2018 Grand National Pinstickers Guide

A little introduction…

Written by Adam Webb of PA Racing…

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since my first proper recollection of the world’s greatest steeplechase. A five year old pinning all his hopes on a dashing grey called Suny Bay carrying the lucky number ‘1’ saddlecloth under Graham Bradley. He was barely sighted in the early stages, tucked away on the inside and very lucky not to be brought down by the cantankerous Challenger Du Luc at the very first fence, until crossing back over the Melling Road first time where he’d steadily crept round. Out on the second circuit and he sat in a great position tracking the leaders down to second Bechers. Over Foinavon and he’s hit the front almost. Excitement continues to build. Going to five out there’s only four with a realistic shout. Down goes the French raider Ciel De Brion. Four out. Rank outsider Greenhill Tare Away bites the dust.

Now it’s just the two of them. Little splitting them as they cross the Melling Road for the final time with the excellent John Hanmer shouting:

“But with two to jump in the Grand National, it’s Suny Bay, the grey, and Graham Bradley and Carl Llewellyn on Earth Summit. They’ve got it between them! As we join Jim McGrath”

Turning for home Suny Bay looked to be going marginally the better until Carl Llewellyn lets out half an inch of rein on Earth Summit and they steadily move clear of the gallant grey to record an 11 length success. What five year old Adam didn’t understand at the time was the daunting task Suny Bay had to try and beat a Scottish & Welsh National who revelled in testing conditions. A 23lb weight difference (the exact same for Crisp & Red Rum in 1973) goes to underline what a heroic effort it was by the runner up who captured my heart and love for the great game that very day.

Enough reminiscing. After missing last year due to personal issues, the Pinstickers Guide makes it belated return and I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have writing this. Every runner gets a write-up and are rated out of 10 (one being the lowest as zero isn’t a fair representation in the Grand National – even Foinavon won after a pile up at 100/1! – and ten being given to just one horse).

Being completely honest, this has been one of the toughest years to nail down a confident selection with every contender having a negative or question to answer but it should hopefully be a fantastic race and all 40 runners & riders come back safe and sound for the sixth consecutive year.

   Number      Horse     Age       Wgt         Trainer       Jockey

1) MINELLA ROCCO 8 11-10     Jonjo O’Neill    Noel Fehily

We start with the 2017 Gold Cup runner-up who has had a rather frustrating campaign to date with two non completions, including an unseat last time in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, mixed in with two fourth places. He has always had a big reputation since his novice hurdle days when the recently retired Tony McCoy said this was the one horse he’d miss getting the leg up on but he has only won once over fences in the National Hunt Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival when beating this year’s Gold Cup hero Native River. Jonjo O’Neill’s record in staying chases, especially Grand Nationals, cannot be ignored but his jumping hasn’t always been the most fluent, has suffered from wind problems in the past (runs here for the first time after a wind operation), plus there is the issue he could get behind early and find it difficult to make up ground.

Rating – 5/10

2)  BLAKLION    9   11-9   Nigel Twiston-Davies  Sam Twiston-Davies

2016 RSA Chase winner and ante-post favourite since the defection of One For Arthur, last year’s fourth built on a solid return in the Charlie Hall when runner-up to stablemate Bristol De Mai when posting an impressive display over these fences in the Becher Chase over 3m2f having proven to be a cut above the opposition in a very strong renewal.

However, his preparation for this took a knock when second in the Grand National Trial at Haydock, on what was horrific ground, to Yala Enki and there is the potential that effort could have left its mark. Another issue is, on that occasion, that he didn’t seem to gel with Sam Twiston-Davies as his usual trademark of efficient jumping was lacking on numerous occasions. Add in the fact he is 8lb higher than last year and the prospect of testing ground gives him a daunting task despite his love of Aintree.

Rating 7/10

3) ANIBALE FLY 8     11-7    Tony Martin   Barry Geraghty

One of the potential handicap blots in the race as he would be 9lb higher were handicapper Phil Smith allowed to reassess the race. He has always shown plenty of ability since his bumper days and improved significantly for going over fences after a fruitful spell as a novice hurdler which culminated in a big field handicap success at Punchestown.

