Much of the interest in this year’s Grand National revolves around the favourite, Shutthefrontdoor (15/2), who represents AP McCoy’s last chance to win the great race (4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday).
The perennial Champion Jockey has won the National just once before, on Don’t Push It for the same connections in 2010, but Shutthefrontdoor isn’t favourite for purely sentimental reasons.
Jonjo O’Neill’s (pictured) eight-year-old is 11lb higher in the weights than when winning the Irish Grand National over 3m5f at Fairyhouse last April, but his comfortable, 8-length win in a small graduation chase at Carlisle in November suggested that he is still reasonably handicapped.
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He also ran well when sixth, beaten just 3¼ lengths, in the National Hunt Chase over 4m at last year’s Cheltenham Festival so, having won on going ranging from good to heavy, has fewer questions to answer than many of his rivals. The one real question mark against him is an absence of 152 days, but it’s fair to assume that Jonjo O’Neill will have left nothing to work on for this particular assignment.
Last year’s fifth Rocky Creek (10/1) is 2lb lower in the weights this time and consequently 10lb better off for 19 lengths with last year’s winner Pineau De Re (25/1) and 5lb better off for 14 lengths with last year’s runner-up Balthazar King (10/1). Strictly speaking, that shouldn’t be enough to reverse the form with either, but Rocky Creek was a decisive, 6-length winner of the Betbright Chase over 3m at Kempton seven weeks ago and shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Druids Nephew (14/1) had indicated more than once that he might be a well-handicapped horse prior to his 3¾-length victory in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase over 3m1f at the Cheltenham Festival last month, so must be feared off an identical handicap mark. He has his stamina to prove over 4m3½f but is hard to ignore from a handicapping point-of-view.
Of those at slightly longer odds, Night In Milan (28/1) has looked a National type for some time and has been quietly supported in the ante-post market. All his best form has come over 3m2f or shorter but he’s very effective on good, or good to soft, going and usually jumps soundly. He likes to race on or close to the pace, which means that he’s likely to avoid any trouble in behind and, although his efforts so far this season suggest he is a little high in the weights, he could be a force to be reckoned with over the National fences.
Oscar Time (50/1) deserves an honourable mention, if only for the fact that he’s already been placed in two Nationals and won over the National fences in the Becher Chase over 3m2f in December. It is probably asking too much for him to win a National at the age of 14, but he’s still well handicapped on his best form and could go well at rewarding odds.
Grand National Betting Tips Verdict
- Shutthefrontdoor is probably a worthy favourite, so good luck to him and Tony McCoy. However at longer odds Night In Milan makes serious appeal on his first attempt over the National fences. Our Grand National betting tips advice is to back NIGHT IN MILAN each-way at best odds of 28/1 with Betfred.