 1905. Trained in Wales by former jockey Christian Williams, Christian and his wife Charlotte's youngest daughter Betsy, six, was diagnosed with Leukaemia just over a year ago, and she has been undergoing treatment ever since. She is doing well, she actually judged the Aintree Style Awards competition here on Ladies Day with her older sister Tilly, and there won’t be a dry eye in the place if this one wins. Asked about the boost Kitty's Light has given the family, Christian said: "It's not just my family, the other children we meet in the hospital follow him as well and their families. So it's wonderful what he did last year, which brought them all great joy at the time when they were struggling and they get to follow him now into the Grand National. It's great for them to be able to turn the telly on the weekend and watch him run for them." One of those families they have met over the last few months, whose daughter was suffering from a more acute type of Leukaemia, understandably took a great interest in the horse because their daughter was named Kitty. Sadly, she didn’t survive the horrid disease, but reportedly her grieving parents have met the Williams family to give them a small blue gemstone that belonged to their daughter. This afternoon Kitty’s Light’s stable lad Clive Banwell will have the jewel in his pocket as he leads the horse out at Aintree.

Mr Incredible unseated when his saddle slipped at the 24th (2nd Canal Turn) here last year when going well enough in midfield at the time. His second in the 4m2f bet365 Midlands Grand National Handicap Chase on heavy ground in March at Uttoxeter, his sole run this year, suggests he arrives in decent form and can surely be there or thereabouts at the end of this. I have said before about him that he looks an out and out stayer and still has the potential for improvement in him. He has been a bit of a rascal in the past but appears to have learned to behave better and Willie Mullins certainly appears to be getting the best out of him since he moved from the yard of Henry De Bromhead 18-months or so ago. A rating of 150 sees him nestled nicely bang in the middle of the weights with ten-stone-eleven to carry and Brian Hayes in the saddle knows him as well as anyone having ridden him on four of his five starts for the yard. He is a hopeful pick at 14-1 each-way (6-places). Here’s hoping for a great race and that all horses and jockeys return safe and sound.

Best bets for the rest of the racecard at Aintree

The Grade One 2m4f Turners Mersey Novices' Hurdle at 1.55 is of interest to me. I backed Brighterdaysahead in the 2m1f G.2 Ryanair Mares' Novices' Hurdle where she was second not quite able to give away 5lb to Golden Ace. Everyone at the Gordon Elliott yard appear to think she is something a little special and this return to a longer trip, won a Listed Mares Novice Hurdle over 2m5f at Navan before Cheltenham, is expected to suit. She received the 7lb mares allowance from her rivals and I have the Evens about her returning to winning ways here. Caldwell Potter is feared whilst Ile Atlantique could well pick-up some nice place-money again.

Best bet for the horse racing at Keeneland

English Rose for Charlie Appleby and William Buick hopes to go one place better than the yards With The Moonlight did last year as she makes her North American debut in the 1m½f G.1 Jenny Wiley Stakes on Saturday evening at Keeneland, 10.16 our time. With The Moonlight filled the runner-up spot in the Keeneland feature for fillies and mares twelve months ago, having previously completed the G.2 Cape Verdi-G2 Balanchine double at Meydan.English Rose also contested both Meydan races, going down by a neck to Silver Lady in the Cape Verdi before readily beating Sapphire Seas in the Balanchine; this is a path team Moulton Paddocks know well. After just four career starts, and that one neck defeat, there is surely more to come from the daughter of Frankel. She is worth an investment with 3-1 the best price available early though not everyone has chalked-up yet so you may want to shop around. Her trainer Charlie Appleby said “English Rose heads out to America on the back of a good win in a G.2 at Meydan. She is dropping down in trip and the extended mile will be on the sharper side for her, but we are looking towards targets like the Diana Stakes later in the season. It’s a tough race, with plenty of strength in depth, but we are hoping to get some valuable experience into her.”

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