4m2½f (Grand National) Randox Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
We were robbed of this great steeplechase last year by the pandemic and there are a number of runners that arguably would have had a better chance contesting it last year than this, however plenty have kept their handicap marks and will be contesting it despite being a year older and that helps us to rule out a fair chunk of the contenders.
Current favourite and ante-post gamble Cloth Cap is officially 14lbs well-in on official ratings. That is a hell of a lot of weight to theoretically have in-hand on the rest of the field and he deserves to be the sitting at the top of the market for Sir Trevor Hemmings who has a great heritage in this race and would be a popular winner.
However, there is always the potential for a mishap ending a horses chances in the Grand National and I won’t be getting stuck in to a 9/2 favourite in a 40-runner chase that has is yet to experience the Aintree fences.
The one who ticks plenty of the boxes on historical trends and that has been lined-up for a tilt at this for over two years now is BURROWS SAINT. He comes into this off-the-back of an encouraging run in the Bobby Jo Chase at Fairyhouse so often a useful trial for this race. This run showed that Burrows Saint was coming back to form and although he was defeated by the reopposing Acapella Bourgeois, it’s important to note that this was his first run over fences since December 2019. There was plenty to like about the run despite the ground being on the heavy side and we can expect big improvement over better ground.
Willie Mullins is yet to taste victory in the Grand National – just about the only event he hasn’t won to date – and our selection helped him to tick off the Irish-equivalent in 2019.
Burrows Saint had just had experience of three career chase starts for the Champion Trainer before winning the Irish Grand National (also won on good ground) and he has been very lightly-raced ever since with runs mainly over hurdles to keep him fit whilst protecting his chase mark.
I’m convinced Burrows Saint has been fully tuned up to peak on National Day and he has a great racing weight of 10st 13lbs to help his chances whilst being the perfect age of eight. He looks the most likely to claim success for Ireland as he is still relatively unexposed with just the nine chase starts under his belt.
There are a few that can be fancied to stay the trip at bigger prices in the shape of Takingrisks and Potters Corner. I wouldn’t put you off either of them, but you need a real class act to win the Grand National these days and everything looks set-up for a huge run from ANY SECOND NOW who gets in to this on what looks like a very modest mark of 152 (officially 2lbs well-in on ratings).
Not many horses have the class to win a two-mile chase and a Grand National, but that was exactly the type of prep that Papillon had in 2000 when he claimed this race and both horses had a very shrewd operator in the shape of Ted Walsh bringing them along.
Walsh knows what it takes to win a National and this has been without question the plan for Any Second Now since he claimed success at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2019 over 3m 2f in the Kim Muir.
The manner of Any Second Now’s run last time out when trouncing the likes of Castlegrace Paddy (since franked the form in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse) by 10 lengths without coming off-the-bridle shows that he has also been primed for this race and is coming to the boil at the right time.
Any Second Now still remains unexposed over marathon-trips which is a slight concern as well, but he had no problem staying up-the-hill over 3m 2f at Cheltenham and will certainly have no problems with the going alongside possessing that all important class-angle.
At the age-of-nine and with just the three chase wins on his CV he has never really blown his mark and that gives him a great chance of going close here if he sees out the trip and can get round in one piece.
1pt each-way Burrows Saint @9/1, 17:15 Aintree, Saturday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds)
1pt each-way Any Second Now @10/1, 17:15 Aintree, Saturday (1-6 places, 1/5 odds)