Stuart Williams has four horses he thinks are worth chancing in the Grand National on Saturday.
The thirst for Aintree's famous spruce fences, and of course the Randox Grand National in particular, is greater than ever this year after last year's Aintree Festival was lost to the Covid-19 pandemic, and we certainly appear to have a classy renewal to look forward to tomorrow given that you need a horse rated 145 to simply get a run in the worlds greatest steeplechase.
There will be a good spread of money as alway in the National, however, Cloth Cap will undoubtedly attract much of it and for very good reason, as he blitzed his rivals in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November and is officially 14lbs well-in following an easy success in the Listed bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso last month.
The good ground loving nine-year-old is clearly in the form of his life at present and he has Grand National pedigree on all sides as trainer Jonjo O'Neill, whom is enjoying a stellar campaign already, saddled Don't Push it to land Aintree's most prestigious race in 2010, while his owner, and avid Grand National enthusiast, Trevor Hemmings has plundered the prize on three previous occasions with with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).
As was the case with Tiger Roll in 2019, Cloth Cap seemingly ticks all of the boxes and is priced up accordingly, and it would come as no surprise were he able to convert favouritism tomorrow. However, anything can happen over four-miles-and-two-furlongs, especially when there's 30 spruce fences and 39 rivals to contend with, therefore you can't help but want to take him on.
2019 Irish Grand National winner Burrows Saint and 2019 Scottish Grand National scorer Takingrisks appeal as hardy sorts whom should should relish this test of stamina. While Potters Corner, whom triumphed in both the Midlands Grand National and Welsh Grand National in 2019, is another slogger whom cannot he discounted.
Magic Of Light ran a fine race to chase home the aforementioned Tiger Roll in 2019 and could easily go close once more. While fellow Irish raider Anibale Fly placed fourth and fifth in this contest in 2018 and 2019 respectively and could easily bounce back to form having slipped down the handicap.
Kimberlite Candy has shown an aptitude for this jumping test having twice placed second in the Becher Chase. While Vieux Lion Rouge has remarkably completed all nine of his previous races over Aintree's spruce fences and looked as good as ever when bolting-up in the Becher Chase in December. However, he has seemingly failed to see out the trip in four previous attempts in this race.
Haydock's Grand National Trial scorer Lord Du Mesnil should appreciate the trip, but may need slightly softer ground to be seen to best effect. While the same could be said of Bristol De Mai, whom landed a third Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock in November and clearly stays very well. However, may be undone by the burden of top-weight and the decent ground that he will encounter.
Clearly cases can be made for many as always in this race, and it's fair to say that luck is equally as important as judgement when it comes to finding the winner. Therefore I've picked out four horses whom I feel could go well and will simply cross my fingers at 5.15pm tomorrow!
Grand National Tips
Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore were the toast of Cheltenham last month and the powerful Irish duo now have their sights firmly set upon the worlds greatest steeplechase with MINELLA TIMES (best price 10-1), whom has displayed a progressive profile this winter and could easily go close off a featherweight 10-3.
The JP McManus owned eight-year-old stayed-on resolutely to score over two-miles-and-six-furlongs on his seasonal reappearance at Listowel before chasing home the classy Castlebawn West in the traditionally competitive Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.
Minella Times ran another big race when beaten just half-a-length over two-miles-and-five-furlongs at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, and he rates an intriguing proposition over this marathon distance.
Indeed, the Oscar gelding remains unexposed over staying trips and he will be well suited by the likely ground conditions. While his sound jumping technique should stand too him over Aintree's famous spruce fences.
It's merely a matter of time until a female jockey lands the Aintree Grand National, and Rachael Blackmore will certainly attract plenty of support after becoming the first female jockey to land both the Champion Hurdle and the jockeys title at last months Cheltenham Festival.
Ted and Ruby Walsh successfully teamed-up to land this prestigious prize with Papillon at the turn of the century, and the popular handler went close to repeating the feat with Seabass in 2012, whom was ridden by his daughter Katie. There will be no family ties between trainer and jockey tomorrow as Mark Walsh will be in charge of the steering. However, ANY SECOND NOW (best price 11-1) looks to hold sound claims having been laid out for this marathon contest.
Indeed, that was also the case 12 months ago when given a similar preparation over 2 miles. However, he was arguably much more impressive when landing the Grade 2 Webster Cup Chase at Navan last month and he could easily go very close if running up to the form of his easy Kim Muir Challenge Cup success in 2019.
The sizeable son of Oscar readily defied the burden 11-11 on that occasion and he will only have 10-9 on his back tomorrow given the presence of top weight Bristol De Mai. The JP McManus owned nine-year-old has only encountered decent ground twice since that Prestbury Park contest - firstly when falling early in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse the following month, and latterly when placing third, conceding 25lbs and 21lbs to the winner and runner-up respectively, over two-miles-and-five-furlongs in a fiercely competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival last year.
Ted Walsh undoubtedly knows what it takes to plunder the worlds greatest steeplechase and Any Second Now seemingly possesses the right attributes for the job.
His easy Kim Muir success provides optimism that he will stay the marathon trip and he clearly goes well on decent ground. While his nice racing weight, top class jockey booking and impressive preparation are further positives to consider.
FARCLAS (best price 22-1) boasts a similar profile to the aforementioned Minella Times given that he is a progressive second season chaser whom has been holding his own in competitive handicap company all season.
Indeed, the Gigginstown House Stud owned seven-year-old was five-and-a-half-lengths behind Minella Times when placing third in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, and he again ran well when placing fourth in the same competitive heat at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.
Farclas took his form to another level when chasing home a clearly very well handicapped horse in the form of The Shunter, whom has since been purchased by JP McManus and placed second in the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree on Thursday, in the Grade 3 Paddy Power Plate at last month's Cheltenham Festival, when doing all of his best work at the finish.
All three of those efforts suggested that staying trips will suit the 2018 Triumph Hurdle hero, and the decent ground will also be in his favour given that four of his five career victories have been achieved on a sound ground.
Seven-year-old's have a terrible record in this race and probably for good reason given the demanding nature of the contest. However, the race is getting classier year-by-year and Aintree is no longer the jumping test of yesteryear. I'm therefore prepared to look past that damning statistic and take a chance on the progressive grey.
Jack Kennedy already boasts a remarkable CV at the age of 21 and has displayed his brilliance in staying races with regularity in recent times, executing perfect rides to land the Thyestes Chase on Coko Beach at Gowran Park, the Kim Muir on Mount Ida at last months Cheltenham Festival, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup itself in the last couple of months alone. He will therefore be brimming the confidence heading into tomorrow's showpiece event.
At a bigger price again, MILAN NATIVE (best price 33-1) makes appeal judged on his novice form last season and although he has failed to hit the same heights in recent months, he has most likely been campaigned with this race, and this race alone, in mind.
The Denise Foster trained eight-year-old ran out a good winner of the Kim Muir Challenge Cup in the spring of 2020 and he narrowly defeated the gambled-on Discorama on his seasonal reappearance at Galway in October.
The Gigginstown House Stud inmate was firmly put in his place by subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup scorer Minella Indo next time out and has failed to make his presence felt in three subsequent starts.
However, he underwent wind surgery prior to placing ninth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, and he will undoubtedly be trained to the minute for this valuable contest.
Milan Native has often shaped as though he would relish a severe test of stamina and he should also enjoy the decent ground as a son of Milan. Top class amateur jockey Jamie Codd will be in the saddle and a bold bid is possible with just 10-6 on his back.