Friday, April 13, 2012

Aintree Grand National 2012

Those who like to make up their own mind on the National may find my Twitter Guide of some limited use (non-runners at the time of writing - Always Waining [displayed his liking for the fences by winning the Topham earlier today at 11/1], Le Beau Bai, Any Currency, Our Island, Abbeybraney, Saddlers Storm, Smoking Aces and Ballyvessey).

For every one else, there's this....

This year has proved more of a conundrum than most. Early indications were we were likely to see the race run on soft, perhaps even heavy ground; however the forecast rain hasn't arrived in the quantities the weathermen predicted with the result the track has dried out more quickly than anticipated - the clerk of the course even watered last night. Although Aintree has seen some rain this afternoon, the questions remains - what will underfoot conditions be come 4.15 tomorrow afternoon? At the time of writing the going on the National course is described as good to soft, good in places.

I've taken a view that the rains aren't going to arrive,  so here we go. Look at it like this - if the weathermen can't predict the weather, what chance does anyone have in a 40 runner handicap chase?

1. Cappa Bleu - a big horse, the subject of bullish noises from connections; likely to appreciate better ground - 16/1 generally

2. Sunnyhillboy - 16/1 chance who ran a fine trial in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham ; closely matched with Becauseicouldntsee

3. Ballabriggs - last year's winner has plenty of weight but should run a sound race - 12/1

4. West End Rocker - my original winning selection had the ground come up soft - 14/1 with Paddy Power who also pay five places

Best outsider: Always Right (quite possibly named after Mrs Tips) at 33/1 - talented individual who could go close if a recent wind operation has helped his breathing.

A view on some of the other contenders...

I can't have Gold Cup winner Synchronised on the grounds of value as well as the fact that he isn't the most natural of jumpers and tends to need time between his races. Junior wears blinkers which I particularly don't like in the National. Giles Cross and According To Pete were considered closely but I think the ground may just have gone against that pairing while Killyglen was another in the mix but I took a view he was tiring when coming to grief four out last year.

Earlier in the week I seriously contemplated a bet on less than 12 to finish (provided the going came up soft); that wager is now firmly off the agenda!

On the remainder of the card...

The Aintree Hurdle looks intriguing. I prefer Oscar Whisky to Rock On Rubi although the handicapper doesn't agree. The five-year-old Zarkander is entitled to improve on his fifth in the Champion while Thousand Stars will be no pushover. If you held a gun to my head, I'd have to stick with Oscar Whisky.

Population is the likely favourite for the finale but deserves to be while I haven't totally given up on Sir Johnson after he disappointed me at Cheltenham; trainer Peter Bowen recorded his first win for a while with Always Waining ealrier today.

That's it everyone - I wish you all the very best of luck!

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Neptune Collonges (33/1) beat Sunnyhillboy (16/1) a nose in the closest finish in the race's long history to become the third grey horse to win a National (other two: The Lamb and Nicolaus Silver) but that's not half the story.

This year's renewal will be remebered for the deaths of According To Pete and Gold Cup winner Synchronised.

Plenty in the sport could hear the knives being sharpened beforehand and approached this year's National with a sense of foreboding following last year's running.

This morning those fears look well founded.

Selections Sunnyhillboy, Cappa Bleu (16/1) and Ballabriggs (12/1)ran honourably to finish second, fourth and sixth respectively while Becher Chase winner West End Rocker (16/1) got no further than the second.

Oscar Whisky (9/4) stayed on stoutly to hold Thousand Stars in the Aintree Hurdle while Population (7/4f) could only manage
sixth in the concluding bumper behind The New One (8/1) with Sir Johnson (12/1) coming home third.