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Grand National preview 2012

Someone had to step up to the podium to take on the biggest and possibly the hardest race of the year. Adam Ward is that man....

Grand National preview 2012

The greatest steeple chase in the world, but from a betting perspective The Grand National is one of the hardest races. All the hours of form study and opinions can go straight out of window, from a simple mistake or interference from another runner. My thoughts on the race is that you’ve done well if your horse finishes!

1.SYNCHRONISED - This year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. He is an out and out stayer, who is lightly raced for a 9 year-old. Although his jumping technique leaves a lot to be desired, he has never fallen over fences. Although statistically his weight is against him, he has carried a big weight before. The ground will also be to his liking. The only negative, is the effect the Gold Cup might have left on him, however connections report his fresh.

2.BALLABRIGGS - Last year’s Grand National winner, he has only had one race since when running a pleasing race at Kelso. Although only carrying 9lbs more than last year, no horse has won back-to-back nationals since Red Rum, which Donald McCain will know plenty about. If any stable would know how to ready one it would be them.

3.WEIRD AL - Top class performer on his day, who is very lightly raced (12th start today) due to numerous injuries throughout his career. The distance should suit, as he won this seasons Charlie Hall chase at Wetherby with plenty in hand. He is a sound jumper who has never fallen, and with Timmy Murphy’s patient tactics, he could be a decent e/w proposition who is overpriced at 66/1.

4.NEPTUNE COLLONGES - A long standing servant, who will retire after this race. Has run consistently well, albeit in defeat this season. No doubt he will give his running and jump round well, but with age against him, he may be running for a place at best.

5.CALGARY BAY - Has been in good form this season with wins at Cheltenham and Doncaster. He should stay and the ground will be fine, the problem being his jumping can sometimes let him down and he fell in this race last year, so perhaps one to avoid.

6.ALFA BEAT - A good horse on his day, but not the most consistent. He fell over these fences in the Topham last year, and although he has a top pilot in Davy Russell on his back, but he isn’t solid enough.

7.PLANET OF SOUND - Ran a solid race in the Hennessy this season, but he isn’t the easiest to catch right, and is known to make the odd mistake. No doubt the ability is still there, but whether he is up to winning the race is another matter.

8.BLACK APALACHI - Has only has one race since finishing 2nd to Don’t Push It in the 2010 Grand National. His 2nd was to Prince De Beauchene, who was hotly fancied for this race before getting injured. It’s hard to know him as on his past form he’d have a chance, but at the age of 13, you have to write him off.

9.DEEP PURPLE - Has won some nice prizes on his day, and showed he still retains his ability when winning at Sandown this season. He has suffered from burst blood vessels in the past and fell on his last start which hardly shouts confidence. Could outrun his 100-1 odds, but is a risky preposition.

10.JUNIOR - Has been aimed at this race since last year, and could set an impressive stat of being the only horse to win at Royal Ascot, Cheltenham and Aintree. He is an out and out galloper who will be up there from the off. Jumps well, has a nice weight, the only worry being if he goes off too fast in front. A good e/w chance.

11.CHICAGO GREY - Has been aimed at the since winning the 4m amateur race at the 2011 Cheltenham festival. He usually is dropped right out and somehow manages to come from nowhere and pick up the pieces. Although he is known to make the odd jumping error, he will stay all day and the ground will suit him completely. I’d rather be with his than against him. Solid claims.

12.TATENEN - A nice horse who showed his battling qualities when beating i’msingingtheblues as Ascot in January. The big concern is his stamina, he has never looked like he is crying out for this trip and I personally don’t see him staying the 4 miles 4furlongs.

13.SEABASS - Don’t be deceived by all the 1’s next to his name. All his wins have come in very testing ground and i’d be doubtful that he’d stay out this trip as he seems to have plenty of speed. Although it would be great to see Katie Walsh ride, i’m sure Ruby Walsh could have ridden him had he wanted to.

14.SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM - He has been a different horse this season, who stays and jumps all day long, the only negative, is that when looking like coming to win the Skybet Chase, he found nothing, and these large fences seemed to take a lot out of him last year when he finished tired in the Topham. There is also no getting away from Nicky Henderson’s poor record in the race.

15.WEST END ROCKER - Came onto everyone’s radar’s when winning the Beecher Chase in fine style under Wanyne Hutchinson, who retains the ride having won four races on him. Although the ground was heavy that day, he has won on better ground and a repeat of his Beecher performance would put him in the mix. E/w shout.

