2018 Aintree Grand National preview

The 2018 Grand National is nearly upon us. It’s one of racing’s highlights every year, and is often the race that brings new fans to our great sport. I know that was certainly the case with me, when Papillon won way back in 2000. That day started my gambling vice (jokes) and I now work in the horse racing industry. It’s all a bit mad!

It’s a big day, with the world watching Liverpool. I just hope all jockeys and horses come back safe and enjoy the experience. Below is my runner-by-runner guide – it’s a race where I’m very keen to take on the race favourites. May the best horse win. Good luck!

  1. Thunder And Roses

Former Irish National winner, but comes into this race in poor order and is best watched.

  1. Blaklion

Was sensational in this race last year when his jockey kicked too soon and he didn’t get home as well as it once looked. Now a year older and stronger, but also 9lb higher in the weights. Will encounter much softer ground on the back off a tough prep, and you just feel there are a handful better handicapped horses and many more better value.

  1. Anibale Fly

On paper, he has an outstanding chance on the back of an excellent Gold Cup third. He’s got a pretty hit and miss profile however, and on the back off a tough race at Cheltenham just four weeks back, I’m quite keen to take him on, despite being one of the race favourites.

  1. The Last Samuri

A horse with a fine record over these fences and in this race, but is now 10lb higher in the handicap when runner-up two years ago. He’ll also have to carry a stone more physical weight than that year, and despite being in good order on unsuitably soft ground this season, is hard to see winning.

  1. Valseur Lido

Former high-class staying chaser and Gold Cup contender before suffering an injury setback. Hasn’t looked nearly as good since his return and others hold stronger chances.

  1. Total Recall

He’s another with a great chance on paper, and has been a revelation since joining the Willie Mullins team, winning two major handicap chases. While the case, he can be quite keen and his jumping has never convinced me. The famous Aintree atmosphere could see him running even keener, and he surely can’t win if that transpires.

  1. Alpha Des Obeaux

High-class hurdler and chaser who probably hasn’t fulfilled the hopes his trainer once had for him, physical issues curbing his career. Has been nursed back from bleeding issues this season however, and won the Grade 2 Clonmel Oil Chase. Jumps well in the main, has a touch of class and despite having small stamina worries on the ground, could give Rachael Blackmore a great spin.

  1. Perfect Candidate

Looks badly handicapped, and while he’s one you could see staying the trip, I couldn’t possibly back him. He’s most certainly not a perfect candidate.

  1. Shantou Flyer

Pretty likeable horse who has been in good order this season. Will have no issues jumping wise or on the ground, but I have stamina worries for him. Could shape well for a long way, but not a betting proposition.

  1. Tenor Nivernais

Shaped better than the result last time out at Ascot, but I just can’t have him staying this sort of trip.

  1. Carlingford Lough

Five-time Grade 1 winner and while not the force of old, his run at the start of the season over an inadequate trip on unsuitably heavy ground suggested there is life in the old boy yet. Trained by a shrewd man in John Kiely, I just can’t leave him go unbacked at such a big price, with me feeling this has been the plan for over 14 months.

  1. Delusionofgrandeur

Lots of small-field form and is hard to fancy.

  1. Tiger Roll

He’s another one of the leading fancies I want to take on. Gordon Elliott’s inmate is a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner with a distinct touch of class, but I just don’t think this race will suit. He’s quite small, and I wonder can he back up just four weeks after Cheltenham. He couldn’t do it last season in the Irish National.

  1. Regal Encore

Non-runner!

  1. Vieux Lion Rouge

Plenty of good form over the obstacles which is a plus, and he could run well for a fair way, but it’s just hard to see him staying on the evidence.

  1. Chase The Spud

He’ll have no problems with the ground or the trip, but I’m just not sure he has the touch of class needed to win this race.

  1. Warriors Tale

I really don’t think this horse will stay. Next!

  1. Seeyouatmidnight

A classy type in his pomp who lowered the colours of Bristol De Mai two seasons ago before suffering a suspensory ligament injury. Was second in the Scottish National in the same year, but his time off the track through injury has to be a concern.

  1. Gas Line Boy

A sound fifth in last season’s race on much better ground off 4lb lower when he didn’t quite get home. Now up in the weights, a year older and on softer ground, it’s hard to fancy him winning, but he could run well for a fair way once more.

  1. The Dutchman

I’ve never been taken by his jumping and he’s a horse with bleeding issues. I like plenty others more.

  1. Pleasant Company

Down 4lb in the handicap when a sound ninth in last year’s race. Hasn’t been in good form this season, maybe by design, but I have worries about him staying the trip on soft ground.

  1. Ucello Conti

Unseated in last year’s race when seemingly going as well as anything. Comes into the contest on a 2lb lower mark despite running well in a hot handicap at Christmas. I wouldn’t let his prep for this race put you off, I suspect connections knew he wasn’t right and looked after him. Trained by a genius in Gordon Elliott, the ground and trip won’t faze him. Could go close!

  1. Saint Are

Second to Many Cloud in 2015 and third to One For Arthur off the same mark last year. Now likely to tackle slower ground and is 12-years-old, it’s just hard to see him winning, for all he clearly likes it over these fences.

  1. Walk In The Mill

Non-runner!

  1. Raz De Maree

Comes into a much better race, effectively 11lb higher, after his Welsh National success, given then 5lb claimer James Bowen rode him to win. He beat another 13-year-old there, meaning the form looks so-so and this looks much tougher. He will love the ground and should stay, but I fancy others stronger.

  1. I Just Know

It was in a much weaker race, but I liked his North Yorkshire Grand National win where he showed a lovely attitude, strong stamina and sound jumping. Sue Smith won this five years ago, and he’s one of the more likable types.

  1. Virgilio

Prone to errors and I can’t see him staying. Next!

  1. Baie Des Iles

A fine big grey mare who jumps accurately. Can be slow at some, but is safe. Looks like a relentless galloper who will love the prevailing ground. Been the subject of a pretty big gamble this week, but I wonder if she classy enough to win? No seven-year-old has won the National since 1940, Bogskar.

  1. Maggio

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Pendra

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Buywise

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Childrens List

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Lord Windermere

Former Gold Cup winner, but sadly hasn’t won a race since. That tells the story of his career of late. To be fair to him, he ran a lovely race to be seventh last season and is now lower in the handicap, but he’d have preferred better ground.

  1. Captain Redbeard

Had a great season for the Coltherd team, will go on the ground, but I just don’t see him staying.

  1. Houblon Des Obeaux

Got round to finish a well-held tenth last season, and now runs off a 5lb lower mark. For the most part, been in useful order this season despite Venetia Williams having a poor campaign. Trainer’s horses are running much better now however, and he’s one of the more likable ones to the bottom of the handicap.

  1. Bless The Wings

It’s as simple as this, I can’t have him.

  1. Milansbar

Won the Grade 3 Classic Handicap Chase in what has been a good season. Will go on the ground and has a good chance of staying, but I just wonder will his Midlands Grand National effort have taken the freshness out of him?

  1. Final Nudge

I feel like he is the horse I know least about in this field. I can’t have him so he’ll probably win!

  1. Double Ross

Next!

  1. Road To Riches

Former high-class chaser who hasn’t been the same since a fall a couple of seasons ago. I really don’t think he should be running here because of that. Impossible to recommend. Just hope he enjoys himself.

Final verdict

  1. Ucello Conti @20/1
  2. I Just Know @20/1
  3. Alpha Des Obeaux @40/1
  4. Carlingford Lough @50/1
  5. Houblon Des Obeaux

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