Friday, April 09, 2021

Aintree Grand National 2021

When the weights for this year's Grand National were announced on Tuesday 16th February, current favourite Cloth Cap was allocated 10-5. 

Two and a half weeks later Jonjo O'Neill's charge went all the way up to Kelso and made all to win the bet365 Premier Chase 'comfortably'; the handicapper duly readjusted his mark upwards - by 14 pounds - to 162.

A stone well in, Cloth Cap jumps, likes to race prominently and pilot Tom Scudamore, whose grandfather Michael won the race aboard Oxo in 1959, has said he considers Cloth Cap a value wager at 4/1. 

This evening layers are going 11/2 in places; Matt Chapman stated earlier this afternoon he expects to see 6/1 early tomorrow morning. 

The gelding's preference for decent ground is well documented; following extensive watering, the going on the National course is currently described as good to soft.

Top Wood, ridden by Tabitha Worsley, won the 2019 renewal of the Foxhunters' Chase over the National fences in a time of 5m 45.70s on going described as soft; Cousin Pascal won yesterday's renewal in 5m 39.57s. Livelovelaugh won this afternoon's renewal of the Topham in 5m 30.66s.

Irish based trainers once again hold a strong hand with 18 entries confirmed at the time of writing. In 2019 Irish trained horses filled the first three places, in 2018 the first four places. 

Burrows Saint, Any Second Now and Minella Times are all prominent in the market. 

If you prefer one that has previous form over these unique fences the Jessica Harrington trained mare Magic Of Light finished second to Tiger Roll in 2019; the last mare to come home in front was Nickel Coin in 1951.

Evan Williams will be cursing his luck with 2020 Welsh National winner Secret Reprieve missing the cut.

2019 Welsh National winner Potters Corner also claimed the 2020 'Virtual Grand National'; he goes for the 'Virtual Grand National' double at 8.00pm this evening (ITV) before taking his chance in the real thing tomorrow - Christian Williams' charge is part-owned by Welsh rugby international Jonathan Davies and would probably appreciate more cut underfoot.

The last seven-year old to come home in front was Bogskar in 1940 which doesn't augur too well for Farclas and The Long Mile. The last horse older than eleven to win was Amberleigh House in 2004.

Vieux Lion Rouge is one with an exemplary record over these fences - he beat Kimberlite Candy an astonishing 24 lengths in the Becher Chase last December - but he just doesn't quite see out this extended trip.

Those who like to make their own selections may find the BBC's Pinstickers' Guide useful; for everyone else, here's my first four...

1. Any Second Now

Connections know what's required. Won the race in 2000 with Papillon (Ruby Walsh up) and in 2012 finished third with Seabass (Katie Walsh up) behind Neptune Collonges. Victory in the 2019 Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival spawned this plan. Currently rated 154 in Ireland, the gelding races off 152 tomorrow. 

2. Magic Of Light

This mare finished second in 2019 behind Tiger Roll, beaten just under three lengths. She's rated five pounds higher this time and can make the odd mistake which doesn't help the cause- hoping she keeps those to the absolute minimum. This race has been the target all season. 

3. Cloth Cap

Every chance, as discussed above. Was there just the slightest hint he was starting to run on empty over the four mile trip in that 2019 Scottish National?  

4. Takingrisks

Twelve year old who has shown improved form after undergoing wind surgery in November. Stayed on to beat Aye Right in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in February. Won the 2019 Scottish Grand National from Crosspark with Cloth Cap, in receipt of one pound, third, beaten four lengths. Trainer does well with his veteran runners and describes this horse as 'a gentleman'. Stays forever but needs to ensure he doesn't get too far behind on this better ground in the first half of the race.

All that remains now is for me to wish you all the very best of luck!

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

History was made today with Rachael Blackmore becoming the first female rider to win the Grand National. She produced Minella Times (11/1) to lead at the last and came home six lengths clear of stablemate Balko Des Flos (100/1).

Any Second Now (15/2) was badly impeded by the fall of Double Shuffle at the twelfth and in the circumstances did well to finish third, one and threequarter lengths behind the second while Burrows Saint (9/1) finished fourth, Farclas (16/1) fifth and Blaklion (50/1) sixth.

Irish domination of the race continues with Blaklion the only British trained horse to finish in the first 11 places.

11/2 favourite Cloth Cap was in contention four out where he stumbled and then weakened; he was quickly pulled up. Trainer Jonjo O'Neill reported the gelding had made a respiratory noise.

Of the other runners...

Mare Magic Of Light (14/1) belted the fourth and gave pilot Robbie Power no chance.

Takingrisks (14/1) struggled to lie up with the pace and was pulled up early on the second circuit.

In a sad footnote The Long Mile was fatally injured after jumping Becher's on the second circuit.