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Grand National preview: Two big priced selections against vulnerable favourites

08 Apr | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Grand National preview: Two big priced selections against vulnerable favourites

Alvarado or First Lieutanent can make it 6 from 6 for older horses

The Grand National is probably the hardest race to pick the winner of all year, but it’s also the most satisfying race if it comes off. Horses that have previously run well in the race can often run well again, but the race is usually won by a horse having its first taste. Therefore it can pay to back two in the race, one at decent odds with previous Grand National experience and one that should be suited by the demands of the race but is yet to tackle those fences.


Rocky Creek well backed for powerful connections


Of those that have Grand National experience the punters have wanted to side with Paul Nicholls’ Rocky Creek at 9/1 following his impressive win at Kempton in February. He’s 2lbs lower than when finishing fifth here last year and for a long way it looked as though he’d win the race, until stamina or lack of experience (or both) cost him. He’s certainly more experienced this year and is likely to be held on to for a little longer having been ridden prominently last year, so what cost him last time is unlikely to be a problem.


Rocky Creek is still only a nine year old though and whilst nine year olds do win this race, the last five Grand Nationals have all been won by horses aged 10 or older, as have 17 of the last 25 renewals. There is a definite bias towards the older horses.


Alvarado value to confirm form with last year’s rival


Rocky Creek was beaten 2.5 lengths last year by Alvarado (16/1) who carries an extra 1lb this time around. Alvarado was given too much to do in the race and finished with plenty left in the tank. That enabled him to go from 10th to fourth after the last fence, not many horses finish a Grand National like that. Connections will have learned from that effort and he’s been campaigned solely with this race in mind, having just the one run all season in February. He ran as if still in form over too short a trip on that occasion and crucially the ground will be in his favour, it should be even better ground than it was last year. At twice the price of Rocky Creek, Alvarado looks a value play.


Shutthefrontdoor may struggle to create McCoy fairy tale


Hot 7/1 favourite Shutthefrontdoor might well win, giving Tony McCoy a second Grand National victory in his final ride in the race, but he’s surely not a bet at these odds. Only one eight year old has won the Grand National in 21 years, but that was Bindaree who’d run 15 times over fences, Shutthefrontdoor has had just the six races over larger obstacles. The favourite looks likely to relish the trip and should have no problem with the fences, but this could be too much too soon on ground that will certainly be lively enough.


Younger horses could be vulnerable this year


With doubts over an eight year old winning the Grand National it looks best to put a line through Cause of Causes and Unioniste, both of which are still only seven. There are also plenty of other well fancied eight year olds in the line-up. Meanwhile the handicapper normally makes it impossible for previous winners to retain the race, Red Rum was the last to do that, so Pineau De Re might be running for a place only.


First Lieutenant’s class could give him an edge


The shortest priced runners having their first go at the race and aged in double figures are 28/1 shots Al Co and First Lieutenant. The former ran badly in the Becher Chase over these fences in December but the former could run a good race at the prices. He’s been out of form this season over fences but showed more over hurdles last time out and has run well at this time of year throughout his career. He should stay the trip, is well handicapped on his form from last season and this race was won by a similar type in Neptune Collonges three years ago.




So plenty to consider in this race but Alvarado should run a solid race making him a good each way bet whilst First Lieutenant looks a win only bet as he needs to regain his old sparkle but is very well-in if he does.