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The hardest race of the year and one I've never picked the winner in - but hey, why not spend an hour or three summarising which ones to strike a line through!

1. Any Second Now - 12/1 at time of writing

CASE FOR: third in 2021, second last year. Nice win last time in a G2 at Navan.

CASE AGAINST: Red Rum was the last topweight to win back in 1974. 11yo now, not many of those win, but they did win three in a row 2012-14. 

TO FINISH: Yes, 4th-8th

2. Noble Yeats -12/1

FOR: Won this race last year at 50/1. Ran a nice fourth in the Gold Cup last time.

AGAINST: Up 19lb for last year, and repeat winners are rare - but Tiger Roll did it 2018-2019.

TO FINISH: Yes, 6th-10th

3. Galvin - 20/1

FOR: Was primed for this race last year then wasn't quite ready. A longer break from the Cheltenham Festival is a positive for him. High class jumper for Davy Russell's last crack at the National.

AGAINST: 7lbs worse off against Delta Work for 2.5L second in the Cross-Country at the Festival, but probably better off over these more traditional fences.

TO FINISH: Yes, 1st-5th

4. Fury Road - 33/1

FOR: Tough old fella from the Elliott stable, trip too short for him in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, this will have been his target all season. Eight out of his last nine runs have been in Grade 1 company, first time in a handicap

AGAINST: Doesn't win a lot, and chase mark not that far clear of his hurdles figure.

TO FINISH: Yes, 4th-8th

5. The Big Dog -14/1

FOR: Won two big Irish handicaps early in the season, the Munster National and Troytown Handicap. Strong run when third carrying topweight in the Welsh National. Loves the tough staying tests. 

AGAINST: Fell last time in the Irish Gold Cup back in Feb. Meets Ain't That A Shame 11lbs worse off for narrow win back in October.

TO FINISH: Yes, 2nd-5th

6. Capodanno 20/1

FOR: Perhaps the pick of the McManus runners, has always shown stacks of potential but has been lightly-raced to keep his handicap mark in check. 

AGAINST: Just one run this season means not many miles in the legs, but Willie Mullins is a genius.

TO FINISH: Yes, 8th-12th

7. Delta Work 9/1

FOR: Ran third last year (beaten 22L), carrying 5lbs more. Won the Cross-Country race at Cheltenham for the last two years, as Tiger Roll used to do. Rating for this year's win was better than last year's.

AGAINST: Ridden by a guy named Keith and owned by that Ryanair bloke.

TO FINISH: Yes, 6th-9th

8. Sam Brown 50/1

FOR: Won at this meeting last year over the regular fences. 

AGAINST: Poor in three of four runs this season but has had a wind operation since. Still doubt he's good enough.


9. Lifetime Ambition 33/1

FOR: Classy jumper who has completed every time and only once missed the first four. Would be a great story for elite dual-code trainer Jessica Harrington who has been battling breast cancer. She had Magic Of Night run second here at 66/1 a few years back. 

AGAINST: Has run well at three miles but this is significantly further.

TO FINISH: Yes, top five.

10. Carefully Selected 50/1

FOR: Another Mullins horse ridden by star young Irish jockey Michael O'Sullivan. 

AGAINST: Don't think his Irish form is in the same league as some of the others.


11. Coko Beach 28/1

FOR: Eighth last year at 50/1, losing a shoe on the way round, which can never be comfortable. Comes into his own at marathon trips, gets ther services of Harry Cobden who won a Grade 1 on Friday.

AGAINST: Winning his last start bumped him up the weights but only carries one more pound than last year.

TO FINISH: Yes, 5th-8th

12. Longhouse Poet 18/1

FOR: Sixth last year, carrying 4lbs more. Trainer has won this race before with Numbersixvalverde in 2006. 

AGAINST: All over the place this season, two wins, two failed-to-finish and a long, long last. Don't waste your money on the each-way part!


13. Gaillard Du Mesnil 11/1

FOR: Has not missed a place in 19 starts since his debut flat run. Won the National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham over 3m6f. The further the better based on that run.

AGAINST: A 7yo which was deemed to be too young for this race, until Noble Yeats showed it's a different race last year. Fortunate to win last time when Mahler Mission crashed out two fences from home, doubt he'd have got there otherwise.

