The Grand National is famously difficult to predict, and one that isn’t always a kind race for the favourites. Indeed, we have seen many big-priced winners in recent years, including the 66/1 shot Aurora’s Encore, trained by Yorkshire-based Sue Smith.
However, this year there is such momentum behind last year’s winner, Tiger Roll, that it would be considered something of a shock if the Gordon Elliott trained horse does not pass the finish line first on Saturday evening.
The bookmakers have taken a sledgehammer to Tiger Roll’s odds since he bossed the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago. Back in January, he could be found at 25/1 in the ante-post betting. At the time of writing, his best odds are 4/1 with Betfair and a couple of other outlets. There is a very real chance that we would be looking at the shortest price winner of the Grand National since Poethyln in 1919.
Tiger Roll looking better than in 2018
It’s hard to argue that Tiger Roll does not deserve to be favourite for the Grand National. If anything, he looks stronger than last season, and he seems to have developed the knack for turning on the style in the biggest races. The odds, however, are sure to scare the casual punter away.
But history tells us that Tiger Roll’s victory is by no means guaranteed. Don’t Push It, Comply or Die and Hedgehunter are among those who came agonisingly close to winning two Nationals on the bounce, with only Red Rum achieving the feat since the Second World War.
Indeed, there are a number of horses that ‘look’ like worthy Grand National winners. Anibale Fly, for example, has now placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the past two years. Throw in a 4th place finish at Aintree last year – showing he can handle the toughest test of stamina in horse racing – and you are potentially looking at a shrewd punt at 12/1 (Ladbrokes).
Vintage Clouds strongly backed
There is also plenty of buzz surrounding Sue Smith’s latest long-distance specialist, Vintage Clouds. The 9-year-old is available at 16/1 with Coral/Ladbrokes. He is getting plenty of attention after a second-place finish in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. Vintage Clouds has a remarkable amount of runner-up finishes – 11 in total – a consistency that makes an each-way bet looked like shrewd business, especially if you click here to take a Grand National free bet.
Blaklion – now trained in Phil Kirby’s North Yorkshire yard after a big-money purchase – is also an intriguing pick, with a current price of 40/1 from William Hill. Form has really tailed off this season, but Kirby deliberately kept out of Cheltenham with a view this race.
Blaklion has had six previous appearances at Aintree before, including a win in the Becher Chase and a fourth-place finish in the 2017 Grand National. That, alongside a decent rest, while many others were slogging it out at Cheltenham, should stand him in good stead next weekend.
Others who have taken big money in the ante-post betting in recent weeks include Lake View Lad, who is available at 20/1 after finishing just behind Vintage Clouds in the Ultima Handicap Chase, and Rathvinden, an experienced horse trained by Willie Mullins who is generally available at 12/1.
In the end, the biggest cheer on race day will be reserved for a Tiger Roll victory, but there is more than enough talent from Yorkshire and beyond to make that nowhere near certain. Don’t be surprised to see the likes of Sue Smith with a beaming smile in the Winners’ Enclosure next weekend.