5.15 Aintree: Grand National
After missing out last year, the 2021 running of the Grand National looks set to go ahead with the traditional 40 runners tackling the likes of Bechers Brook, Valentines & The Chair over the marathon trip of 4 miles 2 furlongs in the biggest & best race of them all. Remember though, this is a handicap so the classiest horse in the field is very rarely the winner as it will have to carry the most weight.
The first thing we need to do is narrow the field down from 40 so let’s take a look at some of the key trends & angles in finding the winner of this prestigious race.
It is rare for any horse to come here & win without being in decent form, & there are 3 stats that shouldn’t be ignored:
- The last 7 winners all finished in the first 6 last time out.
- 6 of the last 7 winners, including the last 6, had finished 1st or 2nd in at least one of their last three starts.
- 6 of the last 7 winners, including the last 6, had recorded a RPR higher than their official rating in at least one of their last three starts.
You need to be street-wise to navigate this fences, yet still have some improvement left so don’t forget to factor in the next 2 stats:
- The last 7 winners were aged between 8 & 11.
- The last 7 winners had all raced over fences at least 10 times, with 5 of those 7 having had no more than 16 chase starts.
As the longest distance race on the calendar, you need a horse that will stay the trip.
- 6 of the last 7 winners had won over at least 3 miles, with the other having finished 2nd over 3 miles 5 furlongs so despite being winless at extreme distances, he still had a tick in the stamina box.
- All of the last 7 winners had finished in the first 2 in at least one of their two longest distance races they’d ever encountered.
Too often ignored, it’s not just stamina but also being comfortable in a big field.
- Each of the last 7 winners had finished 1st or 2nd in a race of at least 15 runners since the beginning of the previous year. Because of the pandemic, we’re extending the time period back a further year so are looking for a finish in the first 2 in the last 27 months (since the start of 2019).
There are 8 horses that fit all the trends but the field can be narrowed down further, given weight carried, ground & class are all valid considerations. The 3 most solid of these 8 are the favourite Cloth Cap, Any Second Now & Kimberlite Candy.
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Let’s now take a look at the leading contenders:
Cloth Cap is the short priced favourite & his claims are solid. He’s been campaigned lightly with his preparations geared around this race & he’s won his last 2. He’s probably around a stone well in on his current mark but he’s quite exuberant with his jumping & that’s my biggest concern, along with the price. If you’re one for taking short prices, I wouldn’t put you off.
Burrows Saint is the leading hope for Willie Mullins & did win the Irish National in 2019. However, his only run over fences this season wasn’t as good as you’d have liked so you’re backing him based on likely improvement. He is lightly raced so has chances but 9 starts over fences is bit less than ideal & it’d be some feat for Willie & Patrick Mullins to pull off the Topham / National double in 24 hours.
Minella Times has been backed off the boards since Cheltenham because of the De Bromhead / Blackmore. It would be some achievement, especially for the jockey bidding to become the first woman to ride the winner of this race. 1st or 2nd in 7 of his 10 chase starts but he’s yet to go further than 3 miles so there are stamina questions to answer.
Any Second Now has been laid out for this by his shrewd Irish trainer & the thing that draws me to this one is his form in big fields having finished 1st of 28, 5th of 27 & 1st of 23 in his 3 completed starts with 21+ runners. He has fallen & unseated in 2 others which is a slight concern but he’s reported to have schooled well. He won the Kim Muir at Cheltenham in 2019 which was the furthest he’d gone in a race & he stayed on well that day whilst his recent form is solid enough having beat Castlegrace Paddy by 10 lengths in a Grade 2 last time out; the runner up should have won the Grade 2 Devenish last week had he not made a bad error at the final fence so the form has most definitely been franked.
Discorama is having his first run following wind surgery & was an early fancy but, whilst he’s likely to stay on well, the ground may just be too quick for him. He’d probably also have more solid claims if the race was run at Cheltenham as he’s finished placed in each of the last 3 Festivals in big fields. Paul Nolan had a better chance of winning a National with Latest Exhibition who went off favourite in last Monday’s Irish equivalent.
Kimberlite Candy has been very lightly raced in recent times and comes here fresh & with a massive chance. He was 5th in the Eider in 2019 & since then, has finished 2nd in the last 2 runnings of the Becher over these fences. Knowledge over these obstacles is not to be underestimated so that in itself almost makes him a bet but then add into that a win in the 3 mile 5 furlong Warwick handicap, his claims are sound enough. Admittedly he goes well on soft but I’m not sure he needs that ground to show his best. For me, it’s these fences, staying distances & big fields that bring out the best in him. With everything in his favour, he rates a superb each way bet.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the market leaders dominate but at longer prices, there are a couple to keep in mind.
Takingrisks won the Scottish National in 2019 so the distance is right up his street & he ran really well last time out winning the SkyBet Chase at Doncaster. I wouldn’t put anyone off him each way although age may just find him out as he’s now a 12 year old.
Acapella Bourgeois isn’t the most obvious winner of this but if you like Burrows Saint, you’ve got to fancy this fella. Admittedly, he’s a little more exposed than his stablemate but did beat him by almost 5 lengths last time out & is now 7lbs better off. Going a bit further back, he was 3rd in the 2019 Irish National behind that same horse but is now 13lbs better off for 7 lengths. If he takes to the fences, he might prove to be the best of the longshots.
Talkischeap is lightly raced over fences & hasn’t shown much form lately but on his only starts beyond 3 miles, he was a runaway winner of the Bet365 Gold Cup Chase at Sandown in 2019. If he’s anywhere near that form, which is possible if the trip revives, he might sneak into a place.
So, we’re taking 3 against the field with Any Second Now & Kimberlite Candy our main bets, and a small bet too on Acapella Bourgeois.
PLACED – Back Any Second Now (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 10.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
Back Kimberlite Candy (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
Back them here:
Back Acapella Bourgeois (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 29.00 888sport BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back it here: