The Randox Health Grand National Chase is a Grade 3 handicap steeplechase for runners aged 7 years and older which is run over 4 miles, 2 furlongs and 74 yards over the iconic Aintree fences and is the highlight of the three day Aintree Festival on Saturday, 8 April 2017.
The race is considered to be the most famous and valuable steeplechase in the world for staying chasers and always presents a fiendishly difficult puzzle for punters to assess, with an average field size of almost 40 runners taking part during the past decade.
Key Race Trends
There has been only two winners of the Grand National carrying more than 11st 5lbs since 1977.
Many Clouds was only the fourth horse since 1983 to carry more than 11st.
Every winner since 1970 had a win over three miles to their name.
There has not been a winner of the Grand National under the age of eight for 75 years.
Eight of the last 17 winners have jumped over the Grand National fences previously.
Irish trained runners have won seven of the last 19 Grand Nationals.
24 of the last 27 winners were ridden prominently from the outset of the second circuit.
16 of the last 26 winners started in the first eight in the betting.
The previous year's Irish Grand National has been a key race in the form.
There has only been one Cheltenham Festival winner to have followed up in the Grand National since 1961.
There has only been three French-bred winners of the Grand National in the last 103 years, but three in the last six years.
The David Pipe trained VIEUX LION ROUGE is penciled in as favourite the big one on Saturday. Sevnth in last years renewal weakend two out last year after travelling well but was probably left with too much to do being held up in the rear until the 18th where he made steady headway but didn't have enough in the tank. If he can get closer to the leading pack this time around has every chance to better that seventh position. Another one bidding to go one better than last year is THE LAST SAMURI, a great run last year finishing second to Rule The World but couldn't match the winner that day who found extra on the run in. Holds every chance but could be carrying too much weight this time around. A lot are saying the class horse in the race is Gold Cup runner MORE OF THAT. 6th in the Gold Cup and distance could be an issue this Saturday as he's never ran over 3 mile two furlongs. Obviously has the class to win but again could have too much weight and sometimes jumping can be his downfall. DEFINITLY RED is another who is quite prone to making a mistake or two and there won't be any hiding places here. Due to go up 10lbs in future handicaps and a good win in March winning a class two at Doncaster with the Last Samuri behind him. May want the ground to be softer but holds every chance after bypassing Cheltenham and looks to be set out for this. 2016 RSA winner BLAKLION is another of the market leaders and also bypassed Cheltenham, has Noel Fehily on board and has claims based on his second to Saturday's fav Vieux Lion Rogue at Haydock in February. CAUSE OF CAUSES will need a career best performance to win this but stays all day and showed this at Cheltenham in March winning the Cross country chase over 30 furlongs, same jockey abroad today in JJ Codd. UCELLO CONTI is an interesting runner, sixth place in this last year and another year older and more experienced he can definitely better that this time around for Gordon Elliot and Daryl Jacob. Looking around social media the most talked about horse is probably ONE FOR ARTHUR, fifth in the Bechers back in December and will have to reverse form with three others in this if he is to get his head in front. Great win over 29 furlongs at Warwick in January and I'm expecting a big run come Saturday off a relatively low weight. Money has come for SAPHIR DU RHEU now into 18/1 from 33/1. Has the stamina to win this and is 6lb well in. Big run expected. Aintree specialist Sam Waley Cohen saddles THE YOUNG MASTER. A good win over 3 mile 5 last April and sixth in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham in March holds him in good stead for this race with a jockey on board who knows how to get over these fences. Another Paul Nicholls horse who has come in for some money is VICENTE, winner of the Scottish National and will have the ground he wants. Jumping skeptical at points but big run expected.
Previous National runners RAZ DE MAREE and SAINT ARE look to hold chances at bigger prices. Raz De Maree is a proven stayer but was too far back in 2014 to land a blow but ran on for a eight place finish. Saint Are will relish this ground, second to Many Clouds in 2015 on good to soft ground and I'm expecting him to go close again at cracking each way price. Ruby Walsh takes the ride of PLEASANT COMPANY who has two good wins to his name over 3 mile one and cannot be ruled out for the Willie Mullins yard. A first and second in two previous Bechers for HIGHLAND LODGE so we know he can jump these fences soundly and seems to love this course.
Could be carrying too much weight though. The winner of the Irish National last year ROGUE ANGEL goes for Mouse Morris and cannot be ruled out on that form, into 25/1 from 33's and could run a big race. Another big priced previous Irish National winner is THUNDER AND ROSES who has shown better form this campaign with two seconds and a sixth. Ground could be a problem as he seems to like it with a bit of cut. First reserve BLESS THE WINGS could be a lively outsider off a featherweight if he is to get in and the 33/1 on offer could be cut for the Irish National second if there was a drop out on Saturday. Nicholls biggest outside LE MERCUREY can be backed at around 40/1 and will stay this trip but the age trend has to hinder his chances being a seven year old.
You have to go back to the forties to find a seven year old winner of the National. SHANTOU FLYER stays three mile but he may struggle with this marathon trip and his price reflects that at 50/1. Just the one good run in his last six for DOCTOR HARPER and will need to be finely tuned and at his best if he is to win this for David Pipe.
We haven't covered every horse in the verdict and the way the last few Nationals have gone there could very well be a outsider who wins it. As every knows the National is a bit of a lottery and most of time the form book goes out of the window so a horse we haven't mentioned could go on to win it but based on form and trends the twenty horses mentioned look to have every chance on Saturday. Lets hope we have the winner in there some where!!
Each Way Bet: UCELLO CONTI 16/1
Each Way Bet: ONE FOR ARTHUR 18/1
Each Way Bet: VICENTE 20/1
Each Way Bet: SAINT ARE 40/1
Good luck with whatever you decide to back, enjoy one of the greatest sporting events of the year and let's hope all horses and jockeys come back with no problems or injuries!