The Grand National remains my favourite sporting occasion of the whole year especially with Everton unlikely to win either the Premier League or Champions League in the foreseeable future.
The race has obviously been postponed this year due to the ongoing global Covid-19 crisis but a virtual Grand National will be screened live on ITV on Saturday at 5pm.
All major bookmakes are betting on the virtual race with any profits going to the NHS who continue to work so tirelessly in order to save our lives.
Note the maximum stake per horse is £10 win or £10 each way. Please gamble responsibly on what is just meant as a bit of fun in these long and dark days.
Please find below my Pinstickers guide to the great race.
Take care and stay healthy – I shall post my own 1-2-3-4-5 on Friday but I hope your own pin is sharp and lucky.
- Tiger Roll 11-10 5/1 fav
Dual winner of the great race who was not at his best on ground softer than ideal at Cheltenham last month. Looks sure to run a big race as he bids for his hat-trick but may find at least one or two better handicapped.
2. Bristol de Mai 11-8 20/1
Below par in the Gold Cup last month when beaten nearly 20 lengths. His best form gives him a leading chance, but he would have better prospects if the race were run down the A580 at his beloved Haydock Park.
3. Aso 11-2 66/1
Represents the yard of Venetia Williams who saddled the 100/1 winner of the race Mon Mome back in 2009. Yet to win beyond 2m 5f and stamina likely to give way from Becher’s second time round.
4. Elegant Escape 11-2 20/1
Won the Welsh National back in 2018 and his third in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury back in November is very good form. The wheels have fallen off in recent starts, however, and the yard had a disappointing Cheltenham. Will the technology factor that in today?
5. Anibale Fly 11-2 20/1
Runner up in last season’s Gold Cup and finished 4th (2018) and 5th (2019) in the last two renewals of the race. Is 13lbs better off with Tiger Roll for the 18L he was behind the winner but has not beaten a single horse in his three chases this term. Did show signs of a revival over hurdles when last seen at the beginning of March and a fascinating contender.
6. Top Ville Ben 11-2 45/1
Has a bit to find with Bristol De Mai on Cheltenham form from Trials Day back in January but had previously won the Roland Meyrick at Wetherby. One of the more interesting outsiders.
7. Big Brown Bear 11-0 33/1
Light campaign has been geared around the National and did land the competitive Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last year. Trainer Nicky Henderson has yet to saddle the winner of the race and I don’t think he will saddle the “winner” at the weekend.
8. Peregrine Run 10-13 66/1
Stamina to prove but did win the Mayo National over a trip just shy of three miles last spring. Needs good or faster ground to be seen at his best.
9. Jett 10-13 50/1
Four of his five career wins have been gained in single-figure fields and this Irish raider makes little appeal.
10. Alpha Des Obeaux 10-13 25/1
Fell at the Chair in the corresponding race 12 months ago but did finish third behind Walk In The Mill in the Becher Chase here back in December. Richard Johnson has ridden in the race a record 21 times and failed to complete on 15 occasions although he has finished runner up twice courtesy of Balthazar King (2014) and What’s Up Boys (2002). Runs in the same colours as Tiger Roll and no forlorn hope.
11. Total Recall 10-13 40/1
Legendary Irish trainer Willie Mullins has only saddled the National winner once previously courtesy of the well backed Hedgehunter back in 2005. Didn’t take to the unique Aintree fences when pulled up – beaten favourite – in the race two years ago but looks well treated on his Thyestes Chase win at Gowran back in January.
12. The Storyteller 10-12 40/1
No experience of the Aintree fences but finished runner up in the Pertemps Final – over hurdles – at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Trainer Gordon Elliot has three wins in the great race including with Tiger Roll and this nine-year-old looks sure to give his supporters a run for their money although I’m not convinced it will be a happy ending.
13. Magic Of Light 10-12 18/1
Belied her odds of 66/1 when finishing second in the 2019 renewal and is 4lbs better off with Tiger Roll for the two-and-three-quarter lengths she was behind the winner 12 months ago. She was a bit keen last year and made a shuddering mistake at the Chair which ultimately must have cost her the race. Robbie Power takes over in the saddle on Saturday – a leading player.
14. Talkischeap 10-11 25/1
Won the valuable staying chase at Sandown which brings the curtain down on the jumps season last spring and good ground clearly suits. No experience of the National fences but eight-year-olds have won three of the last five runnings of the race and another with serious claims.
15. Yala Enki 10-11 28/1
Bryony Frost bids to become the first female jockey to win the National and this 10-year-old has finished third in the last couple of Welsh Nationals. Slightly below par at Haydock last time but was a fluent winner on his penultimate start – first try over the Aintree fences.
16. Ballyoptic 10-11 25/1
Was going backwards when coming down four out in the race last year and hard to make a case for despite his win at Ascot last time. Best form on soft ground and has been raised 6lbs for his recent win – others preferred.
17. Burrows Saint 10-11 12/1
The last seven-year-old to win the race was Bogskar back in 1940 but this precocious French bred won the Irish National last spring and looks sure to make a bold bid under the excellent Rachel Blackmore. His powerful connections have protected his handicap mark over fences this term and he holds outstanding claims.