TO FINISH: Yes, 3rd-6th

14. Darasso 80/1

FOR: Finished alongside Capodanno last time at Gowran Park, with a 9lb weight advantage. That's cut back to 6lbs here.

AGAINST: Poor in two runs this year, and has raced just once at three miles (third in Kerry National last September). A lot further to travel here. 


15. Le Milos 16/1

FOR: Flying this season, winning big handicap chases at Bangor, Newbury (the race formerly known as the Hennessy) and was just tipped out in the Premier Chase at Kelso. Has missed the frame just once in 10 starts over fences. 

AGAINST: One of the few Brits in the race, is the local form up to the Irish contingent?

TO FINISH? Yes. can win. 1st-4th

16. Escaria Ten 100/1

FOR: Finished the race last year at 25/1.

AGAINST: Was beaten 75L last year. Pulled up in the Magners Plate at the Festival.


17. The Big Breakaway 40/1

FOR: Second in the Welsh National, 5L ahead of The Big Dog, off similar weight terms.

AGAINST: Has since flopped in the Ultima at Cheltenham when he pulled up. Just one win over fences from eleven attempts.

TO FINISH? Probably not, too inconsistent.

18. Cape Gentleman 100/1

FOR: Absolutely nothing.

AGAINST: Two runs at three miles: fell and beaten 92L.


19. Roi Mage 40/1

FOR: Third in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris back in 2019. Beaten 1.25L behind Longhouse Poet, giving away 5lbs, last time at Down Royal, and won that same 3m2f chase last season. Very genuine, only failure in last 20 starts was over the cross-country fences at Cheltenham. 

AGAINST: Small-time Irish trainer, quite a different formline.

TO FINISH? Yes, 6-8th

20. Diol Ker 80/1

FOR: Won the Leinster National last season and was nosed out in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last Xmas. 

AGAINST: Just one chase win from 13 starts, well beaten last time in the National Trial at Punchestown, and at two other attempts beyond 3m2f


21. A Wave Of The Sea 40/1

FOR: Fourth in the Munster National behind The Big Dog back in October.

AGAINST: Well beaten in next two starts, and then ran twice over much shorter trips. Odd preparation, doesn't enthuse for the marathon trip.


22. Minella Trump

FOR: Won eight of his past nine over fences, but in tiny fields. Ignore last run over hurdles, that was just a spin to get him fit.

AGAINST: Racing in fields of four or five is no preparation for the hustle & bustle of the National. 


23. Vanillier 16/1

FOR: Albert Bartlett Hurdle (3m) winner at the Festival two years ago, narrowly beaten in the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse six weeks ago. 

AGAINST: Not much of note between those two runs, hasn't progressed beyond that Festival, with either his hurdle or chase rating. Price relates more to potential than recent results.

TO FINISH? Yes, but distanced

24. Velvet Elvis 33/1

FOR: Ordinary early in the season but better in winning a race at Fairyhouse in February, then second to Any Second Now three weeks ago. Finished 7L behind today's topweight with 3lbs less. Now meets him another 17lbs better. Sixth (beaten 8L) in the Irish National last year, only start over a marathon trip so far. 

AGAINST: 7yo, is he progressive enough? 

TO FINISH? Yes, top 10

25. Ain't That A Shame 8/1

FOR: Broke his chasing duck last time out in a Beginners Chase at Gowran Park, after two narrow and unlucky defeats in the Munster National and Paddy Power Chase late last year. Rachael Blackmore to ride in the neapolitan icrecream colours, Henry de Bromhead trains - about as good as it gets.

AGAINST: One win from seven over fences doesn't inspire but it's all about timing with this stable.

TO FINISH? Yes, first five.

26. Corach Rambler 9/1

FOR: Won the Ultima at Cheltenham for the second year running, due to go up 10lbs which gives him a great advantage here. Trainer/jockey combination won this with One For Arthur back in 2017.

AGAINST: Has always peaked in March and then gone on a summer break. Has this prep been timed differently? Finished 9L behind Le Milos in the race formerly known as the Hennessy.

TO FINISH? Yes, top 10 but outside the placings.

