Two horses standout as incredible value in the Aintree Grand National betting, according to Rory Delargy, who urges you not to act now!
In a timely fashion, he delves deep into this antepost market to pluck out two big tips for this Saturday's Grand National, and preview the key National runners that are tipped to shine in 2019.
The below is hardly an exhaustive shortlist of contenders, given what a classy race the Grand National has become, but it will hopefully throw up some tips that can at least go close at decent odds.
I’m still keen to find tips carrying less than 11 stone if possible, and prefer those who have proven stamina while retaining the speed to be effective at shorter trips. I used to look at lightly-raced older horses, but that usually means chancing horses with some history of training problems, and the recent history of the race suggests that the National, in common with most valuable staying handicaps, is becoming skewed towards the claims of classy second-season chasers.
Looking at the weather forecast, I’d also be swayed towards those who don’t need testing ground to show their form.
Tiger Roll won the Grand National by a fast-diminishing margin in 2018 and the diminutive nine-year-old appears better than ever this year, winning a Graded hurdle on his return from a break in February without coming off the bridle, then doing much the same in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham - his fourth victory at the Festival.
That the first of those four wins came in the 2m1f Triumph Hurdle for four-year-olds says an enormous amount for his versatility. He is often compared to Red Rum, who was himself a promising juvenile hurdler before gaining fame for his Aintree exploits, with the pair assumed to be of similar build.
In fact, Tiger Roll is much the smaller of the pair, but the comparisons will continue if he can land back-to-back renewals of this great race. What’s not to like? The price is the answer to that with the chances of a clean and error-free run in a 40-runner contest over 30 fences making 7/2 look a poor price for Pegasus himself.
Anibale Fly finished fourth last year having been third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He returns for another crack and would have a decent chance not only on his latest second to Al Boum Photo in this year’s Cheltenham showpiece, but also on how he shaped last year in the Grand National.
Barry Geraghty steered a wide course to avoid trouble, which had its desired outcome, but only with the result that he conceded more ground than he was ultimately beaten by. He’s higher in the weights now, as he was allotted his mark for last year’s race before his effort in the Gold Cup, although he’s clearly improved again.
Main worry with Anibale Fly is whether he will be ridden in similarly circumspect manner as last year, plus it should be noted that there was an extra week between the 2018 Cheltenham and Aintree meetings, and a shorter recovery time is something punters need to factor into his chances.
Last year’s National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden looks to have been underestimated by the handicapper having not run in his second season of chasing before the Grand National weights were released.
He’s been running in Graded chases on his last seven starts, winning a Grade 3 novice at Tipperary before finishing second to Death Duty in the Grade 1 Drinmore at Fairyhouse, and belatedly built on that when getting up on the line to win the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham just over a year ago.
He had a hard race there, and was below form at Punchestown, and an absence until February did make me disregard him initially, but an impressive win over Gigginstown trio Alpha Des Obeaux, Valseur Lido and Outlander in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse made him look at least as good as ever, and the fact that he’s due to get weight from two of those rivals at Aintree shows how well treated he is.
Should they all line up, he will be 8lb better off with Alpha Des Obeaux and 2lb better off with Outlander despite beating them by 3½ lengths and 40½ lengths respectively in the Bobbyjo. He’s got the big-race experience, the stamina and the form in the book to play a huge part, and he is fresher than most, to boot.
A revelation over the past year, Lake View Lad was bought before the start of the season by owner Trevor Hemmings, who always likes to have a leading contender in the Grand National (and has owned the winner a remarkable three times since 2005).
This game nine-year-old has developed into a smart handicapper since stepped up to around three miles. His record at that trip and further reads 13113, and while he’s sometimes looked to have nothing in hand over the handicapper, he seems to find a little more improvement every time he’s asked a question - it’s rare for handicappers to boast such consistent figures.
He improved again when third to Beware The Bear in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, for example, and again gave the impression that he would find more for a thorough test.
The negatives for him are that he now finds himself asked to concede weight to pattern-class rivals, and possibly more significantly that seven of his eight wins have come on soft or heavy ground - although he handled dead ground well enough when winning the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in December. He’d been given a break before Cheltenham, so should be cherry-ripe for this assuming the ground doesn’t become too lively.
