The starting line-up for Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National at Aintree (5.15) was confirmed late on Thursday morning with all the well backed horses standing their ground ahead of the £1 million marathon.
Only Nicky Henderson’s Gold Present was taken out of the race, meaning that Noel Meade’s 80/1 outsider Road To Riches gets a run and becomes the fourth representative set to carry the Gigginstown House Stud colours of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, who won the coveted prize two years ago with the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World.
There will be over 100,000 racegoers at the Merseyside track on Saturday and more than 500 million watching live on TV across the globe, and with a mixture of sunshine and showers forecast over the three days of the Aintree Festival it’s fair to assume that the going will remain very much on the soft side.
Betting.net’s free horse racing tips on the Grand National have already come up trumps even before the great race itself gets underway. Our target is always to try and latch on to early value in the ante-post markets for major races, based on expert analysis of each contest. For the Grand National this is always a particularly tough assignment as at the time of publishing our recommendations there were still around 90 horses entered for the four-and-a-quarter-mile marathon.
Our three selections have all been the subject of major market moves though, so anyone who stepped in three weeks ago will be sitting pretty. All we need now is for one of them to do the business!
Anibale Fly (recommended each-way at 25/1) is now 11/1 joint-favourite with Boylesports, punters latching on to the fact that he is undeniably well handicapped on the evidence of his excellent third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Native River and Might Bite. We remain confident that with luck-in-running he will give a very good account of himself under Barry Geraghty.
Seeyouatmidnight (recommended each-way at 33/1) is now a top priced 16/1 shot with Paddy Power. The 2016 Scottish National third subsequently ran well at Newbury a few weeks ago to ensure qualification for the National, and was then sold earlier this week in a private deal to David and Patricia Thompson of the Cheveley Park Stud. He remains with long-time trainer Sandy Thomson, and the excellent Brian Hughes will ride.
I Just Know was out longshot recommendation at 66/1 each-way, but he’s not a longshot any more, his price having steadily contracted to current odds of a best priced 25/1 with Coral. Sue Smith’s charge ran away with the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick earlier this term and had a fine pipe-opener over hurdles last time. He bids to give his handler a second win in the race following 66/1 shock scorer Aurora’s Encore in 2013.
Our Grand National 1-2-3 remains: 1 – Anibale Fly, 2- Seeyouatmidnight, 3 – I Just Know
Just five days ago, Betting.net also suggested that anyone wanting to support a horse ridden by one of the lady riders in the race should get on early. Once again it proved fine advice, as Katie Walsh’s mount Baie Des Iles (highlighted at 50/1) is now down to 16/1 with Sun Bets following the anticipated media frenzy surrounding the lady with the best ever Grand National finish when third on Seabass in 2012.
The other two contenders ridden by lady jockeys have also been trimmed in price: Bryony Frost’s Milansbar is now 33/1 with William Hill (from 40/1), and Rachel Blackmore’s Alpha Des Obeaux is in to 40/1 with Sky Bet from 50/1. Those prices may well fall again before 5.15 on Saturday afternoon as punters clamour to find the horse to follow in the hoof prints of last year’s hero One For Arthur (see video below):
Good luck with whatever you choose to back, let’s hope we get a race to remember, and fingers crossed that all horses and jockeys return home safely.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.