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  TOPSPURS GRAND NATIONAL PREVIEW 2017

THE LAST SAMURI, 9, 11-10, Kim Bailey (161) TopspursRating  *** 14/1

Good handicap chaser who was a gallant 2nd last year but surely no chance from top weight

 

MORE OF THAT, 9, 11-6, Jonjo O'Neill (157) TopspursRating  **** 12/1

Former champion staying hurdler who has not yet translated it consistently to fences. Good 6th in the Gold Cup last time on the back of two previous solid runs in grade 1 company and looks to have a very solid chance but skinny odds given his patchy profile

 

SHANTOU FLYER, 7, 11-5, Rebecca Curtis (156) TopspursRating  ** 50/1

Good sort over shorter but looks to have too much weight even if he stays

 

PERFECT CANDIDATE, 10, 11-5, Fergal O'Brien (156) TopspursRating   *** 50/1

Quietly progressed through the ranks with latest Exeter win a PB giving some hope from current high handicap mark, every chance of running well despite big odds

 

SAPHIR DU RHEU, 8, 11-5, Paul Nicholls (156) TopspursRating  ***** 20/1

Top class staying hurdler who has not had things go to plan over fences but an exemplary record this season topped off with an excellent run in the Gold Cup. A likely winner if taking to the fences and handling the big field size

 

ROI DES FRANCS, 8, 11-3, Gordon Elliott (154) TopspursRating  * 50/1

Talented chaser but an unlikely winner of the National

 

WOUNDED WARRIOR, 8, 11-2, Noel Meade (153) TopspursRating  *** 50/1

Looks completely out of form this season, but previously has all the credentials of a potential National winner and could go well at fancy odds if the big fences rekindle his enthusiasm

 

WONDERFUL CHARM, 9, 11-2, Paul Nicholls (153) TopspursRating  * 40/1

In form but pulled up in both this last year and the 2015 Whitbread tend to suggest this type of race is not his thing

 

TENOR NIVERNAIS, 10, 11-1, Venetia Williams (152) TopspursRating  *** 40/1

Mon Mome’s connections team up again with this stunning winner at Ascot which makes him look very well handicapped and backed up with many good runs over the years. Drying ground a concern

 

BLAKLION, 8, 11-1, Nigel Twiston-Davies (152) TopspursRating  ***** 16/1

Good staying hurdler who progressed well over fences last year to land the big novice race at the festival. Winless this season but has run with great credit each time and looking likely to be even better with a greater emphasis on stamina on better ground. Been my main fancy all winter and a fine chance with a top jockey booked

 

DROP OUT JOE, 9, 11-1, Charlie Longsdon (152) TopspursRating  ** 50/1

Been kept back for this since landing his biggest win at Uttoxeter last June, goes well on decent ground but may lack the class of one or two of the others.

 

LE MERCUREY, 7, 11-0, Paul Nicholls (151) TopspursRating  ** 40/1

Decent performer but not look that well handicapped or indeed crying out for a marathon trip

 

THE YOUNG MASTER, 8, 10-13, Neil Mulholland (150) TopspursRating  **** 16/1

Seems to have been around for ages but still only 8. Ended last season with a win in the Whitbread and only 2lb above that winning mark after a quiet prep geared around the big race. Enthusiasm tempered by a fall when beaten over the fences in December but likely to be a different proposition on the big day and one to take seriously

 

CAUSE OF CAUSES, 9, 10-13, Gordon Elliott (150) TopspursRating  *** 14/1

The archetypal JP horse who carries a string of duck eggs along with consecutive festival wins. Well beaten previously when arriving in similarly good form and no reason why he’ll do any better this time round

 

REGAL ENCORE, 9, 10-13, Anthony Honeyball (150) TopspursRating  ** 50/1

Enigmatic type who bookended a rare win with pulled up efforts

 

VIEUX LION ROUGE, 8, 10-12, David Pipe (149) TopspursRating  *** 10/1

Progressive young stayer who is unbeaten this season after winning over the National fences and then claiming Blacklion (6lb pull) at Haydock. Looks to have a solid chance on paper but well beaten in this last year and not many come back to win it after an unplaced effort

 

