Well this looks a fair match up to me – I mean Ruby Walsh has only won two Grand Nationals while I’ve ridden many more than that home over the years…from my sofa!
Still, finding the winner comes down to brains and tactical knowledge so I have an obvious advantage over the greying old boy! You hear me Ruby?
MC: It’s surely too much to hope for the dream to come true isn’t it? Tony McCoy trying to bow out with a National winner. That would be annoying Ruby. Wouldn’t it? This is a lightly raced horse who is only up 2lb for an easy win at Carlisle in November. However, the price is rubbish due to McCoy being on board and I just can’t fancy him at the odds. If he wins fair play.
RW: Last year’s Irish National winner and they have a good record in this race. Looks to have been targeted at Aintree since then. Mightn’t be much value with the McCoy factor but definitely has a chance.
MC: Really like this horse to hit the frame. Was fifth last year after a bad preparation, and this time comes to Aintree on the back of a fine victory at Kempton. Jumps and stays and surely will run a big one for the Johnson Family (won with Comply or Die) and Stewart Families (Big Buck’s). Every chance.
RW: Won well at Kempton last time and looks well handicapped. A graded winner running in a handicap and looks to have a massive, massive chance. Was fifth in the race last year.
MC: Last year Balthazar King chased home Pineau de Re in second and he’s a horse who is more than likely to get round as in general terms he’s a brilliant jumper. The problem is he is now 11 and can’t be getting any better. Although having said that Ruby’s getting even better with age!
RW: Ran a blinder here last year. Jumps, stays and gives his all but it’s hard to think he’s ahead of the handicapper.
THE DRUIDS NEPHEW
MC: Odds plummeted on the Neil Mulholland-trained eight year old following his superb win in the Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. From 13 chase starts he’s had three wins and four places and is starting to tick all the right boxes for the Grand National. Not absolutely sure he jumps well enough, but he was good in that department at Cheltenham.
RW: He still looks to have plenty of improvement in him. He impressed me when he won well at Cheltenham and even in his defeat to Sam Winner you could see he was going places. A huge player but regular jock Barry Geraghty is missing through injury so Aidan Coleman gets a great spare ride.
CAUSE OF CAUSES
MC: From big prices to much shorter following his win in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when tipped up be me! However, that was his first win in more than two years and he’s only seven years old so may not be plain sailing in the Grand National. Added to that, he’s not a big horse and I think he’ll struggle with the fences. That said, small horses have won over the National fences. Remember the tiny Northern Starlight?
RW: Won the four-mile chase at Cheltenham so has to enter calculations even if he doesn’t look particularly well handicapped. But there’s no point in being well handicapped if you don’t see out the 4m 4f trip and he looks like one that will definitely stay. Paul Carberry rides him and he won before on Bobbyjo in 1999.
MC: Winner of the Kim Muir Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in 2014, and Spring Heeled has been handed a fair weight for the Grand National. Likes good ground and could do well if the going is good as this is where the bulk of his earnings have come from. Has had 14 chase starts returning a win or a place in 50 per cent of them. However, stable is in desperate form .
RW: Don’t fancy him. Don’t care what Chapman says.
MC: In reasonable form, and became a real contender after a good win at Sandown was followed up with a third place in the Denman Chase at Newbury. He’s already won twice at Aintree including a Novices’ Chase in 2012. However, the fact remains it’s been over 75 years since a horse this young ( a 7-year-old) has won the Grand National. Some are too old, this one might be too young.
RW: Third to the Gold Cup winner Coneygree the last time and is a class horse. Might be in the handicapper’s grip though.
MC: Proper plodder. Winner of the Scottish Grand National back in 2013, and scored a 2nd place in the same race a year later. Godsmejudge is one of only a few horses entered into this year’s National to have won at four miles plus. However, he was pulled up at Doncaster in January, managed only a fifth place at Kempton in February and was then last when running at Bangor in March.
RW: Former Scottish Grand National winner. Jumps and stays and handles good ground. Was a long way behind Rocky Creek at Kempton but may have had a bigger target in mind. Definitely has a chance.
PINEAU DE RE
MC: The Grand National winner in 2014 has been given an extra 8lbs to carry this time round and that weight could rise as other horses get withdrawn. Seems to have been plotted up for the race once again and back-to-back wins are not impossible. But of course the gut feeling is it is unlikely.
RW: Last year’s winner but it’s been a long time since a horse won back-to-back Grand Nationals. Not impossible, but as rare as an away win for QPR. Red Rum was the last in 1973/74 if you’re asking, Matt. I wasn’t born. You hear me?
MC: Knows what to do here, finishing fourth here last year as a reserve. Could do very well in 2015 as he will carry an ideal weight and is experienced over the fences. Added to that he’s about the right age for a National winner. Not to be dismissed.
RW: Fourth here last year but was a bit keen. Jockey Paul Moloney has a great record of getting horses placed in this race.Could have an each-way chance again if he settles a bit better.
MC: The mount of old Ruby, but not a National winner for me. Is classy enough when on song, but was pulled-up last time out at Cheltenham and I’m not sure he has the guts for this unlike his rider! Added to all that, his stamina is going to be a major issue. Sorry Ruby. Forget it!
RW: I’ll be riding him but there’s a question mark over whether he will stay the trip. Unfortunately we won’t know that until about 4.30pm next Saturday as they pass the post.
MC: Ran in the 2013 Grand National to finish 7th so can get around the fences and go the distance. Moved from Jo Hughes to David Pipe in 2014 and has had two runs under his new trainer both of which he has won at Exeter and Newbury. In form and with a very decent weight, this could be his year. Giant of a horse.
RW: Has been impressive in his couple of runs since switching to the David Pipe stable. A sound jumper and stays well but would need a career best to win it in my opinion.
MC: Really classy chaser. Started the season in great form landing a minor event at Carlisle before scoring in the Hennessy at Newbury. Also went in at Cheltenham in January in a Gold Cup prep. Only sixth in the main event and a real feeling that he was not at his best that day. Could easily bounce back, but this was very much an after thought and it might be the best of him will be seen in 2016.
RW: A good winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup in November before being slightly disappointing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. His chance will be improved by any rain that falls as he’s definitely better on soft ground. Has plenty of weight but certainly has the class on his day.
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