2017 Grand National Ante-Post Tips: 0.75pts EW One For Arthur @14/1, 0.5pt EW Raz De Maree @33/1, 17:15 Saturday, Aintree

The race that captures a nation.

The 2017 Grand National takes place on Saturday afternoon at Aintree, and we have two ante-post tips before the final declarations are released on Thursday and prior to any shortening in the odds as we approach post-time.

The complexion of the race has changed in recent years with both the nature of the test and the compression of the handicap – and therefore the quality of the horses running in the race – dispelling some of the older trends.

In recent times, younger horses have had the upper-hand and winners carrying more than eleven stone has become commonplace. Nonetheless, the profile of a winner remains the same: a gutsy stayer that enjoys a big-field and can pop fences all day long.

The first of our ante-post selections is ONE FOR ARTHUR for trainer Lucinda Russell. An eight-year-old who has looked a different horse during his second season chasing.

He won his season opener over 3m 6f at Kelso (gd-sft) before an eye-catching run over the National Course to finish a close fifth in the Becher Chase behind Vieux Lion Rouge.

He duly followed up that performance to record his second victory of the season when racing off the same mark in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick over 3m 5f on testing ground. He won by six lengths over Goodtoknow, but he looked like he could go around the track another time.

There may be a question mark over whether he would thrive on quick ground, but with the current going sft, gd-sft on the National Course and a win on good ground already to his name, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Unlike the favourites, he is not coming in to this race as being officially “well-in” given he has not raced since January, but he is progressive, a dour stayer and looks set to be a real player for the Scottish yard.

A horse that could outrun his odds at a massive price is the Gavin Cromwell trained RAZ DE MAREE, who has looked better than ever at the ripe old age of twelve this season.

He gained his second success in the Cork National (3m 4f, gd) on his second start of the season, before following up with a moderate seventh in the Troytown Handicap (3m, yld-sft) won by Empire Of Dirt. He then finished a staying-on 1.5-length second to Native River in the Welsh Grand National, which represents excellent form given the winner went on to win the Denman Chase and place in the Gold Cup.

His handicap mark is 7lbs higher for that run but he seems to improve for these types of races, having also won a Munster National in 2012 as a Novice, whilst he also finished second in a Midlands Grand National over 4m 1f in 2015.

He has previous Grand National experience having finished eighth behind Pineau De Re in 2014, but his form this campaign looks better than previous years and he had a nice prep-run over hurdles last month when finishing second.

He should be spot-on now, but instead of taking the 40/1 about, we will take the six places at 33/1 offered by Betvictor for a horse that is sure to be staying-on and has only one unseat/fall in twenty chase starts.

Raz De Maree should get round and has a cracking each-way chance at a nice price.

0.75pts EW One For Arthur @14/1  NRNB, 17:15 Saturday, Aintree (5 places, 1/4 odds, skybet)
0.5pt EW Raz De Maree @33/1 NRNB, 17:15 Saturday, Aintree (6 places, 1/4 odds betvictor)

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