The Grand National

Photo courtesy of Fran (@Riosrider)
 
Here we are then! The big one! The Grand National is here, the world's greatest steeplechase. Millions will be watching, hundreds of thousands will be there – what a spectacle it is! I hope first and foremost that all the horses and jockeys come back safe and sound. The changes that have been made to the track should encourage this and it will prevent these do gooders chirping up about horse safety too. It will be a cracking race – I'm hoping I've got the winner for the first time in 25 years!! See my report below for my four selections for the race.
This is what the twitter gamble guys are going for in the race :
@Tonythetyke – FIRST LIEUTENANT
@Fernando_RFC2 – AL CO
@DazGilbert1 – SAINT ARE
@Liamkenniford – ROCKY CREEK
 
Here are my selections for today :
MANDY'S BOY 1650 CHEPSTOW (nap) (Unplaced = -£5.00)
Has spits and spots of decent form last year behind the like of MANJAKANI at Stratford and AGREEMENT at the same venue. He seemed to run better last time and the handicapper has given him a real chance. His last winning mark was OR115 on good ground. His mark today is OR103. He is incredibly well handicapped, has a light weight and must run well.
 
Mersey Novices Hurdle 1330
Nichols Canyon was very well supported in Neptune at Cheltenham but could never land a blow and I'm not convinced he willbe able to today either. AS DE MEE deserves this step up in class after some really good performances and is interesting. PARLOUR GAMES is a worthy favourite after his second in the Neptune but I'm optimg for what looks like a progressive horse in THREE MUSKATEERS (3rd – 7-1) He won well at Wetherby earlier in the season and then followed that up with a battling win in a Grade 2 hurdle at Warwick in January. He missed the festival for this and despite it being another step up he looks a promising horse.
 
Doom Bar Maghull Novices Chase 1405
God's Own ran a cracker in the Arkle and showed his previous ability in that race. Could he have burnt his bridges though by really trying to go after Un De Sceaux in that race? I'm opting for COURT MINSTREL (treble)(Unplaced) who also ran well in the Arkle and was ridden sensibly after his chance had gone but he still stayed on for fifth. He will love the ground and has a touch of class as we saw last year here when he won a competitive hurdle here off a big weight. He has the ability I have no doubt to win this.
 
Silver Cross Stayers Hurdle 1450
COLE HARDEN caused a but of an upset by winning the World Hurdle and he got a bit of a start on them that day. On this flatter track I don't think he'll get that today and I think he'll struggle. I'm going for ZARKANDAR (unplaced) who ran such a good race at Cheltenham considering he made such a bad mistake two out. To keep going and make third was really impressive and shows how good he is. This track will suit and I think he'll run a big race and will win this.
 
Betfred Handicap Chase 1525
I'm not betting on this race as nothing really appeals – however DUKE OF LUCCA (WON 9-2) goes again this year off a mark 3lbs higher than what he won it off last year and has a good chance.
 
The Crabbies Grand National 1615
I've opted for four in this and I'll take them in order of preference. MON PARRAIN (nb) (unplaced = -£5.00) is my first choice. He has always been a smart horse and despite his quircks he has loads of ability. He has ran well over these fences, getting pipped in the Topham a few years ago and he ran well behind OSCAR TIME in the Becher in December. He then showed his class for this jockey when jumping for fun from the front and winning at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. He will love the fences and the ground and if he gets near the front and in a nice rhythm he could run a cracker at a big price. AL CO is my second choice, he ran well when winning the Scottish National last year and meets lots of the trends for past winners of the big one. He has been well prepared for this and the form of the Scottish National is tobe taken into account these days. Next up is ROCKY CREEK he looked really well last time and is well in with his rating from when the handicap was given. He could be a grades horse running in a handicap. There were question marks against him last year but he answered those and he has a huge chance today. Finally I'm opting for FIRST LIEUTENANT who has been a decent horse in his time and it seems Mouse Morris has got a bit of the old sparkle back, the trip is the worry but that is always the case in this marathon event! Good luck is needed for anything to win this and I'm hoping my four give me a good run for my money.
 
