The Grand National is a race like no other and it’s the one that all jockeys young and old want to win. I was very lucky to do it on Monty’s Pass back in 2003 and it was a day I’ll never forget. It’s a race that everyone around the country knows about and it’s the one time racing is really at the forefront of the news.
This year’s race looks very open, as the National always is, but before the big one there is some great action at Aintree to look forward to.
1:45 Maghull Novices’ Chase
With Banbridge coming out having run on Thursday this looks to be fairly simple for JONBON. You don’t need me to tell you he’s a long way clear of his rivals on all known form and he should win this comfortably.
2:25 3m Handicap Hurdle
This looks much more competitive and lots in here have very solid claims.
The one I like the look of is OUTLAW PETER of Paul Nicholls. He has some good form on flat tracks so Aintree should suit and I was impressed with the way he won at Kempton the last day.
He comes here a fresher horse than some of the others having skipped Cheltenham and that could make the difference. He should be fine on better ground too.
3:00 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
Another race that looks wide-open with several contrasting form lines. Willie Mullins has already been amongst the winners this week and I’m keen on his DARK RAVEN here.
I hope they’ll ride him with a bit more patience than they did in the Supreme because I thought he was ridden a little too competitively at Cheltenham, which didn’t help his chances. He’s clearly got plenty of ability and I just prefer him to Hermes Allen, who needs to bounce back after that below par run in the Ballymore.
I’ll also be keeping an eye on SPRINGWELL BAY at a bigger price. I thought it was interesting that connections have decided to pitch him in here, as opposed to running in a handicap, because a mark of 140 looks quite inviting. The fact he runs in a Grade 1 must mean they think he’s a good horse and he could offer a bit of value.
3:35 Liverpool Hurdle
The staying hurdling division is very tricky to work out as horses can go from being brilliant one day to struggling badly the next. The Liverpool Hurdle feels like one of those races where if you ran it five times you could easily get five different winners, so finding one isn’t easy!
I can’t say it’s a confident view, but CHAMP could be the one. We know he’s best when fresh and Nicky Henderson has deliberately kept him back for this. He won the Sefton a few years ago so we know he likes Aintree and he might just represent a bit of value.
4:15 William Hill Handicap Chase
SHAKEM UP’ARRY is the one I came down on here. It’s another competitive contest but I thought he ran really well at Cheltenham last time and hopefully he can build on that here.
You’d like to think the step up in trip will bring about some improvement and he wouldn’t need that much to be right in the shake-up.
5:15 Grand National
As I said, the Grand National is a very special race and I was very lucky to win it. All jockeys want to be able to say they’ve won the Grand National and, for those that have done it, they will all say how special it is.
The fences now aren’t quite the test they were a few years ago, but it still takes a tremendous performance to win it.
The horse I think will win it this year is LE MILOS. He was very good when winning the old Hennessy in Newbury and I was particularly impressed with his jumping that day. He really looked like he needed the run at Kelso last time and that was more than likely a warm-up for this. He should stay and could easily still be a few pounds ahead of the handicapper.
LONGHOUSE POET can follow him home. He ran well in the race 12 months ago and probably just ran out of petrol at the business end having been a touch keen. You’d imagine this has been the plan ever since and his trainer, Martin Brassil, knows the exact horse required to win the Grand National having won it with Numbersixvalverde in 2006. He’s a year older now and that experience should help him settle better than last year.
I think it’s hard to leave both DELTA WORK and CORACH RAMBLER out.
Delta Work was a good third last year and the extra week between Cheltenham and Aintree will mean he’s had a bit more time to get over running in the Cross Country. He’s very classy and looks an obvious contender.
Corach Rambler has been regarded as National type for some time now and we all know he’s very well-handicapped. If anything, I think he’s travelling better in his races this year and he looks the perfect fit for the race. The only issue with him is that he can get a long way back in his races and it’s not easy to make up huge amounts of ground in a race of this nature. That might just catch him out.
My slightly left-field selection is MISTER COFFEY. He’s run two good races at the last two Festivals and, while he was disappointing over the National fences previously, he’s an older horse now and the experience should help him run better.
Barry Geraghty’s Grand National 1-2-3-4-5
- Le Milos
- Longhouse Poet
- Delta Work
- Corach Rambler
- Mister Coffey
The finale of the Grand National Festival is another tricky race to weigh up. All of these have plenty of improvement in them, but I’ll give a chance to CAPTAIN CODY. He could go well if settling better than he did in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.