Placed in two Grade 1 novice chases last season behind Coney Island and Disko, his early season was prepped around a tilt at the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown where he duly obliged in impressive fashion from Ucello Conti. A crashing fall two out at the same venue in the Irish Gold Cup was followed by a career best effort in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham when staying on strongly to be beaten eight and a half lengths by Native River into third.

On that piece of form he is entitled to go off favourite with it being the strongest on offer and, with a clear round, he should be thereabouts come the finish but his jumping, which was fine in the Gold Cup, can be slightly haphazard at times and a hard race leaves a slight question as to whether he has left his race behind at Cheltenham. That said, he warrants a place on the shortlist and is the choice of Barry Geraghty.

Rating – 9/10

4) THE LAST SAMURI 10 11-7    Kim Bailey   David Bass

A thoroughly likeable and dependable individual who finished second in the race back in 2016 behind Rule The World and has backed that up with two placed efforts in the Becher Chase over these fences. All his runs this season have showcased his usual consistency but he arrives here after a hard race in the Cross Country and did lose his chance in the preliminaries in this 12 months ago so a slight note of caution is advised.

Rating – 6/10

5) VALSEUR LIDO 9 11-6   Henry de Bromhead  Keith Donaghue

Former classy chaser who unfortunately hasn’t looked the same since injury curtailed his season last year and his finishing effort in an ordinary conditions chase at Clonmel over 2m4f last time behind Koshari leaves an awful lot to be desired.

Rating – 3/10

6) TOTAL RECALL 9 11-04   Willie Mullins  Paul Townend

Has thrived since joining the Irish champion trainer having joined due to Sandra Hughes’ retirement at the end of last season. He was backed like defeat was out of the question when romping home in the Munster National at Limerick before following up off 19lb higher in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury when showing a willing attitude to beat Whisper by a neck.

Given a break to freshen him up for the spring he returned at the Dublin Racing Festival over hurdles where he proved to be a handicap snip once again, beating Oscar Knight and subsequent Cheltenham winner Delta Work in good style. Connections toyed about waiting for this but instead they decided to have a crack at the Gold Cup where he was still travelling okay when overjumping and falling three out.

His racing style is reminiscent to how the yard’s former winner Hedgehunter was in his first ever try at the National as he can race keenly, as seen throughout the season, and that combined with the occasion and the extra mile he faces here could all conspire to find him out, especially with the likely ground conditions.

Rating – 7/10

7) ALPHA DES OBEAUX 8 11-3  Mouse Morris  Rachael Blackmore

A former runner-up in the Stayers Hurdle who is yet to reach those heights over fences. The argument for him to improve drastically is if the ground comes up decent but he is one in the field who has had a history of bleeding issues and has never looked a horse to want a real stamina test so can be dismissed easily.

Rating – 3/10

8) GOLD PRESENT 8 11-3     Nicky Henderson  Nico de Boinville

Both Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville will be hoping for much better than they have had in recent seasons with Hadrian’s Approach (2016) and Cocktails At Dawn (2017) first fence fallers but Gold Present looks to hold realistic ambitions to become the master of Seven Barrows first ever Grand National winner.

He has taken time to mature, has looked quirky on occasions, and his handler’s patient approach is now reaping the rewards this season with two big handicap successes at Newbury and Ascot, the latter coming when stepped up to 3m for the first time which was a career best effort and the form has worked out handsomely since. His Cheltenham run can be forgiven with the ground clearly not to his liking when pulled up in the Ultima behind Coo Star Sivola.

Jumping has always been his main asset and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him race handy to keep out of trouble having been knocked over in last year’s Topham when travelling ominously well at the Canal Turn but his chances are becoming less and less with the rain falling on Merseyside.

Rating – 5/10

9) PERFECT CANDIDATE 11 11-2    Fergal O’Brien  

On his day he is a very useful performer and proved that when landing a handicap at Cheltenham’s November meeting, a race that has proven to be a useful trial towards this race, but his form since has tailed off and, despite having had a better preparation coming into this year’s race, he can be looked over.

Rating – 3/10

10) SHANTOU FLYER 8 11-1    Richard Hobson   James Bowen

A first ride in the race for a rising star of the weighing room in James Bowen and they both arrive here off the back of a fine second to Coo Star Sivola in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Perhaps with a better leap at the last he may well have caught the winner but while he will give his young pilot a terrific first experience of the National, stamina is likely to catch him out once again like last year.

