In the olden days, there were only a handful of Grand Nationals including the big one of course at Aintree in April and the Scottish, Welsh and Irish versions. Now it seems just about every track stages a regional National and today its Catterick’s turn and their race is called the North Yorkshire Grand National. Alto Des Mottes has the highest Racing Post Rating and the horse can be backed at 14/1 with William Hill.
The Catterick race is the richest of the day and one of the few races at Grade 3 level. It’s a bit of an oasis in a desert of mediocre fare but the race offers over £26,000 in prize money which is excellent for a wet and windy Thursday in January. The jumps programme is now in a lull after the major races in Britain and Ireland over Christmas and New Year and ahead of the orgy of betting that is the Cheltenham Festival.
The North Yorkshire Grand National is run over the best part of three miles six furlongs. A field of nine runners go to post and I Just Know and Sun Cloud are vying for favouritism. The going is projected to be soft so the race will develop into a stamina-sapping slog. Sun Cloud won the race four years ago aged seven so can clearly handle the course and distance. The horse is weighted to run well but that is reflected in the price which is too short for a race of this nature.
I Just Know is rated a few pounds inferior to Sun Cloud but is trading at a similar price. Eleven stone ten pounds is a demanding burden in the prevailing conditions and the horse has something to find to win this race of that weight. Itstimeforapint represents the original Grand National winning combination of Lucinda Russell and Derek Fox but the horse is no One For Arthur. Itstimeforapint is running off a handy mark but has form figures that offer no encouragement and other runners have stronger claims.
Golden Investment is trained by Donald McCain and his family know a thing or two about Grand Nationals. Donald (‘Ginger’) Senior trained Red Rum on Southport beach to win three Nationals in the 1970’s and had one last hurrah at Aintree when Amberleigh House won the National in 2004. The younger Donald won his first National with Ballabriggs in 2011. Golden Investment is not in that class but has been given a competitive mark in the North Yorkshire version of the famous race.
Alto Des Mottes will be ridden by a claiming jockey who takes off three pounds and that could make a huge difference. A race over 30 furlongs is unlikely to be decided by small margins but after a gruelling contest, any weight allowance can only be a positive. The bookmakers don’t rate Alto Des Mottes but the horse has attracted some money and could represent the each-way bet of the day.