Grand National 2012 - Runner by Runner Preview
Racing Editor for bettingexpert. Always searching for winners "against the crowd" and trying to find the value.
The 2012 Grand National runs this Saturday at Aintree. Today on the blog, Stephen delivers his horse by horse preview and and a verdict for each runner. Where will you be putting your money?
The biggest race in the world will be run at Aintree on Saturday on ground far softer than normal after a wet fortnight. Here we preview every runner with a verdict as to their chances.
But firstly, here are my selections for the race:
1 - Cappa Bleu
2 - Chicago Grey
3 - Ballabrigs
4 - Organised Confusion
Now on with the previews!
The surprise Gold Cup winner will be popular with the champ again AP McCoy in the saddle and he is proven in testing ground. However, he is far from a fluent jumper and has stamina to prove at the marathon trip. The stats are all against him and he will have to be very tough to withstand another hard race so soon after Cheltenham.
Verdict - A maximum place lay and wildly underpriced. Can't see him completing : 8/1
Victor Dartnall's progressive frontrunner revels in deep ground and has proven his stamina when winning minor "Nationals" through the winter. Has been beautifully ridden from the front by Denis O'Regan this season and a new partner will struggle to get into a similar rhythm.
Verdict - Has the form but the handicapper hasn't missed him and a new pilot is a negative : 10/1
David Pipe's versatile and prolific type hinted he was returning to his best when beaten in a photo at Doncaster last time. Jumping a concern and can go in snatches so might get exposed in a big field on ground that will be softer than ideal.
Verdict - Good win record but doesn't fence well enough over these big fences and best avoided : 12/1
West End Rocker
Proven round here in the Becher Chase and the recent easing of the ground brings him right into it. Seems sure to go close but holds few secrets from the assesor and others may be less exposed.
Verdict - Solid each-way option and has the stamina if it becomes a real slog : 12/1
On His Own
Ruby Walsh has chosen him over stablemate SeaBass and has shortened up in the betting in recent days. Landed the Thyestes Chase from the front at Gowran last time out and remains open to progress at extreme distances after just two starts for the Mullins yard.
Verdict - Competition for the lead a worry but proven in the soft and merits maximum respect : 12/1
Last years hero returned with a respectable pipe-opener recently and he is sure to have been primed for today by his excellent stable. Proven in testing ground and a smooth traveller he seems sure to give supporters another terrific run for their money.
Verdict - Done it before and stable in great form. May find it harder from a much higher rating this time : 14/1
Shaped very well when third in the Welsh National and has long appealed as the type to excel when given a real test. Evan Williams has enjoyed a superb month and this lightly raced chaser could be his chance to finally smash into the big time.
Verdict - Smooth traveller is strongly fancied to go very close on ground that will be ideal. Must bet each-way material at the current prices : 14/1
Gordon Elliots hold-up performer has a mind of his own but is a high class stayer when everything falls right. A fast run stamina test in soft ground will be ideal and many will be watching out for his late surge after the last.
Verdict - SoIid each-way value having been primed for the day by his shrewd yard : 14/1
Finished a fair second at the Festival and has been lightly raced with this race in mind all season. Heavy fall at the second in this last year when he raced very freely in the lead tempers confidence.
Verdict - Form is useful but not a certain stayer and plenty of competition for the lead : 16/1
Jumped very poorly in this last season and would need a much improved round of fencing to feature. Snapped a long losing run in Ireland last time and has been given a chance by the handicapper.
Verdict - Soft suits but his jumping was awful last season and hard to forget that : 16/1
Deserted by Ruby and might be a fish out of water in this huge field. Won his sixth race in a row in a Grade 2 last time but is unproven beyond three miles and this is a totally different examination.
Verdict - Doubtful stayer in deep ground and worth laying for a place : 16/1
Landed some good bets at the Festival and has always been a high class handicapper when the cards fall right. Races off the same rating here but unproven stamina wise and deep ground not ideal.
Verdict - Not the most straightforward and the dummy may get spat out in rear if not fluent initially : 16/1
Prolific winner but won't stay and prefers faster conditions.
Verdict - Non completion seems probable if it becomes a war of attrition : 20/1
Won the Irish National last year and quietly campaigned with this race in mind since. Unexposed over extreme distances and very much one to consider at bigger prices.
Verdict - Caught the eye last time and a very interesting each-way angle for those hunting away from the obvious : 20/1
According To Pete
Consistent staying chaser in the North is very game and represents a stable that enjoyed Festival glory. Not sure to stay 4m4f and others are much preferred.
Verdict - Sound fencing but may be outclassed when push comes to shove : 20/1
33-1 third in the Irish Hennessy was probably flattering in a small field and had appeared a fair handicapper at best previously.
Verdict - Deep ground fine but didn't enjoy these fences when a distant fourth here in 0ctober last year : 20/1
Useful stayer but pulled up the last twice when the ground turned soft and recent rain a huge negative.
Verdict - Progressive until recently but has a lot to prove at present : 25/1
Sound jumper and has been winning top handicaps this term at around 3m.
Verdict - May run well until he tires in the final mile. Wants better ground ideally : 25/1
Veteran grey has many tales to tell an ran a blinder when denied in a thrilling finish by Giles Cross last time out. Can go in snatches and not the easiest ride. Stamina not certain (well held when tried at 4m in the past).
