There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and even if you think Tiger Roll will win back-to-back Nationals, there can be bigger value to be had backing outsiders in Matchbook’s place-only market.
If drawing up a shortlist for this year’s big race, and not considering the odds on offer, the likes of Tiger Roll and Rathvinden – as well as Cheltenham runner-up Vintage Clouds – would have to be there, but the prices about that trio are predictably short in an unpredictable race, so lets find a few who will give you the same sort of payout just for running into the first four.
Ramses de Teillee
Some experts will tell you to put a line through all seven-year-old runners as none of that age have won since as far back as 1940, but the fact is that horses that young make a up a tiny minority of Grand National runners, and their lack of success is not as strong a factor as you might think. In past years, those in that age bracket would often be inexperienced chasers, and that was always a negative in the old days, but a novice won this race three years ago – bucking another longstanding trend – and things are changing in the shape of the race, as well as in the suitability of younger horses for marathon races.
Ramses de Teille has already been placed in a Welsh National, and again proved he has plenty of stamina when second in the National Trial at Haydock last time. He’s a second-season chaser who gained a lot of experience last year in tough handicaps, and while he was found wanting at times, he has developed into a more accomplished and tougher performer this season.
A sound jumper who can race prominently, but doesn’t need to dominate, he has the right profile for the race and looks sure to run well with a bit of luck.
Walk In The Mill
Unlucky last year when granted a run on the eve of the race, only to go lame the following morning, he has proven his credentials over these fences by winning the Becher Chase here in December and has been kept to hurdles since, as has been the pattern with several previous winners of the race. He’s unproven beyond the Becher Trip and is by the same sire as Melling Chase winner Min among other classy jumpers, but is very laid back and appeared to relish the stiffest test he’s faced in that race. He gives the impression he’ll relish a stamina test, and while this trip is an unknown, I’d like to think he’ll stay it better than most, while it almost goes without saying that his jumping style is tailor-made for these fences.
Connections took the gamble of not trying to win again over fences after the Becher, on the basis that they would probably creep into the handicap, and while that wasn’t assured until midweek, it has paid off, meaning he’s got a very light weight to carry compared to the market leaders.
Definitely a horse you want to back for a place rather than to win, this frustrating character has looked poised to win a number of high-class staying handicaps over the past few seasons only to find a way of losing in the latter stages. He looked unlucky on occasions but now appears to have his own ideas. That is bad news generally, but quirky types like him tend to be suited by this race, the desire to hold a little back meaning they are more likely to conserve energy for the finish, and while you wouldn’t trust him to put his head in front on the line, there’s a decent chance that he will be in contention and going well between the last two given his profile, and that should pay dividends for risk-averse punters.
Magic of Light
The biggest price of the quartet, and a bit more of a shot in the dark, but she has won a listed chase and a Grade 2 Hurdle this season and was made 2.5 favourite to beat Rathvinden in the Bobbyjo Chase, so could well be overpriced, especially if you listen to her trainer, Jessica Harrington. Jessie says that the mare schooled brilliantly over National-style fences at the Curragh, and she believes that her charge could improve for a test of stamina.
Harrington has been training with great success for over 25 years, and has never had a runner in this race. Perhaps we should take it as a sign that when she does finally put one in, it’s for good reason.
Stamina is a worry on paper, but at huge odds, it’s worth taking the chance.
Recommended Bets (5pts each)
- Back Ramses de Teillee to place @ 7.8 or bigger
- Back Walk In The Mill to place @ 8.0 or bigger
- Back Singlefarmpayment to place @ 13.0 or bigger
- Back Magic of Light to place @ 22.0 or bigger
Live from the press box at Aintree your host Tom Stanley is joined by Sam Turner and Rory Delargy to preview the big one while Matchbook’s Sully is back at base to give the latest prices on the National. The lads also look at the Ryanair on Saturday.