Source: Aintree Racecourse via Facebook
The Grand National, held annually at Aintree racecourse, is up there with the biggest and most prestigious races in the horse racing industry. With around £1 million up for grabs in prize money, the top trainers and owners will be hoping for National success on Merseyside this year.
Sadly, 2017 winner One For Arthur will miss his title defence after suffering a season-ending injury midway through the campaign but there are still plenty of top contenders for Aintree glory. We looked at three leading fancies ahead of April’s showpiece fixture…
CAUSE OF CAUSES
Causes of Causes finished a gallant second behind One For Arthur in 2017 and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Gordon Elliott’s mount push for National favouritism this year. Most of the once-a-year bettors will look back at the 2017 renewal and Cause of Causes is likely to attract lots of attention in the betting. For that reason, it might be better to take the 14/1 that is currently available.
A true superstar in Elliott’s stable, Cause of Causes will first head to the Cheltenham Festival for a shot at defending his Cross Country Chase title. Already a three-time winner at March’s meeting, a fourth Festival victory would stand him in good stead ahead of the National. He would certainly be a popular winner with punters at both Cheltenham and Aintree – he could be set for a successful couple of months…
THE LAST SAMURI
An absolute dream of a horse. Kim Bailey’s The Last Samuri, currently valued at 16/1 to win the world-famous race, is a seasoned campaigner and this may be his last realistic chance for National glory. Beaten nine lengths into second by Blaklion at Aintree in December, The Last Samuri has something to find on that effort but he was clear of Vieux Lion Rouge and The Young Master; both in the reckoning for April’s race.
Given a four-star rating over at Timeform, The Last Samuri has a great chance to romp home ahead of his 39 rivals this year. Second to Rule The World in this race in 2016, he has decent Aintree form and we know that he will last the trip. Bailey will be confident of a positive run and he should feature at the business end of the race. The Last Samuri ticks a lot of Grand National tick boxes and should not be overlooked.
Total Recall is chasing a four-timer and a Gold Cup success at Cheltenham would see his National odds shorten even further. Willie Mullins knows that he has a real diamond on his hands in Total Recall but the lack of Aintree form may be of some concern. He performs well in Ireland but will he cope with the trip over to Merseyside? Only time will tell – his record is second to none; he could go close on top form.
Willie Mullins tells the Racing Post that leading Grand National hope Total Recall will next run in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup
— Racing Post (@RacingPost) February 15, 2018
Is 10/1 on the short side? At this moment in time, possibly. Handicapper Phil Smith has been kind to Total Recall though and that is why ante-post punters have piled on. With a safe run around the Aintree circuit, you would fancy him to pick off his rivals in the closing stages – stamina should not be an issue. Total Recall is, for the time being, the one to beat.