Grand National Ante-Post tips
The countdown to the Cheltenham Festival has well and truly begun, but hot on its heels will come the most famous race of them all, the Grand National, and now is a good time to strike a couple of ante post wagers on the great contest.
The first place to look for the winner of any year's National is the previous year's race. However, it is usually a horse that finished down the field, or who didn't finish at all, that comebacks stronger 12 months later and a number of horses who fit that bill caught our eye whilst watching endless re-runs of the 2014 renewal.
If the ground is very soft, then Raz De Maree could be really interesting as he stayed on strongly at the death last season. Stamina is definitely his forte, so heavy ground is a must as it will slow the others down and allow him to race closer to the pace.
The likes of Balthazar King, Chance Du Roy and Rocky Creek are all respected too, but the handicapper knows all about them now and it is questionable whether they have enough improvement in them to beat their 2014 efforts.
The same should, theoretically, be true of the winner last season, Pineau De Re (who we tipped at 33/1). He also has to overcome the stats, as we haven't had a dual National winner since the mighty Red Rum in the seventies, but we have a sneaky feeling he could go close again as he actually claimed the prize last season with quite a lot in hand and you can forget his form so far this campaign as everything for him is being geared around a defence of his crown.
All in all, he is interesting at 25/1, but at much bigger odds (currently 50/1 with Sky Bet) we would suggest an each way interest in Kruzhlinin, who wasn't far behind Raz De Maree last year in tenth. That was a decent performance from a then seven year old, especially given that he was hampered early and didn't jump fluently after that. Encouragingly, that effort seemed to leave no scars as he was a decent seventh in the Becher Chase in November, staying on eye-catchingly well in the closing stages.
Crucially, his jumping seems to be improving and he has the McCain factor on his side as well. Indeed, he is a horse trainer Donald has always held in the highest regard and he seems to be having the modern day Aintree preparation as he switched to hurdles for his last run in a bid to protect his handicap mark.
That latest start over the smaller obstacles came at the weekend at Mussleburgh in a Pertemps Qualifier and he ran a blinder, racing enthusiastically at the head of affairs for most of the contest before being collared by the favourite in the shadow of the post.
He may now be aimed at the final of that series - a race Pineau De Re contested before National glory last year - and better ground may be the key to him come April as it may help his jumping.
Another horse who ran over hurdles recently is the other one we would recommend backing at this stage.
Wyck Hill has always been a chaser of some potential and he has had a couple of days in the sun already. On the whole, though, his talent has mainly been unfulfilled, but older horses often seem to have an edge in these marathon contests so David Bridgwater's 11 year old could be peaking at the right time.
We are big fans of Bridgwater as a trainer and the exploits of The Giant Bolster have proven his ability to ready horses for the big occasion.
This horse's run over hurdles at Chepstow suggested he was on good terms with himself and he will certainly see out this trip. He also ran with credit in the Becher Chase two seasons ago - staying on with promise in the closing stages to finish within sight of the leaders.
He could easily have Tony McCoy on board on the big day, in which case the 50/1 currently on offer with William Hill will look a huge price come the off.
||Grand National 2015||50/1||William Hill|
||Grand National 2015||50/1||Sky Bet|
|William Hill||Sky Bet|
|£25 free bet
||£25 free bet|