Grand National Bets on Finding the Winner?

Finding the winner of the world’s most famous race is no easy task. With so many runners tackling such fearsome obstacles over a gruelling four and a half miles, there is ample opportunity for even the most confident pre-race predictions to come unstuck. Thankfully, there are a number of clues which can help us in our search for a winner. When looking down the list of modern day National winners, the most apparent (and well documented) observation is the lack of notable weight carrying performances in the race. Indeed, only Hedgehunter (11-01) in 2005 has shouldered more than 11st to victory since the triumph of Corbiere back in 1983. When you consider that many of the fancied runners are those towards the top of the handicap, we can use this information to our advantage when narrowing down our potential shortlist. Another interesting factor is that of age – all but two winners in this same 25 year period have been 9 years old or above, a remarkable statistic which proves that experience is crucial and that veteran status is not necessarily an impediment to victory.

When evaluating these trends, no horse stands out more than Parsons Legacy. Now an 11 year old, he has shown some decent form down the years, jumps well, will love the drying ground, and with only 10st 12lb to carry, must have a leading chance. He is also a horse who seems to run particularly well when fresh, so the fact that he has been given a break since December indicates that this race has long been a top priority.

Another interesting contender is Darkness for Charlie Egerton. Although it is over three years since his third to Star de Mohaison in the Sun Alliance at Cheltenham, he is still only a nine year old and recently showed he still retains plenty of ability when scoring on good ground at Newbury. A bold jumper without too many miles on the clock, he represents a solid each way betting proposition carrying only 10st 9lb.

At odds of around 50-1, a mention must also go to Battlecry. His novice form from last Spring when placed behind Albertas Run at Cheltenham and Big Bucks at Aintree looks particularly good. With the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable in the doldrums throughout much of this season, it is possible to overlook some lacklustre recent performances and, now that the yard is in better form, appreciate that this horse offers some serious value.

In the last ten years, the Irish seem to have mastered the art of laying horses out for the National, with massive gambles such as Papillon (2000), Hedgehunter (2005) and Numbersixvalverde (2006) being landed. They again have a number of leading fancies, although finding one with a similar profile to the above mentioned is a little more difficult. Although Black Apalachi demolished the opposition when bounding round these fences in the Becher chase last November, the heavy ground he encountered on that occasion would be completely different to the much quicker surface which seems likely this weekend. Your enthusiasm is tempered further when you consider the 11st 5 lb burden he must carry. Snowy Morning is another contender with a stopping weight to carry. An excellent third in last year’s renewal, he surely cannot be expected to improve on that with an unkind looking 11st 8lb to contend with. Irish Invader also carries strong support, but it remains to be seen whether his small-field form over much shorter distances will translate well to a race such as this.

A more interesting proposition could come in the form of Offshore Account. A top novice two seasons back with winning grade 1 form, he has been brought along quietly with this race in mind, showing his wellbeing when running a good second over hurdles recently. Do not be surprised if he makes his current odds of around 40-1 look extremely generous.

Of the other more fancied runners, My Will is shaping up to be short priced favourite. While the Nicholls trained horse is sure to attract plenty of admirers, I remain to be convinced that he warrants his place at the head of the market. Although his eye-catching fifth behind Kauto Star in the Gold Cup represents tremendous form, it somehow goes against the grain when compared to the preparations of so many previous winners of this race. With so little time to recover from his exertions at Cheltenham, he is readily opposed at cramped odds. Butlers Cabin is a live contender. Being a possible mount for Tony McCoy, he will obviously attract lots of interest and there is no doubting the fact that he perfectly fits the profile required for this race (in particular his low key preparation). However, I can’t help but feel his chance has been overestimated by those who seem convinced that victory would have been inevitable but for his unlucky fall at Bechers last year. As a consequence, much greater value is to be had elsewhere.

In conclusion, PARSONS LEGACY is a horse who ticks all the boxes, with each-way possibilities for OFFSHORE ACCOUNT and BATTLECRY at big odds.

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