Grand National 2009 Betting Preview

Everyone’s favourite horse race is a very open affair this year with plenty of attractive betting opportunities to be had, some at very high prices indeed. As ever there are the proven Aintree stayers who tend to be at quite short odds and then there are the National rookies looking to steal the hefty prize at the first time of asking at slightly lengthier odds. It is to the latter that the brave punters among you should look for the value money. 


   In recent times the Grand National has attracted classier horses as trainers from both sides of the Irish Sea have attempted to win this lottery of national hunt racing. This year is no different as several Grade 1 winners are taking their place in the field and this years Gold Cup 5th, My Will, the mount of Ruby Walsh, sure to be the subject of much attention from the British public. Be careful of these runners as very rarely have they competed in such a big field and with such big fences. Some hate it whilst some take to it – that is where the mystery of the National lies.


   There are a number of betting no-no’s that need to be taken into consideration when picking your National horse. Arguably the most important of these is weight. Only Hedgehunter (11-1) since 1988 has won with more than 11-0 on his back. This is especially important in the National because of the extreme distance of the race. Keep this in mind when looking through the runners and riders. Being a proven jumper and stayer is just as crucial whilst ground is as fundamental as ever to any runner’s chances.


   Looking at the card, a number of runners took my fancy. Rambling Minster being the first to do so. He runs off a weight of 10-9, he stays forever, having won around 4 miles at Kelso on soft ground in the past and he is a fluid jumper. Three factors that are instrumental if you are to win around the national fences at Aintree. He is 11 which is quite old for a National contender but he only seems to be getting better with age having won twice since the turn of the year. The fact that he beat Character Building, a subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner, back in January only boosts his form. A very solid prospect and worth a few quid at 10 or 11-1.


   Kilbeggan Blade is another British hope with fair claims. Much like Rambling Minster, he has proven he stays, having twice won over 3 miles 5 furlongs at Sandown. His trainer, Tom George, has sent him hurdling much of the year to keep his weight down and he was successful as he only has 10-7, a very attractive weight. His last run at Warwick, second when odds-on, can be excused due to being top weight and he should run a fine race as long as he takes to the Aintree fences – never a guarantee. At a best priced 27-1 on Betfair he is longer than he ought to be.


The Irish have an enviable recent record in the race and Charlie Swan is looking to maintain that with his runner, Offshore Account. He is an interesting runner as he has only seen a race track once since December ’07 when he was a very good second in a hurdle race at Navan this March. He acts on any ground and Swan believes he jumps and stays very well. This run may have put him spot on for this much sterner test and at 40-1 with Hills and Coral he is an interesting outsider and a potential each way punt.


   Himalayan Trail is another long priced runner with plenty of factors in his favour. The Midlands National winner in 2008 proved he enjoyed the National fences with a well earned 5th in savage conditions in the Becher Chase earlier this season. He is a spring horse, (3 of his 4 wins have come in March or May) and his trainer, Jimmy Mangan knows a thing or two about training a National winner as he won it in 2003 with Monty’s Pass. 33’s with Hills and Coral and 37-1 with Betfair are very tasty odds and offer great each way value which is so important in a National runner.


   Finally, a past winner who deserves huge respect, Silver Birch. He is a solid each way prospect as he loves the course, jumps like a stag and only has 11-0 on his back. He had been absent from the race track since his National win in 2007 until earlier this year and has performed averagely in a couple of point to points. But, the National is a quirky race and has the ability to flick a switch in some horses and Silver Birch could be one of these types. His odds of 50-1 are certainly worth a couple of quid each way.

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