Many years ago, broadcasting royalty Des Lynam stated that Grand National day is the day when the “nation goes to the bookies”. Of course, back then, you had to leave the comfort of your sofa and actually go to your local bookmaker to make your selection, before returning home to see Des trying to get it on with Jenny Pitman in the winner’s enclosure after another National victory.
Prior to this, you’d already done the office sweepstake and pulled out a real donkey and on the morning of the race, you’d go down to the newsagents (that’s a place where you buy newspapers incidentally) to buy up all the dailies and return home to study the form guide which were always titled “A pinstickers’ guide” and which, to be fair, you hadn’t a hope of understanding.
Then you’d get a phone call from your gran asking if you could put 50p each-way on a horse she had picked “because the name reminded her of her first love” and despite spending five hours yourself scanning the runners and riders, it was, on more than one occasion in my household anyway, your gran’s selection that would at least come in the top three, while your big hope had fallen at the first open ditch.
This then got me thinking; is/was your gran’s method of trying to pick a winner really that ridiculous? So ahead of this year’s big race, I’ve been looking at the runners and riders to see if anything (excuse the pun) jumps off the page at me and to help you to pick your selections for the Grand National on Saturday 5.15pm.
Rock The Kasbah trained by Philip Hobbs is surely going to be popular with fans of The Clash and could it be just a coincidence that its almost 28 years ago to the day that the band had their only ever number one in the UK with “Should I Stay or Should I Go”?
Meanwhile 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur is always a favourite with my better half as that was the her dad’s first name and my guess is that Arthur’s all over the UK will be lumping on in the hope that Lucinda Russell’s 10-year old can do a repeat performance in 2019. If names are your thing however, then Joe Farrell, A Toi Phil, Out Sam and technically, Ms Parfois are ones to watch out for.
Thankfully, I’ve never been called up for jury service but it seems a good majority of people I know have been, so what about a punt on Jury Duty trained by the legendary Irish trainer Gordon Elliot who could have up to 12 runners on the day. Elliott also trains Tiger Roll, won last year’s race and is the short-priced favourite for this year’s edition. The former is sure to be a more popular choice with the “pin stickers”.
Looking for love at the moment? Well if you’ve recently been out on a successful first date then you may want to take a punt on Pleasant Company trained by Willie Mullins. The 11-year-old looks to have a decent chance too at 20/1 and was a flared nostril second to Tiger Roll last year.
If you’re a fan of Italian football like me, then the Patrick Kelly-trained Mall Dini may take your fancy. Let’s be honest, if this nine-year old can get around Aintree with the same panache as the gorgeous Paolo Maldini got around the San Siro for AC Milan, then the current price of 20/1 makes it a good bet.
Take a look in the mirror (if you can’t remember) or stare at your partners eyes (if you can’t remember) and if the colour fits, then Willie Mullins’ Pairofbrowneyes could be the horse for you on Saturday. If this one crosses the finish line first and you took a punt on the 20/1 shot, then by the end of the night your eyes will probably be bloodshot.
For people who think Midsomer Murders is a pile of sh*t and prefer their crime drama’s to have a little more substance and their sleuth’s to have a little more finesse (and acting ability), then I must point you in the direction of Noble Endeavor also trained by Gordon Elliott. The great detective Inspector Morse, was rumoured to like an occasional flutter on the gg’s, so it would have been interesting to get his thoughts on Saturday’s big race.
There are a couple of runners that may be popular at military barracks all over the world, in the shape of 66/1 shots Red Infantry trained by Ian Williams and Sub Lieutenant trained by Henry De Bromhead.
Finally, no preview would be complete without something for the hipsters down Shoreditch way who think nothing of forking out a tenner on Artisan bread. Well, the chances of any of you reading this is, in betting terms, about 500/1, but on the off chance that one of you wants to mix with the great unwashed for a day, then I suggest Vieux Lion Rouge for no other reason than it sounds like an expensive red wine that would provide the perfect accompaniment at your next fondue party.
So there you have some suggestions that might help you pick a winner ahead of the big race at Aintree and I know what you’re all desperate to know; who’s my money going on this weekend?
Well, sticking to the tried (and usually trusted) method used by grandparents for many years, I’m going for Up For Review due to the fact that it’s time to change my mortgage provider.
*Prices and runners correct at time of publishing