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2015 Grand National Analysis
After having an entire month to digest and analyse the Grand National weights it’s time for me to pinpoint the horses I believe will be heading to Aintree as the leading players.
Every year, when the weights are announced, I find myself head-scratching and trying my best not to be bamboozled by the monumental task at hand. It’s the six million dollar question – who will be the Aintree Grand National this time around?
After I eliminated several of the seventy-four strong entries from my calculations, simply because they’re unlikely to take up an Aintree entry after their Cheltenham run, I had a clearer picture of the potential line up come April 11th.
Here are three horses I have shortlisted.
Spring Heeled (10st 12lb)
Speaking at the Grand National weights lunch, Jim Culloty said “We are training Spring Heeled for the Grand National. He ran in the bet365 Chase at the end of last season and did extremely well, staying on strongly to take fifth after looking he might be tailed off. He should stay, though you never quite know with nearly four and a half miles, and he jumps extremely well but what he doesn’t do is act on soft ground at all. You can write him off on very soft ground. He is light-framed and we have kept him fresh. He is going to run on Saturday at Fairyhouse – he has an entry at Kempton as well but I don’t want to travel him first time out. The ground may be too soft for him at Fairyhouse but there are only five entries so it is the obvious place for him. If he runs OK, I will probably send him straight to Aintree.”
Culloty added “You cannot run Spring Heeled very often – he is better fresh. He wasn’t a great traveller to the races but I think that is different now. He stays and jumps. His participation hinges on one fact – the ground. If it is soft, we would be wasting our time but if it is on the fast side of good to soft then it would be worth running him.”
Spring Heeled did indeed run in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse and ran a creditable fourth place. The gelding ran up with the pace until four fences out when he faded back on ground he didn’t particularly enjoy.
For me the outstanding piece of form that makes Spring Heeled a serious contender is his win in the 2014 running of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase. He was carrying 11st 6lb over the 3m 1f distance that day and was popping those Cheltenham fences like a dream. By no means was he coming to the end of his tether up the hill.
Ground permitting Spring Heeled should be on any shortlist.
Godsmejudge (10st 8lb)
On hearing what the handicapper Phil Smith had allotted to his runner, Alan King said “It’s what we expected. He is well and I’m working backwards from the National. He’s in at Kempton (in the BetBright Chase). He might go there. He wants two more runs before the National, so he could easily go on Saturday if we’re happy.
“He’s only had the one run this season. If we can get a run into him in the next few days or the next week or so you’ll only need one more and then he’ll be go there ready.”
Godsmejudge did take up the entry in the Betbright Chase and ran a very pleasing Grand National trial having got outpaced at a crucial stage, he ran on through beaten rivals to finish fifth to Rocky Creek. A poor run in a unsatisfactory race last week can be forgiven.
Godsmejudge appears to have the perfect blend of class and stamina which is essential in winning a race of this magnitude. As we have seen in the past winning a National of some sort is always a key attribute and he certainly has that having won the Scottish version in 2013, then returning twelve months later to finish a gallant runner-up. All this was achieved at the age of seven and eight. Alan King believes his horse needs a more exacting test of stamina than he got in the Betbright Chase and he’s certainly a “Spring horse”.
Nobody will be judging us if we back this one now.
Pineau De Re (11st 0lb)
There is no reason why Pineau De Re can’t become the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 because he once again has strong credentials going into this year’s renewal.
Speaking at the weights lunch, Richard Newland said “If he can build on his last run with a good show at Cheltenham and finish in the first six or seven, I think it’s game on for Aintree”.
“The weight makes it harder. He’s 8lb higher, though if he’d been 8lb higher last year I think he’d have still won, so there are grounds for optimism.”
“Pineau De Re will go to the Pertemps Final again at Cheltenham and hopefully can run well. I have told Leighton Aspell that Pineau De Re is his ride if he wants it.”
This hurdling route to the Grand National is a tried and trusted one by Newland and if you take a look at some of the race replays you will see that the horse isn’t given particularly hard races.
Is Pineau De Re going to turn up at Aintree in the same kind of form he was twelve months ago? A fairly prominent showing in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham did no harm to his chances and he has a lot stronger credentials than some in the race.
Sounds like the right prescription right?
Do you want to see how my three selections figure in the latest Grand National market? Get all the latest 2015 Grand National betting odds & offers from your favourite online bookmaker site and don’t be afraid to take a little bit of ante-post value now.