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Ginger’s Winners 2024+

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  • #1688856
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    Nice to see you’re still around Kasparov. :good:
    I know what you mean, I did think about using just Betfair, but in some ways it makes things more difficult. This advisory thread is meant for the smaller punter too.

    Vast majority of my own bets are with Betfair. However, most of them are also done in the evening of the night before racing… When – although there’s sometimes poor liquidity and the overround is higher – I find it a time when I can achieve the best value and there’s more ricks. Even if it usually ends up with taking bit by bit by bit of the available odds until my full bet is achieved. So if I can quote the best price available (of the top bookies (I don’t quote the smaller ones) then it gets over having to wait for liquidity to improve again before I can put the bet up on here. I have waited an hour or more just to be able to quote a betfair price and sometimes it is never again available and so can’t put the bet up at all on here.

    Although I am now putting bets up in pounds instead of what used to be “points”, I am now also giving a percentage of the betting bank to stake (albeit the thread stakes are using 1/10th of that quoted percentage). So bigger bettors can increase their stake accordingly, and smaller stake punters can do the same. Quoting the bookmaker with the best price I believe helps the smaller punter… And the amount available on betfair is sometimes not a “meaningful sum” anyway, so imo no worse than quoting a bookmaker.

    Trouble with using 2% commission is not everyone has 2%, just as not everyone can get on with bookmakers.

    Not easy to know just what the best way of doing an advisory thread is these days. If I get a lot of feed back agreeing with your comments Kasparov, I might change. :rose:

    Am glad the Kasparov family are eating well again. LOL

    Value Is Everything
    #1688909
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    Irish Grand National:
    (3.0%) £25 each way @ 10/1 (Coral first 5) Yeah Man (min 9/1)
    (2.75%) £23 each way @ 11/1 (Bet365 first 6) Senior Chief (min 11/1)
    Top 4 Finish:
    £25 @ 3.05 (betfair £29 available) Yeah Man (min 2.85)
    STAKES £121

    -£121.00
    ——————————————————

    Days Deficit £121.00
    ——————————————————

    Betting Bank
    £11,007.17

    Thread Profit +£1,007.17

    Value Is Everything
    #1688970
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    “Grand National
    (3.9%) £39 @ 25/1 (B365) Kitty’s Light (min 16/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (B365) Minella Indo (min 25/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (WH) Threeunderthrufive (min 25/1) Non-runner
    (3.2%) £32 @ 14/1 (B365) Corach Rambler (min 12/1)
    (2.7%) £27 @ 18/1 (Betfair) Noble Yeats (min 15/1)
    (4.0%) £45 @ 16/1 (Coral) Meetingofthewaters (min 12/1)
    (3.2%) £36 @ 14/1 (B365 NRNB) Panda Boy (min 12/1)
    LAY £10 @ 18.5 (betfair £49 available) Kitty’s Light (min 19)
    LAY £10 @ 34 (betfair £34 available) Minella Indo (min 36)”
    ———————————————————-
    (2.45%) £27 @ 40/1 (WH) Galia Des Liteaux (min 28/1)
    (2.35%) £26 @ 38 (betfair £349 available) Delta Work (min 25/1)

