Former Talksport man Charlie McCann previews the chances of 52 horses in the 2011 Grand National at Aintree, 9th April.
Pinstickers Guide to the 2011 Grand National:
(all odds supplied by )
1. Don’t Push It: 16/1: Looking to become the first horse since Red Rum in the early 70s to win the race in successive years. Must carry 5lbs more than last year but would that have stopped him in 2010?
2. Tidal Bay: 40/1: Enigmatic chaser who was running on in sixth in the Gold Cup last time. Has a bit to find with What A Friend on that effort but if he takes to the fences has the ability to go very close. Just as likely to pull himself up however!
3. Midnight Chase: 28/1: Dour front-runner who stays well and split What A Friend and Tidal Bay in the Gold Cup. Jumps very well but not yet confirmed that he will take his place in the line up.
4. Synchronised: 33/1: Mud lover who would appreciate significant rain in the build up to the race. Welsh National winner who lost nothing in defeat in Midlands’ version last time but very much ground dependent.
5. Vic Venturi: 25/1: Winner of the Becher Chase over these demanding fences and never had the rub of the green last year being hampered on more than one occasion before unseating. Soft ground would help.
6. What A Friend: 11/1: Owned in partnership by Sir Alex Ferguson and ran a cracker to finish 4th in the Gold Cup. Handicapper would have given him considerably more weight if he could and everything in place for a big run.
7. Majestic Concorde: 25/1: Winner of a valuable handicap at Leopardstown over Xmas but doesn’t look to have been done too many favours by the handicapper; down the field in last year’s Cesarewitch and could return to the North West for another crack at Chester Cup!
8. Or Noir de Somoza: 50/1: Makes British debut for David Pipe and gave a stone and a beating to Quolibet at Auteuil back in November. Limitations, seemingly, exposed in a better class last time and hardly looks well handicapped at face value.
9. Dooneys Gate: 66/1: Yet to race beyond 3m and hardly looks first-string from the Willie Mullins yard. Winner at Clonmel last time and could be diverted to the Topham on the Friday where he would have a more realistic chance.
10. Scotsirish: 66/1: Stamina to prove but finished runner up in last year’s Topham under top-weight so these fences hold no fears. One of the more likely outsiders and good ground would give him more chance of staying the trip.
11. Big Fella Thanks: 12/1: Has finished 6th and 4th in the last two renewals on both occasions travelling very well and perhaps just failing to get home. Reported to be the last runner to race in the colours of fearless punter Harry Findlay. Has changed stables since last year.
12. Ballabriggs: 14/1: Has been preserving his handicap mark all winter as connections believe him to be an ideal National type. Bidding to give McCain family their 5th win in race and owner Trevor Hemmings his second after Hedgehunter in 2005.
13. The Tother One: 40/1: Below par last time but ran well to be placed in Charlie Hall Chase and Hennessy Gold Cup (where he stayed on very well) in first half of the season. One of the legions of runners bidding to give Paul Nicholls’ his first win in race and should not be underestimated.
14. Niche Market: 14/1: Long considered the first string from the Nicholls’ yard but I’m not convinced. Won the Irish National for Bob Buckler back in 2009 but didn’t look a natural over these fences when pulled up in last year’s renewal.
15. The Midnight Club: 10/1: Not guaranteed to stay but long considered an ideal National candidate and landed the Bobbyjo Chase at Clonmel with other National principles Oscar Time and Arbor Supreme behind last time. A must for any short-list and considered the likely ride of Ruby Walsh.
16. Backstage: 12/1: Represents the yard of Gordon Elliot who had a cracking Cheltenham and landed the National with Silver Birch in 2007. Backstage has had a similar preparation to that winner easily landing a couple of points in Ireland; many believe he was going every bit as well as Don’t Push It when hampered by loose horse in race last year.
17. Chief Dan George: 25/1: Early casualty at Cheltenham last time in race he had won previous year: winner of a grade 1 at Aintree over hurdles back in 2007 but doesn’t look the force of old.
18. Silver By Nature: 16/1: Bidding to become the first grey in 50 years to win the race and would have every chance if the ground was no better than good to soft. Does look ground dependent but excellent win in the Haydock Park Trial last time; supporters will be praying for rain.
19. Notre Pere: 20/1: Considered Gold Cup class at one time and has been given a chance by the handicapper following a series of modest efforts. Finished 5th in last year’s Becher Chase but was badly hampered on more than one occasion; wouldn’t want ground too fast.
20. Calgary Bay: 33/1: Has promised more than he has delivered throughout his career but ran one of his better races at Cheltenham last time; stamina a concern and connections have not yet confirmed the race is his Aintree target.
21. Killyglen: 50/1: Winner at this meeting when trained by Howard Johnson a couple of years ago but now trained in Northern Ireland. Went too fast from the front at Doncaster last time and could give his supporters a run for their money from the front.
22. Oscar Time: 12/1: Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen looking to be the first amateur to win the race since Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk in 1990 and the first jockey to do the Gold Cup/National double since Jim Culloty back in 2002. Lost nothing in defeat behind The Midnight Club last time and finished runner up in the Irish National last year; major player.
23. Ballytrim: 33/1: Thorough stayer who could certainly be given an each way chance on his run behind Seigemaster in the Thyestes back in January. Another of the Mullins’ team and not yet confirmed a runner in the race with the Irish equivalent under consideration.
24. Becauseicouldntsee: 33/1: Finished runner up in last year’s NH Chase over 4m at Cheltenham and improved again to finish 2nd in valuable Leopardstown handicap behind Majestic Concorde over Xmas; connections still deliberating whether the race will come a year too soon.