Rating – 4/10

11) TENOR NIVERNAIS  11    11-0    Venetia Williams

Once a consistent performer but now looks a shadow of his former self since routing a field at Ascot back in February last year which seems to have left a huge mark on him since. Back down to the mark he raced off last year but is 5lb worse than he would be if the handicapper could re-do the weights and, despite his trainer landing the race with a 100/1 shot in Mon Mome back in 2009, he looks to need a miracle to return to the winner’s enclosure.

Rating – 2/10

12) CARLINGFORD LOUGH  12   11-0    John Kiely  Mark Walsh

One of the classier perfomers in the field who has mixed it in top handicaps and at the highest level being a former Irish and Punchestown Gold Cup winner and, on both those performances, he looks a well handicapped horse. However, apart from a satisfactory effort behind 2017 Gold Cup winner Sizing John at Punchestown over an inadequate trip, his form has tailed off considerably of late and the fact he hasn’t had a recent prep run makes him easy to scratch off the list.

Rating – 3/10

13)  VICENTE   9   10-13   Paul Nicholls    Nick Scholfield

Dual Scottish Grand National winner who tends to come alive at this time of the season and is guaranteed to stay. He posted a very solid effort on his return at Cheltenham when second to Perfect Candidate but his two efforts since have been rather disappointing and he was a first fence faller last year with his jumping at times not being his strongest attribute.

Rating – 5/10

14)  TIGER ROLL   8    10-12   Gordon Elliott    Davy Russell

Has had the most unorthodox career despite being a three times Cheltenham Festival winner having began life in juvenile hurdles and winning the Triumph Hurdle back in 2014. He lost his way after that before returning with a vengeance in the National Hunt Chase over 4m when tanking his way through the contest to run out a comfortable winner despite taking several fences with him.

This season was geared around a return to the Festival for the cross-country where he was an exceptionally popular winner, especially for rider Keith Donoghue with his history of weight issues, but he had a hard race in winning that and that may have left a mark despite there being an extra week between Cheltenham and Aintree. That said, his trainer is a genius and, despite his jumping being a concern as he has the tendency to clout one, he schooled well at the Curragh when tackling these unique obstacles. The price has long gone (was 50/1 when the weights came out) but it is difficult to leave him out of the shake up with a clear round.

Rating – 9/10

15)  REGAL ENCORE  10   10-12   Anthony Honeyball  Richie McLernon

A very difficult horse to predict as he either runs extremely well or does the complete opposite. Now if you’d told me before the National last year that I would be considering putting him up as a potential winner the following season I’d have called the men in white coats to take you away. But, alas, he has plenty going for him in a year where a lot of his rivals have question marks over them.

Having convinced for a long time he is a much better horse going right-handed, (two handicap wins at Ascot), his effort last year was a solid one when finishing eighth after being given too much to do by Robbie Power and his third to Total Recall in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury earlier in the season reads well despite him meeting Willie Mullins’ gelding on worse terms there. He arrives here off the back of a success at Ascot in February, is 4lb well in, and ground shouldn’t be a concern so 33/1 looks very fair on a horse that will hopefully be given a more positive ride than he was last year.

Rating – 10/10

16)  VIEUX LION ROUGE   9   10-12   David Pipe  Tom Scudamore

Had a very fruitful campaign last year with two notable successes here in the Becher Chase and the Grand National Trial at Haydock before running an honourable race to finish sixth to One For Arthur. This will be his third crack at the race and he has looked a non-stayer twice previous so there is no reason to suggest he can improve on what he has already achieved in the race. Another issue is that his form this season doesn’t add up to much and, despite the old cliché of him being a year older & stronger (yada yada), it is hard to see him improving on what he has achieved so far.

Rating – 4/10

17)  CHASE THE SPUD  10  10-11  Fergal O’Brien

One member in the field who is guaranteed to stay every yard of the trip being a Midlands National winner but he has gone off the rails since an impressive display at Haydock in November with two pulled up efforts in the Welsh National at Chepstow and the Eider at Newcastle when seemingly having his conditions. Would ideally want it to be similar ground as to when Red Marauder won the race back in 2001 but that looks highly unlikely.