    Value Is Everything
    #1688986
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    “Grand National
    (3.9%) £39 @ 25/1 (B365) Kitty’s Light (min 16/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (B365) Minella Indo (min 25/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (WH) Threeunderthrufive (min 25/1) Non-runner
    (3.2%) £32 @ 14/1 (B365) Corach Rambler (min 12/1)
    (2.7%) £27 @ 18/1 (Betfair) Noble Yeats (min 15/1)
    (4.0%) £45 @ 16/1 (Coral) Meetingofthewaters (min 12/1)
    (3.2%) £36 @ 14/1 (B365 NRNB) Panda Boy (min 12/1)
    LAY £10 @ 18.5 (betfair £49 available) Kitty’s Light (min 19)
    LAY £10 @ 34 (betfair £34 available) Minella Indo (min 36)
    (2.45%) £27 @ 40/1 (WH) Galia Des Liteaux (min 28/1)
    (2.35%) £26 @ 38 (betfair £349 available) Delta Work (min 25/1)
    —————————————————————
    LAY (another) £10 @ 16.5 (betfair £85 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689026
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    “Grand National
    (3.9%) £39 @ 25/1 (B365) Kitty’s Light (min 16/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (B365) Minella Indo (min 25/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (WH) Threeunderthrufive (min 25/1) Non-runner
    (3.2%) £32 @ 14/1 (B365) Corach Rambler (min 12/1)
    (2.7%) £27 @ 18/1 (Betfair) Noble Yeats (min 15/1)
    (4.0%) £45 @ 16/1 (Coral) Meetingofthewaters (min 12/1)
    (3.2%) £36 @ 14/1 (B365 NRNB) Panda Boy (min 12/1)
    LAY £10 @ 18.5 (betfair £49 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)
    LAY £10 @ 34 (betfair £34 available) Minella Indo (max 36)
    (2.45%) £27 @ 40/1 (WH) Galia Des Liteaux (min 28/1)
    (2.35%) £26 @ 38 (betfair £349 available) Delta Work (min 25/1)
    LAY (another) £10 @ 16.5 (betfair £85 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)
    ———————————————————————–
    LAY (another) £10 @ 30 (betfair £21 available) Minella Indo (max 36)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689111
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    “Grand National
    (3.9%) £39 @ 25/1 (B365) Kitty’s Light (min 16/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (B365) Minella Indo (min 25/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (WH) Threeunderthrufive (min 25/1) Non-runner
    (3.2%) £32 @ 14/1 (B365) Corach Rambler (min 12/1)
    (2.7%) £27 @ 18/1 (Betfair) Noble Yeats (min 15/1)
    (4.0%) £45 @ 16/1 (Coral) Meetingofthewaters (min 12/1)
    (3.2%) £36 @ 14/1 (B365 NRNB) Panda Boy (min 12/1)
    LAY £10 @ 18.5 (betfair £49 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)
    LAY £10 @ 34 (betfair £34 available) Minella Indo (max 36)
    (2.45%) £27 @ 40/1 (WH) Galia Des Liteaux (min 28/1)
    (2.35%) £26 @ 38 (betfair £349 available) Delta Work (min 25/1)
    LAY (another) £10 @ 16.5 (betfair £85 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)
    LAY (another) £10 @ 30 (betfair £21 available) Minella Indo (max 36)”
    ———————————————————————
    LAY (now cashing out entirely) £6 @ 30 (betfair £30 available) Minella Indo (max 36)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689120
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    “Grand National
    (3.9%) £39 @ 25/1 (B365) Kitty’s Light (min 16/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (B365) Minella Indo (min 25/1)
    (2.6%) £26 @ 33/1 (WH) Threeunderthrufive (min 25/1) Non-runner
    (3.2%) £32 @ 14/1 (B365) Corach Rambler (min 12/1)
    (2.7%) £27 @ 18/1 (Betfair) Noble Yeats (min 15/1)
    (4.0%) £45 @ 16/1 (Coral) Meetingofthewaters (min 12/1)
    (3.2%) £36 @ 14/1 (B365 NRNB) Panda Boy (min 12/1)
    LAY £10 @ 18.5 (betfair £49 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)
    LAY £10 @ 34 (betfair £34 available) Minella Indo (max 36)
    (2.45%) £27 @ 40/1 (WH) Galia Des Liteaux (min 28/1)
    (2.35%) £26 @ 38 (betfair £349 available) Delta Work (min 25/1)
    LAY (another) £10 @ 16.5 (betfair £85 available) Kitty’s Light (max 19)
    LAY (another) £10 @ 30 (betfair £21 available) Minella Indo (max 36)
    LAY (now cashing out entirely) £6 @ 30 (betfair £30 available) Minella Indo (max 36)
    ———————————————————————
    LAY (another) £8 @ 18.5 (betfair £8 available) Kitty’s Light (max 20)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689121
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    No bets for Saturday.
    Might be one or two antepost for other races at Aintree but probably not tonight.

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    #1689156
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    Might be a bet coming for today’s racing yet…

    Value Is Everything
    #1689166
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    Snowdrop Fillies Stakes Kempton 14:05
    (8.1%) £45 each way @ 4.4 (betfair 1/5 odds £75 available) Choisya (min 4)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689175
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    “Snowdrop Fillies Stakes Kempton 14:05
    (8.1%) £45 each way @ 4.4 (betfair 1/5 odds £75 available) Choisya (min 4)”
    ————————————————————————–
    Top 3 finish:
    £20 @ 1.8 (betfair £21 available) Choisya (min 1.7)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689180
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    Aitree Bowl:
    (9.6%) £106 @ 2/1 (Coral) Gerri Colombe (min 7/4)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689215
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    Snowdrop Fillies Stakes Kempton 14:05
    (8.1%) £45 each way @ 4.4 (betfair 1/5 odds £75 available) Choisya (min 4) 2nd
    Top 3 finish:
    £20 @ 1.8 (betfair £21 available) Choisya (min 1.7) 2nd
    STAKES 110
    RETURNS £75.60 + £36.00 = £111.60

    +£1.60
    (miscalculated the saver, so yes I know with the commission it would not be a profit but as far as this thread goes…)

    Days Profit £1.60
    ————————

    Betting Bank
    £11,008.77

    Thread Profit +£1,008.77

    Value Is Everything
    #1689232
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    Probably top this bet up once he’s a certain runner.
    Topham Trophy:
    (4.0%) £12 @ 12 (betfair £12 available) Shakem Uparry (min 8/1)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689234
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    Just seen an article saying the trainer thinks they should come here even if getting into the National.

