The Grand National is always a cracking betting occasion with 40 handicappers out to run in the ultimate staying marathon.
So, where to start?
Well, where else, but with the 2018 winner, Tiger Roll.
It’s easy to run out of superlatives to describe how much this horse has done during his career. And with the addition of blinkers this season, he has looked better than ever. Tiger Roll carries a 9lbs higher rating compared to his win last year, but he has looked more than up that rise and remains officially 8lbs well-in on his performances this season.
I can easily see him winning this again and joining the Red Rum club, replicating those back-to-back successes. But, it’s all about prices, and no horse should be as short as 4/1 for the Grand National with it being so unpredictable.
And if you are trying to pick more holes in Tiger Roll, he has a bigger weight to contend with compared to last year (11-05 from 10-13), which might have an impact on his smaller frame particularly if he did get tired rather than idle up the run-in.
Tiger Roll just has to be taken on from a punting perspective and one horse I have been very sweet on for a long time is RATHVINDEN.
He may be an 11-year-old, which goes against the most recent age trends of winners in this. But he was a novice chaser last season and has only had 13 career starts over fences (winning six).
Rathvinden also showed plenty of pace to win on his only appearance this season in a Grade 3 contest beating a decent yardstick in Alpha Des Obeaux, without really coming off-the-bridle. Rathvinden is officially 5lbs well-in for that performance.
He carries a decent racing weight of eleven stone for this and there should be no concerns about him staying the trip having won nicely in the four mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, beating a classy mare in Ms. Parfois.
The one concern with him as with any horse taking on the Grand National is how he will handle the fences, his jumping is generally pretty solid despite having not finished on three occasions and these fences aren’t what they used to be.
The Willie Mullins yard has been in scintillating form this week with Kemboy, Min and Cadmium already hosing up so Rathvinden looks bound to run well barring any mishaps.
Our second selection is a Gigginstown outsider, who must surely be overpriced for this at 28/1 (from 33’s) and that is DOUNIKOS. He put in arguably a career best performance over an extended three and a half mile trip to land the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February.
Prior to that he had been below par when competing in the Troytown on his seasonal reappearance to finish tenth, before showing a little improvement in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown to be seventh.
Dounikos fell in the Thyestes when looking out of it, but his latest run on better ground demonstrated that he could still very much be on the improve. After all, he put in at least three very classy novice chase performances with solid form in the bank against the likes of Grade 1 winners Al Boum Photo and Monalee.
Dounikos is a big imposing type, but will like the drying conditions and is a good jumper. Gordon Elliot has kept him fresher for this National than when going for the Irish equivalent at the end of a busy campaign last year to boot.
The negative against him is that the National weights were published two days after he won his Trial so he is carrying a 7lbs higher mark. But he remains officially 2lbs well-in and is an eight-year-old – like four of the last five winners – who remains unexposed over extreme distances.
The Grand National only comes round once a year so our third dart is JOE FARRELL for Rebecca Curtis. This Welsh-trained fancy has been extremely lightly-raced during his career with this representing just his 18th start at the age of 10.
A moderate hurdler back in his youth, he has improved drastically over the larger obstacles in the last 12 months. A facile success in a Class 3 handicap was followed by an unexpected victory in the Scottish Grand National at odds of 33/1.
Having had a set back earlier in the season, Curtis introduced him into a competitive looking Veterans’ Handicap over at Newbury where he looked in need of the run.
But there was plenty to like about his top-weight carrying, staying on second to Chic Name next time out over course and distance at Newbury. He jumped pretty well throughout and looked to have been done for pace on the home turn before staying on to run the winner close.
Having carried 11st 12lbs in his prep run, he now carries a featherweight of 10st 2lbs and has squeezed into this at the bottom of the handicap with him due to go up 3lbs to a mark of 145 in the future.
Already the subject of a bit of a gamble during the week from bigger odds, Joe Farrell has now drifted to a very backable price of 20/1. I can see him running a big race as he’s likely to take to these fences and with going conditions and a level-track sure to suit, he completes our picks for this year’s race.
2019 Grand National Tips: 1pt each-way Rathvinden @9/1, 1pt each-way Joe Farrell @20/1, 0.75pts each-way Dounikos @28/1, 17:15 Aintree, Saturday (1,2,3,4,5,6 places, 1/5 odds with various bookmakers)Leave a comment