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This 9 year-old ticks a lot of trends and heads into the 2018 Grand National the leading horse. With plenty of the trends, like age and proven form over the National fences, this Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained runner has a lot going for him. Especially as the yard have won the Grand National twice before too! The ‘once-a-year’ Grand National punters might also remember his name from last year (sent off the 8/1 favourite). So there is a strong chance they will latch onto him in the betting again. He ran a gallant fourth 12 months ago behind One For Arthur. Now with another year on his back, plus that experience, he’s sure to go well again.
Blaklion was only beaten 8 ¼ lengths in 2017 and has also returned this season better than ever. He ran a close second in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby behind stablemate Bristol De Mai. He then followed that up with a 9 length victory in the Becher Chase at Aintree back in December. Don’t forget, that race is also run over the National fences. He’s a big player and providing he gets to the race without injury, he looks likely to go off at the top of the 2018 Grand National favourites in the betting.
Having run in the last two Grand Nationals, The Last Samuri is another horse the recreational punters will remember. So far, his best run in the race was a close second in 2016 behind Rule The World. While despite disappointing (16th) 12 months ago, will be one of the most experienced over these fences. As well as running twice in the Grand National, he’s also finished third (2016) and second (2017) in the Becher Chase. That valuable track knowledge gives him a huge edge.
At 10 years-old, he’s still young enough to win the race and would have had another tilt at the Grand National as his sole target all season. He returned to the track in November with a solid second at Kempton over a much shorter trip. He then followed that up with an excellent second to Blaklion in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December. He’s a horse that goes on any ground and is sure to be popular in the Grand National favourites betting market leading into the race.
Former jockey, turned leading Irish trainer – Gordon Elliott – won the Grand National as a handler in 2007 with Silver Birch. He certainly knows what’s required in winning the world’s greatest steeplechase. His best-looking chance to add to that 2007 success in 2018 looks to be Cause Of Causes. Many people might remember this horse finishing second in the 2017 renewal. This JP McManus-owned 10 year-old landed the Cross Country race at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2017. He then headed to Aintree to finish runner-up behind One For Arthur in 2017.
He was only beaten 4 ½ lengths 12 months ago and being a horse that relishes these style of fences then we can expect another huge run. A defence of his Cross Country Cheltenham crown in March looks the most-likely route he’ll take. But with around a month between races this year then he’ll have plenty of time to recover. He’s another of the Grand National Favourites that acts on most ground, while jockey Jamie Codd, who rode him in 2017, has built-up a cracking partnership with the horse.
Definitly Red was pulled-up in the 2017 Grand National when well-fancied so has a bit to prove. However, he was also sent off as second favourite at 10/1 that day and with time on his side – still only 9 years-old – he’ll head into the 2018 race with a great chance. It’s also worth pointing out he was hampered very badly at the sixth fence 12 months ago and never really recovered. That gives us a reminder that to win the Grand National your horse and jockey also need a fair amount of luck in-running as there was not a lot this horse could have done last year to avoid being interfered with.
Having said that, the experience of the Grand National fences would still have taught him a lot and he’s returned to the track this season in tremendous form. He clearly needed the run back when a distance third in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but backed that up with a top win at Aintree (over the normal fences) in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase back in December. Some might cling to the trip being a negative as he’s yet to win beyond 3m2f, but he’s a horse that seems to have stamina in abundance – backed-up with an easy 7 length win here in heavy ground over 3m1f this season. With a bit more luck in-running he’s another Grand National favourites that is sure to be popular in the 2018 betting market.
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