Diary: Grand National

Grand national 2018

This year the race looks more open than ever so let’s have a look at the contenders.

Top weight is Anibale Fly who was 3rd the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month which represents smart form. He won the 28 runner Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas so has proved that he can handle big fields. He does however need to defy a weight that only two horses have successfully shouldered to victory since 1937.

Another Irish challenger, Tiger Roll is the mount of Davy Russell. Last season he won the Munster National at Limerick over 3 miles on soft going and also took the 4 miler at the Cheltenham Festival. He comes into the race in good form having won the Cross-Country race at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. He is a sound jumper but is not the biggest which could be a negative over the National fences.

Total Recall fell on his last start in the Cheltenham Gold Cup but prior to that had enjoyed a successful season, running up a hat trick of wins. He started by winning the Munster National and followed that by taking the prestigious Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury over and extended 3.25 miles. He completed the hat trick by winning over hurdles in Ireland. Carries 11 stone 5 lbs.

Blaklion was 4th last season and his form since has been mainly good. He was runner up in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and went one better winning the Becher Chases at Aintree in December, confirming that he handles the National fences. He has a big weight to carry however.

Scottish Challenger Seeyouatmidnight has the look of a horse prepare4d especially for this race. He ran a cracker when 3rd in the Scottish National at Ayr in 2016 and has only run 3 times since then.

I Just Know has a nice racing weight. He won the North Yorkshire National at Catterick over 3.75 miles in January and has since had a spin over hurdles.

Uccello Conti could be fancied on the pick of his form. He unseated his rider in the race last season but finished 6th in 2016 and was 4th in the Becher Chase last season. He has good form in Ireland having twice finished runner up in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstow. He was 4th in the Leinster National at Naas last season and has been placed 2nd and 3rd in the Thyestes Chase over 3 miles 1f at Gowran Park. He disappointed on his most recent start when pulled up at Gowran Park in January.

The Dutchman was pulled up on his last start in the Haydock Park National Trial when bleeding from the nose. In January he won the Peter March Chase at Haydock over 3M 1.5 F on heavy ground. He has only had 8 runs over fences and could be interesting.

The Last Samuri has some standout course form. He was 16th last season and runner up in 2016. He was runner up in the Becher Chase this season and 3rd the year before. On his last start he finished 3rd in the Cross Country at the Cheltenham Festival.

Chase the Spud won the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last season. He won a decent handicap at Haydock in January but has been pulled up on both his starts since. He stays and handles heavy ground.

Gas Line Boy was 5th in last year’s race and won the Grand Sefton Handicap (over 2M 5F) this season over the Aintree National fences. He was 3rd at Sandown on his last start.

Irish trained Pleasant Company finished 9th last year. He won the Pat Taafe Handicap over 3m 1 in 2016 and the Bobbyjoe Chase at Fairyhouse last season. He was pulled up on his most recent start at Gowran Park.

Vieux Lion Rouge has a good record at Aintree. He has finished 7th and 6th in his two previous runs in the National. He also won the 2016 Becher Chase and finished 7th in the race this season.

Regal Encore was 8th last season. He is inconsistent but good on his day, finishing 3rd in the Hennessey this season. He won last time out in a 6 runner Listed Race at Ascot over 3 miles.

Shantou Flyer was pulled up last season. He showed much improved form on his last start when 2nd in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham in March when wearing a first time visor.

Final Nudge started the season well, winning the Badger Ales Handicap at Wincanton over 3M 1F. On his next start he was 3rd in the Welsh National at Chepstow. Not as successful on his 2 more recent starts but he is a strong stayer.

Houblon Des Obeaux was 3rd in the Welsh National last season, 4th in the Warwick Classic, 4th in the Midlands National and 10th in the Grand National. He was pulled up in the Eider Chase in February.

Milansbar has had a good season apart from unseating his rider in the Welsh National. He won the Warwick Classic, finished 5th in the Eider Chase at Newcastle and runner up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter (was second in this race a couple of years ago.) Looks a thorough stayer.

Alpha Des Obeaux won the Clonmel Oil Chase over 2.5 miles in November. 2nd in the Munster National at Limerick in October. Normally a safe jumper.

Saint Are was 3rd last year and second in 2015. He was also runner up in the Becher Chase in 2014. In 6 races over the National fences he had only fallen once. 12 years old now though.

Warriors Tale was 2nd in a good 3 mile handicap at Doncaster in January but most of his form is over shorter distances.

Buywise was 12th in the National 2 years ago. 3rd in the Skybet Chase in 2016 he has been placed 2nd and 3rd in the Mackeson Gold Cup over 2.5 miles. Was 4th in the Ultima Handicap (3m 1F) at Cheltenham last season and won at Ascot over 3 miles in January.

Thunder and Roses won the Irish National in 2015 and was 4th in the same race last season but he has fallen on his last two starts.

Perfect Candidate won a good handicap over 3 miles 3.5 F in November beating Vicente. He was pulled up in the Grand National last season.

Delusions of Grandeur has been busy this season. He was 3rd in the Durham National at Sedgefield (3m 5F), he won over 3M 1F at Catterick, he was 3rd of 8 in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby over 3 miles, 5th of 12 in the 4M 1F Edinburgh National at Musselburgh and most recently 3rd at Haydock over 3M 1.5 F. He likes to go out in front and make the pace.

Pendra was 13th in the race in 2016 and 10th in the 2014 Irish National. He was runner up in the 3M 2F Kim Muir at Cheltenham last season but down the field in the same race this time around.

So, decision time.  1. Seeyouatmidnight, 2. Regal Encore, 3. Tiger Roll 4. Gas Line Boy

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