Everyone loves a flutter on the Grand National and the easiest way to get involved is not to queue up at the local bookmakers but to place your bets online, not least because you can take advantage of the various free bet offers and promotions up for grabs.
The key to getting as much value as possible on the Aintree showpiece is to bet as early as you can and utilise the free bets on offer to make sure you are playing with the bookies’ money, and also to ensure you get the best odds available about your selection.
There are many fantastic races to enjoy when the Aintree Festival gets underway on Thursday afternoon. Yet, all the Grade 1 chases and top quality hurdles pale in comparison and act as a mere warm-up act for the main event of the Festival, the most difficult race to win on the National Hunt calendar and the most famous race in the world – The Grand National.
We could wax lyrical about this fantastic race for hours on end, but on Saturday, Aintree will stage the 170th renewal of the Grand National and it’s time we got stuck in to the field and tried to find a winner.
Vieux Lion Rouge
) has been leading the way in the betting ever since he won the Grand National Trial at Haydock. That was the eight-year-old’s second major trial win of the season, after he timed his late charge to perfection here at Aintree to land the Becher Chase title. He’s clearly in excellent form and gained great experience over the Grand National fences – both during his Becher Chase victory and when running in this historic race last season, where he finished a more than creditable seventh – so he thoroughly deserves his spot at the head of the market.
The North of England have been yearning for another Grand National winner for years and Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red
) looks to have an excellent chance of landing the big one. He too has won two notable trial races this season, stretching clear of his pursuers to land comfortable victories in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby and the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. A jumping error ended his one and only outing at the Cheltenham Festival last season and his maiden appearance in the Grand National will also be his Aintree debut - but his trainer has said he is schooling really well and he has certainly proven himself to be a top-quality staying chaser.
Former RSA Chase winner, Blaklion
) is hot on the coattails of the favourites as he looks to land a third Grand National title for his trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies. After beginning his season with a slightly disappointing fourth in the Charlie Hall Chase, he’s finished fifth in the Hennessy, third in the Rowland Meyrick and a good second in the Grand National Trial at Haydock, where he came home just three lengths behind Vieux Lion Rouge, when giving away six pounds to the victor.
Triple Cheltenham champion, Cause Of Causes
(14/1 William Hill
will return to the Grand National for the first time since coming home eighth in this race back in 2015. Those victories at Cheltenham may be the only wins he had managed over the past four seasons, but he is clearly a big-stage performer and there can be no grander platform than Aintree’s main event.
Vieux Lion Rouge winning at Haydock earlier in the season.
After winning well on his seasonal reappearance, One For Arthur
) came from the back of the pack here at Aintree to pass the post fifth in the blanket finish in the Becher. A much better start at Warwick resulted in a comfortable victory over a very game Goodtoknow
(66/1 William Hill
) in the Betfred Classic and Lucinda Russell is extremely hopeful her charge can put in a fourth good performance of the campaign.
Carlingford Lough's withdrawal means The Last Samuri
) will carry the burden of top-weight to post with him at Aintree, as Kim Bailey’s charge looks to go one better than the narrow defeat he suffered in the Grand National last season. The nine-year-old has been running well this season, carrying 11-12 to third in the Becher and second in the Grimthorpe and if he manages to land the title this year, it would be the greatest weight-carrying performance since Red Rum’s triumph in 1974.
) has made the trip over from Ireland to challenge for the Grand National and Willie Mullins will be hopeful his nine-year-old can land him a second title since 2005. Good wins at Punchestown and in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse surround a fourth place finish in the Thyestes Handicap at Gowran Park, so he’s clearly in good enough form to challenge for this win.
Sam Waley-Cohen boasts an enviable record around Aintree, but he is yet to land a victory in the Grand National race itself, despite coming close on several occasions. He will saddle The Young Master
(20/1 William Hill
), who has recorded strong results in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham during the past two seasons and won Sandown’s Gold Cup at their season-ending Festival 13 months ago.
Gordon Elliott might have hoped Ucello Conti
) would have kicked on after his sixth place finish here last season, but he’s yet to find a win during six seasonal starts. He ran on well for second in the Thyestes Handicap and finished a strong fourth in the Becher, so he cannot be discounted as a potential each-way shot.
Saphir Du Rheu
) and More Of That
) come to Aintree on the back of excellent showings in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where they finished fifth and sixth respectively, both less than ten lengths behind the winner. Saphir Du Rheu looks to have finally recaptured his best form and has a Grade 1 victory to his name around Aintree in the 2015 Mildmay Novices’ Chase. More Of That has also been struggling to find the form that saw him beat Annie Power to the Stayers’ Hurdle title two seasons ago, but he too has seemed resurgent during recent outings. Both remain chasers of the highest order and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either doing the rounds in the winners’ enclosure on Saturday evening.
