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Picking the winner of the world’s most famous steeplechase – the Grand National Handicap Chase at Aintree – is tough.
A total of 40 horses jump 30 fences, many of which are larger than regulation National Hunt obstacles, over two circuits of the course. Lasting the 4 1/4-mile distance carrying specially allotted weights by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) handicapper is the ultimate test of thoroughbred endurance.
Successful punters pay special attention to horses taking aim at the Grand National. The 2019 renewal is fast approaching on Saturday, 6 April, so what movers and shakers are there in the bid for Aintree glory this year? Here are some of the early Grand National gambles.
Colin Tizzard has a young, improving staying chaser who has put in some big performances in other valuable British races this season. Elegant Escape was second in the Ladbrokes Trophy – best known for many years as the Hennessy Gold Cup – and went one better in the Welsh Grand National, as reported by www.telegraph.co.uk at Chepstow just after Christmas.
Although he’s proven his staying credentials there and has been backed at 20/1 with British bookmakers, the only reservation about this gamble is age, which is normally an asset. It’s been almost 80 years since a 7-year-old won the Grand National.
Elegant Escape could well defy that stat, however, after already silencing doubters about his pedigree for stamina tests. Many leading sportsbooks and online casinos offering Grand National odds have some great sign-up bonuses for new customers, so bettors should take advantage of sites such as www.casinowings.com to find a free bet or cash bonus to back Elegant Escape.
Trevor Hemmings is the most successful owner in the race’s recent history. The top rated of his potential runners this year is Lake View Lad – winner of the similar Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase. Like Elegant Escape, the 9-year-old grey gelding has shown improved form this season.
After putting in a number of promising runs in the first half of 2018, Lake View Lad landed the Listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on his return after a summer break, as reported by www.sportinglife.com. The ground was pretty soft that day, but he also handled a sounder surface well when stepping up in grade to follow up at Wetherby.
Punters have nibbled at the 33/1 price on offer for Lake View Lad and, unless several horses at the head of the weights don’t line up at Aintree, he looks to have a workable mark to go well off in the Grand National. He fits the age profile of more recent winners better than Elegant Escape to boot.
Irish raiders have won two of the last three runnings of the race. Both were owned by Gigginstown House Stud, and while Tiger Roll could return to defend his Aintree crown, his Gordon Elliott-trained stablemate Dounikos also has a claim. Connections are likely to have several horses in the Grand National, so working out which is the first string may be tricky.
Dounikos has not been the more reliable of chasers, but he put in a career best over fences when landing the official Irish Grand National Trial at Punchestown. As he beat last year’s Irish Grand National winner General Principle – another with an Aintree entry – the 8-year-old may finally be improving.
What was most interesting about Dounikos’ victory was the fact he was giving weight to the next eight horses home. That is very eye-catching for a race like the Grand National and also suggests that the British handicapper has been very fair in allotting him the special rating he has. Dounikos is still 33/1 with some bookmakers, but shorter with others.
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