I have been given another fantastic opportunity by @BestBritishBloggers and Coral who I worked with for my Cheltenham Preview piece here. So here is my Grand National blog with questions and hopefully a few inside tips from Simon Clare, PR Director at Coral and James Knight, Head of Racing at Coral.
The Grand National is synonymous with National Hunt racing. The greatest race on the earth as it is heralded by others. A true test of a horse’s stamina, desire and bravery. At race of 4 miles and 4 furlongs that requires thirty fences to be jumped, heroes and villains have been made in this great race over the years. Mention, if you will, in the same breath, these two legends Ginger McCain and his best friend and Aintree legend Red Rum. Then of course there was the infamous false start in 1993, the bomb scare in 1997, and the year of FOINAVON.
Then of course there is the greatest story of the all. That of a once crocked horse and a jockey fighting cancer, who can forget the year of ALDANITI and BOB CHAMPION.
The greatest steeplechase in the world creates headlines and events tha are remembered generation after generation. Only last year we had BALLABRIGGS winning for Donald McCain, son of Ginger. The year before the greatest jump jockey of all time finally won the race that had eluded him when DON’T PUSH IT crossed the line first. What story will be created this year I wonder?
So, on we go to the race this year and the purpose of this blog. The amazing people at BEST BRITISH BLOGGERS who work closely with CORAL asked me to ask Simon and James five questions around the Grand National. My questions are below along with their responses, hopefully we may get a few inside tips and pointers for the race, and potentially the winner!
Question 1 : What is your tip to win the Grand National this year?
For one that’s in good form, goes well on softer ground and has a good sound jumping history, we’d have to say According to Pete.
Question 2 : Please give us your top four finishers in order.
According To Pete – Black Apalachi – West End Rocker – Neptune Collonges
Question 3 : what is your favourite Grand National memory and why?
It was a controversial race at the time, but there was something special about Red Marauder’s National. Seeing AP and Ruby chatting as they nursed home Papillon and Blowing Wind for 3rd and 4th summed up what an exciting and crazy race the Grand National can be at times. For all the carnage during the race, all the horses returned safe and sound.
Question 4 : if you could name one of the ordinary fences on the National course what would it be and why?
When his time is up, they should name one of the fences after Paul Carberry. He is such a natural horseman and is a joy to watch over the National fences.
Question 5 : What is your nap of the Aintree festival
We’re looking forward to seeing Sprinter Scare win again but not sure we will see this horse beaten any time soon as he looks the best National Hunt horse in training by some way. For something more interesting in terms of price, we’d have to say Hunt Ball. The staying chase division looks pretty weak so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Anthony Knott’s fairy-tale run continue.
So there you have it. Simon and James have opted for According to Pete and are going for HUNT BALL tomorrow! Before you read some more insights into Saturday’s big race it wouldn’t be right pf me not to suggest my winner and my top four.
THE GOLFBANDIT’S NATIONAL TIP IS – CAPPA BLEU
THE FIRST FOUR ARE – 1. CAPPA BLEU 2. WEST END ROCKER 3. ACCORDING TO PETE 4. KILLYGLEN
Finally to finish the blog I’m handing back over to the guys from the CORAL team for an insight on their main candidates for success on Saturday. Look out for their competitions and their price deals leading up to the race on Saturday.
Is the winner there?
Here at Coral, we are celebrating Aintree by bringing back our hugely popular festival offers, invoking the spirit of Joe Coral, “Never A Quarrel, Bet With Coral”. A return to honest values and traditional bookmaking.
We guarantee to hold our advertised prices in shops from 8.30am – 9am. From 9am, we will lay any bet to win £10,000. We’ll also be offering enhanced place terms on selected races and fantastic money back concessions if your horse finishes second to our favourite.
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“The Grand National – Tough for jockeys, Easy for punters”
Saturday, the day of the big race, it’s all about the easy slip. We know it’s hard enough to pick a winner, but we are making placing your bets a doddle. A simple slip, with all the runners listed in alphabetical order, just like a coupon. Just mark your horse, your stake, if you want it to win or each way then take it to the counter and away you go!
Check out our Grand National TV ad here
Coral fear a Grand National win for the Gold Cup-winning pair of hot favourite Synchronised and champion jockey AP McCoy will hit them for six, while a dream scenario for the bookies would be a repeat of the 2009 winner, Mon Mome, who won at the odds of 100-1.
“AP McCoy and Synchronised could be the best backed National contenders since Red Rum won the last of his three Grand Nationals, and if the horse became the first Gold Cup winner ever to win the Aintree showpiece in the same season, bookies will face their most expensive day since Frankie Dettori rode all seven winners at Ascot, which cost the industry £40 million,” said Coral spokesman David Stevens.
“As a Gold Cup winner ridden by champion jockey AP McCoy and owned by legendary gambler JP McManus, Synchronised is certain to start favourite for the big race, and his odds could well shorten further by the off, while Ballabriggs, bidding to become the first dual winner since the mighty Red Rum, and like that star trained by the McCain family, and Seabass and Organisedconfusion, ridden by Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry respectively, are other contenders who could prove popular ahead for Saturday’s showpiece,” added Stevens.