Rating – 3/10

18)  WARRIORS TALE  9   10-11   Paul Nicholls  Sean Bowen

Bids to give Trevor Hemmings a fourth winner in the race after Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011), and the late Many Clouds (2015) and he arrives here in excellent form having gone down by narrow margin to Gold Present at Newbury in December and Wakanda in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster at the end of January. Seems to prefer racing on flatter tracks, Newbury a prime example, and has always shaped as though the test of Aintree would suit with him being a very sound jumper. The main concern has to be stamina having never been tried beyond 3m but he appeals as one to run well for a long way.

Rating – 6/10

19)  SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT  10  10-11  Sandy Thomson  Brian Hughes

Will undoubtedly be a popular choice on the day for many punters having gained a fairly decent fanbase after his exploits as a novice hurdler when causing a huge shock at Hexham beating fellow contender Regal Encore at odds of 66/1. His jumping is usually a joy to watch, these fences won’t pose any issue to him, but he comes to Aintree having only had the one outing which came three weeks ago at Newbury, when not disgracing himself over an inadequate trip when finishing third, and the last horse to win the race off a similar preparation was Aldaniti back in 1981. Should give a bold account but others ar preferred to him off better preparations.

Rating – 6/10

20)  GAS LINE BOY  12   10-10   Ian Williams   Robert Dunne

Last year’s fifth took a deserved success over these fences in the Grand Sefton having been an unlucky faller on his first outing of the season in October. when looking the likely winner due to the low sun here on the Mildmay course. He posted a good effort when third in the Veterans Final to Buywise at Sandown and his form coming into this year’s race is arguably better than 12 months ago. Holds very solid each-way claims and is reunited with Robbie Dunne who has a fine record in staying chases.

Rating – 9/10

21)  THE DUTCHMAN  8  10-10  Colin Tizzard  Harry Cobden

Has always threatened to be a smart individual ever since his days with Sandy Thomson and he showcased that when landing the Peter Marsh at Haydock back in January with a strong staying performance under Harry Cobden who is reunited with him again. However, he does have an inconsistent profile and has been known to burst blood vessels which he did in the Grand National Trial when stopping very quickly having not been under any sort of pressure.

Rating – 3/10

22)  PLEASANT COMPANY  10   10-10  Willie Mullins 

Caught the eye in this 12 months ago when travelling powerfully under Ruby Walsh before his stamina ebbed away in the last half mile and his form this season raises plenty of question marks about his well-being. May be rekindled by a return to Aintree but it would require a massive leap of faith to show any kind of confidence in his chances.

Rating – 3/10

23)  UCELLO CONTI  10   10-9  Gordon Elliott  Daryl Jacob

On the surface his profile looks incredibly consistent in similar big field handicaps with plenty of placed efforts to cry from the rooftops about, including when runner-up to Anibale Fly in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown. However when those runs are analysed, a big trend emerges with him flattering to deceive as his finishing effort barely matching the way he powers through a race. He could feasibly hit the frame but others make more appeal.

Rating – 5/10

24)  SAINT ARE   12   10-9   Tom George  Adrian Heskin

Guaranteed to have his supporters if the ground dries up with two placed efforts, second in 2015 and third last year, on his CV. The only glimmer of hope regarding this season is the fact both his runs at Cheltenham have come on ground far too soft for his liking and he will probably carry a couple of quid each-way from myself as he could very easily bounce back at a track he has shown his best form at being a former Grade 1 winner of the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle back in 2011. Being realistic, his chance to win the race has gone but he will keep on trying on once many have cried enough.

Rating – 6/10

25)  BEEVES  11    10-9    Jennie Candlish   Sean Quinlan

Second string for Paul & Clare Rooney who will definitely be sighted in the early stages as he is a habitual front-runner and enjoyed a fruitful spell last spring/early summer when winning three on the bounce. His two runs this season have seen him beaten 44 lengths on both occasions, including in the Cross Country last time, and you have to question whether he has the backclass to win a race of this quality.