    Topham Trophy:
    (4.0%) £12 @ 12 (betfair £12 available) Shakem Uparry (min 8/1)
    —————————————————————-
    Another:
    (4.65%) £39 @ 11 (betfair £40 available) Shakem Uparry (min 8/1) (£51 in all)

    Value Is Everything
    #1689384
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    My GRAND NATIONAL PREVIEW: 4 miles 2 furlongs 74 yards

    1… 10…11-12…CONFLATED 13P-53UU3 Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 166
    Successful twice in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown back in 2022, the Irish Gold Cup (3m61yrds Yielding)…And the same year’s Savill’s Chase (3m Soft). Both times kicking clear rounding the home turn in 3m contests that tested speed more than stamina in comparatively slower run races. Latter being his last victory..
    Made the running when unseating in this season’s Savills Chase (3m½f soft) after blundering at the last when joined by Galopin Des Champs.
    Change of tactics in the Irish Gold Cup over the same Leopardstown course and distance against the same rival. This time racing in third of the four runners. Sometimes goes left at his fences to put himself right and did so markedly at the last fence (he’s more consistent on left-handed courses). Once again making a mistake and unseating when seemingly booked for third. Would probably have run to form.
    His greatest asset at 3m is his speed, but had enough stamina when running as well as could be expected, chasing home Galopin Des Champs in the 2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f70yrds). Although the going was faster than the official “soft” judged by the race time (it beat Racing Post Standard). An excellent effort in finishing 13½ lengths 3rd behind the great horse after racing in mid-division. Having Noble Yeats (who was finishing (staying on) fastest) behind him in 4th. Now 1 lb worse off for the 1¼ lengths he beat that rival. So Conflated does “stay” 3m2f, but horses like Noble Yeats are in all probability much better suited by 4m2f than Conflated will be.
    Avoided Galopin Des Champs by taking in the Ryanair (2m4f174yrds, soft) last time out. Maybe because there were several front / prominent runners in the field – despite the drop in trip – Conflated again raced in mid-div of this time 11 runners. Made ground between 4 and 3 out, before being outpaced. With a less than strongly run 2½ miles an inadequate test of stamina a bit below his best. Just fending off fellow “stayer” (at the trip) Capodanno for third. Conflated now 5 lbs worse off for beating him only a neck.
    Conflated needs to recover quicker than last year, reported by the stable to have “ran flat” when pulled up in the Aintree Bowl; after admittedly a harder race in the Gold Cup. Finished a good second in the 2022 Aintree Bowl – after a less testing Cheltenham – falling two out in the Ryanair. Conflated is equally effective from the front or held up.
    A better jumper than his two unseats in his last three starts indicate, although it is a little disconcerting how these have come once tired / or possibly once hearing the crowd noise. Seems to have a habit of making mistakes late on in his races. However, Leopardstown’s last fence is particularly notorious for fallers; whereas it is extremely unusual for there to be any fallers at the Grand National’s final fence.

    2… 9…11-11…NOBLE YEATS 1344-7217 Emmet Mullins (Ireland) OR 165
    In 2022 Noble Yeats became the first 7 year old winner of the Grand National (4m2f74yrds Good-Soft) since 1940… And as a first season “novice” too. In truth, not many 7 year olds had run in the race (up to then). With 7 chases under his belt had more experience than some “established” chasers anyway. So it should not be seen as that surprising. Won off a mark of 147 in first time cheek pieces. Towards the rear early but making significant headway passing the stands to be fairly prominent on the second circuit. Going on to beat favourite Any Second Now – who was attempting to give him 12 lbs – 2½ lengths. Ridden by the owner’s son Sam Whaley-Cohen. An amateur, yes; but with an outstanding record around these unique fences and he was having his last ride.
    Noble Yeats finished 4th to Corach Rambler off a mark 19 lbs higher last year. Doing well considering he was hampered at the first and a mistake at the third saw him in second last place by first Beechers. From there, often pushed along and received a reminder going out onto the second circuit. Still only in 13th position at the second Canal Turn with every horse in front of him seemingly going better than he was. Jumped the last in 9th before staying on to get 4th near the line. At the weights, it is possible to rate his defeat better than his victory. Although he didn’t seem to enjoy the race as much as the previous year and may have done better had he not had a hard race in his “prep” – the Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f70yrds “Soft” (more like Good-Soft)). Finishing 15 lengths 4th to Gallopin Des Champs. Slightly hampered after four out when the rider of A Plus Tard in front of him gave up and pulled up. Noble Yeats made up ground on all bar the winner in the final stages to grab fourth on the line. Two stonking rides by Sean Bowen who has now been replaced by his rival for the jump jockeys championship, Harry Cobden.
    A trip to France followed Aintree last year where he again appeared to have fallen out of love with the game and a possible temperament issue was building. Soon pushed along and only closing up late in the race.
    This season Noble Yeats has (at least in theory) been sweetened up and goes to Aintree after three easier races over hurdles. Each time seemingly enjoying racing once more. Won the Cleeve Hurdle (3m Good-Soft) in January. Beating Paisley Park (who was giving 4 lbs) a head.
    Then at the Festival a 12½ lengths 7th to Teahupoo (2m7f213yrds Soft). Having some positional advantage, but as a true stayer was unsuited by the slow early pace and hampered by the winner on the home turn. Still a career best over the smaller obstacles.
    Goes into this race on a 1 lb lower mark than last year. 20 lbs better off with last year’s winner Corach Rambler for 8½ lengths seems encouraging. However, the difference in weights does not give the full story, as that horse idles in front and has improved since. Corach Rambler was only beaten 13 lengths by Galopin Des Champs in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, compared to Noble Yeats 15 lengths a year earlier… And NY still needs to give 6 lbs to CR.
    Some will be better handicapped than Noble Yeats; but he’s not particularly badly handicapped with most and still only 9 years old… With just two races over extreme distances he could yet improve if his temperament holds.
    Noble Yeats best form so far has been on Good-Soft going. That may be a coincidence as he’s not run in a big race over fences under softer conditions and does have winning form on heavy.