Verdict - Tough as nails and soft ground will help. Could go well if fancying these fences at the first attempt : 25/1
Planet Of Sound
Former Grade 1 winner showed he was not finished when second in the Hennessy at Newbury (form been let down several times since). Has been lightly raced with his yard enduring a poor season and need a major revival to get involved in this.
Verdict - Has the class but injury problems have blighted and never been the most fluent lepper: 28/1
Ran badly when upped in class at the end of February and has a lot to prove now.
Verdict - Jumped badly when tried here in the 2011 Topham and hard to consider : 33/1
Fancied for the Gold Cup but burst a blood vessel and pulled up 1m out. Always been high class but very fragile and lightly raced as a result. Easing in the ground against him although would't be amazed if showed up for a long way given how leniently weighted he appears.
Verdict - Win would be a triumph of training and stamina a huge doubt : 33/1
The Midnight Club
Finished sixth last season when supported into favourite (did well to finish after several errors), but has had a poor season and was 100-1 when tailed off in the Gold Cup.
Verdict - Regressive and hard to consider even with experience of the course a plus : 33/1
Loves the mud and has been nibbled at in recent days as the rain fell. Fair third at Naas last time out and untried at this type of distance.
Verdict - Exposed handicapper at home needs this marathon to improve him from a lenient rating : 33/1
33-1 fourth in last years Irish Grand National, he would be interesting if the cash arrived from his astute connections after a quiet, confidence building campaign over hurdles this time round.
Verdict - 0ne run over 3m5f suggests he may stay but liable to be dropped right out and need fortune in running to get involved even if anywhere near good enough : 33/1
100-1 when winning in 2009 but firmly on the downgrade this season and had his share of problems.
Verdict - Will be staying on when others have cried enough and has the experience under his belt. Venetia Williams has amazed form students before but this would be a major stunner : 33/1
13-y-o returned from two years off when second in the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse. Has a good record here in the past and some will argue a case for him. However, the younger brigade surely have more scope to improve and the bounce factor is a possibility.
Verdict - Loveable old timer will love the deep ground but hard to imagine he can be the force of old at 13 : 33/1
Graded winner in the past is inconsistent these days and hard to give a chance to.
Verdict - Won't stay in the soft and safely ignored : 40/1
State Of Play
Has been placed three times in this race and not seen out since his fourth in 2011. Classy and been given a chance by the assesor if on song. Recent vibes have been positive and he may go well again.
Verdict - 0verpriced if his trainer can get him here fit and readied at the fourth attempt for glory : 40/1
Flopped in a hunter chase when last seen out and best years behind him.
Verdict - Loves the mud but recent form aside of point to point wins is not enough : 50/1
Stays well but three recent efforts poor and stable quiet this year.
Verdict - Even at his very best form is not good enough and poor efforts of late : 66/1
Frontrunner landed a Ludlow handicap and wasn't disgraced in the CC chase at Cheltenham. Stamina not assured in the soft and hard to believe can figure.
Verdict - Fluent jumper when dominating but never relished a slog and fuel guage on empty late on here : 66/1
Tough veteran is another at his best when calling the shots. Not at his best recently and age may be catching up at last.
Verdict - None gamer or tougher and has done it here in the past. Several other frontrunners here and cried enough very early in a veterans chase at Newbury last time : 66/1
Has always appeared as though no trip was far enough and could suprise from a flyweight.
Verdict - Fencing a concern but should still be galloping on when others have fell by the wayside : 66/1
Smooth traveller when on song needs better ground and won't stay this trip.
Verdict - Safely held and out of form since Galway win in 0ctober : 66/1
Ascot winner in game style earlier in the season is another non-stayer here.
Verdict - Has enjoyed a profitable season but well held today : 66/1
Consistent grey has seen his form dip in recent starts with a few uncharacteristic errors not helping.
Verdict - Poor at the festival and can't consider the popular grey here : 66/1
Pulled up in the Irish National last time.
Verdict - Impossible to fancy : 66/1
No hope since leaving Willie Mullins.
Verdict - Hurdling with no encouragement this season and miracle needed to be involved : 66/1
Lightly raced for several different yards in the past few years. Some promise in a muddling small field affair last time out (ahead of Ballabriggs) but overall profile not convincing.
Verdict - Some may argue overpriced at his best but not sure these big fences will suit and held even at best : 100/1
Hard ride and badly out of sorts of late.
Verdict - Regressive and slow jumper will soon be out with the washing : 100/1
Best of the rags on his best runs in staying handicaps upto 3m5f. Poor fencing a worry and has let him down in Ireland in recent starts.
Verdict - 100-1 is a fair price for those willing to pray his suspect jumping stands the test. 4m4f should suit : 100/1
Wants better ground and 3m.
Verdict - Non stayer here in the soft and outclassed : 100/1
Not a factor on all form.
Verdict - Hopeless cause : 100/1
Safely ignored after remote third last time.
Verdict - Needs a Foinavon incident to prevail : 100/1
Yard dead and his form poor.
Verdict - Hard ride and outclassed : 100/1
You can follow Stephen on Twitter @stephenh61
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Great article Stephen. I'll surely use some of your thoughts. Keep up the great work.
Cheers for the positive comments The Game. The great thing with BettingExpert is we can all learn from each other as we try to find those crucial edges to defeat the layers!
Stephen your knowledge of this sport is a class apart, really enjoy your article's, very interesting to hear the thoughts of man who has sat on the other side of the table (trader).. Thought I'd say thanks as the info your provide is very useful to someone like me who is still a novice as far as Horse Racing goes.. Thanks...