I don’t want to spend an absolute age on this as it’s a complete lottery – but I’ve had a look at a few things and basically picked out what I’m going for. My best advice to any readers (and I’m talking to the ones that are just partaking for the day, welcome! – not the seasoned regulars) is to take a price in the morning – DO NOT TAKE THE STARTING PRICE – the reason for this being is say you might back something like Ballabriggs at 20/1 this morning, he could well get backed into about 12/1 and bang you lose half your winnings. So always ensure you take the price – bookmakers will shorten absolutely everything up, which is a joke really considering there is already very little value in the market.
Trends wise – these are the key ones but trends are always there to get busted. Don’t take them as gospel!!
In the past 8 years all 32 places were filled by horses aged 8 to 11 – young and old can be ignored. (Amusingly that alone gets rid of 9 runners including a few fancied ones. Imperial Commander and Ballabriggs)
Concertina that more and 8 of 10 winners have been aged 9 or 10 (8-15-202).
9 of 10 winners carried no more than a stone higher than the bottom weight – it’s worth noting that the race has improved off late, so I wouldn’t completely write off the top weights. Low rated horses also have a poor record. 10 of last 10 winners were initially allotted a weight of at least 10-5 on publication of National weights. Last 3 winners were allotted 11-5, 11-0, 11-6 – so because the race has got better in quality that trend is slightly skewed. This year the bottom weight will have 10-0. As such something weighted between 10-5 and 11-0 is where I’d be looking.
10 of 10 winners had their last run since National weights were announced – back in mid February. Most have but not Imperial again and Sunnyhillboy and Balthazar King all fancied.
10 of 10 had won a chase worth 29K+
10 of 10 winners had won a chase over 3M+
10 of 10 winners had run in at least 10 chases
Mainly these three point to a decent experienced chaser, who has no trouble with the distance. I’m not going to sift through all the trends etc but you get the picture. Horse who is 9 or 10, weighted around 11-0, experienced, run in 10+ chases and won over 3m. One that doesn’t fit the chase trend is On His Own the current favourite who has only run in 7. Likewise Colbert Station (undoubtedly set to get punted with McCoy on board) has only 5.
Right as I say with the below I could spend hours dissecting, the best thing to do is just pick something you fancy. Don’t listen to any expert least of all me.
- Imperial Commander – Well handicapped on Gold Cup winning form, but too old now.
- What A Friend – Out of love with the game, handicapper still given no respite.
- Weird Al – Stable in woeful form, horse in worse. Say no more.
- Quel Esprit – Doesn’t look well treated by the handicapper. Dodgy jumper.
- Big Fella Thanks – Likeable type and finished course twice but doesn’t stay – something will outstay him.
- Seabass – Third last year, father and daughter combination has a good chance. But perhaps too much weight.
- Roberto Goldback – Irish runner transferred to Henderson aimed at this, ground will help.
- Sunnyhillboy – Second last year, lack of a run a big concern and supposed setback at Cheltenham.
- Ballabriggs – Coming back down the handicap, but much like Imperial Commander is too long in the tooth.
- Teaforthree – Welsh national winner who was trained for that race in my opinion. Could just be over the top.
- Across The Bay – Looks badly handicapped on some of his form – though did hammer Cappa Bleu at Carlisle.
- Join Together – Represents last years winning trainer. Will stay all day – falls down on inexperience though. Next year son.
- Colbert Station – Again inexperience big issue only 5 runs. I sense things will be too much for him.
- Forpadydeplasterer – Won the Arkle, second in the QM Champion Chase, never run further than 3m. Will be pulled up.
- On His Own – Nice racing weight, trained for the race, best jockey on board. Is he too short betting wise and inexperienced?
- Joncol – Classy type who has won 2 Grade 1s. Distance a bit of an unknown but there are miles worse 50/1 shots.
- Balthazar King – Ground will definitely suit, been plying his trade over the cross country. Lack of a run concern.
- Cappa Bleu – Eyecatching fourth last year, hampered. Trained for this race. Has a great chance.
- Oscar Time – Chance was in 2011, now too old and too out form. See end of Joncol comment.
- Always Waining – Aintree specialist won Topham last three years, distance is a big unknown and age.
- Tatenen – Just not very good and not well handicapped in my humble opinion.
- Treacle – Will probably run like his name – too old.
- Lost Glory – One to keep an eye for next year I’d suggest. Not tried and tested in decent class.
- Swing Bill – Likeable grey who should attract punters for that. Is too old though and will not win.
- Saint Are – Likes Aintree and won at this meeting last year. Too young though at 7.
- Chicago Grey – Sneaked in on a nice weight, price has collapsed but represents a stable in rude health.
- Quiscover Fontaine – Has a horse with Q ever won the National?
- Rare Bob – A mate told to me to back this one. Says it all really. Though weight is nice.
- The Rainbow Hunter – He’s not the worst 66/1 shot about but chances are he’s probably not good enough.
- Becauseicouldntsee – Was well backed in for the race last year and fell of the same mark. Could be worth a nibble at 66s
- Harry The Viking – Woefully out form, owned by Sir Alex. Lacks the required class for me.
- Mr Moonshine – Ran a few decent races last term, looks up against it in there though on handicap mark.
- Mumbles Head – A few people will be mumbling if this one wins.
- Ninetieth Minute – Wasn’t bad over hurdles but this is over fences.
- Auroras Encore – You can see I’m getting bored ….
- Tarquinius – Has risen a fair way up the handicap not sure how much he’d have off 136. Trainer said he’d give a nice spin.
- Any Currency – I’ll donate any amount of currency to charity if it wins.
- Major Malarkey – Dour stayer, low weight, but looks past his best.
- Soll – Formerly with Willie Mullins not a chance he’d be 40/1 if was now. Handicap mark is nice and a likely improver.
- Viking Blond – Another that sneaks in at the bottom, not without hope like some but doesn’t win often.
Alas I like the following Joncol, Cappa Bleu, Chicago Grey, Rare Bob, Soll.
Rare Bob (25/1) and Soll (40/1) are small bets. Cappa Bleu (12/1) and Chicago Grey (14/1) are bigger bets. The latter is the one I’d pin most on. Joncol is a tiny nibble (50/1).
I don’t bother with e/w as a rule – mainly because it’s ingrained in me not to – but by all means if you want to see some returns each way makes sense, though check out which firms pay 5 or 6 places.
Ultimately though it’s a lottery …