The National fences are unique and it is worth noting horses that have successfully managed to navigate them in the past.
Don’t Push It won last year’s renewal and seemed to enjoy himself around Aintree. No horse has won back to back Nationals since Red Rum but several have come quite close to following up their success. Don’t Push It won well and it could be argued that by only raising him 7 lbs this time the handicapper has given him a chance. I don’t remember the last time a horse carried 11 stone 10 to victory so he has a bit to do but I wouldn’t rule out a bold show from him.
The 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 12th from last season are all entered again. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
State of Play was 3rd last year and 4th 10 2009. He has been dropped 3 lbs in the ratings since and looks to have a nice weight off 10 stone 6. He has not run since last year’s race but that is a positive as he goes well fresh. He has some good form on his CV having won the 2006 Hennessy and finished 6th to Kauto Star in the 2007 Gold Cup.
Big Fella Thanks finished 6th in 2009 and 4th last year. He fell in the Hennessy this year but comes to the National on the back of a fair run at Newbury where he was 4th over a trip too short for him. There may be a slight doubt over his stamina.
Hello Bud was 5th last year and has a good record over these fences as he won the Becher Chase this season and was 5th in the Becher in 2009. He has no stamina problems and won the Scottish National at Ayr in 2009 over 4 miles and half a furlong. Age is against him as no 13 year old has won since 1923.
Character Building was 7th and has never fallen in his career. He is a former winner of the Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham over 3 miles 1.5 furlongs. His most recent run saw him take 3 place in a decent race at Doncaster over 3.25 miles. He needs to be patiently ridden and has the ideal jockey for those tactics in Nina Carberry.
Comply or Die, 12th last season won in 2008 and finished runner up in 2009. He has plenty of stamina and won the 4 mile Eider Chase at Newcastle in 2008. He was pulled up on his last run when he got bogged down in the mud.
Vic Venturi won the Becher Chase in 2009 and got as far as the 20th fence in the National last season before being brought down by a loose horse. Royal Rosa has been 3rd and 2nd in the last two runnings of the Becher Chase.
So we have 8 runners with significant course form. I would not be at all surprised to see most of these completing the course. The pair with the best chance of winning would seem to be Don’t Push It and Stae of Play.