MC: Ante-post we already have Teaforthree in the book at a tasty price, so for the purpose of this blog I will ignore him. If he wins – and I am confident he will run huge – it will be a brucie bonus.
RW: There are very few horses that run well again in the National after their first attempt – my winner in 2005, Hedgehunter, was one of the exceptions running on for second in 2006. These horses are special. Plenty, though, will perform their best on their first run in the big race.
That’s one of the reasons why I wouldn’t back last year’s third, and current favourite, Teaforthree. He just doesn’t appeal to me. Whatever it is about him, I can’t see him improving on last year’s effort and therefore he won’t win.
RW: He’d also have needed to put in a better effort in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham after finishing eighth, 21 lengths behind the winner Lord Windermere. In 2006 I was second in the Gold Cup on Hedgehunter and then second in the National three weeks later. That’s the form you should be in.
LONG RUN (14/1) AND TIDAL BAY (14/1)
MC: The National is a time to bet with balls, so I will stick my neck out right away and say I don’t fancy Long Run or Tidal Bay at all. The former should have run in the Gold Cup for me, and will struggle at Aintree, while the latter is too old and quirky to land the event. I love them both – but not for this race.
RW: Long Run obviously has the quality. He is a King George winner and Gold Cup winner, but his form isn’t great and he can only boast of a six length win over Knockara Beau at Keslo of late. He’s also French bred and that is a concern. Aintree is very similar to Auteuil in France and sometimes horses can start confusing the two as the fences are a similar height. The key difference is that they are a lot softer though the top in Auteuil.
RW: If Long Run has a good look and steps off the first, then that’s all good, if he goes at it and jumps it low though he could be in trouble. His jumping is normally very good and Nicky Henderson will have him in good shape, but at the same price I much prefer Tidal Bay.
He stayed on incredibly well to finish second in the Irish Hennessy in Leopardstown and finished similarly well to come third in the Welsh Grand National. He is carrying top-weight and is 13-years-old but he is without doubt, the class horse of the race. It goes against the theory of first time National winners, but Tidal Bay hasn’t been in the race for three years and has the quality to put in a big run.
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE 16/1
RW: The one I would have been on had it not been for injury, was hopefully Prince De Beauchene for Willie Mullins. He’ll need to improve from his last run at Thurles but he has the quality and can make the frame. He has been well backed into 16/1 but is still worth an each-way bet.
MC: He has been entered twice and been withdrawn twice from the National, but he’s just the type of horse to do well. He stays, goes on any ground and has a bit of class and speed. Added to that his trainer Willie Mullins is a genius.
DOUBLE SEVEN (20/1)
MC: Double Seven is a relative youngster at the age of eight, but he’s a most progressive staying chaser and can’t be ignored. In the Munster National he beat subsequent Cheltenham hero Spring Heeled. The form is in the book.
BIG SHU (25/1)
RW: Another one that has each-way claims is Big Shu. He came third in the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival after winning it last year, and he needed the run. Balthazar King is a shorter price for the National after winning that race, but was 15th in last year’s National. Big Shu will come on for his Festival third and in his first appearance at Aintree has a chance.
ROCKY CREEK (20/1)
MC: He has long been considered a Grand National type, but was going to miss this year’s renewal in favour of the Gold Cup. A setback meant he missed the Blue Riband, but now he gets his chance at Aintree. Lacks experience, but is a young, up-and-coming stayer.
TRIOLO D’ALENE (20/1)
MC: Triolo D’Alene was being prepared for the Grand National before he won the Hennessy at Newbury and Barry Geraghty has always considered him an ideal type for Aintree. He did not run well at Cheltenham, but it’s possible that class of event was just too much for him at this stage, and the National could be much more suitable.
NIGHT IN MILAN (40/1) AND MONBEG DUDE (14/1)
MC: I don’t like Monbeg Dude, as I just can’t have his jumping holding up.
RW: I’d pick Monbeg Dude if I was backing my National horse based on the colour of his silks. They’re predominantly red and that represents Munster and Manchester United so it gets the nod from me.
As for a horse with a name that appeals it would have to be Night In Milan. I have two kids and a third on the way this month, so a night in Milan sounds incredibly appealing!