DEFINITLY RED, 8, 10-12, Brian Ellison (149) TopspursRating  *** 10/1

Never Red … and while this one did for Blacklion at Weatherby, the revised weights give him more to do on the big day. That said is an improving chaser on a fair weight with an excellent win ratio and should run well but that has all been built into his short price

 

UCELLO CONTI, (27), 9, 10-12, Gordon Elliott (149) TopspursRating  ** 16/1

Smart Irish form and a good run over the fences in December but only sixth last year and unlikely to do much better this time round

 

DOUBLE SHUFFLE, 7, 10-12, Tom George (149) TopspursRating  *** 40/1

Young progressive stayer who ran well at Kempton. Age against him from a stats perspective but well handicapped enough to out run his big odds without being winner material this time round

 

HOUBLON DES OBEAUX, 10, 10-12, Venetia Williams (149) TopspursRating  ** 40/1

The Oboe has had many fine days but despite a falling handicap mark looks an unlikely winner unless the heavens open but not totally out of running for a place at big odds

 

PLEASANT COMPANY, 9, 10-12,  W. P. Mullins (149) TopspursRating  *** 16/1

Top connections who has run placed and won the two best trials this season in Ireland (Thyestes/Bobbyjo) and has a lot in his favour but most Irish winners have a quiet hurdles preparation away from damaging their handicap mark in the best races which tempers enthusiasm

 

ONE FOR ARTHUR, 8, 10-11, Lucinda Russell (148) *** 14/1

Rose out of the ranks of the ordinary this season with a strong finish over the fences before getting job done at Warwick. Needs more from adjusted handicap perspective. While he remains open to improvement, a slightly harsh assessment is that seems to lack the inherent class of the majority of modern National winners

 

BALLYNAGOUR, 11, 10-11, David Pipe (148) TopspursRating  * 66/1

More bad days than good recently but a falling handicap mark offers a glimmer of hope

 

O'FAOLAINS BOY, 10, 10-11, Rebecca Curtis (148) TopspursRating  ** 66/1

Missed the race last year and two pulled up efforts this season suggest his time has gone but in a similar way to Wounded Warrior, has a stack of ability and always looked a National type and if it by some miracle it all clicked on the day (perhaps a recent wind operation?), he could surprise

 

HIGHLAND LODGE, 11, 10-11, James Moffatt (148) TopspursRating  *** 25/1

Targeted the race since last season and has won impressively over the fences. Could go well for a small yard but on a career high handicap mark and one of those who seem to lack the class to win a modern National

 

BISHOPS ROAD, 9, 10-10, Kerry Lee (147) TopspursRating  *** 50/1

Fell at the first in two consecutive races at the end of last season but has his share of ability. Could go ok but preference for soft ground a concern for win purposes

 

LORD WINDERMERE, 11, 10-10, Jim Culloty (147) TopspursRating  *50/1

Former Sun Alliance and Gold Cup winner but on the downgrade these days and pulled up in the race previously. Not even the return to favoured fast ground offers much encouragement

 

SAINT ARE, 11, 10-10, Tom George (147) TopspursRating  ** 33/1

Former National 2nd but has had a mixed record over the fences since and surely will find a few too good this time round

 

VICENTE, 8, 10-10, Paul Nicholls (147) TopspursRating  *** 20/1

Moderate form since Scottish National win but Champion Trainer knows how to win the big race and this one could leave recent form behind to run a big race

 

JUST A PAR, 10, 10-9, Paul Nicholls (146) TopspursRating  * 33/1

Down the field last year and pulled up over 4m at Musselburgh. Hard to envisage any better despite mostly good form in staying handicap chases elsewhere

 

MEASUREOFMYDREAMS, 9, 10-9, Noel Meade (146) TopspursRating  ** 40/1

Failed to back up an excellent third in what is proving to be a vintage National Hunt Chase at the festival in 2016, but a light campaign built around this race with first time headgear may seem him in a better light on the big day

 

RAZ DE MAREE, 12, 10-9, Gavin Patrick Cromwell (146) TopspursRating  *** 33/1

Old fashioned plodder well suited to staying handicap chases with a Welsh National 2nd to add to his Cork National win. Run off his feet in this in 2015 but finished his race well and not totally discounted if the ground rides slow if they get rain

 

STELLAR NOTION, 9, 10-9, Henry de Bromhead (146) TopspursRating  ** 50/1

In good form in Ireland including a solid 3rd in the Kerry National which has been a good guide to this race. Front running style puts a question mark on his unproven stamina but could out run his odds

 

ROGUE ANGEL, 9, 10-8, M. F. Morris (145) TopspursRating  **** 33/1

Has both a Kerry National and an Irish Grand National to his name which mark him out as a likely type. Campaigned quietly to nurse the handicap mark down and showed enough in the final prep in the Thyestes to suggest he’ll be cherry ripe on the day. Still a career high handicap mark to deal with but one of the more interesting outsiders for win purposes.

