Grand National Tips

Latest Aintree odds: Betting on the Grand National

It is a competitive renewal of the Grand National on Saturday (April 14, 2012), but that has not stopped us identifying a good short-list from which to select our two recommended each-way Grand National tips in this preview: Seabass and Cappa Bleu.

Here we make a case for them as value bets and we mention some others with a big chance of running really well:

SEABASS: This Ted Walsh trained gelding has some pretty impressive Grand National credentials. At nine years old he is the ideal age for the race and will go into it with an official rating of 149 and on the back of six consecutive victories over fences. His most recent triumph was on 26 February at Naas when ridden by Ruby Walsh in a Grade 2 chase over two miles. One of those six wins was just in an open point to point but at least he is proven over three miles on soft ground when carrying eleven and a half stone.

Whilst he has never been asked to go beyond three miles, if he can function on quicker ground it seems likely that he will have the stamina to survive a longer distance. In his lifetime total of sixteen runs over obstacles, Seabass has only ever fallen once, back in January 2010. Excluding that one fall, he has barely made a fencing blunder in his life.

The majority of Aintree winners have carried less than eleven stone and Seabass will carry ten stone twelve pounds. That weight will not be carried in the shape of Ruby Walsh as his sister Katie takes the reins instead. Ruby surprised a few people when opting for On His Own, trained by Willie Mullins. Seabass has been ridden to victory by Katie more than once and she should do a good job. It may prove that the horse goes off at bigger odds on the Grand National betting boards than would otherwise have been the case and that’s a bonus.

ON HIS OWN: Used to trained by the now disgraced and retired Howard Johnson. Now with Willie Mullins and has to be well handicapped as he gained his handicap mark on the basis of his performances with Johnson – and Mullins is in a different class. Now that Ruby Walsh has committed to this horse his odds have tumbled and he looks no value. That said, On His Own does have good form, is lightly-raced and goes on any ground conditions.

CAPPA BLEU: This ten year old is trained by the highly-respected Evan Williams and enters the race on a respectable rating of 147. He succeeded in four of his six starts in point to points (which are run over three miles) and successfully made the transition to a more prestigious venue by winning the Foxhunters (run over three miles two and a half furlongs) at Cheltenham in 2009, staying on well up the hill at the finish in good to soft ground.

He started this season with a win in a three mile Handicap Chase in November 2011 under Paul Moloney, beating David Pipe’s Tamarinbleu by a head with another likely Grand National runner, Killyglen, six lengths behind in third. A month later, he was third in the Welsh National at Chepstow. The going was heavy in the three mile five furlong race and it was Richard Lee’s Le Beau Bai that succeeded carrying just ten stone one pound with Victor Dartall’s Giles Cross seven lengths behind him in third with ten stone six pounds. Cappa Bleu was fifteen lengths adrift but, under the weight of eleven stone three pounds, that has to count as a creditable effort.

On his most recent outing at Ascot in February in the three mile Weatherbys Bloodstock Insurance Chase he finished third, less than four lengths from the winner, David Pipe’s Massini’s Maguire. The winner carried ten stone thirteen pounds and Cappa Bleu just a pound less. He will carry ten stone ten at Liverpool on Saturday and has to be an interesting prospect. Cappa Bleu is one of our main Aintree Grand National tips in this preview and we recommend an each-way bet.

SYNCHRONISED: Cheltenham Gold Cup winners do not have an impressive record in the Grand National but Synchronised was no ordinary Gold Cup winner this year. He was generally acknowledged, including by his Gold Cup jockey, Tony McCoy, to lack the class to beat an on form Long Run or Kauto Star, but nailed on to stay on strongly up the hill at the finish.

