The Grand National sits alongside the likes of The Gold Cup, The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, The King George and The Derby in terms of history and prestige, yet it is the Grand National that really captures the hearts of many when it comes to horse racing. A race where everyone can get involved, where sweepstakes add fun and plenty of intrigue and hope to many a workplace. It is THE race where the Nation stops for ten minutes on a Saturday afternoon to watch around forty majestic horses tackle fences known as ‘The Chair’, ‘Becher’s Brook’ and ‘The Canal Turn’ as they make their way around four and a quarter miles of Aintree racecourse, hoping that a clear round of jumping and some luck in running gives them a fighting chance of being crowned the winner.
There have been some amazing winners throughout the years, with the likes of Party Politics, Hedgehunter and Many Clouds just a few of the more recent names that jump out. Yet it is the simple mention of the now iconic name Red Rum that brings instantly brings recognition and a smile to peoples’ faces. Ginger McCain’s runner became just the fourth horse to win back-to-back renewals when winning in 1974, and then returned in 1977, at twelve years old, to win the race again and in doing so became the only horse in Grand National history to win the race three times.
It seems unlikely that we will see another capable of winning this magnificent race three times, however In lining up for this years’ renewal, Tiger Roll aims to add his name to the likes of Abd El-Kader, The Colonel, Manifesto and Reynoldstown as a dual winner of this race. He was an extremely impressive winner of the Cross-County Chase at Cheltenham last month and although there is always a danger that two races in relatively quick succession could cause issue, he has had the same preparation as last year and has looked better than ever in his two runs this year. As much as I would like to see him retain his crown, his revised rating, weight and the price available means I have to look elsewhere for the likely winner.
2018 Grand National Winner – Tiger Roll
Rathvinden won the ‘four miler’ at The Cheltenham Festival last season and has subsequently been aimed at this race since, running just once this season when beating Alpha Des Obeaux at Fairyhouse in February. Aged 11 it would appear that, based on recent winners of this race, that he may be a little old to be able to gain victory, yet due to injury earlier in his career he is relatively lightly raced compared to others the same age and with both weight and rating in his favour he fits other key race trends. A sound jumper with a big engine, I think he could be a major player in the race.
Vintage Clouds was an excellent second when last seen in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, has proven stamina over this type of trip and has course form having won here in 2017. Owned by Trevor Hemmings, who has had three prior winners of this race, and with rating, weight and age in his favour he would also have to be considered for each way purposes.
Pleasant Company was ninth in the 2017 renewal and returned last year to run an absolute stormer, finishing just a head behind winner Tiger Roll. Recent race trends suggest that the winner will be having his first run in the National and I fear he may fall short of victory again, however as a runner who has completed the race twice before he is afforded plenty of respect.
With final runners not yet confirmed, I have attempted to look at horses that look likely to take their place and fit the general race trends over recent years. With that in mind, I am happy to advise both Rathvinden and Vintage Clouds as solid each way options in what promises to be another fantastic renewal of the greatest race in National Hunt history.
Handy Hint: With many bookmakers looking to attract new customers around this hugely popular race it’s key for anyone having a bet to seek out those generous Grand National top betting offers available. Current prices show that Tiger Roll could potentially go off as short as 7/2 favourite which would make him the shortest priced horse in the race in the past 100 years!
Grand National Trends: (Things to look out for this year)
· The last 9 winners were all having their first run in the Grand National
· Look for horses aged 8 or 9 and rated between 147 and 156
· 25 of the last 27 winners had previously won a 3mile chase
· 6 of the last 14 winners had previously won over 3m 4f or further
· 24 of the last 27 winners had won less than 7 times over fences
· 15 of the last 20 winners were Irish-bred
· Only 4 of the last 34 winners carried over 11st
· Only 1 of the last 23 winners were aged over 11
Have you decided who you’re backing this year?