Melissa Jones' horse-by-horse guide to the Grand National
12:10am Saturday 14th April 2012 in Melissa Jones
1) Synchronised: Bidding to become the first horse since Golden Miller in 1934 to win the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season. Tough and class stayer, but is small in stature and may find fences too much.
2) Ballabriggs: Last year’s winner who has every chance of a repeat victory, echoing what his trainer’s father did with Red Rum. He devoured the Aintree test last year, ground has come in his favour and he should be thereabouts.
3) Weird Al: Disappointed as my fancy for the Gold Cup, was found to have bled in the race. Far from ideal preparation for a marathon such as this and due to his now apparent problems, is passed over.
4) Neptune Collonges: Been a star for owner John Hales over the years, winning three grade one races and a veteran of four Gold Cups. Finished third to brilliant stablemates Kauto Star and Denman in 2008 and put in several good staying performances this season, suggesting the National trip could suit him. Each-way chance.
5) Calgary Bay: Fell at the fourth last year but a pretty good jumper on his day. However, looks to be carrying too much weight now following two recent successes. If he gets round, could finish midfield.
6) Alfa Beat: Has something to find with Chicago Grey based on National Hunt Chase form. Won the 2011 Kerry National but out of sorts since and needs some of the others to underperform.
7) Planet of Sound: Good ground suits this fellow, bit high in the weights but another with an each-way chance if he fences well.
8) Black Apalachi: Knows his way round the course and should have won in 2009 had he not unseated his rider at Becher’s Brook second time round. Getting on in age and one cannot help feel the chance of glory has passed for this 13-year-old.
9) Deep Purple: Welsh contender, likes decent ground. Trainer would have preferred him to run in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, but owner wanted a crack at the National. Probably won’t see out the 4mile 4furlong trip.
10) Junior: If successful, would be the first horse to win at Royal Ascot, Cheltenham and the world’s most famous steeplechase. Clearly versatile, but I think he will find a few too good at the trip.
11) Chicago Grey: My idea of the winner. Had a quiet time of it since landing last year’s 4 mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. If he can recapture that form, has a major chance and his jumping isn’t as bad as has been made out.
12) Tatenen: Stamina likely to ebb away in the final mile of the contest. Outsider who runs for Andy Stewart, lucky owner of record breaking hurdler Big Buck’s.
13) Seabass: Unstoppable this season winning five times. Irish raider respected with female pilot Katie Walsh hoping to become first female rider to win the race.
14) Shakalakaboomboom: Took well to a step up to three miles plus this season, but unlikely to relish too much further. Must have decent ground, so the lack of rain in the Liverpool area a plus, but cannot realistically see him being involved.
15) West End Rocker: Punters piled onto him following showers earlier in the week. Loves the mud, but ground drying out now and his is chance evaporating slightly. Won the Becher Chase on heavy going and a few of these should have too much pace for him.
16) According to Pete: Plucky little horse- the tough fences should suit and so should the trip. Each-way shout.
17) On His Own: Another with something to find on form with a back to his best Chicago Grey. He’s the choice of jockey Ruby Walsh who was to be aboard another contender if it hadn’t been ruled out, which says it all.
18) Always Right: Had problems since winning at Kelso in September but connections believe they have sorted them out. Cannot really be backed with confidence based on recent racecourse form, but a repeat of his Scottish National second would put him bang there.
19) Cappa Bleu: Wales’ big hope. Steadily coming to the boil this year and while some reservations about the trip, will travel well into the race and is a neat jumper. Trainer Evan Williams’ best chance.
20) Rare Bob: May be up with the leaders in the first half of the race but will soon drop back. Finished fifth behind West End Rocker over these fences earlier in the season and unlikely to improve much on that.
21) Organisedconfusion: Confusion will reign if this one wins. Another female ridden horse running over much shorter trips but has won the Irish Grand National under the same pilot. A small chance.
22) Treacle: Won a Munster National three years ago. Has looked like a longer trip will suit. Each-way claims.
23) The Midnight Club: Started favourite last year and finished sixth. Can’t see how he will run any better this time around as hasn’t been in the same form, may get round.
24) Mon Mome: Sprung a huge shock in the 2009 renewal when he won at 100-1. Not getting any better at the age of 12, but has been running on unsuitably soft ground this year. Could sneak into contention late on if he’s up to it.
25) Arbor Supreme: Struggling when he fell last year, so hard to see a massive improvement on that. Outsider.
26) Sunnyhillboy: Cheltenham Festival winner looking like he needs a trip nowadays. But had a hard race there and it is a massive ask to come on and run well in this gruelling test. Ridden by one of my favourite jockeys, the tactically aware Richie Mclernon.
27) Killyglen: Fancied by the Irish contingent after he tipped up last year when going well. A good run likely.
28) Quiscover Fontaine: Fourth in last year’s Irish National. Could run a better race than his 50-1 price tag suggests, at the right end of the handicap and had a prep over hurdles. My outsider to watch.
29) Tharawaat: Couldn’t win if he started now. His only chance of glory will be sharing the same horsebox as stablemate Chicago Grey when that one hopefully triumphs.
30) Becauseicouldntsee: Hope he enjoys a good view of the fences.. Travelled well at Cheltenham finishing second to Sunnyhillboy. A possible.
31) State of Play: Welsh contender- finished in the frame for the last three years and trainer believes the National is not enough of a test for this remarkable little one. Will be running on past beaten horses after getting outpaced and will go down in the history books if he can be placed once more.
32) Swing Bill: A lot to find on form- 100-1 shot.
33) Postmaster: The biggest priced Welsh contender at 150-1. Been a grand servant on the smaller courses but success in a Hunter’s Chase last time not good enough for victory here. Fell at the first on his only start over these fences.
34) Giles Cross: Mudlover who will find the ground has gone against him unless there are any late downpours. Brilliantly consistent at marathon trips, finished second in the last two Welsh Nationals.
35) Midnight Haze: Will struggle against some of the best of these for pace.
36) Vic Venturi: Old stager brought down in the last two Nationals. Was towards rear at the time in 2010 and that is where he is likely to be this year.
37) In Compliance: Didn’t seem to stay last year, finishing 13th. Owners probably want another go but he is not the force of old.
38) Viking Blond: Quirky sort who has had a disappointing season. Aintree will be like Marmite to him- he’ll love it or hate it. Well capable of raising a few eyebrows if it’s the former.
39) Hello Bud: Aintree stalwart who has done his connections proud. Absolutely loves Aintree and will give his young jockey a good spin round without winning.
40) Neptune Equester: Out of sorts and not classy enough for a race of this nature.