    3… 7…11-7…NASSALAM 6307-411P Garry Moore (England) OR 161
    Welsh Grand National winners do not have a great record in the “English” Grand National. But that is because the two are usually run on very different surfaces. Many horses need similar going each time to produce their best.
    Nassalam put up an amazing performance that will live long in the memory of everyone who saw his 34 lengths win in the Welsh Grand National (3m6f130yrds) on bottomless ground (Heavy plus some). The time 50 seconds slower than Racing Post Standard. Tracked the pace towards the centre of the track, nodded on landing 7 out, took the lead 6 out, mistake 3 out, nodded again last, but none of it stopped his momentum… Going further and further clear to beat Iron Bridge (who received 3 lbs) and 2022 winner Iwilldoit (who gave the winner 8lb) who fought out a battle for a remote second place. Fourteen of the 19 runners pulled up, not handling the conditions or Nassalam or both.
    Nassalam had earlier won the Welsh National Trial (2m7f131yrds Heavy) on the same course, eased down by 5½ lengths from Wayfinder (who received 13 lbs).
    Proved he is effective over the Grand National fences in the Grand Sefton on reappearance, over an inadequate 2m5f (Heavy). Tracked pace, jumped the fences well although if sometimes slightly to the left, nodded on landing at the 4th, outpaced on the straight down to Beechers (without his conditional rider doing much about it) and dropping back to the rear, made up ground late to finish 6 lengths 4th to Gesskille (who received 4 lbs).
    Spent the previous season at what we now know were either inadequate trips and / or the wrong surface. In my opinion Nassalam has a rounded leg action usually associated with horses that require very soft ground to produce their best.
    Nassalem got his ground on his latest run too, in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f174yrds Heavy). This time ridden by established jockey Niall Houlihan and in contrast to Chepstow was held up on the inner in rear, mistake 2nd and 8 out (open ditch), outpaced and soon tailed off, pulled up 4 out. Yes, the trip was shorter than ideal, but surely should have done better if he’s to defy a Grand National mark of 161. A hike of 16 lb from Chepstow’s 145 appears too much. Especially as the recently returned from injury 3 lb claimer Caolin Quinn who rode him at Chepstow rides him again. However, in the Grand National no rider is allowed to claim. So Nassalam is effectively on a mark 19 lbs worse than Chepstow. Now has to give the Cheltenham Gold Cup 3rd (and last year’s Grand National winner) Corach Rambler 2 lbs. Although I don’t like saying it – the Welsh Grand National form has not worked out. The 2021 winner Iwilldoit ran 3rd to Nassalam off a mark of 153, but has twice disappointed since and now races off 147. The second Iron Bridge dropped from 142 to 139. It is possible none of his rivals that day were able to show their form in unusual conditions. As a result Nassalam looks poorly handicapped and so will need to improve again even if getting his ideal racing surface. That said, if it does come up very soft then not many of these will stay 4m2f… Nassalam will… and could improve again with the extreme test of stamina.

    4… 9…11-7…COKO BEACH 441P-3121 Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 161
    Already has his own mark in Grand National history. Bold jumper who has led the field the last two years; just hasn’t got home. In 2022 pushed along coming around the home turn. Still almost alongside the leaders jumping 2 out, before weakening into 8th. Beaten 66 lengths. Course vet reported Coko Beach had lost a shoe, but he probably failed to stay anyway. In 2023 weakened quickly and pulled up crossing the Anchor Bridge Road, his one noticeable error coming at the 18th when temporarily headed.
    Will probably need to be ridden with more restraint and it is not that he has to front run.. Tracked pace when staying an easy 3m4f in the 2023 Punchestown Grand National Trial. Conditions favouring speed at the trip, only yielding ground and slowly run. Over 1 minute “slow” compared to Racing Post Standard times. Might have been different too had the second – 12 year old Death Duty -not ruined his chance with a bad mistake 3 out and / or Angels Dawn not come down when looking like the winner 2 out.
    In this season’s Troytown (3m Soft-Heavy). Settled well, with a clear view ahead but without leading until taking it up and staying on strongly to beat the favourite and subsequent Cheltenham Mares Chase winner Limerick Lace (only time she’s been beaten this season). Coko Beach now 2 lbs worse off for the 2¼ lengths winning margin.
    Then came the Becher Chase over almost 3m2f of the Grand National course in November, off a mark of 162. Setting off alongside the leaders, a bit squeezed and mistake second, dropped back but settled well in mid-division. At one stage dropping to the rear before good jumps at Bechers and Foinavon saw him move up to 4th. Jockey seemed at pains to preserve Coko Beach’s stamina in the heavy conditions and he appeared not to stay. Three lengths second at the last but Chambard then went clear to win by 13. Coko is set to meet Chambard on 7 lbs better terms here.
    Last time out Coko Beach didn’t need to be at his best to win his first Cross Country race (3m Soft-Heavy). Back to disputing the running. Beating the 127 rated Genois comfortably by 6 lengths. On that form was – after Minella Indo was friendless in the market – briefly made favourite for the Glenfarclas X-Country over 3m6f at the Cheltenham Festival… before it was abandoned. At least he comes here fresh. Coko Beach goes well in soft ground, but such conditions will surely place the emphasis too much on stamina.