Rating – 3/10

26)  RAZ DE MAREE   13  10-8   Gavin Cromwell  Robbie Power

The oldest member of the field who defied his age when landing the Welsh National at Chepstow under one of the rides of the season by James Bowen as he travelled poorly in the early part of the race before showing resolute stamina to fend off Alfie Spinner. The weather has played an important role with his chances as the quagmire he requires to be seen to best effect looks highly likely but his older legs may just struggle to keep up early on.

Rating – 4/10

27)  I JUST KNOW   8    10-7    Sue Smith    Danny Cook

The yard know how to win a Grand National having saddled Aurora’s Encore to land the spoils in 2013 and I Just Know has the credentials to be an Aintree performer. He has improved tenfold since going chasing last season and is a prime example of what a fantastic operation Sue & Harvey Smith run with their chasers always proving to be exceptionally tough individuals.

A North Yorkshire National winner in January, he showcased everything an Aintree horse is with excellent jumping and a relentless nature from the front and his prep run at Uttoxeter was a solid effort in the circumstances when runner-up in a novice hurdle to Caderyn. That effort, compared to his novice hurdle efforts two years ago, shows how much he has come forward and his style of racing here will definitely suit. The only nagging doubt is whether he has the requisite class to compete at this level but he is guaranteed to give his supporters a good run for their money.

Rating – 8/10

28)  VIRGILIO   9     10-7    Dan Skelton    Harry Skelton

A solid performer who finished third in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase 12 months ago behind the Nicky Henderson pair of Might Bite and Whisper, admittedly 20 lengths behind the winner, and followed that effort up with success over the same course & distance in a handicap chase off a 3lb lower mark than he carries today. The main negatives are the absence since December and he has never exactly screamed of being a  potential National type. A wind operation may help but that is clutching at straws.

Rating – 3/10

29)  BAIE DES ILES  7  10-7  Ross O’Sullivan  Katie Walsh

The initial opening line used before she was well backed earlier in the week read “The likely housewives choice across the country with Katie Walsh taking the ride on this grey mare who is a former winner of the Punchestown National Trial”. She has proven to be a very likeable performer, and her effort last time when bidding to win back-to-back at Punchestown received a notable boost when Folsom Blue and Isleofhopendreams both came out and went very close to winning the Irish National a week last Monday.

She wouldn’t be a typical Grand National winner being a 7 year old, the last to win being Bogskar in 1940, and a mare, Nickel Coin in 1951 the most recent, but she has plenty of experience which will stand her in good stead. However, any juice in her price has long gone and she represents no value whatsoever as a betting proposition.

Rating – 7/10

30) MAGGIO  13   10-7  Patrick Griffin   Brendan Powell Jnr

Represents owners who have tasted success with a similarly priced horse in the shape of Aurora’s Encore back in 2013. He is best known for bolting up in the handicap chase before the National two years ago on similar ground, when sent off 50/1, having missed the cut and was all set to run last year but for getting a setback after his prep run at Kelso. His last couple of starts against decent opposition, over hurdles at Gowran behind Diamond Cauchois and fences at Down Royal behind Mala Beach, haven’t been the worst efforts in the world and, of the big outsiders, he could easily outrun those odds.

Rating – 6/10

31)  PENDRA   10    10-7    Charlie Longsdon

Completed the course two years ago when beaten a distance by Rule The World but he has only run twice since, both times in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, and his effort this year was disappointing having stopped quickly after the second last. Very hard to recommend.

Rating – 1/10

32)  BUYWISE  11    10-7   Evan Williams   Adam Wedge

Finally strung it altogether over fences when winning the Veterans Final under a superb ride from Leighton Aspell, who sadly misses out due to a neck injury, and it was his idea to return to Aintree where he managed to complete two years ago to finish 12th behind Rule The World despite his usual erratic jumping. On his Sandown run he would warrant some respect but it is hard envisaging him as a Grand National winner.

Rating – 5/10

33)  CHILDRENS LIST   8   10-7  Willie Mullins

Makes his fifth appearance over fences in his career and, on that evidence, he faces an impossible task as his inexperience will likely shine through. What also doesn’t help is that he looked a non-stayer in the Punchestown National Trial over six furlongs shorter so a line can be put straight through him.

