It’s Grand National Day Saturday, and with over 600m viewers worldwide and more than £225m bet it’s the world’s biggest steeplechase.
Of course the Grand National is just one of five races broadcast from Aintree on ITV. Finding the winner of the big race is what it is all about. Two years ago I picked four horses and got the first two, and I’ll be trying to do the same again.
So I’ll go for four against the field.
Vintage Clouds has only won four races, but aiming to provide owner Trevor Hemmings with an unprecedented fourth victory in the Grand National. Showed the benefit of a wind operation when second behind Beware the Bear in the Ultima at Cheltenham, and is now 5lb well in. Ran well in Scottish Nationals before and has always looked just the type for this event.
Pleasant Company was a fantastic second to Tiger Roll here in 2018 and clearly laid out for the race since by the genius Willie Mullins. Was also ninth in 2017. So he has a good record over these fences and has yet to fall or unseat his rider in 18 starts over obstacles. Every chance of going one better than last year.
Lake View Lad is another Trevor Hemmings-owned hope. He’s won two of his last three starts including a decent effort in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in December. Third in the Ultima when keeping on well and definitely has place claims.
Last year’s fourth Anibale Fly brings some class to the race but is now 5lb higher in the weights, which makes it hard. However, another well in by 8lb after a fine running on second to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Not impossible – but weight stops trains.
There’s plenty on the Grand National undercard and we start with the Grade 1 novices’ hurdle at 2.25pm over 2m 4f. I think BREWIN’UPASTORM is built for this race and conditions and will take a lot of beating for Olly Murphy. He ran a fine fourth at Cheltenham behind City Island and Champ.
The 3pm is another Grade 1 in a novices’ chase over nearly 2m. KNOCKNANUSS travelled really well for a long way in the Arkle at Cheltenham and he might just take some catching here for Gary Moore. On ratings he has a bit to find, but everything suggests a big effort on a track that suits his style.
Next up is the 3.40pm, the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle over 3m. Apple’s Jade is a class act on her best days, but I have to oppose her at the odds after a terrible effort at Cheltenham. The each-way bet has to be IF THE CAP FITS, who has been gagging for a step up in trip. I expect him to be ridden cold under Sean Bowen and he might surprise a few. An each-way wager.
The race before the Grand National is a handicap chase over nearly 3m 1f at 4.20pm. MISTER MALARKY was a fine fourth in the RSA behind Topofthegame and stays strong. He’s got a big weight here but the 3lb Jonjo O’Neill takes off will make it a bit easier and has a great chance for Colin Tizzard.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?