Raz De Maree Can Win Another Grand National
There is a jumps race this week worth £125,000 that is not part of the Cheltenham Festival. It certainly is not a case of after the Lord Major’s Show at Uttoxeter on Saturday when the Midlands Grand National is the richest race at the track. Punters may be playing with the bookies money after the festival and a big field long distance handicap chase is ideal for investing any spare cash. Alternatively punters may be looking to claw back losses if it all goes pear shaped at Cheltenham.
For many years Uttoxeter could be described as out in the sticks and the facilities were no better than average. There was some investment in the infrastructure and Uttoxeter is now one of the most well-appointed courses in Britain. Saturday racing was a boon and it helps that the entrance is about 100 yards from the station with fast trains to the Midlands and the north west of England. Uttoxeter deserves to stage a major televised race at their post-Cheltenham meting and biggest day of the year.
It seems that every town in Britain now has its own Grand National. The big one of course and versions in Wales and Scotland are well established but after that the Midlands version is one of the best in the regions. It is a handicap chase run over four miles and two furlongs which is three laps of the track. It is the second longest race of the year after the Grand National at Aintree. There is a maximum field of 20 runners which should be filled so bookmakers will pay one quarter the odds for four places.
The race was first run in 1969 so it’s one of the oldest of the regional Nationals. There have been no multiple winners and only four jockeys have won the race twice. David Pipe is the leading trainer with four wins, all from 2011 to 2014 so four in a row. The last four winners have been aged 8 or 9 and only one horse younger than 7 has prevailed this century. Only two horses have carried 11 stone or more to victory since 2000. The average price of the winner over the last 10 year is 9/1.
The best horse to win the race this century is Synchronised who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later but was fatally injured in the Grand National in the same year. The race is usually won by a solid handicapper who keeps going when others have had enough. It’s a test of stamina and jumping more than speed and Raz De Maree is a leading contender on that basis. The horse is aged 13 but Pete The Feat won at Sandown last weekend and he is a year older.
Raz De Maree won the Welsh National ridden by Saturday’s pilot, James Bowen, who is only four years older than the horse. Bowen is a conditional jockey so gets a three pounds allowance which could be crucial to the final outcome. On ratings Raz de Maree is one of the main contenders and the allowance could be the difference between winning and losing the race. The horsed best Alfie Spinner by six lengths in the Welsh National carrying eight pounds more than the runner-up.
Raz De Maree has to concede 15 pounds to Alfie Spinner so the horses are closely matched on Welsh National form. A good conditional jockey can be worth his weight in gold and Bowen can do the business on Raz de Maree in the 2018 Midlands Grand National.