27. Enjoy D'Allen 40/1

FOR: Stumbled and unseated at the first last year (SP 20/1). Backed up nine days later in the Irish National and ran ninth.

AGAINST: Terrible form this season but never rule out a JP McManus runner.


28. Mr Incredible 14/1

FOR: Warm sentiment from the stable, lightly raced. Ran third in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. Three runs since transferring to Willie Mullins, was heavily backed in the Paddy Power Chase over Xmas when he was brought down early on.

AGAINST: Quirky, lot of letter in his form - Refused to Race, Pulled Up and Brought Down within his last five. 

TO FINISH? Yes, 5th to 8th if he decides it's a going day.

29. Mister Coffey 33/1

FOR:  Model of consistency in weaker fields, plus Cheltenham Festival placings - third in the National Hunt Challenge Cup this year, second in the Kim Muir last year. 

AGAINST: Eight starts over fences, seven wins. Beaten 58L in the Topham last year over the same National fences, his only flop in this category.


30. Cloudy Glen 50/1

FOR: Won the race formerly known as the Hennessy last season but form has tailed off since. A third in the National Trial at Haydock in February provided a glimpse of better days, 

AGAINST: Just four completions in his last eight, three Pulled Ups and an unseat. 

TO FINISH? Probably not.

31. Hill Sixteen 66/1

FOR: Nosed out by Snow Leopardess in the Becher Chase last season, second in the Bet365 Chase at Kelso. 

AGAINST: Went to the top of the weights in the Becher this season, finishing seventh, beaten 14L, then went for a wind op. Trailed in last, 44L behind, at only run since.


32. Gabbys Cross 66/1

FOR: Won the Galway Chase in July, fairly close in the Kerry National and Paddy Power Chase later in the year. Carries 24lbs less than last run in the Leinster National, stays on well.

AGAINST: Rachael Blackmore rides the stablemate instead but that doesn't mean this one is hopeless.

TO FINISH? Yes, 7th-10th.

33. Recite A Prayer 66/1

FOR: Trained by Willie Mullins. Second in the Kerry National, third in the Cork National in September/November respectively. 

AGAINST: Ordinary since those two runs, but has been freshened up since Xmas. Doubt he is up to this class.


34. Eva's Oskar 50/1

FOR: Drops almost two stone on recent runs in the Eider and VirginBet Masters. Ran first and second in G3 Cheltenhem handicaps before Xmas. 

AGAINST: Not convinced how strong that form is.

TO FINISH? Yes, outside chance of winning - top 10.

35. Our Power 20/1

FOR: The only horse in the field to have won his last two starts, a pair of G3 three-mile handicap chases. Goes up in the weights for those wins, has now won four from eight over fences. 

AGAINST: Hasn't run beyond 3m1f, his sire (Power) doesn't scream stayers.

TO FINISH? Yes, 5th-8th.

36. Dunboyne 80/1

FOR: Second in the Thyestes (received a stone from Carefully Selected) and fourth in the Kim Muir (8L behind Mr Incredible on almost level weights). Goes ok in the wet.

AGAINST: Form not that strong, has been known to refuse to race.


37. Francky Du Berlais 80/1

FOR: Fourth in the Topham here last year and followed up soon after with a win at Uttoxeter - can run well in April.

AGAINST: Massive prices at every start this campaign and hasn't placed once.


38. Fortescue 100/1

FOR: Stayed on well in the Becher Chase in December, finishing fourth beaten 10L, carrying 21lbs more than here, and was also battling on in the Haydock National Trial two months ago.

AGAINST: Unseated last year (SP 28/1) when already beaten. 

TO FINISH? Yes, 10th-15th.

39. Back On The Lash 25/1

FOR: Multiple cross-country course winner at Cheltenham, but only on good/good-to-soft ground.

AGAINST: Any rain at all. 


40. Born By The Sea 50/1

FOR: Handy form at Galway, not much anywhere else

AGAINST: Four starts this season, hasn't finished within 20L of the winner. Just three wins from 46 starts.

TO FINISH? No. Not on the same day anyway.


Le Milos
Eva's Oskar
Lifetime Ambition
Ain't That A Shame
Gaillard Du Mesnil

Best of luck!


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