Who Will Win The 2013 Grand National?
Which of the runners at this year's Grand National are the value? Today on the blog Stephen talks with Paul Kenyon about his love for horse racing, this Saturday's great race at Aintree and shares with us who he thinks could get the best of the oddsmakers in 2013.
When did you first get into horse racing and punting?
My great uncle loved racing and we used to pick out a few horses on a Saturday and have 10p e/w on them. In those days you used to ring bets through to the local betting office. I was doing this from aged 5 as we knew the local bookie, Eric Jones, well and I actually went 'through the card' at Glorious Goodwood aged 7. A mean feat even nowadays.
What is your first memory of the Grand National?
I had a bet on Andy Pandy in 1977, was going great guns until falling at Bechers second time - I was hooked. His fall did help Red Rum to victory so I had the pleasure of seeing the Aintree legend in his prime.
I first attended the great race 'live' in 1979 when Rubstic won although the race was marred by the death of Alverton. My father was a policeman in Liverpool and in those days showing your ID card got you and your family into Aintree for free. If only nowadays! Rather than the National, that day my highlight was actually the Aintree hurdle where Monksfield beat Sea Pigeon.
Any betting highlights and lows on the great race?
Highs, I have been fortunate to back many winners and placed horses, though I do select 4-6 horses each year (6 out of last 10 winners). Recently Silver Birch was a great win and I was on at 50-1.
My biggest ever disappointment was just 2 years ago when Killyglen fell 3 out, when at the front and travelling well. I was on at 100-1. We'll never know.
What type of horse should bettingexpert readers look for?
Class horses are having more of a say these days so don't be afraid of picking big weights or older horses any more, but I would say generally - a good jumper/a winner of a graded race/not a 7yo - is the desired combination. Previous course experience is a plus but not essential.
How does the Aintree experience compare with Cheltenham?
It's an altogether more relaxed affair and Aintree is now a proper festival in it's own right. Cheltenham is more 'purist', Aintree is more 'hedonist' (especially on ladies day). To think though, just 30 years ago it was nearly lost forever. If you haven't been to Aintree's other meetings you really should. Most of the top stands are accessible on a Tattersalls ticket #bargain.
We are very keen on Cappa Bleu this year. Have you had any ante post bets?
Cappa Bleu has a very good chance, has been laid out and hails from the same connections as State Of Play. I traditionally go for value horses that have been laid out for the race. My antepost value bets are Joncol (170.0). I think he is being overlooked and has a serious chance. Not long back he was an Irish Gold Cup winner and is on an amazing mark. There is no doubt he retains some ability.
Next up is Quinz (90.0), his run in the Racing Post chase screamed Aintree. He jumped well in front and just lacked fitness at the business end. His running style will keep him out of trouble. I am on Chicago Grey at 38.0 which looks good now. I'm a massive fan of Gordon Elliott and he ticks all the boxes.
I have to give a mention to Across The Bay who I'm on at 220.0 down to 42.0 on Betfair in a shared bet with one of the owners.
Of the shorter prices I like Teaforthree who jumps and stays, ignore his Haydock run, and last but not least is Ballabriggs. Ignore the fact he's 12 because he's so lightly raced. He ticks every profile box, comes here in good form, has been laid out and comes here 8lbs lower than last year. I think he has an outstanding chance and the price should be taken as I'm sure he'll shorten. If I was a layer I would be taking on Sunnyhillboy, On His Own and Rare Bob.
How will the changes to the course layout and fences affect the Grand National?
I wrote about some of this on our blog but I have a fear about how fast the horses will go. I am also a supporter of trying to make things safer all round but my reservation is that when horses jump fences they tend to 'feel' what is below them. The previous core of the fences was 3ft 6in of solid wood posts which made the horses learn to jump high and slow after clearing the first few. The new fences mainly have a 3ft plastic birch style core.
I worry this will encourage the horses to jump lower and faster. We could see some very tired horses at the end of the race if they try to 'ping' them at speed. Overall though I wholeheartedly welcome the changes.
In this PC world, will the obvious dangers of 40 runners hurtling over these fences ever mean the Grand National is banned?
I'm not sure we can safely say our precious race is ever safe but the powers that be are trying their best. The RSPCA are being consulted too. I think the final measure we could take would be to reduce the runners to say 36. After that, it really would feel like the race has been diluted too much.
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And read more of Paul's work on his blog AintreeInfo
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