Rating – 1/10

34)  HOUBLON DES OBEAUX  11   10-6  Venetia Williams  Charlie Deutsch

A real honest campaigner who has been a huge credit to connections over the seasons and he has shown his appetite for the game hasn’t dwindled in the slightest with success in a Veterans’ Chase at Sandown in November backed up mostly by performances where he hasn’t been fully disgraced. He is an out and out stayer and has conditions to suit so will likely be a popular outsider with his former backclass and the fact the yard have finally hit form after a very quiet season by their standards makes him stand out more than some.

Rating – 5/10

35)  LORD WINDERMERE   12   10-6   Jim Culloty  Andrew Lynch

2014 Gold Cup winner bids to become the first since L’Escargot in 1975 to win both races and ran well enough when seventh to One For Arthur 12 months ago. His sole effort this season saw him fall in the Becher Chase at the tenth but he appeared to slip going into the fence giving him and Brian Hughes no chance. He arrives here a fresh horse, by design as connections feel the more racing he has in a season the stronger the chance he will boil over in the preliminaries, but others look more appealing than him.

Rating – 4/10

36)  CAPTAIN REDBEARD  9   10-6   Stuart Coltherd   Sam Coltherd

Tries to become the third Scottish winner after last year & Rubstic in 1979 and comes from a family operation with trainer Stuart Coltherd owning him as well and son Sam having his first ride in the race. He has proven to be mostly consistent throughout the season having won the Tommy Whittle at Haydock before returning to the same track and finishing runner-up in the Peter Marsh to The Dutchman. His prep race over hurdles couldn’t have gone any better as he won at Ayr but his only disappointing effort came over these fences in the Grand Sefton when beaten 40 lengths by Gas Line Boy and there is a huge question mark over stamina he has to overcome.

Rating – 4/10

37)  BLESS THE WINGS  13   10-5  Gordon Elliott  Jack Kennedy

Finally gets his chance to line up having missed out the past two seasons and has tackled the Irish National where he finished runner-up to Rogue Angel (2016) and Our Duke (2017). Despite being pulled-up in this year’s renewal just 12 days ago, similar happened when he was pulled up in the Porterstown earlier in the season as he followed up off the exact same lay-off to win a Cross-Country event at Cheltenham on what was the best ground he encountered all season so drying conditions will certainly be in his favour. Despite his age, the last horse to win the National at 13 being Sergeant Murphy in 1923, he is an outsider worth keeping on side.

Rating – 8/10

38)  MILANSBAR   11    10-5    Neil King   Bryony Frost

Everyone loves a fairytale surrounding the Grand National and this year’s number one candidate is Bryony Frost, who has taken the racing world by storm since winning the Foxhunters on Pacha Du Polder at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and her exploits this season as a conditional have been a breath of fresh air in a season that has lacked considerable punch.

She teamed up with Milansbar to win the Classic Chase at Warwick when first-time blinkers and a change in tactics really invigorated the 11 year old as he produced his best performance for a while when beating Cogry by 11 lengths. A fifth in the Eider Chase behind Baywing was followed by a much better effort when second in the Midlands National to Regal Flow but the main hope to his chance is whether he can establish a similar rhythm to what he achieved at Warwick. Bryony being in the saddle should assist with that but this will be much harder to dominate.

Rating – 5/10

39)  FINAL NUDGE   9   10-5    David Dennis  Gavin Sheehan

Once upon a time he finished fourth in a bumper at Newbury behind the likes of Barters Hill, Buveur D’Air & Altior and has had a solid enough career to date, running well in big handicap chases this season at Wincanton and Chepstow when third in the Welsh National, but others in the field are more attractive than him.

Rating – 5/10

40)  DOUBLE ROSS   12    10-5   Nigel Twiston-Davies  Jamie Bargary

Showed up well in this two years ago until his saddle slipped at the Canal Turn second time round and he comes into this off the back of a decent enough effort in the Kim Muir where he finished fourth to Missed Approach. His trainer knows what it takes to win a Grand National but they have Blaklion who has a much stronger chance and he looks here to make up the numbers.