 

36. COCKTAILS AT DAWN, 9, 10-8, Nicky Henderson (145) TopspursRating  * 100/1

Some high class form but normally well below it and fell over the fences last season. Unlikely winner

 

THUNDER AND ROSES, 9, 10-7, M. F. Morris (144) TopspursRating  **** 33/1

Former Irish National winner (who defeated last year’s National winner in the race) who after a forgettable season last year when pulling up over the big fences showed a revival this season, notably with a good 2nd in the Bobbyjo. Like Rogue Angel who has the same owner/trainer combo, one of the more likely outsiders for win purposes for last year’s winning trainer

 

GAS LINE BOY, 11, 10-7, Ian Williams (144) TopspursRating  ** 66/1

Faller in 2015 and while a decent handicapper in good form, seems to lack the X factor to win a modern national

 

GOODTOKNOW, 9, 10-7, Kerry Lee (144) TopspursRating  *  66/1

Behind a couple of these this season and looks to have it all to do

 

LA VATICANE, 8, 10-6, David Pipe TopspursRating  * 100/1

Solid handicapper since coming over from France but no obvious chance

 

DOCTOR HARPER, 9, 10-6, David Pipe (143) TopspursRating  ** 66/1

Talented enough on his day but a mixed bag over fences, even when the Pipe’s are trying, and unlikely National winner

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Key Stats of National Winners

·         Rarely are they second season chasers or novices

·         Usually between 8-11 Years old

·         Rated over 143, given the way the race is structured, likely to favour better higher handicapped horses these days although this trend is only emerging slowly

·         The course alternations make the race much faster and a good level of ability over hurdles almost a pre-requisite

·         Horses who complete the course previous Nationals don’t go on to win, the first completion tends to be the best finish

·         Need to have a Racing Post rating of at least 150 in the book, preferably 10 or more greater than current handicap mark

·         If it’s to be an English winner, more often than not, they have run well in a key race such as: First six in the Hennessey, Gold Cup and placed in the Sun Alliance as a novice. The Beecher, Welsh National or Racing Post Chase are other key races

·         Irish winners tend to have had a light preparation during the season with a couple of unplaced runs/runs over hurdles but somewhere within the past 2 years have a top class chase performance in the book, often in the Irish or Kerry National, Thyestes or Bobbyjo

·         A slightly qualitative assessment, but often classy horses who’ve had a year off with injury have come back to win a National

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Grand National Shortlist Six (in racecard order)

More of That 12/1

Saphir Du Rheu 20/1

Blacklion 14/1

The Young Master 20/1

Rogue Angel 33/1

Thunder and Roses 33/1

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Grand National Summary 2017

For most of the season, Blacklion has been at the forefront of my thoughts as a National winner and his four runs this season represent an excellent preparation for the big race, with the booking of a top jockey the icing on the cake.

 

Saphir Du Rheu on the other hand has all the ability but has looked anything but a National winner in his initial runs over fences, but has been a different story in 2017 and capped a series of good runs with an excellent run in the Gold Cup. Similar comments apply to More of That. Both horses have high class form and look fairly handicapped and should run well if taking to the unique challenge.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, are the Mouse Morris pair of former Irish National winners Rogue Angel and Thunder and Roses who lack winning form in recent months but have shown in the past to be well suited to the requirements of winning a race of this nature in the past and have been prepared with this has a season long target. Would make a great story with the owner Michael OLeary of Ryanair creating such a controversy over the weights allocated to his higher rated horses who he withdrew in protest.

 

The Young Master is in a similar boat regarding his chance, not shown much this time round but previously looked well suited to this type of race on decent ground and should give a good account