This year’s Grand National betting is taking shape and Blaklion remains at the head of the field as we approach the business end of preparations. Representing the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard, the talented nine-year-old has been the shortest price since the book went up, but does he deserve to be?
There are some serious question marks hanging over the bay gelding and on paper, his CV doesn’t inspire punters to rush out and get their hard-earned cash on. Nine wins from 25 career starts suggest there are better horses in the race at bigger prices.
That may be true and below you’ll find three concerns over the jolly as well as three worth taking him on with…..
Poor form of Grand National favourites
The first alarm bell you’ll hear when considering backing the shortest price of the field in the nation’s favourite horse race comes from their form at this level. 14/1 outsider One For Arthur won the battle last year and he took the crown worn by Rule The World (33/1) the start before.
In fact, only one favourite has ended as champion of this challenge in the last eight renewals – Don’t Push It in 2010 – and even then he was joint-favourite at 10/1. We’ve not had a standalone betting favourite live up to pre-race expectations since Hedgehunter way back in 2005 — 7/1 the price of that one.
Instead, look further down the pecking order for a runner around the 25/1 mark. Two of the last four National winners have carried that starting price and there’s a few currently marked up at those odds, including Gold Present for Nicky Henderson.
Twiston-Davies stuck on 15-year wait
Blaklion’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies does boast two previous winners of this spectacle – Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002) – but that appears to have been a purple patch for the yard and they have failed to deliver the goods since.
Two Grand National winners are not to be sniffed at but they were only four years apart and NTD hasn’t measured up in recent goes. That’s a 15-year wait and is another reason you may be put off by the odds.
Prefer to place your faith in the stats of recent times? Mouse Morris appeared in the winner’s enclosure the year before last alongside Rule The World, and he has Thunder And Roses this time out. The well-run 10-year-old hasn’t poked his head in front for a while now but is a former Irish Grand National victor and brings the stamina needed to challenge. He’s carrying long Aintree odds of 66/1.
Blaklion suffering from seconditis
He may be popular with punters getting their cash on early but Blaklion has won only once in more than two years and that spare success came over 3m 1f, a mile shorter than he’ll face in the big one.
It’ll also worry the team that their representative seems to be getting into the bad habit of finishing as runner-up, ending second in three of his last five, including behind Yala Enki in a trial at Haydock earlier this year, beaten by a monster distance in a race with only three finishers. Could the distance end his hopes?
If it’s recent form you’re keen on, then Rathvinden for Willie Mullins could be the boy for you. The 10-year-old was seen in winning shape last time when landing the National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham in March, stretching his numbers to five wins and three places from his last 10. Traders have been taking a keen interest, cutting him to 16/1.