Grand National/Aintree preview with our guest columnist Jamie Beighton
The 3 day Aintree festival kicks off today with the highlight The Betway Bowl Grade 1. With Kemboy, Bristol De Mai, and Clans des Obeaux currently sharing a 3 way tie for favouritism. Kemboy is on a recovery mission from Cheltenham following a first fence blip, and he may just find that being spared a hard race in the Gold Cup giving him the edge over the other two.
Elsewhere on the first days card Diego Du Charmil 4.40, looks an intriguing runner for Paul Nicholls, swimming in far calmer waters today than recent runs, and at odds of 9/1 looks a sound each way bet.
Friday sees the Melling Chase take centre stage, with the appropriately named Waiting Patiently heading the market with Politolgue. Then the appetite for the national fences is well and truly satisfied with The Topham ran over 2M 5F over the national fences. Janika 10/1 sure to be popular following his Cheltenham run, along with Ballyhill also catching the eye for the Twiston Davies stable at 16/1.
The Grand National
The National ran over 4M 2F celebrates its 180th running this year. The first horse to win the race named Lottery in 1839, there has been many a result since to suggest this can certainly be the case!
At the head of the market this year is Tiger Roll, bidding to go off the shortest price runner in national history at around the 7/2 mark. With his recent Cheltenham Festival success and victory in the National last year, his chance is clear in an attempt to become the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to retain the National. However at very prohibitive odds, up in the weights, and the memory of just how close last years race was, he is passed over from a value perspective.
A horse that really interests me from the Phillip Hobbs stable is Rock The Kasbah. A horse Hobbs has stated as being very much aimed at the race. Best kept fresh, he hasn’t raced since December when probably finding the race coming too soon on the back of a very impressive handicap win at Cheltenham. With drying spring ground sure to suit as well this weekend. Champion jockey Richard Johnson takes the ride and will be looking for his first national winner. At odds around 20/1 he makes for a good each way selection.
Recent form figures of F/6/PU might not jump off the page as a live National contender, however a deeper look into the classy Ballyoptic’s form and one could argue there is an angle at the current odds of 50/1. Last seasons defeat of Vintage Clouds by 2 and three quarter lengths reads well considering that horse is 12/1 at the time of writing. Ballyoptic is clearly suited by a stamina test, a nose second in the Scottish National last year, and won’t mind the ground whatever the weather does.
The assured jumping Jury Duty looked as good as ever last time out and gets in here off a nice racing weight, a bold bid can be accepted from the all firing Gordon Elliott stable. He’s currently priced at 25/1.
So come 5.15pm on Saturday, sit back and enjoy one of Britain’s finest sporting spectacles. With the forecast spring weather I’ll be sitting down with a glass of Coates & Seely Sparkling Rose, a crisp, fresh, sporting English pink that will accompany the thrills and spills of the National so well…….good luck everyone and enjoy.