Grand National 2019 Preview
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The race which stops the nation where people stop what they are doing and tune into this race over a mammoth 4m 2 1/2f.
It is a very exciting race with lots of drama and it is a race which is a great marketing tool to get people involved in the sport of kings.
Everyone says this race is a lottery but these days I have to disagree. Yes, you need a little bit of luck but the same could be said about any jumps race.
If you go back a few years then I would agree that the race is a lottery, as the fences were really tough to jump and all the 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.
Over the years they are constantly making the fences easier to jump and I imagine they will be easier this year than last year and this will keep happening into the future, especially with all the governing bodies eyes focussed more and more on horses welfare.
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 these days.
It is actually a race which has been kind to us over the years. Since the website started in 2007 we have had three winners and multiple places. Those winners were Don’t Push It, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds.
How am I personally going to approach this race and things you can do to narrow down the field?
As mentioned above these days first I focus more on the classier type of horse. Since 2009 when Mon Mome won the race, there have been five winners from ten starts who were carrying 11st or more and even last year’s winner Tiger Roll was 1lb under at 10st 13lb.
That is not to say I won’t be looking for any well-handicapped horses or horses carrying less than 11st, but my first focus will be with the classier type of horses.
I will concentrate on the jockeys. These are the ones doing the steering and the better the jockey, the better the horse will run. This race may not be as hard as it once was but it still needs a lot of skill from the saddle.
Some people like to use stats to analyse this race but I am all for keeping it simple. Next, I will go through the field and potentially look for horses who have form at the course or in the race itself. You see it time and time again, horses return each year at Aintree as they absolutely love jumping the fences.
I then look for owners who have done well in this race. Using Trevor Hemmings as an example who loves this race. He will have his trainer target this race with some of his horses so you have to keep an eye on this. He has won the race three times since 2005.
Use general form study which is used on a day to day basis like ground, course and distance etc.
As you see I don’t over do it and don’t use any fancy formulas and statistics. I just have a method in my head for this race and the boxes I want to tick to come up with my selections.
What is the ground likely to be?
At the time of writing this blog (2nd April 2018), the forecast is relatively dry a couple of days leading up to the Grand National. A few showers are forecast but nothing drastic at this early stage and those showers are forecast Tuesday – Thursday. With sunny days on the Friday and Saturday, the ground should be perfect jumping ground of good to soft.
The course has not been used, so the ground should dry out nicely. Obviously, this is my opinion a few days before the actual race but one thing for certain is I am sure it won’t be heavy and at worst will be soft, good to soft in places.
Let’s go through the 40 horses for the race and a few reserves.
1 – ANIBALE FLY – 11/1 generally
Must have a leading chance based on his excellent 2nd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It was a top class run and was only beaten by 2 1/2 lengths. It confirms that his 3rd the previous year in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was no fluke and he is a force to be reckoned with. He was 4th in this race last year to Tiger Roll, beaten 11 1/2 lengths but is 4lb better off with that horse this time around. He does have to carry 11st 10lb which is a big weight but if we go by the new handicap ratings, following his 2nd in the Gold Cup, he is 5lb well in. Top weight or not you have to consider ANIBALE FLY.
2. VALTOR – 50/1 generally
Too high in the handicap for me. He is rated 4lb inferior of Anibale Fly and I am not having that. Not good enough on a mark of 160.
3. TIGER ROLL – 7/2 generally
Last year’s winner who is being backed like defeat is out of the question. He is going to be very hard to beat as he looks better than ever this year and was breathtaking in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival. The problem I have is I just could never in a million years back a horse for the National at 7/2. I want at least 11/2 possibly 13/2 to even think about backing. I get why he has his supporters and I am not knocking the horse, but come on, 7/2 with 40 runners. He also has to carry more weight this year and he is not the biggest horse in the world. He was also out on his feet last year coming to the line. As much I respect the horse and I have no doubt with a clear round he will be bang there, at the prices I will look elsewhere.
4. OUTLANDER – 100/1 generally
Not the horse he once was and is 3lb out of the handicap based on his recent run. Not for me.
5. DON POLI – 80/1 generally
Not the worst 80/1 I have seen, as back in the day you would describe the horse as the perfect national horse. He was a former RSA winner and 3rd in a Cheltenham Gold Cup. Has had his problems and not looked the same horse. Saying that, he could possibly have been trained all season for this race and brought along slowly, but I am not into 2nd guessing a horse or trainer for the National.
6. GO CONQUER – 40/1 generally
An ideal Grand National horse who will love jumping these fences. Not without an E/W chance but I can’t have him within 2lb of Tiger Roll and beating him. Will run a decent race nevertheless and would not put anyone off backing E/W.