My blog four today are :
MANDY'S BOY 1650 CHEPSTOW
MON PARRAIN 1615 AINTREE
COURT MINSTREL 1405 AINTREE
ZARKANDAR 1450 AINTREE

My Dad's selections are
Nichols Canyon 1330 Aintree (Won 3-1 = £9.37)
Cole Harden 1450 Aintree (2nd – 2-1 = £1.25)
Duke of Lucca 1525 Aintree (WON 9-2 = £14.06)
Balthazar King 1615 Aintree (Fell -£5.00)
 
Standings
Father 10-9 Son
Profit
Father -£62.13
Son £131.71
 
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Ladbroke Hurdle

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So the Bandit has finally broken up for his christmas holiday yay! It’s been a hell of a busy one, with the old foe Ofsted making a visit, although I’m pleased to say it was the news we wanted from their visit. The Bandit is very happy and proud of the work of my colleagues and our awesome children. Our team had put our celebrations for this until Thursday gone and boy did we celebrate!!!!

As this is the last blog before our jolly friend pops down our chimneys can I wish all of you who reads and puts up with my ramblings a very merry christmas and a prosperous New Year and I am really grateful for all of you who take the time each week to read and retweet this blog, means a lot! My twitters gamble friends have selected their best bets for today and they’re hoping for a profitable day! Good luck with whatever you’re selecting today and lets hope we all win a bit of our old enemy to line our wallets for the Christmas shenanigans!

The Twitter Gamble bet :

@TonyTheTyke Absolutely Bygones 1245 Ascot

@DazGilbert1 Sound Investment 1500 Ascot

@Fernando_RFC2 Puffin Billy 1315 Ascot

@LiamKenniford Zarkandar 1425 Ascot

Here are my best four for today :

FIREBIRD FLYER 1405 HAYDOCK (NAP) – (unplaced – £5.00) I backed this guy first time out over hurdles the other week and he didn’t disappoint on ground similar to today. It’s going to be pretty bad ground at Haydock and this guy will sluice through it. His mark is pretty good and hasn’t shifted after his hurdles success so he could still be well in. He normally takes a while to get going and to win first timeout was unusual so there is possibly more to come, I hopeful of a very big run!

RUN RUNCTIONS RUN 1440 HAYDOCK (NB) – (2nd – 100-30 = £2.08) this guy impressed me loads last time here at Haydock over the distance today and only ON TOUR got near him then and he had some pretty smart horses well behind. The ground will be fine and his 3lb rise is fair and I think he will run a big race again today.

GASSIN GOLF 1530 ASCOT (TREBLE) – (PU = -£5.00) this horse has always had a race like this in him. He always seems to come second and never quite wins! He has yet to win a hurdle race but I think he has been targeted specifically at this and then the future races after. He has lots of great form in the bag with the likes of VIBRATO VOLTAT and others being behind him in his races. He could be on a very winnable mark and the ground shouldn’t be a problem. I love a big handicap and trying to solve it and I’m hoping I have found a nice priced solution!

ZARKANDAR 1425 ASCOT – (2nd – 4-6 = £0.41) is a smart horse and won well last time France with REVE DE SIVOLA behind. I can’t see that form being reversed and I think he is also too good for AUBUSSON. Should be a straightforward success.

My Dad’s selections are :

LAST SHOT 1350 ASCOT (unplaced = -£5.00)

FILL THE POWER 1405 HAYDOCK (3rd 5-1 = £3.12)

RIVER DEEP 1440 HAYDOCK (unplaced = -£5.00)

PINE CREEK 1530 ASCOT (2nd 10-1 = £6.25)

Standings

Father 4-2 Son

Profit

Father -£21.99

Son £1.39