Saphir Du Rheu (left, red cap) and More Of That (second left, green and white cap) will be hoping to build on their strong finishes in the Gold Cup.
Scottish National champion, Vicente
) was recently purchased by Trevor Hemmings, who will be hoping Paul Nicholls' charge can continue his excellent spring record and secure himself a record-breaking fourth Grand National crown.
) victory in the Becher Chase last season may have been written off as a fluke in some corners, but he came oh-so-close to repeating that winning feat back in December, but Vieux Lion Rouge snuck through on the inside to ensure James Moffatt's eleven-year-old didn't retain that prestigous title.
Since winning the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse last spring, Rogue Angel
(33/1 William Hill
) has struggled to distant finishes in all his outings. However, a fifth place finish in the Thyestes will give Mouse Morris hope his charge can emulate last year’s winner and former stablemate, Rule The World and put in a champion’s performance at Aintree.
(40/1 William Hill
produced a stunning display of jumping to lead from pillar to post and win the Keltbray Swinley Chase at Ascot by over 30 lengths. If he can produce another flawless round of jumping, Venetia Williams will fancy her ten-year-old’s chances.
She may also give Houblon Des Obeaux
) an outside chance of taking the title if his fourth-placed effort in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last month hasn’t taken too much out of him. He carried heavy weight burdens into the places in the Welsh National and the Betfred Classic, so carrying 10-12 to the post at Aintree could prove to be a refreshing tonic.
) has looked back to his best since making the switch to Hunter Chasing this season. He completed a Paul Nicholls one-two in the Foxhunters Chase at Cheltenham, where he was headed on the line by Pacha Du Polder and his trainer will hope he can build on his effort in the National last year, where he was pulled during his final circuit.
Despite only running once this season, Pendra
) sits at an appealing price further down the betting. He hadn’t appeared since finishing thirteenth in last year’s National before he turned up at Cheltenham. With a furlong to go, he seemed set to land a stunning victory carrying 11-12 in the Kim Muir, but Doomsday Book found some extra pace in the closing stages to pip Charlie Longsdon’s charge to the post.
Just A Par
) is always a danger in handicasp of this ilk and Perfect Candidate
(50/1 William Hill
) rediscovered his winning touch carrying top-weight at Exeter on his last outing. Measureofmydreams
(50/1 William Hill
) is a multiple Graded winner in Ireland and came home a strong third behind Minella Rocco and Native River in the 2016 National Hunt Chase.
) won the Grand National Trial at Haydock last season and came home third as Bristol De Mai cruised to victory in the Peter Marsh Chase around the same course in the winter. Shantou Flyer
(66/1 William Hill
) won a Grade 3 at Cheltenham earlier in the season, before carrying top weight to fourth in the Barbados Handicap and coming home second behind Cue Card in the Ascot Chase.
100/1 shot, Vic’s Canvas produced a stunning, surprise display to claim third in last year’s Grand National. That performance should be a source of great encouragement and inspiration for the likes of Gas Line Boy
), Stellar Notion
(66/1 William Hill
) and Milborough
), as they look to build on some encouraging seasonal results with a strong showing here at Aintree.
Ryan Hatch riding Blaklion win The RSA Chase title at Cheltenham last season.
The Grand National is such a lottery and requires equal amounts of talent and luck for any horse to claim a victory. Usually, the best plan of attack is to pick a 33/1 each-way shot and hope for the best. However, there are certain trends and patterns we can use as we attempt to find a winner.
Nine of the last ten winners of this historic prize have won the Grand National on their first attempt. Horses rated higher than 145 have performed better than their lower rated counterparts and previous Aintree experience has proven to be an important factor. Winning form over three miles has been vital and all ten of the past ten winners had run at least four times during the regular season.
Highland Lodge offers punters definite each-way value, as do Houblon Des Obeaux and Wonderful Charm, but taking everything into account, BLAKLION looks to be the outstanding candidate to take the title.
Noel Fehily said this week that he wouldn’t swap his ride on Blaklion for any of his Grand National rivals and it’s easy to see why. His victory in the RSA Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival illustrated perfectly how much quality, bravery and tenacity this brilliant horse possesses.