7. MALA BEACH – 66/1 generally
Not for me as he is a horse on the decline and is plenty high enough in the handicap.
8. MINELLA ROCCO – 33/1 generally
I described this horse as the perfect National horse last year before the ground went against him. Very much ground dependant so the forecast of dry weather two days before the National will be music to his ears. Has not looked the horse he once was when finishing 2nd the 2017 Gold Cup but you can pretty much put a line through his run at the Cheltenham Festival on soft ground. He then ran in a hurdle race on his penultimate start. He will love the trip as he showed when winning the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. He then finished like a train in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup and on old form 155 could be a decent mark. He is a lightly raced nine-year-old and if Jonjo O’Neil can work his magic he could be thereabouts. I am not writing this one off as he has had a quiet campaign and could have been trained all season with this race in mind.
9. LAKE VIEW LAD – 14/1 generally
Ran a great race at the Cheltenham Festival to finish 3rd in the Ultima Handicap Chase. On current rating, he is 3lb well in. He is owned by Trevor Hemmings who loves this race but for me is plenty short enough at 14/1. Not quite sure he will quite get home over this trip with the sort of trips he has been campaigned over in his career.
10. PLEASANT COMPANY – 20/1 generally
Last years runner up and a decent price at 20/1. He only went down by a head in the race last year and is 2lb better off with Tiger Roll. Had two runs this season and has been terrible. Would not write him off though as these fences can spark life back into horses.
11. BALLYOPTIC – 50/1 generally
2nd in the Scottish National last year so clearly a stamina test is needed. Will have no trouble with the trip I just worry his jumping won’t hold up over the National fences.
12. DOUNIKOS – 33/1 generally
Won the Grand National trial at Punchestown back in February but has since gone up the handicap. Will stay the trip but too high in the handicap for me now.
13. RATHVINDEN – 10/1 generally
Has a huge chance and since winning at Fairyhouse in February is now rated 159. He is 5lb well in for this race and is sure to be the pick of Ruby Walsh. Was the winner of the 2017 National Hunt four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival, so the trip will be no problem. Looked very good on his only start of the season when winning the Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase in February. He has been trained with this race in mind for a long time and will arrive primed to the minute. He jumps well and stays forever. The perfect Grand National horse in my opinion and with a clear round of jumping has to be involved.
14. ONE FOR ARTHUR – 25/1 generally
Won this race in 2017 but has had his problems since. Not looked the same horse especially in the jumping department. As mentioned above these fences give horses a new lease of life so could find his form again. Not for me though on what I have seen this season as I believe he still has an underlying problem.
15. ROCK THE KASBAH – 20/1 generally
Will be ridden by Richard Johnson who has yet to win the Grand National. He will be giving it all and although for some that will be a negative, I read it that there is a good chance he eventually wins it. It is one thing missing off his fantastic career and Roch The Kasbah is a good horse to ride in the race to break his duck. The drying ground will be appreciated and he has been aimed at this race. Was a good winner over 3m 4f at Cheltenham in November and although he disappointed on his next start, I believe that race came to quickly after his previous run. He has not been seen since December as he is a much better horse when fresh and that is how he has been trained. His form when fresh (60 days or more off the track) reads 213211126. He is a very good jumper and I think he will take to them like a duck to water. Likes to be prominent so should be away from much of the trouble. Would love to see this win the race as it is the least Richard Johnson deserves for what he has done for the sport over the years.
16. WARRIORS TALE – 40/1 generally
Pulled up in the race last year and is worse off this year. Can’t see how anything will be different this time around.
17. REGAL ENCORE – 66/1 generally
We tipped this horse last year before he was pulled out on the morning of the race. He was 8th in the Grand National in 2017 but stayed on gamely at the end of the race, despite being at the back of the field for much of the race. If he can get a bit closer this time around and is within striking distance, he will be in with a shot. He has only had one run this season and that was back in February when 3rd a decent handicap. He obviously needed that run but he did travel nicely into the race before getting tired late on. Mark Walsh takes the ride and that is a huge positive. I can see Regal Encore running a big race and will surely outrun his huge odds.
18. MAGIC OF LIGHT – 66/1 generally
Probably a bigger price than he should be considering he was sent off 6/4 for the Bobbyjo Chase, which was the race won by Rathvinden. He fell but was never travelling so don’t think he would have troubled the winner. He then went to Cheltenham and ran a respectable 7th in the Ultima Handicap Chase. I don’t think he is good enough to win here and the trip may catch him out but a big price nevertheless.
