Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Grand National 2018

Earlier in the year in February I did a blog post about my fancies for the National and provided a shortlist as follows:
Using the staying factor criteria as a starting point the ones I'm going to look at in more depth for win purposes only are Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, Vyta Du Roc, Caroles Destrier, Abolitionist, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar who all have good staying form over the required 3m 2f or more in this class of race.
Most of the ones I've chosen haven't run in the National before which is an angle that I like as they wont have formed an opinion about the course in their own head yet and are therefore more likely to run true to form.

Since that date we have lost a few of those runners as they have been pulled out for various reasons and that now leaves us with Minella Rocco, Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll, Chase The Spud, Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know, Final Nudge and Milansbar. Another qualifier has emerged though in Anibale Fly.

The qualifying criteria for me is;
  • That they have been placed in a decent chase over 3m 2f or more (by that I mean something like one of the nationals or top handicaps or a grade 1 etc 
  • They have not run in the Grand National before 
  • They are aged between 8 and 11.

Another criteria I'm going to add is - days since they last ran.
24 of the last 25 winners had all run within 55 days of the race and 19 of those had run within 34 days of the race so that rules out for these purposes Minella Rocco who hasn't run for 69 days - although he has had a wind op during that time which could make him more attractive to some.

As this week has gone on the weather has thrown up plenty of rain northwards - so we can assume it will at least be soft and there could also be some heavy patches by Saturday so we have to be looking at those horses that stay and jump well in these type of conditions. The going certainly won't be as testing as when Red Marauder won when there was literally standing water on many parts of the track and only 13 were still in the race going over the Melling Road on the first circuit.

A good jockey is fine to have on your side but your selection primarily has to stay the distance and jump well for the jockey to be of any benefit come the finish.

Chase The Spud ran 49 days ago so has a lesser chance than the others above for win purposes.
Horses that ran at the Cheltenham festival are very unlikely to win here so that rules out Annibal Fly,  Total Recall, Vicente, Tiger Roll and Final Nudge-although they may well be placed.
Vicente could in any event take up the option of the Scottish National 7 days later in which he is on a hat trick of wins as he is unlikely to get his favoured spring ground here and he's very unlikely to run in both.

So that leaves us with a shortlist of Seeyouatmidnight, I Just Know and Milansbar and we need to look at those in slightly more detail:
  • SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT - 3rd in the Scottish National behind Vicente in 2016 when beaten three lengths and he is slightly better off with that runner here. Hasn't had much racing since then because of a suspensory problem and subsequent wind op. He is the only Scottish trained runner in the race and because he hadn't run for a while there is the prospect of him bouncing after his run at Newbury on 24th March when he finished 3rd. He is10 years old and has recently been purchased by Mrs David Thompson to run in the race. He has fallen once in a point to point back in 2013. He might thrive on his first run here or the whole thing may be too much to take in with little recent race experience - but he has an excellent jockey in Brian Hughes.
  • I JUST KNOW - Won the North Yorkshire Grand National Handicap Chase at Catterick over 3m 6f in January by 15 lengths putting in a relentless gallop from the front and won going away. He does just what he has to jumping wise so something unusual could catch him out but he could still be progressing. The stable have won this before with Aurora's Encore in 2013 at the rewarding odds of 66/1. I Just Know is 8 years old and is rated 145. He's been pulled up a few times but has never actually fallen.
  • MILANSBAR - He won the Betfred Classic Handicap chase at Warwick over 3m 5f on 13th January beating Cogry. An 11 years old he's run two more races since then when he was 5th in the Eider Chase over 4m and 2nd in the Midlands GrandNational over 4m 2f - so we know he stays very well. He has never fallen but has unseated once after being hampered in the Welsh National and he has pulled up a few times but not recently.
If I had to pick one of the three it would be I JUST KNOW. He could still be improving over staying distances, he's a young horse in terms of this race and his stable know what they need to win this. He was 50/1 back in February but is now only 25/1 - but that still represents great odds if he wins.

We need to keep an eye on the reserves too and they could be Road To Riches, Thunder And Roses, Delusionofgrandeur, Walk In The Mill or Vintage Clouds.
Road To Riches qualifies distance wise by his 3rd in the Gold Cup behind Coneygree in 2015 and is well handicapped off 142 here but he hasn't run for 62 days and has been out of sorts for a while it would seem.
Thunder And Roses won the Irish Grand National in 2015 and was 4th in 2017 race and has plenty of distance chase form but has fallen on his last two starts and has run in the National twice before.
Delusionofgrandeur has been 3rd in a Durham National at Sedgefield and 5th in Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and although he qualifies distance wise I'm not convinced they were good enough races to qualify on my criteria - plus he only ran 14 days ago.
Walk In The Mill hasn't run for 84 days and has not run over 3m 2f or more so fails on a couple of the criteria required by me for win purposes.
Vintage Clouds qualifies on the distance criteria by virtue of his 4th in the Welsh Grand National and he also has other big race form to his name over 3m 2f or more and he could be interesting if he were to get in the race.

Remember this is only my criteria for picking the winner you may have other thoughts or prefer to agree with someone else who has different views again. It's all a matter of opinion but generally I think things usually follow a pattern over time and that is what I am looking to do here.

I will be back on Friday afternoon with another blog post of my late thoughts for the big race.

Good Luck!

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