FARCLAS (5.15) can continue Ireland’s recent stranglehold on the Randox Grand National at Aintree.
Horses trained across the water have finished first, second and third in the last two renewals and Farclas comes into the race on the back of an excellent second to The Shunter at Cheltenham. The grey would have finished closer to that classy winner but for some scrimmaging on the home bend and he has an attractive racing weight perched on 10st 3lb.
Farclas landed the 2018 Triumph Hurdle (a race won by Tiger Roll), so stamina is more a concern than natural speed over this gruelling 4m 2f examination.
Cloth Cap is officially a stone ‘well in’ and is the proverbial handicap snip, but with 30 fences to negotiate safely against 39 rivals, odds of around 9-2 will not appeal to once-a-year punters.
That said, it is worth recalling that Tiger Roll was a skinny 4-1 winner and Cloth Cap’s lucky owner Trevor Hemmings has won the race three times already, with Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds.
In the last five Nationals only Tiger Roll and Many Clouds have shouldered more than 11st to victory. Bristol De Mai is lumbered with top weight this year and with good reason, having won three Betfair Chases at Haydock, most recently when beating class act Clan Des Obeaux in 2020. The popular grey can give a bold account.
JP McManus launches a seven-pronged attack, headed by Any Second Now, winner of the 3m 2f Kim Muir Chase at Cheltenham in 2019. He looked good when landing a Grade 2 at Navan last time and his trainer, Ted Walsh, sent out Papillon to land a gamble in 2001.
At bigger odds, Anibale Fly, fifth in 2019 and fourth 12 months earlier, could hit the frame again off a lower mark, while Kimberlite Candy has twice sailed over the National fences when running very well in two Grand Sefton Chases over a shorter distance. Stamina didn’t look an issue when he landed the 3m 5f Warwick Classic.
The Storyteller is another Irish challenger with good credentials. He has won 11 races and finished in front of subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo when second in the Irish Gold Cup in February.
Master trainer Willie Mullins saddles second-favourite Burrows Saint and Rachael Blackmore gets the leg up on fancied Minella Times.
There was a shock 150-1 winner of the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday and bookies will be looking for another ‘skinner’ around tea-time on Merseyside. Dream on!
Five against the field: Farclas, Cloth Cap, Kimberlite Candy, Bristol De Mai, Anibale Fly.
BALLYADAM (2.25) was put firmly in his place by brilliant Appreciate It in the ‘Supreme’ at Cheltenham but goes up in trip in the 2m 4f Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
Ireland has another live chance with Dreal Deal, winner of his last four races for Ronan McNally. He belied his 22-1 starting price when quickening smartly to bag a Grade 2 at Punchestown in January.
My Drogo is on a four-timer for Dan and Harry Skelton and made light work of his rivals in a Grade 2 contest at Kelso last month.
HAPPYGOLUCKY (4.15) can provide some Grand National punting ammunition by landing the 3m 1f Betway Handicap Chase.
Kim Bailey’s seven-year-old was strongly fancied for the Ultima Handicap Chase over the same distance at Cheltenham but found one too good in re-vitalised Vintage Clouds.
Snow Leopardess, fourth to Galvin in the National Hunt Chase over 3m 6f, is a sure-footed jumper and can outrun his big price under champion jockey Brian Hughes. Cloudy Glen, sporting the Hemmings colours, ran second to Mount Ida over 3m 2f at Cheltenham and comes into the reckoning along with consistent Spiritofthegames.
Ireland won the mares’ bumper here on Thursday and THE GOSSIPER (6.20) is well worth a look in the male equivalent. After falling on both his point-to-point starts, The Gossiper was heavily backed on bumper debut for Emmet Mullins at Wexford 31 days ago and duly did the business. Nicky Henderson’s Balco Coastal seems sure to give favourite backers a run for their money.
Grand National Horse-by-Horse Guide
We're less than 48 hours away from the 2021 Grand National and with the final declarations announced the Voice of Value has assessed each of the runners and riders chance in his epic Horse-by-Horse Grand National Guide. Don't miss it.
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