19. A TOI PHIL – 66/1 generally
Not good enough, surely can’t be winning this.
20. JURY DUTY – 25/1 generally
Not sure he will see out this trip if I am being honest. Was folding tamely in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival when falling. He was out on his feet that day so this extra trip won’t be ideal.
21. NOBLE ENDEAVOUR – 33/1 generally
On old form, he would have a chance in this race but not sure he is the same horse these days. Run a decent enough race in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival but it didn’t scream a National candidate. Will need to improve on that but every possibility he will. He was off for 600 days before returning.
22. SANDYMOUNT DUKE – 100/1 generally
No chance. Simple as that.
23. MONBEG NOTORIOUS – 66/1 generally
On what we have seen this season surely won’t be winning this.
24. RAMSES DE TEILLEE – 25/1 generally
Only a seven-year-old and is a horse who clearly loves a test. Was 2nd in the Welsh National over 3m 6f and was then 2nd in the Grand National Trial at Haydock over 3m 5f. Every possibility he will improve for the step up in trip and going by his ratings is 5lb well in on the handicap. Does look a horse who wants cut in the ground although his 2nd last time out was on good ground. I think this horse is overpriced and has a brilliant chance.
25. TEA FOR TWO – 66/1 generally
Not the same horse he once was, but was running a nice race in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival before falling. Possibly overpriced but happy to swerve on this horse.
26. MALL DINI – 20/1 generally
Same owners and trainer as Presenting Percy and he will be primed to the minute for this. Swerved Cheltenham Festival this year and that is a course he runs well at as they were targeting this race. Although he has a good chance the worrying thing is he has never won over fences in 14 runs. It’ll be some performance if his first win over fences was in the Grand National.
27. STEP BACK – 25/1 generally
Was a good winner of the Bet 365 Gold Cup last April but looks under the handicapper’s grips on this mark of 147.
28. ULTRAGOLD – 66/1 generally
Comes alive over these fences having won the Topham Chase for the last two years. Not sure if he will run in that race or this one (time of writing) but he just loves these fences and you can’t say a bad word about him. Trip too far for him but could sneak a place at huge odds if he runs.
29. PAIROFBROWNEYES – 25/1 generally
Won well last time out when winning Leinster National at Naas but against this opposition, I think he is up against it.
30. BLOW BY BLOW – 100/1 generally
Pulled up in the Leinster National and considering he is still novice is massively up against it.
31. UP FOR REVIEW – 25/1 generally
Was travelling well until the 3rd last fence in the Ultima Handicap Chase. A little keen and that will be his undoing in getting home over this marathon trip.
32. SINGLEFARMPAYMENT – 50/1 generally
I have always thought this horse would suit the National fences and more so the monster trip. For as long as I can remember he has been running over three miles and further so I have no doubt he will love the 4m 2 1/2f. The ground probably went against him in the Ultima Handicap Chase so a return to better ground will be appreciated. Can travel smoothly through his races and if he travels anything like he did on his penultimate start he can be involved. He is rated 146 but on his day I think he could be better than that. If he takes to these fences as I expect he will outrun his huge odds, that’s for sure.
33. VIEUX LION ROUGE – 40/1 generally
Has finished 6th, 7th and 9th in this race over the last three years. Can’t see how he wins now another year older but can place on his lowest mark he has ever run on in the National.
34. VALSEUR LIDO – 100/1 generally
Nowhere near the horse he once was and will struggle at this trip.
35. VINTAGE CLOUDS – 14/1 generally
Another Trevor Hemmings runner who was 2nd in the Ultima Handicap Chase. He is 5lb well in on current ratings and can run a big race. Was 3rd in last years Scottish National but I just wonder if he has the class for this. The trip will be no problem and given he has a welterweight will be staying on all the way to the line. The price is a bit skinny in my opinion.
36. GENERAL PRINCIPLE – 40/1 generally
Was a winner of the Irish Grand National last year so likes these sort of races but again don’t think he has the class for this.
37. LIVELOVELAUGH – 66/1 generally
Simply not good enough.
38. WALK IN THE MILL – 25/1 generally
Won over these fences in December but this is a different ball game. Does have a lightweight and if gets the trip could outrun his huge odds.
39. FOLSOM BLUE – 50/1 generally
Not good enough to win the Midlands National so can’t see why he would win this race.
40. CAPTAIN REDBEARD – 50/1 generally
Beat Definitly Red two starts back an ran in this race last year but unseated the rider at the 7th. Was sent off 20/1 last year and looks in better form this time around. Sneaks in off bottom weight and although he will not make my shortlist does look overpriced at 50/1.
