Who Will Win The 2014 Grand National?
Who is the favourite to win the 2014 Grand National? And which runner is the best of the value? With the 2014 Grand National to be run on April 5th at Aintree, our racing editor Stephen Harris delivers his Grand National preview and gives his selection.
The 2014 Crabbies Grand National now has £1 million prize money up for grabs and looks one of the most competitive ever staged, especially with decent ground likely and a huge field of tightly matched stayers set to do battle over the giant Aintree fences.
In our 2014 Grand National preview we take a look at the principal contenders with their current best prices.
Teaforthree: (Best Odds) 10-1
Rebecca Curtis has endured a quiet winter but her fortunes have improved dramatically as the ground has finally begun to dry out in the last couple of months, and this proven stayer ran a very nice trial for this when a staying-on 8th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Teaforthree also ran with credit when third in this contest in 2013 and certainly seems a worthy favourite, with stamina and sound-jumping proven plus the fact that he should be at his peak at the age of ten.
Tidal Bay: 16-1
A 13 year old has not won the National since 1923 but this class act has caused plenty of shocks in a long career at the highest level. He is set to carry topweight here and there are surely some better treated performers than him, for all that he ought to stay the trip and is a sound jumper.
Long Run: 20-1
The 2011 Gold Cup winner had looked on a downward spiral until winning a virtual match at Kelso last time out. He certainly has the class and will relish decent ground, but lumping 11-12 will not be easy and he is far from a certain stayer over this marathon test.
Monbeg Dude: 20-1
Michael Scudamore's star bypassed the Gold Cup to come directly to this race fresh and has leading claims. He impressed when winning the 2012 Welsh Grand National, and has a very progressive profile in some top handicaps (winner of a valuable Cheltenham contest on the bridle under a confident ride and also placed there twice this term).
There were excuses when he finished fifth last time at Doncaster (hard to make up ground from off the pace that day), and he will relish some decent ground (has a terrific mix of speed and stamina when getting into a rhythm).
Triolo D'Alene: 20-1
Sprang a surprise when winning the Hennessy Gold Cup and has been saved for this prize since. He is a sound jumper with a turn of foot, and seems likely to be ridden by the imperious Barry Gearghty (best rider over a fence in the country). Whether his handicap mark is now too high as a result of that win is a negative, while he is far from certain to get the trip.
Pineu de Re: 25-1
Versatile type over hurdles and fences, who posted a career best effort when third in the Pertemps Final at the Festival last time out. He is unproven over this extreme test but certainly looks well treated and his trainer Dr Richard Newland does superbly well with limited resources.
Rocky Creek: 25-1
Always been held in the highest regard by Paul Nicholls but has been beset by niggling problems all season, He could easily improve dramatically for much better ground (strong traveller when on his A-game), and could well outrun his current price.
Sunny Hill Boy: 25-1
Back for his third Grand National attempt (touched off in 2012 and unseated when well backed in 2013), and comes here fresh from landing a competitive Cheltenham handicap in December. He has plenty of ticks in all the right boxes for the stats-followers, but it is hard to believe he is well treated and has reportedly had a few training problems this season.
Proven stayer finds plenty for pressure and has an excellent record in the Warwick National. He has been laid out for this race by Alan King (stable now back in terrific form), but might just find things happening too quickly for him in this huge field.
Balthazar King: 33-1
Lovable veteran has built a fantastic record over the Cross-Country fences and is tremendously tough and genuine. However, he is likely to find other rivals better handicapped and may fade out of things on the final lap.
Burton Port: 33-1
Classy performer at his best and hinted at a revival in his fortunes when second in a veteran chase at Newbury in March. However, he is very lightly raced these days and his overall career profile doesn't scream National winner at the age of 11.
Prince de Beauchene: 33-1
Willie Mullins 11-y-o has looked on the downgrade this season (albeit typically tried at the highest level in deep ground in Ireland), and has plenty to prove here.
Finished a creditable 9th in 2012 and ought to relish the decent ground likely this time around. Looks very well handicapped off 10-3 and could well outrun his price if avoiding the blunders that sometimes spoil his performance.
Big Shu: 40-1
A prolific winner over the Cross Country fences, he finished a creditable third this time around at the Festival (travelled up smoothly and traded odds-on in running). Whether he has the class to land a National is doubtful, but he is sure to get a sensibly patient ride if Paul Carberry is again in the saddle.
The Rainbow Hunter: 40-1
Skybet Chase winner at Doncaster has got into this with a handy weight and will relish the drying ground on the day. A live outsider sure to give his TV presenter owner OIly Bell a real thrill if keeping mistakes over the fences to a minimum.
So who's going to win the 2014 Grand National?
The 20-1 about Monbeg Dude is well worth securing each-way with William Hills. He will relish the ground, is proven over this kind of marathon test and has been trained specifically for this contest by his young trainer. Hopefully he will settle into a smooth rhythm over the fences under a patient ride, before coming through smoothly on the final lap.
The first four:
1 - Monbeg Dude
2 - Rocky Creek
3 - Teaforthree
4 - Tidal Bay