The world’s greatest horse race the Crabbie’s Grand National, which boasts a £1-million total prize fund, takes place at Aintree on Saturday, April 9, the third and final day of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, with a new off time of 5.15pm. A maximum of 40 horses can line up in the race over 30 fences and four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards.
Heading the entries going forward is last year’s winner Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood), who was allotted top-weight of 11st 10lb at the weights’ lunch on February 16. The nine-year-old, the 8/1 joint-favourite with Betfred, official betting partner of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, is bidding to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Aintree spectacular since the legendary Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 and I have backed him to do so at 12/1 anti post with Ladbrokes.
Many Clouds won well last weekend at Kelso jumping like a stag after traveling like a dream, other Grand National runners Unioniste (Paul Nicholls, 25/1 with Betfred for the Crabbie’s Grand National), Perfect Candidate (Fergal O’Brien, 66/1) and Maggio (Patrick Griffin IRE, 100/1) have been nibbled at in the betting market this week.
Another Crabbie’s Grand National contender also entered at Kelso is The Last Samuri (25/1), although trainer Kim Bailey has revealed that the eight-year-old will instead be heading to Doncaster on the same day for the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase (3.45pm) over three and a quarter miles. The Last Samuri was last seen out when successful in a three-mile handicap chase at Kempton Park on December 27.
Gloucestershire-based Bailey, who saddled the 1990 Grand National winner Mr Frisk, commented: “The Last Samuri will be heading to Doncaster on Saturday for the Grimthorpe Chase.”
“Everything has been perfect with him since his win at Kempton and he wants good ground, which it hopefully should be at Doncaster.”
“He is entered at the Cheltenham Festival but won’t be heading there. We only put him in at Cheltenham in case there were lots of abandonments and we ran out of options. The plan is to go to Doncaster and then straight to Aintree, all being well.”
“Saturday’s race looks like it should be a good trial for the Crabbie’s Grand National.”
The Grimthorpe Chase should also hold more clues for the Crabbie’s Grand National. The 20 entries for the Doncaster race also include The Druids Nephew (Neil Mulholland, 20/1 with Betfred for the Crabbie’s Grand National), Aachen (Venetia Williams, 66/1), Bear’s Affair (Nicky Henderson, 50/1) and Ikorodu Road (Graeme McPherson, 200/1) plus the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Just A Par (40/1) and Wonderful Charm (66/1).
A Newbury veterans’ handicap chase (2.15pm) on Saturday also has Grand National connections, with the 2014 winner Pineau De Re (50/1 with Betfred) and Alvarado (40/1), fourth for the last two years, among the Aintree entries which include Aachen, Bear’s Affair and Benbens (100/1) as well.
Nicholls, the champion Jump trainer who won the Grand National in 2012 with Neptune Collonges, is also responsible for 12/1 co-favourite Silviniaco Conti.
The 10-year-old bounced back to form with an impressive victory in the Grade One Ascot Chase on February 20, after which Nicholls nominated the Grand National as the horse’s likely target.
Siliviniaco Conti is no stranger to success at Aintree over the Mildmay Course, having landing the Grade One Betfred Bowl in 2014 and 2015, plus the 2012 Grade Two Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
Vazirbad has been all the rage this week with the bookmakers for the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan this Saturday, (5/4 from 11/8 with Betfred). The Aga Khan owned 4yo will be very hard to beat in this Group 2 stayers race, Christophe Soumillion takes the ride on the warm favorite.
Yours In Sport.
Back Next Thursday.
Kevan Minter – The Colonel.