4m2½f (Grand National) Randox Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (GBB Race) (Class 1) (7yo+)
Punters are back to Aintree for the Randox Health Grand National. With fairly quick ground, I expect the first circuit of this race to be run at some pace. The onus over the National Fences at Aintree has definitely moved away from pure marathon staying sorts to those that also contain speed.
Old favourite, Éclair Surf and Irish National winner Freewheelin Dylan, are going to go off at a frenetic gallop. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t on Éclair Surf already. But the market has latched on to the Win My Wings Scottish National form and I don’t think he’s value any more at 14/1 despite possibly being 7-10lbs well-in – he could be the best handicapped horse in the race and I expect both of them to run very well for a long way.
Snow Leopardess is the people’s horse this year, but I always find that’s a load of nonsense with horses getting latched on to for reasons other than their potential to claim this price. She might be the exception, a strong winner of the Becher, this mare is a fantastic jumper. She will be right up there with the frontrunners, but I do feel she prefers more cut in the ground and I can see her being outclassed by some of the boys as she was when a distant fourth in the National Hunt Chase in 2020 behind the likes of Escaria Ten, who is not without a strong chance himself.
The stats previous winners in the National in the year after winning it are pretty solid. Minella Times won with any amount in hand last year, but this season has shaped up very differently for him and for his yard. He has failed to finish in both starts this year and horses that have been pulled up in their prior run to the National often don’t enjoy it. Yet he could bounce back over this trip, but he is also 15lbs higher and the combination of these factors means he is passed over.
Any Second Now ran a blinder last year and had a fantastic prep last time when outsaying Escaria Ten. But it might have been that his best chance of winning this was last year when he was 7lbs lower. He can run another big one to get into the places.
However the one that’s stood out to me for several months has been LONGHOUSE POET for the brilliant trainer, Martin Brassil. Brassil knows a thing or two about training Grand National winners, and he achieved the job with Numbersixvalverde in 2006 having followed a similar route. The yard has also gone very close with his other previous entries in this.
Longhouse Poet was a PTP winner on his only attempt over three miles, and opened his NH career by beating none other than Monkfish in a Punchestown bumper. He made up into a fairly classy hurdler, placing in two Grade 1 novice hurdles before competing in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival.
He looked generally progressive as he embarked on his novice chasing career over middle distances, but took a huge leap forward when competing in his first contest over three miles, comfortably outstaying Run Wild Fred in a heavy ground Beginners Chase over 3m 1f.
Longhouse Poet’s campaign this been geared at this, warming up with a much-needed run at Limerick at Christmas, the perfect prep for the Thyestes where he put in his best jumping performance to date when staying well to win a tough handicap. He looked like he had plenty more left in the tank at the finishing line and shaped as though a marathon trip would be right up his street. Longhouse Poet looks like he has the requisite tactical speed to be up with the pace here, remains completely unexposed after just six chase starts and is arguably overpriced at 16/1. He’s got a huge chance.
Gordon Elliott has come here mob-handed, however the pick of his runners could easily be DELTA WORK if he turns up in the same form as he did when winning the X-Country at Cheltenham last time out beating two time Grand National favourite, Tiger Roll.
Delta Work had competed in 14 consecutive Grade 1’s before his debut in a different type of environment, he relished the task and looked like he stayed the 3m 6f very well. His trainer has used that race for a prep many times before. Delta Work looks like the class act in this field and his mark of 160 could be generous. The last horse to win carrying 11st 9lbs was Many Clouds who also competed in multiple Gold Cups, but the topweights tend to do well in these sort of conditions and I’m with him to take over the mantle from the now retired Tiger Roll for Gigginstown.
1pt each Delta Work @11/1, 17:15 Aintree, Saturday (1-7
places, 1/5 odds with Betway)
1pt each-way Longhouse Poet @16/1, 17:15 Aintree, Saturday (1-7 places, 1/5 odds with Betway)