Apparently they’ve got 16 obstacles, 14 of which have to be jumped twice, on a circuit which is over 2 miles long. Haven’t they heard of economies of scale? When we race at Cartmel we have six chase fences on a circuit just over a mile long – much easier. Perhaps it’s time they brought the Grand National into line with other races, then they wouldn’t need to keep distracting our staff during the sunniest week of the year.
Finding the winner of the Grand National is not terribly difficult. We’re going to ask Carruthers the budgie for his opinion – and he’ll be tweeting his answer later, so keep an eye on the twitter feed (this week he has a large twig of millet in addition to his Trill mix).
In the meantime, you could go for the most meaningful name (Lord Windermere ?) or one of the runners that we’ve seen previously running at Cartmel (Royale Knight has a right-royal chance).
Or you can take my advice (no - I don’t blame you for laughing) and narrow down the field using some simple rules.
Firstly, I’ll put a line through any horse aged 8 or younger – while not unknown in the history of the race, there have been no winners from this age bracket in the last ten years. Unsurprisingly, Grand National winners tend to benefit from the stamina and maturity that develops with age.
That means that we can rule out the likely favourite, the final Grand National mount of Tony McCoy, Shutthefrontdoor as well as five others from the top ten in the betting including: The Druids Nephew, Cause of Causes, Spring Heeled, Many Clouds and Unioniste. We can also say “no thanks” to Ballycasey, Dolatulo, Corrin Wood, Bob Ford and Owega Star.
There is a limit to the advantages experienced by the elder statesmen – and I can’t really believe that Tranquil Sea is going to score at the age of 13 or Oscar Time at 14, which is not to say that the latter named couldn’t run into a place with his excellent amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen.
The further a horse has to carry weight, the tougher it becomes – so it really does take a classy individual to win with more than 11st on his back. That rules out Lord Windermere, Balthazar King and Rocky Creek.
I should also put a line through First Lieutenant on 11st 3lb – but my pencil just hovered there for a second and then pulled away. You see I have a nagging feeling that this horse could actually be the classiest in the race – it’s arguably unlucky that he’s been part of the Gigginstown Stud stable. They’ve had so many other very good horses to run in the top races and so he hasn’t always been their first string. I’m keen to keep him on our side for now.
Everyone knows that some horses just love Aintree – who hasn’t heard of Red Rum? Quite apart from last year’s winner, Pineau De Re, it would be worth taking a second look at Alvarado, Chance Du Roy and Mon Parrain.
Three of the last named horses were bred in France – like three of the last six winners. I don’t know why French horses have such a good record, but it is a good idea to look for others – such as Al Co, who just happens to be the winner of last year’s Scottish Grand National. We know he stays.
Sometimes you just have to go with a gut-feel. I can’t help it – I’ve always liked Carlito Brigante. He is the model of consistency and has even won big-field handicaps over hurdles – so he is used to the frenetic pace that he will get here and he won’t be fazed by the other runners.
So here we go – easy as one,two, three. The first five in the 2015 Grand National will be:
1) Al Co
2) First Lieutenant
3) Carlito Brigante
4) Pineau de Re
5) Oscar Time