16.ACCORDING TO PETE - Has been in good form this season, with decent wins at both Haydock and Wetherby. The ground and trip will suit, you just worry that he might find one or two too good. His trainer is in good form having had a winner this week, with Cape Tribulation.

17.ON HIS OWN - A very lightly raced gelding, who looked ever so impressive when winning at Gowran in January. His form doesn’t look anything too fancy, but he still seems to have improvement in him. There is a lot to like about him being from the top Irish stable of Willie Mullins and the choice of Ruby Walsh, but this seems a big jump in class for a horse having only his tenth start under rules, I think it is a big ask.

18.ALWAYS RIGHT - His form figures are deceiving as his last two runs were in very testing conditions which did not seem to suit him. He was only beaten a length behind Beshabar in the Scottish National, so he definaltley stays. With a return to better ground, you’d hope he would return to form. A nice racing weight.

19.CAPPA BLEU - Although he is consistent and lightly raced. There is no solid look to any of his form, even his Welsh National 3rd was on heavy ground and he was a good 22 lengths behind the winner that day.

20.RARE BOB - There is nothing to suggest that he likes the national course from his previous tries at Aintree, and he doesn’t look like a horse who will stay under the current conditions.

21.ORGANISEDCONFUSION - I feel in these staying, different style of races, Nina Carberry is worth 10lbs on any jockey as she manages to get her horses settled and into a good rhythm. Although the horses record is a bit patchy and he has fallen a couple of times. I think he will give you a good run for your money as he will like the ground.

22.TREACLE - Another horse who has good form, but only in testing conditions in Ireland. Not for me.

23.THE MIDNIGHT CLUB - Went off favourite for this race last year, and ran a good race to finish 6th. He was very careful over his fences last year and he would have had to improve a lot for him to have any chance, which he hasn’t done. He will most probably get round, but Walsh has jumped ship.

24.MON MOME - Won this in 2009 but has not shown a lot since. He is 12 now, and hopefully with a safe round he will retire, with his name in the Grand National history books forever.

25.ARBOR SUPREME - Has to many Falls and unseats on his record for my liking, his odds reflect his chance.

26.SUNNYHILLBOY - A very good horse on his day, he is a good stayer and will like the ground and is definitely no 2nd string for Jonjo O’Neill. Old Vic’s offspring also have a very good record in this race. Good e/w value.

27.KILLYGLEN - A good win last time, but not the force of old and he fell in this race last year. Place chanced at best.

28.QUISCOVER FONTAINE - A very solid record having won seven races. The negative being he has never raced over 2 and a half miles. He has won on good ground, but he might struggle to stay the trip.

29.THARAWAAT - Sounds like he was named by someone from Liverpool. No doubt he is only in the race so Gigginstown House Stud can have a runner.

30.BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE - Ran a very good race behind Sunnyhillboy at Cheltenham, over a trip that was perhaps on the short side. Only got as far as the 2nd fence in this race last year, so you can’t really judge him. He will love the trip and ground, so is worth another try over the bigger fences.

31.STATE OF PLAY - He only runs in the Grand National, his last two starts being in this race and finishing 4th and 3rd. It is a big ask at the age of 12 for him to come straight here and run another big race. I’m sure he will run well and get round, but I feel his best days are behind him.

32.SWING BILL - The lovable grey will give you a good run for your money, but he jumps too carefully over the Aintree fences in my opinion.

33.POSTMASTER - Doesn’t have the profile, I hope he jumps round safely.

34.GILES CROSS - Has run some unbelievable races this season, barley coming off the bridle in his last win at Haydock. He would prefer the ground a lot more testing, but for his staying and natural ability, you can not rule him out off a feather weight.

35.MIDNIGHT HAZE - A nice horse at a lower lever, a big ask.

36.VIC VENTURI - Has failed to complete in the last two Nationals.

37.IN COMPLIANCE - Has never won over two and a half miles and loves bottomless ground. He won’t get it here.

38.VIKING BLOND - A good jumper, but would prefer it softer.

39.HELLO BUD - Will give Sam Twiston-Davies a good spin as always but at 14. He won’t be winning.

40.NEPTUNE EQUESTER - Not the worst form, but all of his best performances have been at Wetherby. He makes up the 40.

Conclusion: A very open race with a lot of quality. The main thing needed apart from a clear round, is luck. The main thing is that all horses come back safe.

1st: CHICAGO GREY
2nd: WEST END ROCKER
3rd: SYNCHRONISED
4th: BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE
5th: JUNIOR

Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamHWard

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