Rating – 4/10

41)  ROAD TO RICHES   11   10-4    Noel Meade   Sean Flanagan

Formerly a top class chaser having won at the highest level when landing the JN Wine Champion Chase and the Lexus back in 2014 before following up with a fine third to Coneygree in the 2015 Gold Cup. However, he hasn’t been remotely the same horse since a crunching fall in the 2016 Punchestown Gold Cup and all of his form has regressed massively. These fences could rekindle something but it is difficult to have any sort of confidence in his chance.

Rating – 2/10

42)  THUNDER AND ROSES  10    10-4  Mouse Morris

Was unlucky last year when the errant Cocktails At Dawn sprawled on landing in front of him at Valentines which gave Mark Enright no chance of remaining in the saddle. However, he comes with a health warning this time around having fallen on his last two starts and I somewhat doubt any winner in the history of the races come off a preparation like that.

Rating 3/10

43)  DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR   8    10-4   Sue Smith

As described earlier on the piece under I Just Know, this horse is a typical Sue Smith staying chaser who doesn’t know when to stop galloping but his best performances are typically saved for Catterick and he would need to improve a fair bit to become a Grand National winner.

Rating – 4/10

44)  WALK IN THE MILL   8    10-3   Robert Walford  Mr Sam Waley-Cohen

Runs in the famous Dido Harding colours which were famously carried to Gold Cup success by the recently passed Cool Dawn back in 1998. He has been fairly progressive this season with a win at Ascot in November backed up with a fine effort to finish third to Gold Present in the Silver Cup over the same course and distance the following month where he stayed on eyecatchingly. His Peter Marsh effort can be well and truly forgiven but it might well be next year where we see the best of him in a Grand National despite a very good jockey booking.

Rating – 5/10

45)  VINTAGE CLOUDS   8    10-3    Sue Smith

One who will likely be well supported having scraped in at the last possible stage due to his overall profile which, on first appearance, looks fairly solid as he has placed in several big chases in his career including when fourth in the Welsh National at Chepstow and third to Coo Star Sivola in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival. While he is attractive for each-way punters, he wouldn’t appeal much for a likely winner as he tends to run a similar race whatever the distance as he will get outpaced at some stage before running on through beaten horses.

Rating – 6/10

Conclusion

It may not be the strongest renewal of the Grand National, with plenty of deadwood making up the numbers, but a number of these have strong winning credentials. Total Recall (fell) and Anibale Fly (third) represent this season’s Gold Cup form with the former having progressed hugely since joining Willie Mullins, adding a Munster National & Ladbrokes Trophy on his CV, and the latter posting a career best effort in the circumstances. Both warrant the utmost respect but the former has question marks to answer regarding him settling in the early stages to see out the trip.

Tiger Roll arrives here with the exact same profile as recently retired stablemate Cause Of Causes having won his third race at the Cheltenham Festival, the Cross Country, and the addition of Davy Russell in the saddle sees him as a formidable threat to all. Blaklion and Gold Present both landed big staying handicap chases in December, the former landing the Becher Chase here over 3m2f and the latter took the Silver Cup over 3m at Ascot, but the former has a hard race to shrug off at Haydock and the latter’s chance has gone due to the weather.

At the prices a chance is taken with REGAL ENCORE who, despite his inconsistent profile, ran well in this 12 months ago when eighth having been given a very patient ride and has shown solid form this season with a third in the Ladbrokes Trophy behind Total Recall plus a win on his latest start at Ascot over 3m. Jockey Richie McLernon went very close to landing a National on Sunnyhillboy in 2012 and he will be hoping for sweet compensation on a horse that could go very close if ridden more forward.

Others to consider at bigger prices include last year’s fifth and Grand Sefton winner Gas Line Boy, Bless The Wings, who has proven his adaptability for unique obstacles having won a Cross Country event at Cheltenham in December and has long shaped as though this race would suit, I Just Know, who should post a bold effort from the front for a long way, and a 100/1 shot that will certainly outrun those odds in Maggio.

Finishing Order

1)Regal Encore

2)Tiger Roll

3)Anibale Fly

4)Gas Line Boy

5)Bless The Wings

6)I Just Know

The very best of luck to you in trying to find the winner!

By | 2018-04-11T20:55:13+00:00 April 11th, 2018|Adam Webb, Guest Blogs|

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