Former Talksport man Charlie McCann takes a good look at the 2015 Grand National and gives us his antepost tips. View his Grand National preview & selections below.
The weights for the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National were announced in London earlier today and BetVictor make the 2014 Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor their 10/1 favourite for the Aintree showpiece.
BetVictor are already betting ¼ odds five places on the event and the Jonjo O’Neill trained favourite has been allotted 11st 2lbs by BHB Handicapper Phil Smith; at the time of writing he is the likely mount of 19-time Champion jockey AP McCoy, successful in the race back in 2010 with Don’t Push It, and he will be a much shorter price on the day if he is the mount of AP who recently announced that he would retire at the end of the current jumps season. Indeed if McCoy rides the winner of the Great Race for a second time in the colours of his great friend and mentor JP McManus I suggest he will retire on the spot.
That said the value at this stage might lie elsewhere and at 10/1 he is overlooked given his jumping has not always been the most reliable although he is a thorough stayer who has not been seen since impressively landing a Graduation Chase at Carlisle back in November.
Balthazar King finished runner up in the 2014 National to Pineau De Re and he is 5lbs better off with last year’s winner for the 5l he was beaten last term. He is 20/1 at BetVictor and I know connections felt the ground was perhaps just too soft for the runner up last year; he has looked better than ever in X-Country Chases in the first half of the season and if the ground is no worse than good to soft in the spring he really is a big player.
Carlingford Lough (33/1), the recent Irish Hennessy winner heads the weights at 11st 12lbs and the conundrum of who will carry top-weight on the day will be the focus of much debate between now and post time. Do note there are 76 horses in the handicap proper and although there will be a number of defectors at the top end of the handicap I would be surprised if the bottom weight carried less than 10st 4lbs on the day.
At this early stage my own eye was drawn to a couple near the foot of the handicap including Wyck Hill (10st 4lbs) also in the McManus colours who has had a low key preparation for the race running just the once so far this term when runner up in a Novice Hurdle at Chepstow last month. At his best on soft ground the selection won the 4m Eider Chase at Newcastle last season and has always suggested he might be an ideal type for the race in time.
The racecourse executive will ensure the ground will never be fast at Aintree going forward and we are certainly due a wet spring; yes he is likely to be taken off his feet if the ground did not have the word soft in the official going description but he also won’t be 40/1 on the day if we have a soft ground National.
Saint Are (10st 6lbs) on the other hand would not want the ground too soft but he ran a cracker in the Becher Chase behind the evergreen 14 –y-old Oscar Time who will actually be 6lbs better off in the big one. No fourteen year-old has ever won the National although Peter Simple did win the race back in 1853 at the age of 15!
Saint Are has been improving with every race so far this season and I thought there was much to like about his Catterick win last time. A dual former winner at this meeting, including in Grade 1 company over hurdles, he is 33/1, a guaranteed runner and at the right end of the handicap (10st 6lbs).
The Grand National remains the greatest horserace in the world; a win for Shutthefrontdoor would bring the curtain down on the extraordinary career of AP McCoy and 10/1 looks a fair price for a horse who is likely to be the subject of a nationwide gamble on the day of the race.
Recommendation: Wyck Hill (40/1) and Saint Are (33/1) each way (5 places) at BetVictor.
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