For the latest Grand National Betting – Click here
Coral Grand National Finishes Competition
Enter our Grand National finishes competition on twitter for the chance to win tickets to the Coral Eclipse and some free bets!
Simply pick your favourite finish and tweet us your answer, if it is the same as CoralTV form expert Richard Hoiles, you could win!
Watch the Grand National finishes video here
Full Terms & Conditions are here
Facts about the Key Runners – Pinstickers Guide (Press Association)
SYNCHRONISED (Trainer, Jonjo O’Neill)
No horse has won this great race after lifting the Cheltenham Gold Cup since Golden Miller in 1934, though Garrison Savannah went close in 1991. However, unlike most Gold Cup winners, Synchronised has already proven his liking for a serious test of stamina by winning the Welsh and Midlands Nationals. He has his own way of jumping but provided he takes to the place, he looks certain to make his presence felt. Ground looks ideal and 7lb well-in at the weights.
BALLABRIGGS (Donald McCain)
Red Rum was the last horse to win back-to-back renewals in 1973 and 1974 and it would be a dream come true for the trainer if he could emulate the feat of his late father, Ginger. Unlike many of his rivals, the 11-year-old has been campaigned with only this race in mind all season, finishing fourth at Kelso in the same race in which he placed second during the last campaign. Given how ably he navigated the course 12 months ago, he is expected to finish in the money at least.
WEIRD AL (Donald McCain)
Talented but fragile chaser, who was pulled up in the Gold Cup when well fancied and was reported to have bled afterwards. There has to be question marks about him as that is not the first time he has bled, but he has a touch of class and some smart form in the book, notably when winning the Charlie Hall Chase.
CALGARY BAY (Henrietta Knight)
Only got as far as the fourth fence last year, but returns for a second attempt on the back of good wins at Cheltenham and Doncaster. Has always looked the sort to do well in this race and the National has been the specific target this season.
NEPTUNE COLLONGES (Paul Nicholls)
It is 51 years since a grey (Nicolaus Silver) won the National, but this horse certainly has the ability to put up a good show. He has spent plenty of his career in the shadows of stablemates Denman and Kauto Star, placing in two Gold Cups behind that pair. He has lost a gear or two since then, but was only beaten a neck in the Grand National Trial at Haydock and could give punters a good run for their money. Rain this week has helped his cause.
JUNIOR (David Pipe)
The National has been his objective for a long time and he ran a fine trial when just beaten by Ikorodu Road in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. The form has stood up well with the winner following up, and Junior appears to have strong claims of completing the quite incredible hat-trick of winning at Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival and this race. The one serious worry is his jumping, as the quirky gelding could either love these fences or hate them.
CHICAGO GREY (Gordon Elliott)
His trainer struck with Silver Birch in 2007, so he knows what it takes.
Won the four-mile chase at Cheltenham last year but lost his way a little since. Has shown glimmers of old spark recently, however, and capable of a big run if back to his best.
SEABASS (Ted Walsh)
Probably the most fascinating entry and definitely a ‘dark horse’ for trainer Ted Walsh. He has won his last seven starts, including a point-to-point, but has been running generally over much shorter distances. Still very much unexposed, he could be a blot on the handicap and his trainer was on target with the well-supported Papillon in 2000.
The fact he was passed over by the trainer’s son Ruby Walsh slightly tempers enthusiasm, although having his sister Katie in the saddle is not a negative.
SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM (Nicky Henderson)
Seen by connections as a National horse for some time, the eight-year-old only had two runs over fences during the winter and only nine his life. After chasing home Calgary Bay at Doncaster in January, he shaped well in second spot on his prep run over hurdles at Warwick.
Could run a big race and victory would surely secure the trainer’s title for Nicky Henderson
WEST END ROCKER (Alan King)
Winner of the Becher Chase over the National fences in December and has not raced since. Was to have run at Doncaster in early March but was taken out just before the race as connections considered the ground too quick. Was brought down at Becher’s first time round last year and fancied to get much further this time. The softening conditions will help him more than most.
MON MOME (Venetia Williams)
Famously won this in 2009 at 100-1. Has struggled since but showed signs of life at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Got stuck in the mud twice at Haydock since then but was disappointing at Cheltenham. Now 12, he is unlikely to become a dual winner, with the softer ground a negative
BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE (Noel Glynn)
Thoroughly consistent handicap chaser who filled the runner-up spot at the Cheltenham Festival for the second time in his career in last month’s Kim Muir. Tipped up at the second fence here last year, but he is essentially a good jumper and if he can get into a rhythm from the front end, it is easy to see him running a huge race this time off a light weight.
LE BEAU BAI (Richard Lee)
Enjoyed his day in the sun when winning the Coral Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas and should certainly not lack anything in the stamina department. He always gives everything he has and the arrival of the rain is a big boost to his chances. He would probably prefer it even more testing