Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at Aintree, plus his Grand National preview. View selections below
The Crabbie’s Grand National is the weekend sporting highlight and 39 runners will go to post for the greatest horserace in the world following the late defection of Carlito Brigante. We all have our own method of picking our National horses and good luck if you select on jockey’s silks, names or the trusty pin but my two each way selections against the field are Saint Are (25/1 at BetVictor) and Royale Knight (33/1) and remember BetVictor are betting six places on the great race.
It is well documented that 19-time Champion jockey AP McCoy will retire on the spot if he lands a second National (Don’t Push It 2010) on last year’s Irish National winner Shutthefrontdoor and it will be a question of Turnoutthelights for the bookies if McCoy’s ride obliges. He is currently 6/1 and is likely to be the best backed horse on the day; he will be hard to keep out of the frame and he is a worthy market leader.
Saint Are is a dual winner at the National meeting and finished seventh in the big race two years ago when bidding to become the first 7-year-old since Bogskar back in 1940 to win the National. I was very taken with his win at Catterick last time and, granted luck in running, he can run a big race for Tom George and Paddy Brennan.
Dr Richard Newland saddled Pineau De Re to win the race 12 months ago and he is not weighted out of it as he bids to become the first horse since the incomparable Red Rum back in 1973-4 to win the prize in successive years. Newland also saddles Royale Knight at the foot of the weights and jockey Brendan Powell takes the ride as he bids to emulate dad Brendan Snr who rode Rhyme ’n’ Reason to win the race back in 1988. Royale Knight has been running over timber since winning at Sedgefield over the larger obstacles back in October and at the foot of the weights he is a lively outsider.
My National four: with BetVictor prices
1. Saint Are 25/1
2. Royale Knight 33/1
3. Rocky Creek 9/1
4. Shutthefrontdoor 6/1F
The card opens with a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle and I think Nichols Canyon (1.30) can reverse Cheltenham form with Parlour Games having clouted the second last when the pair were behind the impressive Windsor Park in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. Willie Mullins carried all before him at Cheltenham but was out of luck on the opening day although Arctic Fire looked to be confirming Festival form with Jezki before coming a cropper in the Aintree Hurdle.
God’s Own finished runner up to Un De Sceaux in the Arkle but that form was let down by Josses Hill on Thursday and the unexposed Traffic Fluide (2.05) gets the vote for Gary Moore, The selection jumped superbly to win at Sandown last time and the horse that finished runner up has franked the form. This can hardly be described as a vintage renewal and the selection could go off shorter than his initial 7/1 tissue price at BetVictor.
World Hurdle winner Cole Harden will be hard to beat in the Liverpool Hurdle but Whisper (2.50) won the corresponding race last season, despite sweating up badly, and it was encouraging to see trainer Nicky Henderson train the winner of the opener on Ladies’ Day yesterday.
If Buywise (3.25) gets his jumping together he must go very close in the Handicap Chase and the fact that there are only ten runners should suit this talented 8-year-old who finished fourth at Cheltenham running on in a competitive 2m 4f handicap off a 3lbs lower mark.
The Handicap Hurdle for amateur rides and conditionals can go to War Sound (5.10) who looked a horse to follow when scoring at Chepstow last time for Philip Hobbs. He has been given an opening show of 143 which looks harsh given it wasn’t the greatest of races he won at Chepstow last time but he is one to follow over fences next term and goes well for today’s amateur.
One For The Guv’Nr is highly regarded by the Henderson camp and some think he is very well treated from his opening mark; he must go close as must The Game Changer who will prefer this flatter track.
On Sunday Mr Syntax (4.25 Market Rasen) wasn’t beaten far despite finishing fourth at Newcastle on his belated seasonal reappearance for a new yard; if building on that he must go close as long as the ground remains good.