Ceebee previews the 2016 Crabbies Grand National and he has advised bets on Morning Assembly, Bear's Affair and The Druids Nephew.
With almost 2 months to go before the Aintree Grand National, I could understand if people wanted to wait before getting financially involved. There’ll be extra e/w places paid on the day and with 40 runners you’re sure to get some juicy prices too. However I’m slightly more risk seeking than risk averse.
I see a market that is 25/1 bar one horse. On the day of the race last year, there was 13 horses with an SP of 20/1 or less. 5 of whom were 10/1 or less. 14 horses 20/1 or less in 2014 and 11 of them in 2013. The key here is to find one (or a few) likely to be going off around 10/1. A likely stayer (at least proven to stay 3m strongly), well enough handicapped that he might show something in a National prep, and importantly targeting the National.
The key to a reducing ante-post risk (it can’t be eliminated obviously) is to find a bet who will, bar something going wrong, line up on the day. They can’t have a Plan B. Unioniste for example is well-handicapped, but hasn’t acted around Aintree before whilst he has run very well at Sandown so perhaps Nicholls will aim him at the Whitbread. Holywell, despite being well backed today, I would imagine he will take in a Festival Handicap first. I’d much rather Aintree was his only spring target.
Let’s rattle down through some of them.
Firstly from an ante-post view, lets rule out the more likely non-runners: Don Poli and Silviniaco Conti are two at the top, whilst I think everything below no.60 will be very lucky to get a run. Valsuer Lido at 7yrs old probably won’t be risked.
The blatant non-stayers beyond 3miles can also go: Foxrock, Gilgamboa, Ballynagour, Turban, Third Intention, Ballycasey, Double Ross, Bishops Road, Home Farm and Pendra. Rocky Creek is going in here too after not getting home in a National previously.
Then the remaining no-hopers can go: Houblon is horribly handicapped. So too is Aachen. On His Own is well past it. Long Run hasn’t been seen in 2yrs. Many Clouds is not an ante-post price, so he’s in here for now. First Lieutenant probably belongs here too. Roi du Mee was too small last year, I assume he hasn’t changed. Soll was hammered off a stone lower last year. Boston Bob.
That leaves about 36 to access. Sure what else would you be at?
Carlingford Lough – should appreciate the step up in trip, isn’t harshly handicapped and will like the good spring ground. Others preferred but not without a chance.
Wonderful Charm – must be a doubtful stayer having excelled at 2m4f. Hardly well-in off 158 either.
Lord Windermere – will like the good ground and the extreme trip. Had them both last year and was stink. Next
O’Faolains Boy – has loads to prove. After 18mts off his form reads P1P. Couldn’t be considered a safe ante-post proposition.
Sam Winner – Dec’14 was the last time Sam Winner ran to his potential. Next
The Druids Nephew – was running a cracker last year before tipping up 5 out. 9lbs higher now looks harsh, but it’s worth remembering he was 8lbs well-in last year having won at Cheltenham the time before. So in effect he’s got 1lb for last year’s effort. I’d be happy with that. It was a long way from home, but it was very hard to imagine him not getting heavily involved in the finish. When the replays from last year get more air-time the 25s about him will disappear quickly. He had jumped well until departing and even his fall was a fairly harmless slide on landing. The unlucky loser – he surely goes off around half the price he currently is? Hedgehunter came a cropper late in 2004 before returning off a slightly higher mark to win in 2005, The Druids Nephew will be hoping to do the same.
Triolo D’Alene – was unlucky to win a 3 runner listed race, as it resulted in him getting a 5lb hike from the handicapper. He has won over the fences before and won a Hennessy over 3m2f so loads to like. But he’s had his troubles before and is not well enough handicapped to tempt me.
Wounded Warrior – is one of the highest class yet unexposed types in here. He’s rated 155 already (due to carry 11-0) but has yet to be tested in handicap company. He’s yet to actually show his true colours outside of novice company and if he does his price could tumble. Small doubt in my mind is the Irish National may be the target. He’s only 7 and quite talented, Noel may not risk him for Aintree. Not worth backing just yet.
Sir des Champs – really poor the last twice. Fragile sort not an ante-post proposition
Holywell – too small for a test like this? Even with the modified fences he’s not exactly a flawless jumper. He’s too short in the betting now anyhow
Shutthefrontdoor – down 1lb from last year. He was only beaten 13L into 5th and may just have gotten injured late on. He was lame afterwards. He was lightly raced and young in Grand National terms at 8 last year. Wouldn’t put anyone off this time around.