    5… 8…11-7…CAPODANNO /13P-6314 Willie Mullins (Ireland) OR 161
    Ran in the 2023 Grand National. Making a mistake at the 3rd, almost out the side door 7th (Foinavon), skewed over Valentines and mistake 26th, made ground out wide to be 6th at the Anchor Bridge Crossing, but weakened quickly as if failing for stamina and pulled up soon after 2 out.
    This season: 80/1 for the Grade 1 Savills Chase. Held up, skewed over the first, travelled well out wide, mistake 2 out, stayed on passed beaten horses to almost catch the below form Gerri Colombe for second; 23 lengths behind the impressive Galopin Des Champs.
    Capodanno received weight from all his rivals in the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase (3m1f56yrds, Good-soft). Won by 2¾ lengths from last year’s Browns Advisory winner The Real Wacker who gave 3 lbs.
    Last time out, again held up despite the drop in trip (2m4f174yrds, soft) in the Grade 1 Ryanair. Jumped big and slow over the first (often loses ground over his fences). Only 8th rounding the home turn, mistake 2 out but stayed on to take 4th. Never a threat to Protektorat who was 7 lengths away. Capodanno is now 5 lbs better off with Conflated who was just a head in front of him in 3rd.
    Capodanno has never fallen and only unseated once – and that as a novice – but his jumping has never exactly impressed. Will be suited by a return to 3m and has had a better / fuller campaign this season… But on the evidence of last year it would seem unlikely he’ll stay the Grand National distance. Acts on a soft surface and although does “act” on heavy, his seemingly limited stamina surely won’t want it too testing.
    Owner JP McManus has better chances with Capodanno’s stable companions I Am Maximus and Meetingofthewaters.

    6… 8…11-5…I AM MAXIMUS 2441-1431 Willie Mullins (Ireland) OR 159
    Seldom has a horse put in a worse round and won the Irish Grand National (3m5f Soft). It was I Am Maximus’ first win over fences, after finishing 11 lengths 4th in two Grade 1s including in the Grade 1 Browns Advisory (3m80yrds Soft) at Cheltenham. Off a mark of 149 at Fairyhouse. Raced towards the rear on inner, jumped slightly left-handed. It is strange he’s got such a good record at the course considering he jumps the wrong way. 3 wins in 4 races there (and would have won the other without a mistake at the last) – they are also his only victories over fences. Fairyhouse specialist? Well… the only other two racecourses he’s raced at over fences are Leopardstown and Cheltenham. Leopadstown can favour racing on the outside, so jumping left-handed at that left-handed venue is often a disadvantage and the standard of racing he’s encountered there (and Cheltenham) are generally of a better quality. Perhaps because of that, they are both less forgiving to jumping mistakes too; being more difficult to make up lost ground. The Grand National is likely to be the same… and that’s if not falling or unseating. Since the (in my opinion) needed changes the fences are now rightly much easier than they used to be, but still have more fallers than at any other racecourse in Britain or Ireland.
    In the Irish National I Am Maximus was pushed along and given a reminder after the 6th when dropped back to last. Untidy 12th, some headway but went badly left 14th and 15th and found himself back towards the rear. Headway again from the 18th to be in 8th on the outer rounding the home turn. Scrubbed along and switched right 2 out, a close 4th place at the last, stayed on to win by 1 length from Gervey (who received 15 lbs). Now 6 lbs worse off for the 7¾ lengths he beat the 5th Panda Boy. I Am Maximus well and truly showing that stamina is his strong suit.
    Returned to Fairyhouse for the 5 runner Grade 1 Drinmore Novices Chase (only 2m4f Soft) in December. Looked an inadequate trip and again jumped poorly, making mistakes, sometimes slow and often scrubbed along after his fences. However, he was suited by the strongly run race and won going away by 2½ lengths from Found A Fifty… Who subsequently improved down in trip to be runner-up in the Arkle at Cheltenham.
    I Am Maximus was a below form 4th of 6 finishers in the Grade 1 Savills Chase (3m100yrds Soft) at Leopardstown. Less than fluent, stuttered into some and slow at others still in a share of third 2 out alongside Gerri Colombre, weakened quickly in the straight, jumping badly left at the last (possibly following Conflated). Finished over 31 lengths behind the winner Galopin Des Champs.
    Jumping frailties continued in the Irish Gold Cup (3m70yrds, soft) at the same venue. Tailed off on the final circuit and passed the post 17½ lengths behind the same horse.
    Then back to Fairyhouse for the Grade 3 Bobbyjoe (3m1f88yrds Soft to Heavy). Held up in 3rd of 4 runners. Predictably jumped poorly, often to the left, and slowly. Vanillier made ground at almost every fence with I Am Maximus closing up on the flat. Joined the leaders two out, led before a final mistake at the last jumping again to his left. Won by 14 lengths from Vanillier and opposes that horse on 4 lbs better terms in the Grand National. However, Vanillier was weak in the betting market, is in my opinion better on a sounder surface and / or needed the race. In all probability I Am Maximus was the only one of the 4 runners to show his form. That said, he undoubtedly still has potential to improve returned to extreme distances as he is here.
    I Am Maximus has a poor, markedly splayed (curved outwards) action with his forelegs too. Something which may not be as effective if the ground is less testing than he’s raced on recently. Although has never fallen or unseated, his jumping remains a major concern. After the Irish Grand National it was possible to see the novice I Am Maximus improving in that department. Now it seems ingrained into the horse he is. At the time of writing it is difficult to see why he is second favourite. .