18. Definitly Red 10-10 14/1
Badly hampered at Bechers in the 2017 renewal before pulling up soon after and I feel we should put a line through the form. Horses with Red in their name will always be popular with punters after the exploits of Red Rum and Red Marauder and this 11-year-old looked as good as ever when scoring at Kelso last time.
Has never struck me as a National winner but he ticks many of the right boxes for this virtual renewal.
19. Sub Lieutenant 10-9 33/1
Finished second in the 2019 Topham Trophy over the National fences but has stamina to prove over this marathon trip.
20. Ok Corral 10-9 25/1
Impressive winner of a valuable handicap at Doncaster last time and has won two of his three starts under leading Irish amateur rider Derek O’Connor. I don’t think he jumps well enough to win a National but should not be dismissed lightly in this virtual contest.
21. Tout Est Permis 10-9 80/1
Third in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham over hurdles last month from a much lower mark and has a bit to find reverting to the larger obstacles.
22. Vintage Clouds 10-8 33/1
Admirable grey but fell at the first in the race 12 months ago and failed to have a cut at his fences in the Becher Chase here earlier in the season. Easily overlooked.
23. Crievehill 10-8 66/1
Likely to race prominently and give a bold sight, but the petrol gauge is likely to be empty by the time the field cross the Melling Road for a second time.
24. Lake View Lad 10-8 50/1
Well held when pulled up four out in the corresponding race last year and others make more appeal.
25. Jury Duty 10-8 40/1
Ran well on ground softer than ideal last time and hadn’t been asked a serious question when coming down on the run to Bechers second time here last year. One of the more interesting outsiders.
26. Pleasant Company 10-7 28/1
Runner up to Tiger Roll in 2018 and was still going well enough when coming down four out last year. The last 12-year-old to win the race was Amberleigh House in 2004 but he has a 13lbs pull with Tiger Roll from 12 months ago and he has been laid out for today’s contest. Looks sure to run another big race.
27. Acapella Bourgeois 10-6 33/1
Had a couple of today’s rivals behind when landing the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time. Closely matched with stablemate Burrows Saint on Irish National form from last spring and another Mullins challenger with a realistic shout.
28. Shattered Love 10-6 66/1
The world appeared her oyster when she won the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018 but she hasn’t quite kicked on as many thought she would. No mare has won the race since Nickel Coin in 1951 – although Magic Of Light came so close 12 months ago – and she has stamina to prove.
29. Any Second Now 10-6 10/1
Won the Kim Muir at last year’s Cheltenham Festival and this season’s campaign has been geared around one race – the Grand National. Showed his wellbeing when scoring over the minimum trip of two miles at Naas in February and was one of the best-backed horses for the race in the antepost market. A major contender.
30. Potters Corner 10-6 18/1
The Welsh Grand National winner who enjoys the mud but has won on a decent surface and is bidding to become the first Welsh-trained “winner” of the race since Kirkland in 1905. Fell twice last season which may count against him but is a leading contender if the technology decrees he puts in an error free round of jumping.
31. Dounikos 10-5 50/1
Pulled up in three of his last four starts including in this race 12 months ago when he went off at just 16/1. Hard to make a case for on this season’s exploits.
32. Kildisart 10-5 50/1
Beaten just a neck at Cheltenham last time on ground, arguably, slower than ideal and would be carrying more weight if the handicapper could reassess him. Won a handicap at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago over the Mildmay fences and a must for any short-list.
33. Death Duty 10-5 40/1
Stamina an issue and readily brushed aside by Bachasson at Thurles last time when his jumping lacked fluency.
34. Ramses De Teillee 10-5 66/1
Pulled up behind Tiger Roll 12 months ago and has been campaigned almost exclusively over hurdles this season. Below par in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last month.
35. Valtour 10-4 66/1
Ran well for a long way 12 months ago but was ultimately well beaten and looked a non-stayer over the four-and-a-quarter miles.
36. Saint Xavier 10-4 66/1
French import who disappointed in his sole chase at Kelso behind Definitly Red. Unlikely to get competitive under David Maxwell.
37. Warriors Tale 10-4 80/1
A winner over these fences in the past (2m 5f) but wouldn’t get this trip in a horsebox. Has been pulled up in the last two renewals and likely to get an unwanted hat-trick.
38. Double Shuffle 100/1
Pulled up in the race three years ago behind One For Arthur and another non-stayer.
39. Kimberlite Candy 10-4 16/1
Won the same Warwick trial last time that One for Arthur did before coming on to win at Aintree in 2017. Has a bit to find with Walk In The Mill on Becher Chase form (3m 2f+) from December but today’s additional distance will suit and one of two horses I backed for the race when the weights were announced back in February.
40. Walk In The Mill 10-4 16/1
Is only 5lbs better off with Tiger Roll for the 16L he was behind the favourite when fourth in last year’s National. His subsequent win in the Becher Chase was a career best run, however, and another lurking at the foot of the weights with an outstanding chance.