Morning Assembly – When looking for the unexposed potentially well-in horse this lad jumps off the page. A G1 novice hurdler. His novice chase campaign included a G2 win over Don Cossack, a G1 2nd to Carlingford Lough and a 3rd place finish in the RSA behind Smad Place and O’Faolain’s Boy. Yet he gets in here off 150 (carrying only 10-9). The reason he’s so well handicapped is he missed almost two seasons after that novice chase campaign. But he’s only 9yrs old. He’s been back on the track since January, so should go to Aintree with 3 runs under his belt. His two efforts to date were more than satisfactory for one returning from a long absence. Twice 2nd over a 2m5f trip well short of his optimum. The 50s has disappeared this evening, take the 40s though. He’ll be less than half that on the day. He has loads of class and on what we’ve seen to date the longer trip will be ideal.
Gallant Oscar – now 10 it’s hard to imagine he’s well handicapped. He’s a stone higher than when 3rd to The Druids Nephew at Cheltenham and when winning at Punchestown. Not without a chance obviously as trip and spring ground look ideal but others preferred.
Goonyella – can you be too slow for the National? This lad will test it.
Le Reve – really should target the Whitbread at Sandown. He’s far better at that track than anywhere else
Onenightinvienna – a 7yr old novice, no thanks.
The Last Samurai – is an inform 3m chaser, but the handicapper hasn’t missed it. Wouldn’t rule him out straight away but not top of my list.
Ucello Conti – will benefit from not hugging the outside rail all the way around. Arguably well handicapped and goes straight there. Placed in the Paddy Power (hit the front too soon) and placed in the Thyestes (went super-wide all the way) so he’s having a solid season and staying trips don’t look an issue. It was very testing in Gowran. On the shortlist, but the only concern is good spring ground is an unknown.
Unioniste – very well handicapped currently. Not convinced he wants these fences.
Bear’s Affair – seems to excel at Aintree so worth a second look. 3 Aintree wins to his name, 2 of them coming at 3m1f so the 4mile trip doesn’t look like a disaster. Having won off 145 last season and run well over hurdles off 152 it’s not unreasonable to suggest he’s handicapped to get competitive off 148. Generally 50s and 33s in a place so those bits of 100/1 need to be nibbled.
Kruzhlinnin – well beaten off a lower mark in the 2014 renewal. Change of stable may have made a difference but still has it to prove.
Rule The World – has a world of options. Irish National being the best in my opinion.
Black Thunder – was my long range fancy for the National, but he appears to have forgotten how to jump. This is not good.
Hadrians Approach – not seen on the racetrack in 400 odd days. Will wait until we do see him before casting judgement
Just A Par – has been trained for the race and won a big staying handicap chase last spring. So give him a spot on the shortlist but, nah not for me. Has looked a useless slow-boat far too often
Katenko – 0/P-P form figures are uninspiring (to say the least)
Living Next Door – hasn’t been seen much since his top class Paddy Power win in Dec’14. Would need to show something off this revised mark of over a stone higher.
Thunder and Roses – is overpriced at 50/1 having won an Irish National. However the form of that win hasn’t worked out at all! He also ran poorly over these fences in the Becher. If he runs well in the Bobbyjo he’ll be back on the radar, but not for now.
Vics Canvas – stays well and jumped well here in the Becher. Plenty to like but handicapped to the hilt.
Katkeau – only the 3 chase starts to his name. No thanks.
Mendip Express – currently running in Hunter Chases. It’s unlikely he’s competing at a high enough level nowadays. Although his Becher 2nd from Dec’14 is interesting.
Saint Are – 2nd last year and 3rd in a Becher previously so the fences are clearly no issue. He’s now 3lbs higher and unlikely to be improving, preference for Shutthefrontdoor and The Druids Nephew from last year’s race. Any fancy prices will represent e/w value though.
Spring Heeled – ran in last year’s edition. ‘Well behind, never on terms’. Hard to fancy.
Vieux Lion Rouge – Only the 4 chase starts to his name and limited staying form. Next.
Mon Parrain – Was well beaten last year and it’s hard to see where the improvement would come from now.
The Romford Pele – is potentially well handicapped. And he ran well in the Cleeve a few weeks ago. With good Cheltenham form to his name he may go there first (Kim Muir maybe?) so let’s wait and see.
1.5 points e/w Morning Assembly at 40/1 with Bet365 and Paddy Power (both 5 places each way)
1 point e/w The Druids Nephew at 25/1 with Betfred and Betbright
0.5 points e/w Bear’s Affair at 100/1 with Stan James & Betway
Others who narrowly missed out: 20/1 Shutthefrontdoor and 40/1 Ucello Conti.
Extended shortlist includes: Triolo D’Alene, Thunder and Roses, Gallant Oscar, Carlingford Lough, The Last Samurai, Saint Are, Just a Par, Mendip Express and The Romford Pele
Note: plenty seem to like the chances of Cause of Causes and Double Seven. I’d be amazed if either get in. Whilst I stopped at no.60 (and to be honest could only count 10-15 possible non-runners above that mark) the likes of Perfect Candidate, Pineau de Re, Highland Lodge and Alvarado would all be likely runners if the cut-off reaches those on 10-2.