John Smiths Grand National Preview

2009 John Smiths Grand National Preview

It has often been said that Australia’s Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation. The UK’s John Smith’s Grand National, staged at Aintree due off 4.15 on Sat 4 April does the same. Broadcast throughout the world and at home on BBC 1, Racing UK Satellite Channel 432 and if you are on the move Radio 5 Live, it has a huge sense of occasion.

This year’s race was especially compelling as the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Denman was entered and headed the weights. Denman’s injury problems led to his withdrawal but in some ways it opens up the shape of the race.

William Hill’s Kate Miller told me she expects industry wide betting turnover to exceed half a million pounds. My Will trained by Gold Cup winning team of trainer Paul Nicholls and Jockey Ruby Walsh are currently 11-1 fav. Kate reasons, “My Will ran an excellent Grand National Trial beaten 23 and a half lengths. The worry would be that no French bred horse has won a National since 1986 and the French breds tend to be precocious.

The firm have also laid money for Character Building whose price has been cut in half. from 25-1. A surprise 16-1 winner of Cheltenham’s Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase John Quinn’s 11 year old was quietly fancied for Newbury’s Hennessey Gold Cup following a pipe opener over hurdles. It had been anonymous in the National betting but is now best priced 16-1 with Blue Square.

Leading Irish owner J P McManus has yet to win a Grand National but has a couple of possibilities. The Jonjo O’Neill trained Can’t Buy Time was 4-1 fav for Cheltenham’s 4 mile chase and although beaten when hampered at the last had his price cut for the Aintree marathon

J P’s Irish trained Cross Country Chase winner Grade Champers under the care of Edna Bolger may be taking an unorthodox route to Aintree but displayed stamina, jumped with alacrity and a handy turn of foot over 3m7f and is worth consideration.

Jump racing in Wales is thriving. However the Principality is poorly represented in 2009’s biggest racing spectacle. Evan William’s 2006 Hennessey winner State Of Play offers the best chance of a Dragon victory at around 25-1. Since that win the 10 year old has had mixed fortunes, including a fine win in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase on fast going. He seems best fresh and will certainly be well prepared.

Respected Northern Professional Gambler Carl Harris has taken 14-1 My Will. Carl reasons, “I was at Cheltenham to see the Gold Cup in which My Will was fifth. My Will has a fantastic weight and looks a thorough stayer. If he reproduces the Cheltenham form over the National fences he must go close and with Ruby Walsh almost certainly taking the ride it is another positive.”

Daily Mail Racing Columnist Sam Turner agrees. “Connections feel My Will will improve a great deal from the Gold Cup” he told me. “a concern would be that Nick Skelton gave him a harder race than necessary. Butler’s Cabin would be the one for me at the short end of the market. Rumour has it that he was only 90% fit when fifth in the Kim Muir.”

The North haven’t won the race since Amberleigh House’s famous victory in 2004 but have a leading contender in Keith’s Reveley’s Rambling Minster. The 11 year old won Haydock’s Blue Square Gold Cup last month a traditional Grand National trial and is a definite runner. A stable spokesman told me, “He should run a very big race. He doesn’t want the ground too fast, good or just a little cut will be ideal and James (Reveley) is likely to ride him up with the pace.”

CONCLUSION

Rambling Minster 2pts e/w (20-1 Boyle Sports & SkyBet)
My Will 2pts e/w (12-1 generally available)
State Of Play 1pt e/w (25-1 Generally available)

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