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Aintree Grand National Festival Preview – 12th to 14th April

Last updated: April 13, 2018 by Leon Marshal

The Grand National remains one of the most popular betting races in the calendar with a worldwide TV audience estimated at around 600 million. The race is over an extended four miles with forty formidable fences to be jumped.

The history of the race is littered with heroic stories from Red Rum’s three victories to the fairy-tale success of Aldaniti and Bob Champion. Last year Scotland claimed a famous success when One For Arthur jumped his way into the history books for Lucinda Russell.

Two horses racing at the Grand National

Grand National Preview and Betting Tips

Bookmakers are struggling to establish a clear favourite this year with four horses currently priced at around 11-1. Cheltenham form is not always a reliable guide to the Grand National but three of those horses ran at last month’s Festival meeting.

Anibale Fly would not have been on many short-lists prior to running third in the Gold Cup. Tony Martin’s gelding was never any threat to the first and second but galloped all the way to the line. He had previously fallen heavily at the second last in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown. This will be his first taste of the big Aintree fences.

Ladbrokes Trophy winner Total Recall fell at the third last in the Gold Cup. He improved out of all recognition when joining Willie Mullins in September and landed a big gamble at Newbury. He had Regal Encore nine lengths away in third at Newbury and meets that rival on 9lbs worse terms.

Tiger Roll among the market leadersw

Tiger Roll won the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham for Gordon Elliott. The eight-year-old won the Triumph Hurdle back in 2014 and has been a real star for the stable. Davy Russell will be in no hurry in the early stages and he looks the most likely of the three horses with recent Cheltenham form.

Blaklion ran well in last year’s Grand National when finishing fourth. He was sent for home a long way out that day and is likely to be ridden with a little more restraint on Saturday. He now races off a 9lbs higher mark, largely due to an impressive victory in the Becher Chase in December. He easily beat The Last Samuri by nine lengths and is 8lbs worse off with that horse.

Scotland had to wait nearly 40 years for One For Arthur’s victory but they have another leading contender this year in Seeyouatmidnight. David and Patricia Thompson, successful with Party Politics in 1992, purchased the gelding this week. His recent form is nothing to shout about but he was a high class novice chaser and has been aimed at the Grand National all season.

Regal Encore good value at 33-1

The Last Samuri was second here in 2016 but struggled last year off a 12lbs higher mark. The handicapper has only dropped him a couple of pounds while top weight Minella Rocco is something of an enigma. He was second in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup but has not reproduced that form since. He is returning after a wind operation and will be ridden by Noel Fehily.

Ucello Conti was sixth in 2016 and finished a close fourth to Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase later that year. He was still in contention when stumbling on landing and unseating his rider in last year’s race at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. Ucello Conti pulled up in heavy ground at Gowran Park in January but seems to reserve his best form for Aintree. He is a half-brother to Silviniaco Conti who sadly passed away this week.

Jockey Richie McLernon was beaten in the very last stride in the 2012 Grand National aboard Sunnyhillboy. He has excellent each-way prospects on Regal Encore, eighth last year when he was too far back on the first circuit. He arrives in good form after winning at Ascot in February.

Katie Walsh will be hoping to improve on her record-breaking third place on Sea Bass in 2012. She partners the grey Baie Des Iles for Ross O’Sullivan this year, third in the Irish Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February. Bryony Frost rides Warwick Classic Chase winner Milansbar while Rachael Blackmore is aboard Alpha Des Obeaux for Mouse Morris.

The pack racing at the Grand National

Grand National Betting Tips

1. Regal Encore @33-1 William Hill

2. Tiger Roll @12-1

3. Blaklion @12-1

4. Uccello Conti @20-1

Each-way 1/5 odds, 1,2,3,4,5, 6

The 2018 Grand National is due off at 5.15pm on Saturday 14th April and will be televised live on ITV.