The Grand National meeting is upon us and the Major plans on tackling the big Aintree races this week.
I have started with the trickiest of the tricky, the Grand National. 40 runners, an absurd distance, the Grand National is not only one of the hardest races to win, it is also one of the hardest to solve too.
Before we even consider the runners though, it must be said that the Grand National is one of the most famous world races and one which attracts the most casual horse racing fans each year.
This year the Major is attending with a merry group of men seeking fun, riches and wondrous sport.
For many, the National is the only time in a year where they might have a bet on horseracing. It has a magic. Everyone remembers their first national winner. Your mother picking a name that she likes, £2 win bets, cramped bookmakers with queues of people each uncertain of what they are doing… It is the time of tourists pouring into our sport for the weekend and they are all welcome as we were all tourists ourselves once. Ah, the innocent time when I had no idea what ‘on the bridle’ or ‘lost his irons’ meant, I had more money then.
Many go a lifetime without picking a national winner. The Major got off the mark with Comply or Die three years ago and it was nice to get that burden out of the way.
2011 – Can the Major find it again?
First of all, it is well advertised in racing betting circles that there is an awfully strong trend to identifying the National winner.
You are generally looking for a 8-10 year old, who has won at least once beyond 3 miles, ideally has taken on the National fences before, is weighted under 11 and a half stone but still has a mark of 135+ – It is rare that the winner does not have this make up. One of the Majors key resolutions is to question before accepting any trend. These make sense. You need an experienced horse, too young is no good, equally this is a real test so the legs cannot be too old. Shouldering big weight is all the more difficult over this distance yet you need a horse with a touch of class and ideally one that has seen the fences before… all of these trends make sense.
There are three that fit the key profile. First a word for some that don’t. I like Silver by Nature a lot, I advised the Birmingham crew to get on at 16/1 and it has been trimmed as a result of the recent rain. With the rest of the week looking shiny and breezy, it definitely won’t get ideal ground, which is set to dry, which is a shame as I feel it had a good chance with cut. Needs the good lords meteorological intervention.
The Midnight Club is a worthy favourite and looks a class animal – The Major tipped him up in Ireland on his second reappearance run at Fairyhouse. I think the handicapper would have responded assertively to the Fairyhouse win in February. His jumping will be tested to the full over the Aintree obstacles. Of interest but well weighted?
Northern Alliance is an interesting runner. First of all, any Tony Martin runner in a handicap is worth a second check. This one more than most. Top jock Geraghty is booked, I am sure there were other runners he could have been on. Plus the Galway Plate result of a couple of last summer looked good. Since then he has been pretty poor but incredibly has been campaigned over shorter distances when surely 3m+ looks more likely, possibly he doesn’t stay and connections know it, possibly, they have been protecting a decent mark for a stayer… fishy by the Majors reckoning.
The three that fit the Majors key trends – Big Fella Thanks, Niche Market and Arbor Supreme.
I just do not think Big Fella Thanks will stay. OK he was 4th last year and 6th the year before but what has changed to suggest a significant improvement – Place possibilities not the winner.
Niche Market has always had a touch of class and has won some decent prize money. Now with Nicholls, last year the horse pulled up on the final circuit. With a chance.
Arbor Supreme. This one is of significant interest. I waited to make this post purely to see if he got in. With a number of withdrawals he got in today which is great news for the Major. This Mullins horse looks very feasibly weighted with The Midnight Club on their last runnings (receives 10lbs for a length defeat) and at well over twice the price, I like it. It fits all of the key trends. D J Casey has the ride. Last year he unseated but watching it, he was charged into and given no chance. I have a note of concern that he has largely been campaigned on soft / heavy but he has won on good in the past.
In Summary, take a slice of Arbor Supreme. If the rain comes, have Silver by Nature. Consider a saver on Northern Alliance.
Failing that, pick a name or a set of silks that you like!