41. BLESS THE WINGS – 100/1 generally
Was 3rd in this race last year needs one horse to come out to get in. That should happen but is a 14-year-old now and surely does not have the legs for this.
44. THE YOUNG MASTER – 50/1 generally
Needs four to come out to get in the race. Run a decent race at Cheltenham but can’t see him winning this race even off a tiny weight.
I have narrowed it down to eight horses and I will start with the four horses I have left out.
TIGER ROLL – I simply couldn’t bring myself to tip this horse at 7/2. Ridiculous price even if he does go and win. I do have my reservations about him being a small horse and carrying more weight this time around. Can’t knock what he has done this year though but on this occasion, I will swerve.
ANIBALE FLY – I think the weight may tell especially after having such a hard race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup three weeks ago. Would not be surprised to see him go close though but it is a big ask with 11st 10lb.
REGAL ENCORE – It was a tough one to leave this horse out as I do think he will run a big race, but looking back at his run in 2017 he would have to improve massively to win this race, plus he is not getting any younger.
RAMSES DE TEILLE – Another tough one to leave out at the price. I think he will be bang there but sometimes you have to make tough decisions. He is only seven-years-old and maybe this race has come a year too soon.
RATHVINDEN – I think this race is tailor-made for him and has clearly been targeted at the race. He was an impressive winner of the Bobbyjo Chase on his first start of the season in February. He will come on for that run massively I have no doubt. We know he is a very good jumper and we know he stays all day long, having won the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2018. The ground looks ideal and is sure to be the pick of Ruby Walsh.
ROCK THE KASBAH – He has been trained with one race in mind for a long time and I like the fact they have kept him fresh and not run him since December. Richard Johnson is 2nd best jumps jockey (obviously behind AP McCoy) of all time but this is a race he is desperate to win. He will be all out to try and get this race on his CV. The horse is a very good jumper, the ground has come perfect for him and I don’t think the trip will be a problem either.
SINGLEFARMPAYMENT – I have to go with what I have been saying a number of years and that is this horse will relish the National fences and how the race is run. I have no doubt about the trip as he has been running over 3 miles for four years now. I actually think he could improve for the trip if anything. He is not badly treated on a mark of 146 and the ground has come right for him. He likes to be close to the pace so should stay out of danger. He is massively overpriced.
MINELLA ROCCO – A little voice in my racing brain is telling me to go with Minella Rocco. I have said for many year’s this horse is perfect for the Grand National ever since he won the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016. The ground went against him last year and that has been the story many times in his career. For once things have gone his way and is likely to get his ground with the forecast. He will stay all day long and if he is within striking distance between four fences out and home, no horse will get home better than him. His handicap mark is also down to 151 which on old form looks tiny. I am not saying Jonjo O’Neil is a crook… Or am I? Well, let’s just say he can bend the rules as far as they go, and he has campaigned Minella Rocco with just this race in mind and bringing him down the handicap. His run in January in the Cotswolds Chase was nothing more than a training exercise. He was then sent over hurdles and did run a nice race but you could see he was fat and burly in desperate need of the run. His last start was in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival where the ground came up soft. He should have been made a non-runner as he was never going to win on that ground. Instead, Richie McLernon was clearly told to ”go and jump eight fences and then pull up, as that will put him spot on the Grand National”.
Now here we are with MINELLA ROCCO running in the Grand National off 151. If Jonjo O’Neil pulls this off it a master disguise but one in which JPW has spotted. We shall see but on all the evidence we know about the horse, good to soft ground over four miles will get the horse’s ears pricked that’s for sure.
So we have four horses for the Grand National all which I would describe as proper National Hunt horses and the type of horse you want to run well in the Grand National.
3.25 POINTS OUTLAY
Lots of bookmakers are paying six places so make sure you bet with one of those offering the extra places.
I hope you enjoyed the read and any comments are welcome. All those that do comment will be entered into a draw to win a month of tips for free, after the Grand National Festival.
We now turn our attention to the three day Grand National Festival where we are confident we will smash it to bits. We smashed Cheltenham and now it is time to do the same at Aintree.
Over the last two months alone we have made nearly 65 points profit and I can honestly say I have not been in a better place mentally, when it comes to tipping in the 11 years I have been on the scene.
Join us for Grand National Saturday!
We hope you enjoyed the preview of the big race, but there are also other huge races to be involved in; such as The Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle and Betway Handicap Chase.
A very interesting preview and a enjoyable read. Not been betting for a while so we will see if this relights my fire. Thank you.
Rathvinden all the way for me !
Thanks for the well written piece.