With the final field for the Randox Grand National set, the true shape of the market became visible.
Hopefully, a peak field of 40 will set off on the famous course at 5.15pm this afternoon, and it is Ain’t That A Shame which has received strong support from punters on the eve of the race.
Available at 14/1 last night, the Henry de Bromhead-trained nine-year-old is now an 8/1 general shooting, supplanting both the Crach Rambler and Delta Work in the marketplace.
Long standing favorite Corach Rambler has finished at 10/1 with some firms whilst Delta Work remains a solid second favorite at around
At higher price points, there has been interest in Vanillier for Gavin Cromwell. A Grade 1 winner over the hurdles, so far this season he has run mostly on inadequate aways, presumably to protect his mark, and now has an overall shot of 16/1 from 20s.
The Big Breakaway is another one that has come in for support and is short 25/1 with some companies being available at nearly double this time last week.
Below, Telegraph Sport brings you an insider tip for the big race and horses that should be on your radar in preparation for the 2023 Grand National at Aintree. You can download and print our Grand National Lottery Kit here.
Tip from Marcus Armytage
vanillaa race-ready eight-year-old, he can tackle a gray day in Merseyside and become Ireland’s fifth successive winner by winning the 175th Randox Grand National at Aintree today.
The Grays who have won the world’s largest steeplechase are a select group, there are only three so far, one per century; The Lamb in 1868 and 1871, Nicolaus Silver in 1961 and Neptune Collonges in 2012, but Vanillier has a lot going for him today and, with a bit of luck always riding on the winning jockey, he can join the club as trainer Gavin Cromwell, a man who in his former life as a blacksmith before becoming a Champion Hurdle winning trainer can claim to have shod national winners Silver Birch and Tiger Roll for Gordon Elliott.
Vanillier first met the runners of this side of the Irish Sea when he stormed to victory in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2021. I have to admit he hasn’t reached those heights over the fences yet and while I’m not sure i would have knocked him over the old fashioned fences, yet he is not the type of horse that would go and knock one down.
But Cromwell campaigned him almost exclusively on shorter travel than his optimum this season until the national weights were released. Then, on his last run, in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse he was beaten half a length by Kemboy, a former Irish Gold Cup winner, when 20lbs wrong with the winner if it had been a handicap. Two more steps and that day he would have won.
He crashed during his previous start but slipped trying to save himself that day and his coach was right to excuse him. “He’s been training all year for the race,” Cromwell said yesterday. “He has a nice weight, he stays, he jumps much better and if he gets the rhythm and the position I hope for a great run”.
Sean Flanagan, now one of Ireland’s most experienced jump jockeys with an excellent run-to-fall ratio, is a rider in every sense of the word; he flew his he light aircraft to Cheltenham in March. If the push comes, Vanillier will have no shortage of help from the saddle.
Telegraph Sport Tip
The case of Corach Rambler is clear as day. He’s 10lbs well at the weighs after posting a career best last time out and his jump is that of a horse that should be fit for the Aintree fences.
Still, this remains a race of huge variables and while the Corach Rambler might make the handicap look silly, its price is simply too low.
We’ll be happy to sit there and cheer with the rest of the nation if he smashes 25 lengths but he won’t bring our money; New Year’s Want.
As the years go by, the Grand National is becoming more and more suited to horses that offer that extra bit of class, something this Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old has in abundance.
A few issues this season mean he has only been seen once and that was on an inappropriate trip of bottomless 2m4f at Gowran Park in February.
He still performed well under the circumstances and you get the feeling his entire campaign was built around a tilt at Aintree.
Winner at the last two Punchestown Festivals, this is a horse that really comes alive in the spring and with freshness on his side it’s also easy to see him put on a great showing.
His defeat to Lifetime Ambition in the Grade 1 at Punchestown last season is close to single best piece of form in this contest and he is able to counter that at this extreme distance he should go close.
A score of 160 is high but it has the ability to handle that score, and even improve on it.
Between 1984 and 2009, no Grand National winner carried more than 11st 1lb, but since then four horses have carried 11st 5lb or more to victory at Aintree. New Year’s Eve may fall into that category.
The top four picks at the Grand National
The big dog
Any second now
It’s not a pity
Telegraph Sport’s other horses to watch
Noble Yeats – 9/1
Last year’s winner has put together an excellent campaign this season and didn’t hurt his chances with a solid run at the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time out. He wasn’t good enough to come close to winning that day, but stayed on strongly late to underscore his credentials as a leading National contender this year, albeit at a heavy weight of 11st 11lb.
