The Grand National has obviously been cancelled this year as the world comes to terms with the Covid-19 pandemic but ITV are screening the virtual race at 5pm on Saturday. Note all bookmakers are betting on the “race” with profits going to our wonderful National Health Service – the each way terms are 1/5th odds five places across the board. The maximum bet is £10 win or £10 each way – it is just a bit of fun, but I shall certainly be tuning in given my diary is surprisingly empty at present.

This is the fourth renewal of the virtual Grand National and it might be worth looking back at the three previous results. I appreciate this is not a big sample, but it might throw up a few clues.

In 2017 the virtual race was “won” by Cause Of Causes who had landed the Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on his previous start. He was a nine-year-old who had finished eighth in the National behind Many Clouds in 2016. He finished runner up to One For Arthur in the race itself.

In 2018 the virtual race was won by Tiger Roll who did, of course, land the great race that year. As with Cause Of Causes his prep run for Aintree was a success in the 3m 6f X-Country Chase at the Festival. He won the National by just a head from Pleasant Company.

Last year the technology decreed that Rathvinden would win the 2019 National – he went on to finish third to Tiger Roll. It was his first attempt at the National fences, but he had won the 3m Bobbyjo Chase on his previous start and had won the 4m NH Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.

Thus, I suggest we concentrate on proven stayers who go into the race in very good form.

With that in mind my 1-2-3-4-5 are:

  1. Kimberlite Candy 16/1

Winner of the Warwick Classic on his last start over 3m 5f and three of the last five winners of the race were eight-year-olds. Has experience of the National fences having finished runner up to Walk In The Mill in the Becher Chase on his penultimate start.

2. Walk In The Mill 16/1

Dual winner over the National fences and finished fourth in the corresponding race 12 months ago. Has a bit to find with Tiger Roll even at the revised weights but improved again when winning the Becher Chase in December and he looks sure to “run” another big race.

3. Any Second Now 10/1

Won the Kim Muir over three-and-a-quarter miles at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2019 and showed his class when winning over the minimum trip of two miles on his last start. He is taken to be the best of the Irish in the green and gold colours of JP McManus who owned the 2010 winner Don’t Push It and also Kimberlite Candy.

4. Potters Corner 18/1

The Welsh Grand National winner who would have been my selection for the actual race on good to soft or softer ground. I just feel that the fact that he failed to complete in two chase starts last season may count against him. Bids to become the first Welsh-trained “winner” of the race since 1905.

5. Kildisart 45/1

Lacks experience of the National fences but ran a terrific race when second in the ultra-competitive Ultima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Won the 3m Handicap Chase at the corresponding meeting 12 months ago – albeit over the smaller Mildmay fences.

Thus, no Tiger Roll in my top five. The dual winner was easily brushed aside by Easysland in the Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham last month – a race he had won en route to Aintree glory in the last two years. History might show that he faced an impossible task against the French horse – who could be Gold Cup class – but he was beaten out of sight (17L) and doesn’t come into the race with quite the same progressive profile as was the case in 2018 and 2019.

Others to consider include Ok Corral, Pleasant Company, Magic Of Light and Burrows Saint but my pin has come down on the side of Kimberlite Candy for trainer Tom Lacey.

As Bow Wow Wow once famously sang: I Want Candy

Be lucky and stay safe.

Charlie

PS It might not be that famous actually – only peaked at number 9 in the charts!

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