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Early Grand National preview

Just seven days to the Crabbie's Grand National, the team from OLBG have provided this early preview.

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Early Grand National Preview

The attention of jumps racing enthusiasts turns from Cheltenham to the Grand National this week. Sam Darby from Mares' Hurdle sponsors OLBG takes a look at the Grand National a week ahead of the race. For Grand National Tips check out the site, www.grand-national-guide.co.uk.

The Grand National is as wide open as ever and it looks as though we are going to get a good idea of the strength of last year's form with seven of the first eight home still entered in the race. The problem for those that run well in the race the previous year is the handicapper makes it almost impossible for them to win the next year. Only dramatic improvers and those who were not seen to best effect the previous year have a real chance and we do have a couple of runners that fit that bill this year.

Paul Nicholls' Rocky Creek has been well backed for this year's race and understandably so. He was effectively too young and too inexperienced last year to win the race yet he still ran extremely well in fifth. He won the Betbright Chase by six lengths on his latest start making him well handicapped but a question mark remains over his stamina. He will apparently be ridden with more restraint this time around which could be key to him seeing out the trip. More of a problem is his current price, at around 10/1 the value has gone for a horse that was beaten by 19 lengths last year. He should run well but we can live without backing him.

Just a short head behind Rocky Creek last year was Chance Du Roy and whilst he doesn't have the scope for improvement that the Paul Nicholls runner has, he does have a very solid profile. He finished second to course specialist Always Waining in the 2012 Topham, he won the 2013 Becher Chase and again ran well in that race this season, finishing a relatively close fifth. The ground at Aintree this year may well be slightly softer than last year and that could see Chance Du Roy improve on last year's performance. At four times the price of Rocky Creek he simply represents better value.

Shutthefrontdoor is perhaps one of the most exciting favourites in the race in recent years. He boasts a record of nine wins from 14 races and should still be ahead of the handicapper. His jumping is more than sound and he should have the assistance of Tony McCoy, having his final ride in the race. The stories are already being written but there are some negatives. He's as inexperienced as Rocky Creek was in the race last year and has had just one run this season, back in November. At the moment it's difficult to see the ground being too fast on Grand National but it's also worth noting that Shutthefrontdoor does want plenty of cut so a dry, warm week wouldn't help him at all if that's the way the weather goes.

Cheltenham winners coming here a few weeks later don't have the best of records so The Druid's Nephew and Cause of Causes are overlooked whilst Unioniste is surely too young at seven to win this. Spring Heeled would be interesting on summer ground but there is a good chance he won't get that.

Perhaps one of the most interesting runners this year is Soll. It seems he's had almost as many trainers as races but David Pipe seems to be getting a good tune out of him this season with the horse winning both races for the man who trained the 2008 Grand National winner Comply Or Die. Soll's return to action this season seems to have been timed to ensure he remains ahead of the handicapper and it's worth remembering he's previously completed over these fences twice (seventh in the 2013 Grand National) and is a better horse than ever this season. He's not yet guaranteed a run (needs nine to come out) but is a well handicapped horse if he does get in.

I could mention endless other horses in with a chance but as this stage it's all about finding likely runners who should run very well at a price. There is also a slight question mark over the going with rain forecast a week before and then a fairly cold week leading up to the race. Therefore the two selections at this stage have to be runners who are fine on decent ground but wouldn't mind a bit of rain and they are:

Chance Du Roy 40/1 each way 5 places
Soll 20/1 each way 5 places


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