My preview for the Grand National from Aintree can be found in the Barking & Dagenham Post, Ilford Recorder and Romford Recorder newspapers and the e-editions of those titles this week if you live in that neck of the woods.
But as a visitor to the site, you get the V.I.P. treatment and can read the full unedited article here from Tuesday evening:
The Ashes, Wimbledon, the F.A. Cup Final, Boat Race, London Marathon, there are some sporting events that regardless of whether you are an actual fan of the sport in question or not you know them. The Grand National at Aintree is most definitely on this list.
Whether it is Granny having her annual pound each-way, your Mum who just simply backs a grey horse, that guy you know down the pub, who knows this bloke, who’s cousin has a mate that heard a whisper about this horse, or simply a group of family, friends or work 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 5.15pm on Saturday 6th 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 goes right back to the very beginning and 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, the Captain commented on how he hadn't realised how filthy water tasted without the benefits of whisky.
And so to this year’s race and those horses in with a chance of winning the Grade Three Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase to give it, it’s full title. The race is run over a distance of 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.
Tiger Roll returns in an attempt to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals since the great Red Rum back in the ’70s. The nine-year-old won the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival in March last year prior to winning this and he won that same race again a few weeks backs, looking even better this year winning by a massive 22 lengths! He has been backed heavily since and though he might win is far too short at the odds for me to back him in this. Pleasant Company was second last year but has shown no sort of form in his two runs since. That said he likes it here, was also ninth in 2017, and is an out and out stayer. 2017 winner One For Arthur returns to the scene of his greatest triumph. He has run just the twice since that victory and unseated his rider both times, that’s a concern as you can’t make mistakes with these fences. Fourth last year Anibale Fly has to be considered whilst Regal Encore is one at a bigger price that might give you a run for your money.
As for my advice, I have had an each-way punt on one of the grey horses so potential a bet for all you Mums out there.
Lake View Lad is about the most consistent horse in the field to my eyes and was purchased by owner Trevor Hemmings last year you would assume with this race in mind; he owned past winners Hedgehunter (2005), Ballybriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015). The nine-year-old has never raced over further than three-mile-one-furlong, when third in the Grade Three Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last month, but should be okay over the distance and if he stays will surely be in the places at least. I took a bit of the 15-1 each-way (6-places) with Paddy Power as they were offering non-runner no-bet last week. The going on Tuesday is reported as good to soft, soft in places on the National course and connections won't mind one bit that rain is forecast on Wednesday and Thursday as the 9yo has plenty of form on soft and heavy going. Hemmings also owns Vintage Clouds and Warriors Tale (also entered in Topham Chase on Friday).
Remember to shop around for the best odds, take those odds in the morning as they nearly all shrink as we get closer to the off and if betting each-way always check the each-way terms the Bookmaker is offering.
Here’s hoping for a great race and that all horses and jockeys return un-hurt.