With the Cheltenham Festival slowing sinking away into the horse racing memory vault we are reminded of just how great the sport can be with the Aintree festival. The festival culminates with tomorrow’s race, the big one, the one that everyone comes out to bet on, The Grand National. This iconic race crowns the racing season and is one of the most sought after prizes in the professional horse racing game. Here at Severn Sport we decided what better way to set ourselves up for the race than by bringing Michael “The Fox” Hedley-Ward out of temporary hibernation to give us his take on the race.
But before we hear from the Fox, there is a new challenger to his status amongst our Severn Sport audience, so just how will the Fox cope when he goes one on one with The Bear. The Bear is better known as Douglas Bowen, a seasoned veteran in the betting game, a man who has pulled out long shot winners for fun in recent weeks, he wants to take the Fox on and is adamant he will be victorious in the battle of the two animals. So let’s see how the Fox and the Bear see the Grand National going, starting with the reigning champion first. Over to the Fox.
Thanks Ryan, now I know there is a bit of pressure on me to deliver following the success of my Cheltenham predictions, but I am more than up for the challenge. The Bear doesn’t stand a chance! But let’s get cracking.
My first tip for the race is my winner. I really like the look of Rocky Creek. As Severn Sport fans will know I like value, I don’t like being a favourite backer so that is the reason I am even thinking about Tony McCoy and his ride Shutthefrontdoor – who is being tipped to go off as short as 7/2 in some instances, and with Rocky Creek I see value. Rocky Creek finished 5th in last year’s National and has been paired with the ever improving Sam Twiston-Davies and will be looking to finish this year’s race stronger. At about 10/1 you have a great price for a pretty good horse and one that should be there or there abouts at the end. If Twiston-Davies rides him well, remains content and concise throughout then I don’t see many if any beating him.
My tip for the each way shout has to be First Lieutenant. The 10 year old is the best horse in the race on paper and has the experience as well as the ability to push close. Due to his form over the last 12 months he will be overlooked in the betting by most regular punters but he has the staying power to finish strongly. Nina Carberry is on him and I would to see a female jockey win the big race. For me Nina has a great chance tomorrow and at as long as 28/1 his experience makes him a major player in the each way markets at least.
Finally for my complete long shot of the piece I have to go with the one and only Monbeg Dude. I always back the Dude every year and this year will be no exception as I look to teach the Bear a thing or two. He is currently 40/1 in the betting and could be dangerous if underestimated. He has experience in winning the longer races, most notably winning the Welsh Grand National – amongst others- in the last few years. Ignore the dude, and he will come back to haunt you.
That is the Fox’s take on the Grand National. He was very passionate with his selections and he really does believe that he will keep his crown as Chief Severn Sport tipster, a role he brags about regularly. But, there is a new pretender to the crown. The Bear. He sees the race going differently. But how differently? Let’s find out.
Cheers chief. The Fox may think he knows what he is talking about but I will show the youngster a thing or two this weekend. He may like the look of Rocky Creek but I don’t see anyone else winning it apart from Balthazar King. The Dickie Johnson ridden horse will be a major challenge for all before it this year, after finishing second last year. He finished only a few lengths behind the winner and for me will definitely be in amongst the front runners once again. At 10’s he is a steal right now as he won’t go off as long, he will only shorten up as the real punters look for alternatives for McCoy and Shutthefrontdoor.
My each way bet is pure and simple, one word. Alvarado. He finished 4th last year, sneaking a place with most major bookies and will go close again this year. He was appearing to sneak under the radar about a month ago but has drifted in from 33’s all the way down to the current price of 20s, as little as 16s in some places. I have told Ryan many times that during Aintree the bet is always Paul Maloney each way, his record is exceptional, so I have openly boasted the prowess of Alvarado, for me its justified. He has been saved for the National (like Balthazar King has) and comes into the race on the back of just one race this season. So all eyes will be on the big lad come 4.15 tomorrow.
My massive longshot has to be the 40/1 shot Court By Surprise. He has two wins out of two races this season (one via a disqualification to the Young Master) and has the ability to turn a few heads in the race. He has had a 154 day break so will be itching to get back into the flow of it all. For me it is just a case of how jockey Richie McLernon rides him.
That’s how I see the race going. The Fox doesn’t stand a chance.
And there we have it, the bell sounds and its the end of the contest. All we have to do now is watch the race tomorrow and see how the Fox and the bear weigh up. To make it interesting there will be a scoring system put in place for the race, with 5 points for the winner and two points for any placed horses. Also, if any of the selections fall then a point will be deducted. To make it even more interesting I have picked my horses too.
For my winner, despite looking at Balthazar King over the last few weeks, I have been slowly pointed in the direction of Cause for Causes. He easily won at Cheltenham and has the ability to come good on his 14/1 price. If he managed to win the race it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise ever. My each way shout is Night In Milan. The 25/1 shot has slowly revealed himself in the minds of the punters and is a real contender to be amongst it later on. If the ground isn’t heavily watered it could be Night in Milan’s day. My massive longshot is the 50/1 Across The Bay. The 11 year old has been badly hampered by loose horses in his two previous Grand National attempts so will be itching to make it third time lucky.
So there we have it. Five points for the winner, two points per place and minus a point for any faller. Let the battle commence. Enjoy the race, have a go and bet responsibly. Good luck!