Friday, April 05, 2013

Aintree Grand National 2013

In the long chequered history of the Grand National, first run in 1839 and won by a horse called Lottery, there can be little doubt we've reached something of a crossroads. High profile equine fatalities in the previous two runnings have resulted in a number of changes to the course; the BHA defends the overall safety record of the race.

John Smith's sponsors the event for one final time, Channel 4 covers it for the very first time. The broadcaster, no doubt driven by viewing figures and potential comparisons with the BBC, has engaged in a high-risk, hard-sell advertising campaign which many in the sport suspect could backfire.

All will echo Tom Scudamore's view, expressed in Thursday's Times: 'I hope for a great spectacle and a safe race.'

For those who like to get involved, my Twitter guide to the National field may prove of limited use in making your own selection(s) [non-runners at the time of writing: Bob Lingo, Tofino Bay, Lion Na Bearnai, Bostons Angel, Quinz, Pearlysteps, Poker De Sivola, Backstage, Romanseco, Cloudy Lane and Gullible Gordon, while the two reserves are Pentiffic and Mortimers Cross]. Otherwise there's this...

I tend to prefer horses that have shown they can handle these unique fences, so here we go...

1. Cappa Bleu Fourth last year, beaten 12 lengths. Meets the second Sunnyhillboy 12 lbs better off and the third Seabass on 7lbs better terms. The course has been shortened half a furlong as part of the safety improvements and that could help the cause.

2. Seabass Excellent third last year; Katie Walsh rides for father Ted, no doubt hoping to become the first female to ride the winner of the race.

3. On His Own At around 7/1 there's little value to be had about the current market leader but he was going well when coming to grief at Bechers (second time) last year. Ruby Walsh rides for Willie Mullins.

4. Join Together Ruby Walsh rejected this one but a sterling performance in the Becher last December suggests Paul Nicholls' charge could be overpriced at around 18/1. Perhaps a little short on experience (no eight-year-old has won in the past decade), last year's winning jockey Daryl Jacob is in the plate.

5. Big Fella Thanks A little older these days but comes with an excellent completion record over these fences; now trained by Tom George, 40/1 seems big.

At the time of writing BetVictor offer a quarter the odds six places while the following layers pay five places: Bet365, Skybet, Boylesports, Paddy Power, Stan James and 888Sport.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Relief was palpable after the running of the 2013 Grand National as it was reported all participants, equine and human, had returned safe and well.

The race went to 66/1 outsider Auroras Encore who scooted away from the last like a fresh horse to give jockey Ryan Mania a win on his first ride in the race.

Selection Cappa Bleu (12/1) passed Teaforthree (third at 10/1) and Oscar Time (fourth at 66/1) on the run-in to secure second, some nine lengths behind the winner.

Seabass (11/2f) was competitive but lost several places coming to the final flight, eventually completing in thirteenth while On His Own (8/1) took a tired-looking fall at Valentines on the second circuit.

Join Together (25/1) completed in twelfth, something I'm sure connections will be keen to improve on next time, but Big Fella Thanks (33/1) unseated Denis O'Regan with a mistake at the Canal Turn on the first circuit.

The 2013 National - relief all round, accompanied by bookmakers with smiles as wide as the Mersey...