    7… 11…11-5…MINELLA INDO 1\3P22/P1P-144 Henry De Bromhead (Ireland) OR 159
    Is the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f70yrds Good-Soft) winner well handicapped or poorly handicapped? Well… on his 1¼ lengths victory over A Plus Tard in that race is very well handicapped. But that was as an 8 year old, has not shown the same form since and is now 11. Even when 2nd to that horse again on the same good-soft going 12 months later. Sent three lengths or more clear of his rivals on the bend but pricking his ears going into 2 out losing momentum and seemingly his action, weakened badly and although a clear 2nd was beaten 15 lengths. Seemed more than just getting tired. Something similar happened in that season’s King George VI, in cheek pieces for the first (and only) time,. It was as if losing interest or something amiss, that time though on the back straight, not home straight.
    Didn’t need to be near the form of those Cheltenham exploits in his two victories since; which have come on his last two reappearances down to Grade 3 level. Beating Stattler in the 2023 New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore (2m6f6060yrds Heavy). Leading 2 out, headed run-in but fighting back . Runner-up was giving him 5 lbs so Minella Indo is 4 lbs worse off for the head victory… And on this season’s reappearance winning the Carvill’s Hill (2m7f60yrds Yielding to Soft) at Punchestown from Hurricane Georgie who was race fit and receiving 13 lbs. Racing prominently, jumped well, led a circuit out, idled run-in but hung on to win by 1¾ lengths. Judging by all of the 2nd Hurricane Georgie’s form, Delta Work, Conflated and Panda Boy back in the field all some way below form on their returns. That no problem for Minella Indo who – like many of the trainer’s top horses – goes well fresh. Indo has won 3 of his last 4 reappearances. Therefore, the fact he missed his intended Grand National “prep race” at Cheltenham when it was abandoned and goes into this off a 100+ day break is in my opinion a big positive.
    Disappointing 21¼ lengths last to Gerri Colombe in Kauto Star Champion Chase at Down Royal (3m Soft). Pretty much allowed to come home in his own time once clearly 4th best. Possibly most unsuited of the 4 runners by the slowly run race and sprint for home, but should have done better.
    Tried something new last time out in the Cross Country Handicap (3m5f56yrds Soft) off a mark of 160 – top weight. Unusually dropped out in the last two of 13. Swift progress despite a slight mistake at the 18th. Challenged on the outer home turn when appearing to be going best. Found less than anticipated. Possibly he didn’t stay, but beforehand had seemed the type to be suited by extreme distances and although the ground could be an excuse. Has won on Heavy and soft, but his very best form has been on less testing going (personally am not convinced it’s ground, but it is possible). Also possibly his temperament nowadays is not what it was. His finishing effort similar to the 2022 Gold Cup and the 2023 Carvills Hill, weakening in the final quarter mile to finish 5½ lengths 4th. However, this time the possible idling was not when in front. Is it the crowd noise at the bigger meetings causing the idling nowadays? Running with a hood (with foam around the ears) may be beneficial. Unlike Mullins am not sure De Bromhead uses them very often. Now 10 lbs better off with winner Latenightpass and only 1 lb worse off with Galvin who was 3½ lengths behind him in 5th.
    At 11 years old Minella Indo is in all probability not capable of the form that saw him win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2021 and is on the downgrade. But as horses get older they often need further than they did when younger. eg 2012 Grand National winner Neptune Collonges at 11 wasn’t capable of the form he used to show at 3m and 3m2f, but could run to somewhere near it over extreme distances. That said, Indo does need to do much better than recent efforts.
    Most (if not all) of Minella Indo’s very best races have come at Cheltenham. Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle, Gold Cup victory and runner-up, as well as a Browns Advisory runner-up. So possibly a Cheltenham specialist. But also possible it may be more to do with being best in the Spring and fresh. Has disappointed in the Spring on runs coming after Cheltenham, but there was no Cheltenham for him this year when his intended race was abandoned.
    At time of writing he seems the probable mount of Rachael Blackmore who won the Grand National on Minella Times in 2021. One of the best jockeys around – female or male… But now has such a public following in the Grand National that Minella Indo is unlikely to represent value at day of race odds.

