*Odds quoted on the widgets below are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.
One of the key Grand National trials this season takes place at Doncaster on Saturday. 3m2f and 19 fences in front of the runners and clues to the Aintree showpiece will be everywhere you look.
Cloth Cap jumped to the head of the antepost Grand National betting after his superb victory in the old Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury back in November. Jonjo O’Neill’s 9-year-old was well supported on that occasion and landed quite a few bets on the good ground that he loves. He is the early market leader for this race and all roads lead to Aintree where Cloth Cap will again get in on a lovely weight. He is clearly the one to beat here, and his price reflects that.
One of two runners still entered in this race by JP McManus, Ok Corral, will have to overcome a 406-day absence if he is to land this. Ok Corral was last seen winning the Sky Bet chase in January 2020 at this course. Nicky Henderson has always hoped Ok Corral would make a National horse, so this race will be critical as to whether the 11-year-old takes his chance. He has got undoubted class but with the long lay-off, he’s a risky proposition for Saturday.
Nicky Henderson’s other entry is Beware The Bear, who like his stablemate is an 11-year-old. Beware The Bear was good enough to win the Ultima Handicap at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, but has somewhat lost his way since then. He was last seen trailing home a distance behind Mister Malarky in the listed Silver Cup at Ascot back in December, he never travelled a yard on the heavy ground. Henderson has said he should do better on better ground but he faces a tall order here against younger, progressive rivals.
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Singlefarmpayment is a very consistent sort, but usually falls just short in this company. Another 11-year-old, he is now in the care of Henry Oliver after recently leaving Tom George’s yard. His last run was in a handicap at Doncaster in December, he made a couple of errors and came home in fifth. He looks like his best days are behind him, and although he may still win a handicap in the future, it would be a shock if he were to land this.
One of the more interesting runners in the field is Calett Mad. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 9-year-old was attempting to overcome a long lay off when unseating in the Becher Chase on his seasonal reappearance back in December. Calett Mad had previously run well over longer trips at Warwick and Kelso and was entered in the Eider Chase last weekend. Still very lightly-raced but the suspicion is that Calett Mad is better over further.
Just A Sting has become frustrating for connections since landing a handicap around Kempton in December 2019. Harry Fry’s charge was given plenty of fancy entries after that victory, but he has failed to get home in three of his last four runs. The Fry yard has been quiet lately and I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Canelo is the youngest horse in the field, and I think he can give Alan King another big Saturday winner. Canelo was a ready winner of an Aintree handicap back in November and was unlucky in his next race when he ran into the well-handicapped, Cap Du Nord at Newbury. A victory in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase (Grade 3) at Wetherby on Boxing Day confirmed Canelo’s promise and he wasn’t disgraced when fourth to Takingrisks in the Sky Bet Chase on his latest run. Canelo hasn’t looked back since Alan King fitted the cheekpieces earlier in the season and I think there is more improvement to come.
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