Grand National 2014 Preview and Tips

It’s that time of year again, where families gather over breakfast with their weird and wonderful ways of attempting to find the winner of the Crabbie’s Grand National.

Pins, names, numbers, silks etc., all come into the reckoning when attempting to narrow down the 40-runner field that will embark on a four mile, three furlong journey across Merseyside.

This year is arguably the classiest field the race has had for many a year, with recent alterations to the course attracting the better horses as there is now less of the danger element. Changes to the fences, starting area, take-off and landing spots and the distance have all gone to making the race as safe as possible, as shown by all runners making it to Becher’s on the first circuit in 2013.

Long-Run

The only horse re-appearing from the top five in the race last year is the worthy favourite Teaforthree. He travelled beautifully last year, and was one good jump away from winning the race. He crashed through the second last, losing all momentum and allowing both Aurora’s Encore and Cappa Bleu to capitalise and fill the placing’s ahead of him. There were questions raised that he in-fact was a non-stayer, but that did not looked the case as he continued his gallop all the way to the line.

He has had a solid season, going down by a short-head on his re-appearance at Ascot, which was very promising, before a solid run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup that should put him spot on for the race. The consistent ten-year-old should run extremely well, but do you want to be taking a single-figure price in a race as chaotic and unpredictable as the Grand National? He should run well but the value does seem to have disappeared from his price.

Tidal Bay and Long Run are next in the market, and look likely to run big races, as the top two in the weights are arguably the classiest in the field.

Tidal Bay is getting better with age, continually putting in magnificent performances at the top level, finishing third in the Welsh National off top-weight, before filling the runner-up spot behind Last Instalment in the Irish Hennessey. He has been given a short-break since that race and will arrive at Aintree extremely fresh, which means he is likely to put in a massive performance. He has had trouble over the fences before though, falling when in the race back in 2011, but if this has had no lasting effect, he should go very close.

Then, Long Run will be aiming to become the first horse since L’Escargot back in 1975 to have won both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. The nine-year-old landed the 2012 renewal of the Gold Cup in impressive fashion and looked as though he was going to dominate staying chases for years to come. However his form dipped slightly, and he was targeted at the 2014 Grand National, bypassing Cheltenham all-together.

Having never been out of the first three in a chase in his career, he started this season finishing fifth, fourth and then unseating Sam Waley-Cohen in the King George. He was rightly given a short-break, and came back to land a Memorial Chase at Kelso in good style, which should set him up perfectly for Aintree. He oozes class when racing, often travelling like a tank and this is integral at Aintree, where you have to conserve as much energy as possible.

His jumping has been hit-and-miss in the past, often liking to throw in a short-one towards the close of the race, which raised questions over the suitability of the race. Yet, he impressed all who viewed his schooling session on Thursday evening at Seven Barrows, and trainer Nicky Henderson has stated the unique challenge of the race will suit his horse, as he looks set to appreciate the massive stamina test.

The alterations to the fences mean you don’t have to wing every fence perfectly, and there is slight room for error, which benefits Long Run greatly. He is the class horse in the race, and has the best form in the book with his chasing career over the past three years instilling massive confidence in the French-bred gelding.

If he does prove his trainer right, and stays the distance, he should be right there at the finish and his class should see him through. The current 14/1 seems very fair.

More interesting each-way contenders come in the shape of Monbeg Dude, Double Seven and The Rainbow Hunter.

Monbeg Dude would be a fitting winner, as he is part-owned by Mike Tindall, husband of Zara Phillips. Zara, grand-daughter of the Queen, has been integral in the horses preparations, as she, an equine expert herself, nursed the nine-year-old over fences and improved his jumping greatly.

The 2013 Welsh National winner, who had Teaforthree back in second that day, has plenty of high-class form over obstacles, and returned from 79-days off the track to finish a fair fifth in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, with signs over a slight jumping problem still there. Zara has since worked tirelessly with the horse, who has improved massively when schooling and connections are willing to take their chance this time around, after bypassing the race last year over doubts over his jumping ability. He looks a solid each-way chance, and with hold-up expert Paul Carberry in the saddle, expect him to mound a strong late challenge.