    8… 10…11-5…CORACH RAMBLER 1/5411-533 Lucinda Russell (Scotland) OR 159
    Last year’s winner Corach Rambler is rightly favourite again. Wisely ridden far more prominently than is usually the case with him over conventional fences. More like tracked pace than “held up”. Always travelling well, in the first eight for most of the way, got squeezed once or twice but no noticeable jumping errors. Made a move into 4th before the Anchor Bridge Crossing, with his rider taking a pull, jumped into 2nd 2 out and took it up at the last, shooting clear. Now 9 lbs worse off with the strong finishing second Vanillier for the 2¼ lengths verdict and 20 lbs worse off with the 4th Noble Yeats who he beat a total of 8½ lengths. However, Corach Rambler was value for much more. He’d gone around 6 lengths clear by the elbow where his head came up and idled under pressure. Worth rating the winning distance at least double. So at extreme distances 9 lbs for 4½ lengths and 20 lbs for 10¾ doesn’t sound at all unreasonable. Now on a mark 13 lbs higher than last year.
    Corach Rambler’s lifetime form shows he’s much better in the Spring than he is in Autumn or Winter, which coincides with his trainer Lucinda Russell having a better record in the Spring too. So his runs at Kelso in October and Haydock in November (beating one home in each) can be forgiven.
    Off over 100 days until March. Dropped out last, a couple of lengths adrift from the pack. Jumped well bar reaching for one on the first circuit, pushed along from 4 out, closer 3 out, took 4th 2 out, around 4 lengths down on the leader at the last seemingly staying on, but weakened run-in. Connections said afterwards that Corach Rambler is better on a sounder surface. But the Heavy conditions placed the emphasis firmly on stamina which the horse probably needs to be fully effective at 3¼ miles. He won’t need testing conditions in the Grand National, but is likely to be pretty soft..
    Won the 2023 Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival and recovered in time for the National. Hopefully he can do the same this time around. Had a harder race against better horses in the Gold Cup and on Heavy ground. Races on Heavy ground – particularly strongly run races as was the case – generally take longer to recover from. That said, the fact he recovered so well last year is encouraging and there is a longer break between the races than there once was.
    His idling remains a worry. One of these days he’s going idle too much and gets beaten, not through ability but through temperament. But at least that “attribute” has made it extremely difficult for the handicapper to assess him. Would not be a total surprise if connections decide to use a hood (with padded ears) on him, to lessen the crowd noise he can hear in a finish.

    9… 10…11-5…JANIDIL F/P17F-230 Willie Mullins (Ireland) OR 159
    Owner JP McManus seemingly has many horses with better chances. Would stand a chance if back to the form of his 14 lengths second to Allaho in the 2022 Ryanair (2m4f147yrds, good-soft) at Cheltenham as an 8 year old. At the time he seemed a very good jumper but not recently. Odds-on, would have won the Devenish Chase (2m4f Soft) on his final start last season but for crumpling on landing at the last fence, after seemingly jumping it fine.
    On this year’s reappearance in the Clonmel Oil Chase (2m4f96yrds, Heavy) a fair 6 lengths second of 3 (well, 2 and a 66/1 rag) to old rival and stable companion Allaho – although that horse reappearing after injury and not needing to be anything like his best to win – difficult to know what Janidil achieved. Then a non-runner twice, once reportedly with a temperature and once coughing… before a remote 3rd in the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti (2m4f Good-Soft) at Kempton. Market made him the 12/1 outsider and tongue tied for the first time; suggesting either he’s had a problem or not showing what he used to at home. Couple of mistakes and beaten before the home turn, finishing 19 lengths behind Banbridge (who received 3 lbs).
    Again beaten before the home turn last time out. Tried over hurdles for the first time since the 2020 Albert Bartlett. Tongue tied again and with cheek pieces. In rear, mistake 3rd and in last when slow at the 4th, finishing 11th of 12.
    What Janidil is still capable of isn’t easy to assess, last two races particularly disappointing and gives little encouragement of needing a longer distance – travels well raced mainly at around 2½ miles. Good 6¾ lengths third to Conflated in 2022 Grade 1 Irish Gold Cup (yielding). At a positional disadvantage by being held up, but the slow early pace on just “yielding” going probably to his advantage, placing the emphasis firmly on speed at the trip. Janidil seems unlikely to stay this 4 miles plus whatever the going.