The eight-year-old has improved with every run this season, he’s performed well at Aintree in the past, his jumping is excellent and he’s been treated rather kindly at the weights. He’s twice been beaten by Vieux Lion Rouge and Definitly Red this season, but the gap in the weight will be much closer on Saturday and he has every chance of turning the tables on the market leaders and becoming 2017 Grand National champion.
8/4/2017 5:15pm Aintree Grand National selection – BLAKLION (14/1 bet365)
Ruby Walsh gives the Paddy Power blog his 2017 Grand National 1-2-3-4-5.
1. Pleasant Company
RUBY: We won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time on ground that wouldn’t have suited him. It was heavy then, but he’ll appreciate the better ground at Aintree and has a nice racing weight on his back.
He’s relatively inexperienced and has only raced twice this year, but is in good form. When I won the Aintree Grand National on Hedgehunter in 2005, he’d also won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. Hopefully that’s a good omen and he’s a good each-way chance at a good each-way price.
2. More of That
RUBY: Jonjo O’Neill’s runner has a lot going for him. He ran a respectable race when sixth to Sizing John in the Gold Cup last month and is a former Grade One winner when beating Annie Power in the World Hurdle a few years ago. He’s got a lot of class and has a big chance.
3. Saphir Du Rheu
RUBY: Has always promised to win a big race and ran his best race for a while when fifth to Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month.
The key to him is to get him into a good rhythm early on. if he does that it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise in the world if he delivered on the day. He has a lot of good runs under his belt.
4. Lord Windermere
RUBY: Classier horses are definitely getting into the shake-up since they modified the National fences and shortened the distance recently. They don’t come much classier than the 2014 Gold Cup winner. Jim Culloty’s runner has dropped down the handicap and will appreciate the better ground off a nice racing weight. Looks a big price if he can rekindle some of his old form.
RUBY: He won the Grade One RSA Chase last year and his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has twice trained the winner of the National with Earth Summit and Bindaree. His horses are in good form and Blaklion has the type of profile that fits a National winner now.
ambassador Sir AP McCoy has been giving his tips ahead of the 2017 Grand National which takes place at Aintree on Saturday.
The 20 times champion jockey rode 10-1 shot Don’t Push It to victory in the colours of JP McManus in 2010 and believes the green and gold silks could triumph again this year in the shape of More of That or Cause Of Causes.
When pushed to pick between the pair Sir AP said: ‘More Of That ran in the Gold Cup and at some point he will come back to life. If I had a ride I’d settle for Cause Of Causes or More Of That – I would like to ride both of them, but More Of That has a bit of class.’
And another horse that Sir AP believes has a touch of class is Saphir Du Rheu trained by Paul Nicholls, who can land the trainer’s championship with a Grand National win. Sir AP said: ‘Saphir Du Rheu is quite well handicapped on his Gold Cup run and he has a load of class.
‘For a jockey the Grand National can be a career-changing race if you are lucky enough to win it.
‘My greatest Grand National moment for certain was winning the race on Don’t Push It. I was very lucky, because I won the Grand National I went on to win the Sports Personality of the year and if I hadn’t won the Grand National I wouldn’t have won that.
‘It is the most famous horserace in the world with an audience of 600 million watching it around the planet. That makes it very special indeed, but it’s a race you need a bit of luck in and it took me 15 attempts to win it.
‘Look at last year’s winner Rule The World at 33/1 and before that Auroras Encore at 66/1 and Mon Mome at 100-1 and they are all in the last eight years – with a couple more at 25s and 33s in the last five years.
Grand National beginners guide
Are you a novice punter wondering how to bet on the 2017 Grand National? We've got a beginners' guide to betting on the world's most famous race to help you get on the right track to a winner!
Everyone loves a flutter on the Grand National and the easiest way to get involved is not to queue up at the local bookmakers but to place your bets online, not least because you can take advantage of the various free bet offers and promotions up for grabs. If you are new to the sport then take a look at our expert guide to Saturday's feature race below.
When is it?
It's nearly here! This year's Grand National will take place on Saturday, 8 April at 17:15 and it can be watched on Channel 4.
However, the Grand National meeting itself is a three-day meeting starting on Thursday, 6 April, with races over the Grand National course taking place each afternoon.
How to bet on the Grand National
Finding the winner of the Grand National is more than just the horse’s name, the jockey’s colours, or the random landing of a pen. Many people rely on these tried and trusted novice methods – and sometimes with good luck - but form students will have been researching the Grand National for many months and they will be preparing to place their bets on the feature race.
The shrewdest racing punters will know that the key to betting successfully is punting with the bookmaker's cash and you should make the most of these fantastic offers.