The other runner owned by Trevor Hemmings is Vintage Clouds, who has plenty in common with Lake View Lad, being a prominent-racing grey with proven stamina. He’s been placed in the Scottish and Welsh Nationals and can be forgiven a poor run at Chepstow this season due to a breathing problem, which was seemingly rectified by surgery when he finished a place ahead of Lake View Lad at Cheltenham.
He’s not certain to make the cut, although it would be a dreadful palaver if he didn’t get in having been a big fancy last year, only to be relegated to the reserves list. The other three reserves then got the green light, but Vintage Clouds was left on the bench, which was hugely frustrating for supporters, who got an extra kick in the teeth when two more horses, including one of the other reserves, were withdrawn on the day.
Perhaps missing out last year was a blessing in disguise, as he remains well treated, and there is a school of thought that it’s best to focus on those without previous experience of the race, a notion at odds with the traditional method of finding winners, but one growing in traction.
It used to be a fairly easy method of elimination, throwing out non-winners over fences, but even that small gain has been dispensed with after Rule The World scored in 2016, becoming the first novice to win since Mr What in 1958 - and the first maiden chaser to succeed since the 19th Century.
Perhaps it will be another few decades before the feat is repeated, but Mall Dini, like Rule The World, is not the typical maiden, having won a Cheltenham Festival handicap over hurdles and finished second in another over fences last year. He bypassed Cheltenham this year, and has been taken out of the Irish National by the single-minded Pat Kelly, who has regularly run him over trips too short over fences, including when second at Limerick recently over 2m.
He disappointed in last year’s Irish National, but was looked after when beaten in bottomless ground at Fairyhouse and appeals as one who has more to offer over a marathon trip on less punishing ground.
Another classy but lightly-raced chaser, who is very fairly weighted given his sparing campaign, is Jury Duty. He was favourite for Rathvinden’s National Hunt Chase last year having beaten Shattered Love and Presenting Percy in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase the previous November, and finished a fine second to the mare in the Fort Leney at Leopardstown conceding her 7lb.
He has taken his form up another notch this term, although his win in the Grade 1 Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills is not as grand as the title suggests. Placed efforts in the Galway Plate and PWC Champion Chase at Gowran are solid, and a win at Down Royal in his warm-up was impressive, for all main danger Baie Des Iles fell when still leading at the third-last.
The son of Well Chosen was travelling best at the time, and would surely have won in any case, at least to my eye. It’s true that he has not looked the strongest stayer in the past, but conditions are unlikely to ride too slow at Aintree, and he saw out the extended 3m2f well at Down Royal, so he shouldn’t be dismissed on stamina grounds. In terms of his profile, he fits the bill in all other regards, so needs to be shortlisted.
Ramses De Teillee may be too young at seven to win the Grand National, with Bogskar the last of that age to triumph in 1940, but the pendulum seems to be swinging not only to younger horses, but also towards French-bred horses, with three carrying the (FR) suffix successful in the last decade - after an entire century without a single Gallic success.
I suspect that Ramses de Teillee would be much shorter in the antepost Grand National betting if he was a year older, having already gained strong credentials in finishing second in both the Welsh National and the Grand National Trial at Haydock.
He proved last time that he is not reliant on the mud, and would probably have won if held on to a little longer. There is no doubt he’s overpriced based on his achievements, and his general progression this season gives hope that he will improve again for this unique test.
Tiger Roll and Rathvinden have obvious claims, but are short enough now, a comment which arguably also applies to the likeable Trevor Hemmings pair Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad after they were nibbled at post Cheltenham.
Mall Dini has yet to win over fences, which is clearly a negative, but it didn’t stop Rule The World winning in 2016, and Pat Kelly’s gelding has won a Pertemps Final and been runner-up in a Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, while many of his runs over fences have come over inadequate trips.
He failed to handle desperate ground in the Irish National last Easter, and would be ideally served by yielding ground. His jumping is very sound, and he has been campaigned to keep his handicap mark manageable, which it most certainly is, while he stayed on strongly having been poorly positioned in the Thyestes Chase in January in the manner of one who would stay long distances, like the Grand National's 4m2f.
Ramses De Teillee has a stat to bust, in his case the near 70-year wait for a seven-year-old winner of the race, but he’s been running like an old hand in races like the Welsh National and Haydock National Trial, producing career-best performances on his last three starts.
He was labelled a mudlark last season, but the going was good when he ran a huge race to be second to Robinsfirth at Haydock, and he has a solid profile if we look beyond the bare fact of his age.
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