Colbert Station: Most jockeys believe or not are not that good at tipping winners, but AP McCoy is not most jockeys and the way he spoke about this horses credentials after his win in Ireland is a tip in itself. It would be an ideal turn around after the nightmare of last yearâ€™s race for connections to go one better this year.
Jockeys hate to choose between two horses, which carries the twin risks of offending an owner and picking the wrong one, and it makes perfect sense to delay as long as possible, even if the correct decision appears obvious. So Tony McCoy was never likely to reveal his Grand National mount until Thursday but on this occasion there is every reason to believe that he really did agonise over whether it should be Colbert Station or Sunnyhillboy and he had other attractive options.
The wisdom or otherwise of his choice may not be clear until the run-in of Saturday's famous race at Aintree. It is not difficult to imagine the pair of them sailing over the last together and fighting it out to the line for first-place prize money of £547,000.
At that stage, the outcome might not matter to JP McManus, who owns both and has an exceptionally strong hand for this year's National. But, as McCoy eventually judged, the credentials of Colbert Station (4.15) are hard to beat and the 11-1 shot can give the two men their second success here, following Don't Push It in 2010.
Marked out as "strong" by the respected judges at Timeform at the start of the season, Colbert Station looked a real National prospect when weaving through a field of 27 rivals on his way to an easy victory at Leopardstown over Christmas. That valuable handicap ought to have been hard to win but he was confidently backed and justified that faith.
Naturally, he is much higher in the weights now but should have more to offer. He appeals as the type to cope well with a test like this, while some of his rivals cringe and drop themselves out.
Sunnyhillboy is most unlikely to do any such thing, however, having coped stylishly with the race last year, when the fences were stiffer. He looks one of the more reliable prospects in the field and should not be 20-1, though his finishing effort 12 months ago could not quite match that of Neptune Collonges, who pipped him on the line. With more weight on his back this time, he may again fall short.
Colbert Station's trainer, Ted Walsh, has only a handful of horses at his Kildare yard and is still best known as a broadcaster and a breeder of jockeys. But he sent Papillon over to win the 2000 National and if he repeats the feat, he will have to be acknowledged as an Aintree specialist.
Walsh also has Seabass, a major contender if ridden with rather more restraint than last year by the trainer's daughter, Katie. Another attacking approach to the race, however, may leave him vulnerable to stronger finishers. Another member of the Walsh clan, Ruby, is likely to get a great spin from On His Own, running like a winner last year before getting squeezed by two others on the approach to Becher's, where he fell.
Still, we cannot be certain what would have happened if he had been luckier and it is offputting that he has not raced over fences since that day. His odds are unattractively short but the same cannot be said of Lost Glory, another McManus runner, who should bounce off this drying surface. He is trained by Jonjo O'Neill, of Don't Push It fame, who will surely have him primed after a long absence and he is an interesting outsider at 66-1.
At odds of 100-1, Tarquinius is also capable of a big effort. Soft ground is not, as some believe, an absolute prerequisite for this stayer, who can make the frame with a clear run. He has recovered his form since joining Gordon Elliot, much as Silver Birch did before winning the 2007 National at 33-1.
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