Grand National Preview

Mark ‘The Couch’ Winstanley’s Grand National Day 2015 Preview

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WHEN I was known as the foot stool, watching the great Crisp treat the Grand National fences with utter contempt – and they were not the upturned dandy brushes the obstacles are today – in 1974, will live with me until Francis Chappell cuts down half a Brazilian rainforest and sticks me six feet under. I have never liked Red Rum after he reeled in Crisp after the last, but the vanquished horse will always hold a place in my heart. 

The world’s greatest race takes place at 4.15 at Aintree, and the roof will come off if Tony McCoy boots home Shutthefrontdoor on his last ride in the marathon. But this horses is much shorter in the betting because AP is on board, so sell the pair in a match bet with Rocky Creek. I was very impressed with the way the last-named animal bolted up at Kempton in February and, as this is an early closing event, Paul Nicholls’ horse runs off the same perch of 154. If the assessor had that form to go on, Rocky Creek would be running off a mark of 163! I’ve had a few quid on the nine-year-old on the Grand National Race Index, and the fact that Paul saddled a Barney Rubble on Thursday is a good sign. Another horse who will be on the premises is Balthazar King, who was second in last year’s race off a mark of 150, and has not raced since November to preserve a rating of 153 this time.

Philip Hobbs’ horses is a Cross-Country specialist, so he is bound to get round, so he must be backed in match bets with The Druids Nephew, who is not the best jumper in the world and is a doubtful stayer, and Cause Of Causes, who is too young for a test like this as a seven-year-old. The last member of his age group to score was Bogskar in 1940! The boys at Kennington have come up with a crafty and cunning spread bet involving the number of finishers, which they have priced up at 17-18. In the 29-runner Fox Hunters run here on Thursday over the big fences, 16 of the 29 amateurs managed to find their way home, so I’m going to buy, buy and buy some more at 18. As stated before, the fences are much easier nowadays and the ground is drying out, which will help the horses stay the marathon journey. 18 out of 40 finished last season, but I’m confident that figure will be higher this time.

If there is a Foinavon incident, where 90% of the field are taken out at one fence, you will find a fat bloke hanging from a lamp post in Locksbottom! In the following Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle (5.10) run over two miles, I can pass on a strong word for One For The Guv’nr. Nicky Henderson captured this event a few years ago with Lifestyle, so he knows what’s needed to land the nice prize. Buy him on the Race Index, as the yard had a nice winner with Theinval at Aintree yesterday.

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