25. Comply Or Die: 33/1: brilliant winner of the race in 2008 and finished runner up in 2009. Finished down the field last year and although handicapper has given him a chance hard to imagine there is another National in him at the age of 12.
26. Nedzer’s Return: 50/1: Looks 2nd string from the Gordon Elliot yard and difficult to make a case form him. Unseated rider at the Canal Turn in last season’s Foxhunters and stamina must be a concern.
27. Northern Alliance: 50/1: hasn’t won for over 18 months since landing the Kerry National although he ran a cracker in a valuable handicap hurdle over the minimum trip in January. Represents a very shrewd yard although they aren’t having the best of seasons.
28. Quinz: 16/1: Racing Post Chase winner but nagging doubt that he is a better horse going right-handed. The last 7-y-o to win the race was Bogskar back in 1940 and connections appear to have had their hand forced as the horse will never have 10-8 in a handicap again.
29. Quolibet: 50/1: Very disappointing on his British debut in the X-Country race at the Festival and another 7-y-o looking to buck a 70 year trend. No surprise to see him swerve race and let him acclimatise with next year’s renewal in mind.
30. Grand Slam Hero: 66/1: Needs good or faster ground and granted his optimum conditions could go well at a very big price. The Twiston-Davies team were out of luck at Cheltenham but the National has been kind to the stable winning the race in both 2002 and 1998.
31. Roll Along: 100/1: Returned from a long lay off earlier in the year and nothing to recommend in a couple of starts although he is another representing the yard of Twiston-Davies.
32. King Fontaine: 33/1: Previously most progressive chaser although jumped poorly at Cheltenham upped in class last time. Back on a flat track he could return to form but much more needed.
33. State Of Play: 20/1: Has finished placed (4th & 3rd) in the last two renewals of the race having made mistakes at vital times on both occasions. Goes well fresh so absence from the track no concern and has 10lb pull with Don’t Push It on last year’s running.
34. Hello Bud: 33/1: Former Scottish National and Becher Chase winner but almost old enough to vote and difficult to see him reversing the form with Don’t Push It as a teenager. No 13-y-old has won the race since 1923 and unlikely to buck that trend.
35. In Compliance: 40/1: Usually a sound jumper but made a most uncharacteristic error last time; finished 6th in the Topham last year and will give his supporters a good run for their money although he is likely to be swamped inside the final half mile.
36. Santa’s Son: 100/1: Won a hurdle at Musselburgh back in February but no show at Cheltenham over 2m last time. The step up in trip by another two-and-a-half-miles will have to bring about significant improvement if he is to take a hand.
37. West End Rocker: 25/1: Thorough stayer who ran below par on desperate ground last time but had looked most progressive until that setback. Has winning form on good ground and must enter calculations if he adapts to these unique obstacles.
38. Bluesea Cracker: 25/1: Winner of last season’s Irish National and bidding to become the first mare to win the race since Nickel Coin in 1951; below par so far this term but this looks to have been the objective all year and if she takes to the fences the 60 year wait could be over.
39. Can’t Buy Time: 50/1: Has fell in the last couple of renewals of the race and made no show at the Festival last time. Does have a touch of class but unlikely that it will be third time lucky.
40. Character Building: 33/1: Has long been considered an ideal sort for the National but was beaten nearly 40 lengths in race last year when he took time to warm to his task. Previous Festival winner and although there others with more obvious claims not one to dismiss out of hand.
41. Ornais: 66/1: Even money and couldn’t win a modest Hunter Chase at Newbury last time but Paul Nicholls is reported to be very sweet on his chances (yes I know he is with all of his horses!) given the horse has only just returned from a two-year lay off.
42. Piraya: 100/1: Disappointing grey who has yet to win beyond 2m 5f and well below par of late: makes no appeal.
43. Surface To Air: 50/1: Winner of the Summer National back in 2008 but was off the track for the best part of three years until finishing tailed off over hurdles earlier in the month. Hard to know how much ability he retains.
44. That’s Rhythm: 100/1: The weight of the McCann money was enough to get him on the floor in the Scottish National of 2009 when he was travelling like a winner. Impressive winner at Bangor back in August and loves good ground but never struck me as the type for Aintree.
45. Arbor Supreme: 20/1: Faller at the Chair last year and put up a career best when runner up to stablemate The Midnight Club (8lb worse off) in the Bobbyjo last time. Not yet guaranteed a run but one to consider if he gets into the race off his feather weight.
46. Frankie Figg: 66/1: Won the Grand Sefton (2m 6f) over the National fences back in November but has failed to complete in four of his last six starts! Has won over 3m previously and he did jump like a buck around the course in the autumn.
47. One Cool Cookie: 40/1: Has failed to complete in his last couple of starts in X Country races and the official description of his last run at Cheltenham is: “ran out 16th the second cheese wedge!”
48. Our Monty: 40/1: Winner of the Cork National when last seen but must overcome a 500-day absence; that said does represent Willie Mullins and was progressing at a rate of knots when last seen.
49. Royal Rosa: 66/1: Finished 2nd & 3rd in the last couple of renewals of the Becher Chase but has never fulfilled early promise; hard to make a case for.
50. Always Waining: 66/1: Won the Topham at this meeting last year but has been below par since and hard to fancy.
51. Golden Kite: 66/1: Won Munster National in October for Adrian “Mutley” Maguire and loves good or faster ground. Made no show in recent prep race but that is easily forgiven on ground far too soft.
52. Skippers Brig: 40/1: Beat leading contender Ballabriggs (giving 4lbs) fair and square last time and would meet that rival on better terms if sneaking into the race. Needs rain and a number of withdrawals if he is to make the line up.
All odds supplied by
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