Friday, 7th April 2017
Hedgehunter, Comply or Die and Don’t Push It are the most recent examples of horses that landed the money for short-price backers in the Grand National.
But plenty more fancied horses failed to justify support this century. And there have been winners during the period at 16s (two), 20s, 25s (two), 33s (four), 66s and 100s.
The lesson is crystal clear. The outcome is not as straight-forward as the pre-race prices suggest. It pays to look beyond market sentiment.
The percentage play is to ignore the money and the consensus horses the pundits, the newspapers and the public are latching onto – and to look for the horse who can trump market expectation at a bigger price.
With 40-runners going to post, we certainly don’t lack options. And it is worth bearing in mind that there are good reasons – above and beyond price – to take on a few of those at the front of the market.
Not least the fact that many of the performances that propelled those horses to the head of the betting were produced on winter ground – racing surfaces very different from that which will be encountered tomorrow afternoon….
In seeking out value – live contenders at big prices – it helps if you can think a little differently to the rest of the market and stick your neck out….
For example, anybody reading around this week will have come across an established fact. That no horse aged 7-years-old has managed to win a Grand National since 1940.
That’s getting on for 80-years. It’s a trend that is well-established. But it’s also one that is going to get turned over at some point….
The Grand National has changed over that 80-year period. The fences are different. The way the weights are framed is different. The horses are different.
Years ago, your typical Grand National horse was an absolute brute of an animal. The horses going to post in more recent renewals are different – smaller, more athletic, more agile. Youth isn’t the disadvantage it once was….
A few 7-year-old have already run with credit in the Grand National. The likes of Big Fella Thanks, Nadover, Vieux Lion Rouge, Tharawaat and Cause of Causes.
Sooner or later, a 7-year-old is going to hit the frame. Sooner or later, a 7-year-old is going to buck the trend completely and win….
Tom George’s DOUBLE SHUFFLE ticks as many of the right boxes as any 7-year-old yet as he heads into this season’s renewal….
He’s an improving horse, a strong traveller, has tactical speed, is a terrific jumper, carries a nice racing weight and, unlike many of tomorrow’s participants, he is certain to appreciate the fine spring ground.
Like many in tomorrow’s field, he will need to prove that he stays the extreme trip. We can’t know whether he will or he won’t.
He’s by Milan. So was Double Seven who was 3rd in 2014 as an 8-year-old. But we can’t know Double Shuffle stays the same way until he does it.
He improved for the step up to 3-milles and he was staying on well at the end of the Betbright Handicap Chase at Kempton. That’s encouraging. But the additional miler and a half he faces tomorrow afternoon is an unknown and must be taken on trust.
But at 40s, I don’t mind taking something on trust. It’s a nice each-way price – and the 5th place is already widely available.
THE YOUNG MASTER isn’t quite the same price but the 20s is fair enough about Neil Mulholland’s charge.
I think he’s a serious player tomorrow afternoon. This race has been the plan all season for him.
He fell in December’s Becher Chase – and that’s a slight concern. But he’d been jumping the fences well up to the point of departure two from home. And the fall might well have been a result of tiredness rather than a lack of ability. He wouldn’t have been fully-tuned up for that assignment.
Don’t get me wrong, falling wouldn’t have been the plan. But we saw enough to suggest he can handle the big obstacles. And Mulholland has said that Sam Whaley-Cohen told him The Young Master was as good a ride as he’s have had over the National fences.
That’s an encouraging endorsement – coming from the jockey with the best record over the National fences in recent times. He’s had 10 top-5 finishes from his last 18 spins over the Aintree spruce.
The horse has been sharpened up with schooling sessions over the National fences at Lambourn. His preparation is described as clean. I think the horse is where they wanted him to be. His run in the Ultima at the Festival – where he stayed on at the end – was most certainly a solid final prep.
You’d expect the winner of last year’s bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown to be relatively untroubled by tomorrow’s trip. He doesn’t have the same stamina concerns as some of the others. He’s a big scopey horse who travels, jumps, stays and will appreciate the ground. This is very much his time of the year.
The Young Master ticks a lot of boxes…
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Grand National (5.15 @ Aintree)....
That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.
That’s all from me for now.
I’ll be back a little later today with ATC Extra….
Until then. Stay tuned.
P.S. You can get 100/1 on ANY horse you fancy in Saturday’s Grand National – great news if you fancy something much shorter in the betting. You’ll need to open a new account with Racebets and the max stake is just £1. But value is value. Act fast. This offer won’t be available on Saturday. Get 100s here.