Photo: Aintree Racecourse
A wise woman once recalled that I'm yet to tip the winner of the Grand National.
A fair call, it has to be said, for which I normally enlist the assistance of my Grand National pull-out covered dartboard to select that elusive winning tip with (Oh come on, who has ONE bet in the Grand National!), but it did make me realise just
how much the Aintree showpiece towers above any other race in the general
We’re all judged on it, aren’t we? Those texts, phone calls
and social media messages come once a year asking what will win the Grand
National, but to us it’s as hard a race to predict the winner as any.
novice angle works better, maybe it’s all luck after all so with that in mind I
must be mad, in fact I know I am, but with three weeks to go I’m going to pin
my colours to the mast, allow everyone in the world to see my poker hand and proclaim
that I have every faith in one horse bounding around Aintree to victory in the
one of the toughest races there ever has been, and ever will be to win.
What are the chances this is going to go well? Well, to be
fair that chances are slim.
I’ve pondered multiple horses, I’ve given myself reasons to
love them and reasons to hate them and
my one main disappointment is that The Package isn’t coming into this fresh. David
Pipe’s placid eleven year old has been a revelation when fresh, seeing him provide
form figures totalling one win and five placed efforts from seven races off a
layoff, but the fact that he is coming into this off the back of a strong
placed effort at Cheltenham really does put me off.
Plus, can you imagine if The Package won the Grand National?
What does the husband say to the wife who says thank you for a meal supplied by
money won on the horse? ‘Don’t thank me, thank The Package’? It doesn’t sit too
well in a restaurant really, does it?
No, I’m sure, absolutely sure that I have nailed my colours
to a horse that I feel has the best chance – and for those reading, that doesn’t
mean the best chance of unseating his luckless jockey at the first – and it’s
Prince de Beauchene.
Primed for a run in the Grand National for the last two
years, Prince de Beauchene has been hindered from completing his task due to an
eleventh hour injury preventing him from lining up at Aintree, but this season –
touch lots and lots of wood, even those fake bits that look like wood – he seems
to have kept fit and fresh.
His form leaves a little bit to be desired this year,
however. A thirteenth placed finish in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury wasn’t
great, nor was a last placed finish in the Lexus Chase over Christmas, but his
sub-par performances in top level company have enabled him to be given a weight
break by the handicapper.
Those more experienced with the daily ins and outs will note
that the Willie Mullins trained eleven year old has been lowered some eight
pounds from his mark of 155 last season, and a mark of 147 in this Grand
National makes him a huge player with a likely weight of 10st10lbs on his back.
A lightly raced and somewhat fragile individual, one would
hope that if Mullins can get him to Aintree fit and well he would have an
outstanding chance, and a chance considerably better than his stablemate, On
His Own, whom has gone off well backed in the last two renewals of the race.
His jockey? Well, that’s speculation at the moment as Ruby
Walsh is likely to be out injured and miss the whole Grand National meeting,
but the selection of Paul Townend wouldn’t put me off one bit. Townend is a
star plying his trade in the shadow of Walsh but he has the ability to become
one of the greats if he is ever allowed the top breaks.
Elsewhere you could easily make a case for the Nigel
Twiston-Davies trained Same Difference, and I’m sure I will nearer the time, and
there would be a huge cheer for the enigmatic Tidal Bay if he were to claim
victory off of top weight, but for now I’m siding fully with the Prince.
Roll on Aintree, roll on the Grand National and let’s hope I
can leave the rest of the darts in the packet just this once.