Grand National Glory All To Play For Mark Boylan @markcboylan
Itâ€™s that time of year again when millions of people worldwide gather to witness what is arguably the most exciting event on the equine calendar. This spectacular race, the peopleâ€™s race, a nations race which captures the imagination of every person from all over the land â€“ young and old; the Grand National brings something special to the public and draws the many â€˜once a yearâ€™ Grand National Punters to make their selections for the Merseyside marathon steeplechase.
Many different punters have different methods of finding the winner of the worldâ€™s most famous horse race – One thing that weâ€™ve all learned in the past is that anything can happen and itâ€™s anyoneâ€™s race! A lot of people will side with the favourite or horses at the head of the market and with this in mind perhaps this year the Irish Trained â€˜On His Ownâ€™ will prove to be a popular selection. Ridden by two-time Grand National winning jockey Ruby Walsh, the nine year-old has been primed for this race all season having fallen at the world famous â€˜Becherâ€™s Brookâ€™ fence (which has a six foot, nine inch drop on the landing side) in last yearâ€™s renewal.
Another horse who will carry the hopes of many punters (along with fish and dining enthusiasts) is â€˜Seabassâ€™. The gutsy bay earned himself a third place finish in the 2012 running of the race under top female amateur jockey, Katie Walsh who in turn became the most successful female rider in Grand National history. This talented gelding is trained by her father and TV Pundit Ted Walsh and it would really be a fairytale story for the father and daughter combination if he were to get his head in front at the line.
Ted Walsh also saddles another runner in the race but this time for successful business tycoon JP McManus in the shape of â€˜Colbert Stationâ€™. Seventeen time champion jockey AP McCoy has chosen the Irish bred over last yearâ€™s runner up â€˜Sunnyhillboyâ€™ who is now piloted by Richie McLernon from Cork, Ireland. The horse is trained by retired legendary jockey, Jonjo Oâ€™Neill for whom many people will remember winning the Gold Cup on iconic mare â€™Dawn Runâ€™ in 1986.
It may be wise to look for a runner that has previously completed a race over the massive Aintree obstacles, so horses like â€˜Cappa Bleuâ€™ trained in the south of Wales by Evan Williams and â€˜Ballabriggsâ€™ under the tutelage of Donald McCain (son of Ginger McCain who trained Red Rum) who on Saturday bids to win his second National after displaying real character to win the 2011 running.
For those of you who like to make your choices from just the name of the horse, this yearâ€™s field contains plenty of opportunities for your friends and family to become part of the selection process. Names like, â€˜Weird Alâ€™, â€˜Roberto Goldbackâ€™, â€˜Forpadydeplastererâ€™, â€˜Oscar Timeâ€™, â€˜Swing Billâ€™, â€˜Rare Bobâ€™, â€˜Harry The Vikingâ€™ and â€˜Auroras Encoreâ€™ all feature in this mightily competitive running of the most exciting race in the world. If youâ€™re looking for a horse with a connection to your grandmother, then maybe â€˜Teaforthreeâ€™ could be the one to land the spoils for Rebecca Curtis and Nick Scholfield!
Fans of football and in particular of Manchester United, may possibly side with â€˜What A Friendâ€™ or â€˜Harry The Vikingâ€™ as both horses are part owned by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Paul Nicholls who trained â€˜Neptune Collongesâ€™ to win last yearâ€™s race in a nail-biting finish also trains Sir Alexâ€™s runners.
Many of my friends who like a flutter on the national, pick their idea of the winner simply by looking at the colours and designs of the silks which the jockeys are wearing. For the ladies â€˜Always Wainingâ€™ carries different shades of purple and Iâ€™m reliably informed by the females in my life that this is a very fashionable colour for the trendsetters in 2013.Â The rider of â€˜Any Currencyâ€™ wears pink and lilac/purple squares on the body with a white cap which may also be of some appeal to those with an eye for fashion. For those of you who see this as your way of finding the national winner, all the silks of all runners of this yearâ€™s Grand National is available on the home page of the site.
There will be immense scenes of joy if twelve year-old â€˜Imperial Commanderâ€™ crosses the line in front this weekend. The former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner carries top weight so a tough task lies ahead of him, but ridden by Sam Twiston Davies and trained by Nigel Twiston Davies, this would be the ultimate comeback story for the horse who was off the track with injury for almost two years. Another notable father and son team hoping to take home the greatest prize of all.
For all of you who are having a flutter on the National, donâ€™t be afraid to go for an outsider. There have been plenty of long priced winners including five winners at odds of 100/1! Â Although the race is incredibly exciting and pulsating as a spectacle, there is an extra sense of emotion that goes along with having the winner and even more so at big odds. The last six winners have been priced at 33/1, 7/1, 100/1, 10/1, 14/1 and 33/1.
Looking back at previous Grand Nationals, here are a few short stats that you may want to take into consideration before picking your horse for the Grand National:
- Front running horses tend to get the better of the Aintree fences, as they get a clearer uninterrupted view of each obstacle. This is in favour of horses such as â€˜Teaforthreeâ€™, â€˜Join Togetherâ€™ and â€˜Sollâ€™ and does not suit a horse like â€˜Roberto Goldbackâ€™ who likes to come with a late run after being held up at the early stage of his races.
- Horses who have had a tough race at the Cheltenham Festival tend not to perform as well as those who did not have a hard run or not run at all at Cheltenham. This is against horses like â€˜Becauseicouldntseeâ€™ and â€˜Harry The Vikingâ€™ but this is in favour of horses such as â€˜Seabassâ€™, â€˜On His Ownâ€™ and â€˜Colbert Stationâ€™ who may come into the race with a fresher approach.
- Horses which have not run for long periods of time do not usually run well. This applies to â€˜Lost Gloryâ€™, â€˜Mumbles Headâ€™ and â€˜Balthazar Kingâ€™ although history is often rewritten in the National.
- Horses aged ten or over have a good record in the race which is in favour of â€˜Imperial Commanderâ€™, â€˜Seabassâ€™, â€˜Ballabriggsâ€™, â€˜Forpadydeplastererâ€™, â€˜Chicago Greyâ€™ and â€˜Cappa Bleuâ€™.
Overall I would encourage everyone to get involved in this spectacular race which is part of our history and part of who we are. So at 4.15pm on Saturday, as the hooves come thundering across the track, a gigantic roar of excitement and anticipation will erupt from the Liverpool crowd as the heartbeat of every rider resounds in conjunction with the galloping hooves of all who hope that itâ€™s their names that are engraved in Grand National history.