Expert Grand National tips from Luke Harvey
Former jockey and Newbury Weekly News racing correspondent analyses Saturday's big race
Trying to pick the winner of the Crabbie’s Grand National obviously requires a large slice of luck, but you can considerably enhance your chances of winning by following the following tips.
The first and most important factor is to pick a horse guaranteed to stay four miles and three furlongs. The most over-used and totally incorrect myth is that the race suits two-and-a-half mile horses; it doesn’t and never has.
Horses like Shutthefrontdoor, Cause of Causes and Godsmejudge all stay extreme distances.
Experience over the unique fences is not essential but is a definite positive. In this category you’ll be following last year’s winner Pineau De Re, runner-up Balthazar King and likes of Alvarado, Chance du Roy and Soll.
Trainer and jockey form can also be significant with the likes of Paul Nicholls – Rocky Creek; Jonjo O’Neil - Don’t Push It; Daryl Jacob – Pineau De Re; and last year’s winning rider Leighton Aspell – Many Clouds; all with good track records.
Lastly, and this sounds bizarre, but not always the best jumpers of park fences suit the Grand National fences. Maori Venture for example was a sloppy and often very casual jumper of regulation fences yet jumped the Aintree fences beautifully. Not dissimilar in style is Cheltenham festival winner The Druids Nephew.
Armed with the aforementioned information, my pin’s fallen on the Neil Mulholland-trained The Druids Nephew.
The extended four miles should not be an issue as he stayed three-and-a-half at Cheltenham on soft ground in November. Recent form couldn’t be better, having scooted home over an extended three miles at the festival.
While it’s possible to pick holes in his jumping, although he’s only ever fallen once, I was buoyed by the comments of his jockey Aidan Coleman who schooled him over Grand National style fences last week. “He was really clever and backed off when I asked him too. I’m really looking forward to the ride,” he grinned.
Safest bet in the race is the Phillip Hobbs-trained Balthazar King, who ran so well last year. A very sound jumper, he’s been trained much more conservatively this season with his whole campaign geared towards the second week in April.
Strictly on form Rocky Creek should probably be market leader and is another with all the necessary criteria. A sound jumper, he’s been kept fresh and not run since running away with Kempton’s valuable Betbright Chase. Both the trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies have good recent records in the race.
Finally, for a lively outsider, look no further than the James Reveley-ridden Night in Milan.
Game and consistent, the gelding looks a dour stayer and solid jumper. If he were trained in the south rather than the relatively unfashionable Keith Reveley stable I’m sure he’d be shorter than 33/1.