Here it is then – we are backing 3 horses for the big race and we are sharing all of them with you for the big day!
5:15 Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
40 runners line up for this and we have 3 E/W selections.
Everyone says this race is a lottery but these days I have to disagree. Go back a few years then I would agree as the fences were really tough to jump and all fences were bigger. The fences these days are not as big and the frame is a much softer material known as plastic birch. The plastic birch has replaced the wooden post and this makes the fences easier to jump. The fences are still covered in spruce but with recent changes the fences are easier to jump. I would go as far as to say fences at places like Cheltenham are harder to jump the only difference being at Aintree is they are bigger. You will find fallers actually happen on landing rather than from hitting the fence. More often than not if you hit the fence you will go straight through it.
All of the above makes me think this race is no longer the lottery it once was. You still need a bit of luck in running granted, but for me it plays to the advantage of the classier type of horse.
I am a big believer that nowadays the better horses are the ones you want to be following, the classier type of horses who can jump. The great Many Clouds showed us this in 2015 when carrying 11st 9lb to victory. Only Lord Windermere carried more weight that year. Coming into the race Many Clouds finished 6th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and this has been a big part of my process in making selections. Neptune Collognes is another classy type who has won this race.
Even going back to 2009 when Mon Mome won at 100/1, 5 of the last 8 winners have carried 11st or more. Which again shows that the classier type of horse is needed.
My first selection is the Jonjo O’Neil trained horse MORE OF THAT. A horse I have given a hard time to all season but he is finally starting to hit the form I feel he is capable of. MORE OF THAT comes here after finishing 6th in the Gold Cup and only went down by 9 lengths. For me, I think he is the perfect Grand National horse and I don’t think the trip will be any problem. For starters he showed at Leopardstown in February that he is a great jumper and despite a mistake at the last fence where he fell, he was foot perfect all the way around. He again jumped well at Cheltenham and his only undoing was when he got outpaced 3 fences out. He then stayed on again and continued to do so up the hill. This is why I think this race could be perfect for him. They won’t be going as fast as they did in the Gold Cup so he won’t get outpaced. The fact that he stayed on up the hill says a slower pace and 1m further could be the making of the horse. MORE OF THAT carries 11st 6lb which is 3lb lower than what Many Clouds carried who also finished in the same 6th place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, before going on to win the National. Our selection is also now rated 159 by the handicapper which makes him 2lb well in at the handicap on his old mark of 157. After the stick he received from me early on in the season what a story this would be that he now goes on and wins the Grand National. I think he an outstanding chance and is a National winner waiting to happen. E/W.
MORE OF THAT 12/1 best price at the time of writing – 0.75 POINTS E/W
My second selection is another JP Mcmanus owned horse who again to me looks tailor-made for the Grand National. That horse is CAUSE OF CAUSES. He doesn’t quite have the class of More Of That but he is not far behind. He ticks every box you need in a National horse. CAUSE OF CAUSES comes here after winning the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He didn’t even break sweat to win that race and it was a fantastic training performance from Gordon Elliott. That was the horses 3rd win at the Cheltenham Festival in as many years and he comes into this race in the form of his life. What makes him a cracking bet is his ability to stay extreme distances. The horse could stay 6 miles if he needed to and he has showed this over and over again throughout his career. He was the winner of the 4 miler at Cheltenham in 2015 and then the Cross Country over 3m 6f this season. The trip is absolutely perfect.
CAUSE OF CAUSES has run in this race previously when finishing 8th in the 2015 Grand National behind Many Clouds. I have heard people knocking this form but I have not heard one person mention that he finished 8th in the Grand National as a NOVICE. I have massive respect for that as he lacked experience 2 years ago, yet still got around and finished the race in 8th. Two years on he is a better horse with more experience, a trainer in Gordon Elliott who can do no wrong and knows how to get the best out of this horse. Let’s not forget Gordon Elliott knows what it takes to win the Grand National after winning the race with Silver Birch back in 2007. Incidentally Silver Birch finished 2nd in that seasons Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Fesitval. This season he had the winner of that race going to the Grand National. CAUSE OF CAUSES carries 10st 13lb which is a lovely weight and one thing for sure is if he gets around he will not be far away. E/W.
CAUSE OF CAUSES 14/1 best price at the time of writing – 0.5 POINTS E/W
My third and final selection is SAPHIR DE RHEU and that is on the same principles as MORE OF THAT and Many Clouds. This horse ran a terrific race at the Cheltenham Festival to finish 5th in the Gold Cup. The only question mark I would have is the trip but at the same time this could easily play to his advantage. In the Gold Cup 2 fences out I thought he was travelling better than anything but just got outstayed up the hill. I wouldn’t say he didn’t get up the hill like many have suggested, just the fact the others went up it quicker. I think the course will play to his advantages a bit more as it is not as undulating. His jumping has improved massively this season and the way he makes a shape over fences will be well suited to these bigger obstacles. After his 5th in the Gold Cup the handicapper has him rated 162 but he is in the race off a mark of 156. He is a huge 6lb well in on the handicap
and if they done the weights on his new mark he would be carrying top weight. Instead he carries just 11st 5lb. Paul Nicholls knows what it takes to win the National and at odds of 20/1 I personally think he massive value. On the back of the 5th in the Gold Cup he should be fighting for favouritism and thats without taking into consideration how much ahead of the handicap he is. If he stays the trip and jumps he wins the race as his class will shine through. E/W.
SAPHIR DE RHEU 20/1 best price at the time of writing – 0.5 POINTS E/W
So that is my Three Grand National selections and I am quietly confident we have the winner amongst those.