This nine year old by Sadler’s Wells is owned by JP McManus and trained by Jonjo O’Neill and goes into the race on a rating of 161, the highest of all the National field. Despite all this he is at the head of the betting market for the Grand National. He has stamina second to none but carrying the top weight of eleven stone ten pounds is likely to test that stamina to the limit. In March 2010 he won the most gruelling of John Smith’s Midlands Grand Nationals on going so heavy and testing at Uttoxeter that only three of the eighteen runners made it to the finishing line. He was only a seven year old at the time and still managed to carry eleven stone five over 24 fences and across four miles and a furlong of mud.

When it comes to fences, Synchronised’s jumping at Cheltenham would do little to inspire faith in his ability to tackle the National course. He certainly clouted a few and generally looked less than fluent but this may well have a lot to do with his being absolutely flat to the boards throughout the race. In slower run contests his jumping has generally been economical and he does not seem to be prone to unnecessary blunders.  Overall, his record of only one fall in nineteen starts over obstacles is more than respectable, but the Aintree fences are like nothing he has met before.

Whether this race will come too soon after Synchronised’s exertions at Cheltenham we will only discover on the day. As the class horse in the race he is sure to attract plenty of Grand National tips in the newspaper previews of the race. However his weight and jumping concerns rule him out as a betting proposal for us.

GILES CROSS: This ten year old son of Saddler’s Hall may only be rated a lowly 138 but, if the ground is soft on the day, he is a decently priced horse for the 2012 Aintree Grand National shortlist, see the website for prices. Trained by Victor Dartnall, Giles Cross is an out and out stayer who has only fallen once in his sixteen starts over obstacles under rules and that was back in December 2009.

On his most recent start he won the Grand National Trial over three miles four furlongs at Haydock in February, beating Paul Nicholls’ Neptune Collonges by a neck. The going was heavy and he was carrying exactly a stone less than Neptune Collonges. Another National hopeful, Richard Lee’s Le Beau Bai was eleven lengths behind them in third. Mon Mome and Always Right pulled up in the same race.

Giles Cross will only carry ten stone one pound and will only run if the ground is more than a little on the soft side. If he has the assistance of regular jockey, Denis O’Regan, on the day that will definitely add to his chances. We can not rule him out of our shortlist of Grand National tips.

SUNNYHILLBOY: This 142 rated nine year old has the right pedigree for this race. His sire, Old Vic, has already produced two Grand National winners, Don’t Push It and Comply or Die. Trained by Jonjo O’Neill and owned by JP McManus, he is a worthy second string for the partnership.

After a poor start to the 2011/2012 season, including being pulled up when favourite at Cheltenham in December, his most recent visit to Prestbury Park makes him worthy of consideration. On 15 March 2012 he stayed on well to gallop clear of his nearest rival, Becauseicouldntsee in the three mile one and a half furlong Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase for amateur riders.

He has only hit the deck once in 21 starts over obstacles and has won on both soft and good going. If this isn’t one race too many for him this season he could run a big race carrying just ten stone five pounds.

BALLABRIGGS: Won the race last year off a handicap mark of 150. He has been prepared for this race alone by a master trainer and horses with course form tend to run well in this race whatever the handicapper chucks at them. However off a 10lb higher mark this time around it may not be so easy and I can see him placing rather than winning.

WEIRD AL: From the same yard as last year’s winner Ballabriggs, Weird Al will fill the role of less fancied stablemate of the Donald McCain pair. However Weird Al has the greater class and is very well handicapped if taking to the unique fences. The big question is whether he breaks a blood vessel as he did when never travelling in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. If he stays sound he would have a big chance at a decent price.

Grand National Preview and Tipping Conclusion

All these horses have realistic chances of winning the big race at Aintree. Seabass has to be a leading contender. Don’t be put off by the excellent Katie Walsh on board as the horse has to be a leading contender and it will only make the horse bigger odds than he would otherwise have been. Cappa Bleu is an outstanding alternative choice and they are our two advised each-way bets and Grand National tips.

Predicted finishing order:

  1. Cappa Bleu
  2. Seabass
  3. Weird Al
  4. Ballabriggs
  5. Sunnyhillboy