The build up to the Grand National is always exciting but this year just looking at the pics on the website sends a shiver up the spine – a victorious jockey is backed by a roaring crowd of supporters from every walk of life.
The adrenaline is there fizzing in every face. Make no mistake; the Crabbie’s Grand National is a race that draws you in. Watched with fear and fascination by millions. And the team behind the ad campaign have done a great job of capturing the mood and setting the tone.
A quick click onto the website in a moment of absent minded browsing and we were utterly gripped. Within minutes, amateurs as we are, we were studying the form, listening to tipsters, watching the odds and planning where and with whom we’d watch the event.
At times like these suddenly everyone’s an expert. Including us!
So we might not have completely mastered the terminology, or know our Ruby Walshes from our Pineau de Re but since when did that put the breaks on passionate support and having an opinion?
Anyone remember the beach volleyball at the 2012 Olympics? Perhaps you were one of the millions who overnight became a diehard volleyball fan, glued to the antics at Horse Guards Parade? Well this is what happens every year in the run up to the Grand National – to us anyway. Overnight experts. Amateur pundits.
So in the name of amateur punditry we give you –
The A Hume Tipsters Guide to the Crabbie’s Grand National:
Well, we’ve got to start with the biggest race news. AP McCoy – 19 times a champion – has announced that the Grand National will be his swansong. He’ll be hedging his bets up until final declarations (9 April) but has said he’s ‘very likely’ to be riding Shutthefrontdoor. Which makes sense. If you’re bowing out the sport and looking to make it 20 times a champion by winning the National for a second time then of course you’d pick the favourite – 8-1.
Last year’s winning jockey Leighton Aspell is set to ride Many Clouds, winner of Irish National Hunt race the Hennessey Gold Cup. Many Clouds also ran well, finishing sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Odds currently favourable at 25-1.
Our good friend, trainer Kim Bailey is running The Rainbow Hunter for the third year in a row. On both previous occasions Rainbow Hunter unseated jockey Aiden Coleman. Though first time around the horse gleefully chased Auroras Encore to the finish line for what would have been a glorious finish had there been a jockey in the saddle.
This year David Bass is booked to ride Rainbow Hunter and if his horse can run like that again then Kim Bailey might bag his second GN win – he won in 1990 with Mr Fisk. We caught up with him quickly and he said simply:
“We’re working on the old adage of third time lucky!”
Once a bridesmaid – this year a bride?
Las year’s runner up Balthazar King could be in with a chance this year if the going isn’t too soft. Trainer Phillip Hobbs took the decision not to race the horse at the Cheltenham Festival and it’s hoped the lay off and the more considered preparation will make the difference this time. Still room for profit at 12-1.
Choosing a winner?
Deciding how to place your bet can be bewildering and this is probably half the reason for the popularity of the office sweep. But with a little bit of leg work you can enhance your chances of winning – again we’d like to stress we’re complete amateurs at this – here are a few pointers to consider:
Horses aged 9-11 are most likely to win.
Previous experience at Aintree increases the chance of doing well.
Weight is critical – only 2 winners in the past 20 years have carried more than 11st 3lbs.
The ‘going’, or to the non-racing fraternity the conditions, can be a big factor for a lot of horses. For example, heavier horses tend not to do well on soft ground as it’s more of an effort to heave up over the jumps.
The going is likely to be on the soft side of good on Saturday but it’s really too early to say for sure. Keep the going in mind when placing bets.
See Kim Bailey’s excellent blog for a deeper insight into the world of horse racing.
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