SLIM THE PICK OF THE IRISH – While most punters nowadays do their betting with the aid of satellite television, itâ€™s very much a return to basics and a good old Auntie Beeb double-whammy come Saturday afternoon with the ever-popular Aintree Grand National followed by the return of a certain time-travelling Doctor, who doubtless already knows the result of the race in question through to the year 3000, but is probably sworn to eternal secrecy â€“ the swine!
For those of us not in possession of an astral police-box that would give us a handy edge over the rest of mankind, itâ€™s probably best to dig around for a bit of value amongst the multitude of special markets on the flying forty, rather than trusting to a shiny pin for guidance. Whether or not you believe in the proverbial luck of the Irish, you have to consider that Irish trainers have indeed been very â€˜luckyâ€™ of late, winning the past three renewals and looking for a seventh win in ten years, all of which makes the 9/4 on offer at totesport and Paddy Power for an Irish-trained winner seem appealing, if you think this year’s Irish challenge has its usual strength in depth.
If, however, you regard the Irish raiders in general to be under par, then it might be worth supporting Slim Pickings, a commendable third last year and trained specifically for the National this time around by the shrewd Tom Taaffe. He is on offer around the 10/1 mark in the overall market, but totesport have him as 10/3 favourite on their Irish-only market. This might not seem great value at the moment with 21 Irish entries and only 3 places (Â¼ the odds) but with only twelve of these likely to make the cut, this makes the 10/3 a much more appealing option if you donâ€™t rate the rest.
It certainly hasnâ€™t been a lucky race over the years for major owner JP McManus, but that could all change for the man from Limerick, who will have at least three chances to get that National monkey off his back. He certainly has the advantage of winning experience on the jockey front, with Paul Carberry, who won on Bobbyjo back in 1999, taking the reins on King Johns Castle, and Mick Fitzgerald, successful on Rough Quest back in 1996, riding the French raider Lâ€™Ami. There wouldnâ€™t be a dry eye on course if Tony McCoy, robbed of victory when carried out on JPâ€™s luckless Clan Royal in 2005, could steer the useful Butlerâ€™s Cabin to victory for his boss, all of which makes the 8-1 on offer at Skybet for a McManus win worthy of consideration.
Finally, with the glut of special markets on offer, it might be worth checking around to see if any bookmaker is giving a price on the winner having a Gallic flavour to its name. Even the good Doctor would admit to needing a friend and some cash every once in a while, and Lâ€™Ami and Dâ€™Argent fit the bill nicely, along with Mon Mome, Madison Du Berlais, Vodka Bleu and Milan Deux Mille – 20/1 would be a fair price if you can get it.