Double Seven looks an extremely interesting contender, and now looks like the likely mount of Tony McCoy. The nine-year-old ran up a series of eye-catching performances over summer and early autumn, including landing the Munster National in impressive fashion. His trainer, Martin Brassil, knows what it takes to win the race, after taking the 2006 Grand National with Numbersixvalverde. Owner JP McManus teamed up with McCoy to take the race in 2010 with Don’t Push It, and will be hoping for a repeat performance this time around, when Double Seven lines up. He has tremendous staying ability, will appreciate the good ground and the trainer has been extremely bullish about him. These three positives suggest he is on for a big run, and the moment McCoy is confirmed, the current 25/1 will disappear. The McCoy factor plays a huge part on the day of the race, with his mount being backed off the board regardless, so ensure you take a price if you are siding with Double Seven.

The Rainbow Hunter is another extremely interesting each-way contender for Kim Bailey and Aidan Coleman, who have a real chance of landing the race. He ran out an impressive winner of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, to confirm his chances of mounting a big challenge at Aintree, but it was his performance in the Grand National last year that have given plenty of punters confidence. The ten-year-old actually finished second in the race last year (albeit jockey-less), showing he can handle the fences and went some way to quashing any lingering stamina doubts. Of course it would have been incredibly to run the same race had Aidan Coleman not parted company with the gelding at the eighth fence, but it was an experience he will benefit from and come back stronger a year later.

There seems to be a lot of momentum behind the horse in the market, halving in price from 66/1 to 33/1 in a week, and the move has shown no signs of stopping. He will be a lot shorter on the day, and should run very well for Bailey, who landed the race 24 years ago with Mr Frisk.

Then, there are a couple of interesting outsiders that worthy of mention, in the shape of Rose of the Moon and Walkon.

Both greys will be extremely popular in the market due to their colour, however they both warrant serious respect at 50/1.

Rose of the Moon ran away an impressive winner at Wetherby last time out, in what looks a competitive race. He was a high-class bumper horse and hurdler, finishing close behind Champion Hurdle winner Rock on Ruby, and Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth during his time. His form over fences is solid, and he managed to negotiate the unique Aintree obstacles when finishing tenth in the Becher Chase in December. This experience could prove vital, as he lines up on Saturday and he looks a solid each-way bet at 50/1.

Yet, it may pay to side with a gelding who would be an extremely apt winner on Merseyside, in the shape of Walkon. Sharing a similar name with lyrics in Liverpool Football Club’s famous song, You’ll Never Walk Alone, he is bound to have a fair share of supporters from the red half of Merseyside and he looks as though he could well outrun his odds.

He hasn’t won a race since 2011, which is why his price is exceedingly large, however he has aways performed with great respect at the top level. He was a magnificent hurdler in his day, and managed to transfer some of that ability over to the fences, when finishing second in the Topham Chase at last year’s Aintree meeting, behind Triolo D’Alene. He was giving away a stone that day, and Triolo D’Alene went on to frank the form in impressive fashion by landing the Hennessey Gold Cup.

He thrives in big fields, and although the fact he has never won over 3m is a slight concern, he has always shaped up as though he could be a potential National horse, if given a very patient ride. He has bundles of class, and if he does manage to stay the extreme distance, he will definitely manage to outrun his odds. The 50/1 does seem large, and he looks a brilliant each-way bet.

Grand National Tips;

WIN BET:

 15243 Grand National Runners 2014 2. Long Run, 16/1 with Skybet bet and Paddy Power bet 12/1 with Ladbrokes, bet

EACH WAY BET:

20887 Grand National Runners 2014 14. Double Seven @ 16/1 with betvictor, bet 14/1 with Ladbrokes bet

OUTSIDER EACH WAY BET:

177718 Grand National Runners 2014 8. Walkon , 50/1 with Ladbrokes bet and Skybet  bet

 

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