Mister Incredible – 1/12
He has shown an aptitude for staying in testing this season and ran very well under a big weight when he finished third at the Cheltenham Festival last time out. He’s got a lot less on the plate here when it comes to weights and it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll appreciate the extra distance. One of Willie Mullins’ so jockey bookings will be revealing.
Our power – 22/1
Well imagined in many quarters, Our Power snuck into the bottom-of-the-weights contest after Quick Wave’s retirement. He has only raced twice this season, winning on both occasions, but his whole season seems to have been built around the national team.
The Great Escape – 40/1
Once tipped as a future star, The Big Breakaway’s career didn’t go as planned, but he gave a performance at the Welsh National at Christmas that hinted he might be up to this sort of test. He was still holding on at the end when he finished second to The Two Amigos at Chepstow on 3m6½f. He will have three more stadiums to play with at Aintree.
Marcus Armytage’s five horses to watch
Our power – 22/1
Like Red Rum, he is flat-bred, from a sprinter and raced as a two-year-old where most of his rivals would be out in an unbroken field. Undefeated in two starts this season, even after weigh-ins came out in February, so 6lbs is “fine.” Swerved Cheltenham, so arrives here fresh, and has a great chance of becoming the first Welsh-trained winner since 1905.
It’s not a pity – 8/1
A nine-year-old who has only run 10 times, he recorded his first success on the fences just last month. But he finished fourth in the Leopardstown handicap chase in which former stablemate Minella Times finished second before her Domestic win, and is likely to be Rachael Blackmore’s pick. He has good weight.
The Milos – 16/1
He won two of his three starts for Dan Skelton and was desperate to rush to Kelso in his last outing. He jumps and stays, and isn’t particularly picky about the terrain. It has a lot going for him.
Noble Yeats – 9/1
Last year’s winner will attempt to defend his crown on the back of a strong fourth place finish in the Gold Cup. He led the 10th 10lb to victory last season and is now saddled with the 11th 11lb. He enjoyed a relatively clear pass 12 months ago, but will he get the touch of the green two years in a row? As an eight-year-old, he’s supposed to be at the peak of his powers.
Vanillier – 18/1
Some people will tell you he doesn’t jump well enough but I’m not sure if that’s a factor anymore and was a bit unlucky to crash at Leopardstown two starts ago when he slid on landing. Last time he ran a cracker behind Kemboy and would have won in three more paces. He has a great chance to add to the small band of grays who have won the race
Odds correct at time of publication.
Padraig Harrington (golfer): GALVIN
I supported Banbridge who won in the same colors on Thursday and the ground turned out well for him.
Dominic West (actor): MR COFFEE
I met Mr Coffey last week and fell in love with him instantly. He is tall, dark and handsome and as he stroked me gently, he told me he would win by 10 lengths.
Charlie Swan (former Irish champion jump jockey): DARASSO
He has a trim over two and a half miles and those horses often get four and a half in the Nationals.
Barry Geraghty (winner on Monty’s Pass in 2003): THE MILOS
He jumps very well and looked like he needed the ride in Kelso last time out.
Bob Champion (jockey of 1981 winner Aldaniti): GAILLARD DU MESNIL
A young horse improving from excellent clothing.
How to choose the winner of the Grand National
By Marcus Armytage
As the Randox Grand National has evolved, a different kind of horse is required to win it: you can forget the flashy jumper of yesteryear; they consume too much energy. Jumping the smaller, softer hurdles of modern Aintree requires something to clear them like Tiger Roll or Noble Yeats, the least flashy of Sam Waley-Cohern’s many laps along the way.
The winning horse will still have to stay but it cannot be a coincidence that two novice pursuers, therefore potentially not exposed to the handicap, have recently won. Rule The World had never won a pursuit while Noble Yeats had campaigned, for the most part, over distances we now know are too short for him.
Although no beginner, the choice of British horses at this stage appears to be Corach Rambler trained by Lucinda Russell, winner of consecutive Ultima Chases at Cheltenham. He looks potentially very well handled at 10st 5lbs, a nice winning weight for the contest. If the race was re-handicapped now, he’d be carrying 10 extra pounds. He will stay, but his off-the-beaten-track running style could land him in trouble in a 40-runner national team.
Our Power, has a good chance of becoming the first Welsh winner since 1905. Weighs in at 6lbs after winning the Coral Trophy at Kempton.
William Hill is betting 1-3 on an Irish trained winner and as of now, those pick could be Vanillier. Gray has been promoted all season by wily Gavin Cromwell for these 10 minutes on Saturday. I’m starting to think he’s the horse to beat.
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