    10… 9…11-4…STATTLER 11/22P-624 Willie Mullins (Ireland) OR 158
    What is Stattler capable of nowadays? Judging on this year’s form, not much. On some of lthe previous two season’s form, has a chance – of sorts.
    Winner of the 2022 National Hunt Chase (3m5f201yrds) at Cheltenham as a novice. Although officially “good-soft”, in what did not seem a strongly run race he beat Racing Post Standard by 2 seconds… Which (along with other times on the day) strongly suggests it was more like proper “Good”. Only 6 runners. Tracked pace, travelling and jumping well, took it up before 1 out and went steadily clear. Beating Run Wild Fred who is now 9 lbs better off for the 8 lengths he was beaten. With a below form Vanillier (who jumped poorly) a further 22 lengths back in third. Stattler was one of the season’s best staying novice chasers.
    On reappearance (last season) a reasonable second to Minella Indo in the New Year’s Day Chase (2m6f50yrds Heavy). Tracked pace, jumped economically bar going slightly left at the last ditch. Challenged 2 out, led run-in, just touched off near the line. Hard to tell what he achieved as the winner did not run to the form of his Cheltenham Gold Cup victory.
    Then an excellent 8 lengths second to the great Galopin Des Champs in the 2023 Irish Gold Cup (3m44yrds Yielding). Raced prominently towards outer, disputing lead going into 2 out where getting in a bit close and a bit slow. Vigorously pushed along in close third. Two lengths down at the last, stayed on to get second near the line. It’s gone a bit wrong from there…
    Next time out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f). Although officially “soft”, the time indicated it was more like good-soft. Usually tracks pace / races prominently with a clear / fairly clear view of his fences. Set off in mid-division right in the centre of the pack, but there was more to it than that. Ran as if amiss. Scrubbed along pretty much immediately and didn’t jump with his usual fluency. In last place by the 7th and detached by the 8th. Pulled up after just a circuit.
    Tongue tied all three starts since / this season. Back to racing prominently out wide in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase (2m3f150yrds Soft) won by Fastorslow. Jumped and initially travelled better, but beaten before the home turn. The trip a possible excuse for not being at his best but a starting price of 28/1 telling he wasn’t expected to figure and didn’t.
    Still kept to only 2m4f35yrds in the Kinloch Brae (Soft). 20/1 outsider of 4. Setting off Last, gave the outside to nobody, went second 3 out, bit slow 2 out, outpaced after 2 out. Beaten 13 lengths in receipt of 5 lbs from winner Allaho.
    Far more was expected of him last time out. 7/4 upped significantly in trip to 3m130yrds (Soft to Heavy) in the P P Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown. Intentionally set off in last place and seemed to resent either his position or the fences or both. Slow at almost all the banks (hating the drops). Still in last of the 10 runners 7 out, finished a remote 34 lengths 4th. Now just 3 lbs better off with winner Coko Beach, but this is worth putting a line through as a form guide for Stattler.
    The tongue tie might suggest Stattler has had a physical problem since his good form last season, but both the most disappointing runs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup have been when racing less prominently. The other two races over too short a trip and right-handed. Although has won right-handed his best (at Leopardstown and Cheltenham) have both come left-handed. This season’s form has all come in very soft conditions. Again, has won in those conditions but his best has come on a sounder surface and does have a pointed toe action that is not usually suited by very soft ground. Connections have stated this week he’ll be a non-runner unless the ground dries. Possibly an outsider worth a speculative wager if the ground is in his favour and if ridden far more prominently than he was last time.

    11… 8…11-4…MAHLER MISSION 1/2312F-22 John McConnell (Ireland) OR 158
    The forgotten horse? Mahler Mission was last seen chasing home Datsalrightgino in early December. Giving the winner 3 lbs and beaten 3¾ lengths in the (Old Hennessey) Coral Gold Cup Chase (3m1f214yrds good-soft) at Newbury. Off a mark of 151. Tracked pace, jumping and travelling well, the last to come off the bridle (after 4 out). Did best of those who raced prominently early and the winner came from last place – off a strong pace… So might have done even better ridden with a little more restraint. How much losing his front shoes made – if anything – isn’t easy to judge. According to the Racing Post, Mahler Mission is said by his trainer to have “flat feet” and had special shoes fitted for the Coral Cup. Now 8 lbs worse off with the fourth Eldorado Allen for 8½, who’s had wind surgery since and disappointed twice (once over hurdles… And the fifth Cloudy Glen who was beaten 15 lengths by Mahler Mission was beaten 12 off the same mark next time out. So what the form merits isn’t easy to assess. But he was clear of those who finished behind him and probably deserves the 7 lbs higher Grand National mark. However, he was also ridden by the 3 lb claimer B W Harvey in both Coral Gold Cup and in the Colin Parker Memorial (2m3f210yrds Soft) Listed Chase at Carlisle on reappearance. Led, jumped well but consistently left-handed on a right-handed track. Outspeeded from two out by winner Thunder Rock (level weights) to be beaten 3½ lengths. Would’ve gone close had his conditional rider been able to claim his 3 lbs. Harvey has now won enough races to lose his claim. So unless the jockey has improved since December you could say Mahler Mission is effectively on a 10 lb worse mark than the Coral Gold Cup.
    We know Mahler Mission stays extreme distances, or at least 3m3f of the 3m5f201yrds of the 2023 National Hunt Chase.. Tracked pace early, disputed it from a circuit out and led on his own from the 16th. Seemingly making jumping pay, with some bold leaps going 10 lengths clear of the favourite Galliard Du Mesnil (level weights) 3 out, still around 6 lengths jumping 2 out but got in too close and fell. Might have held on had he stood up, but probably went for home in earnest a bit too early… And took a tired fall. Make no mistake, despite that mistake Mahler Mission is one of the best jumpers in this field for making ground at his fences.
    Galliard Du Mesnil went on to be 3rd in last year’s Grand National off a mark of 155, Mahler Mission is on 158 and has improved since the National Hunt Chase.
    Trainer John McConnell made a conscious decision not to run Mahler Mission again after Newbury, in order to protect his handicap mark. He’s certainly a progressive chaser. Although the Grand National hasn’t often been won by one so lightly raced in the season, I doubt many have tried.

    12… 11…11-3…DELTA WORK 3/1361U-366 Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 157
    Most 11 year olds are on the downgrade and there hasn’t seemed much encouragement this season for Delta Work, which may suggest a decline. On reappearance (2m7f60yrds Yielding to Soft) tracked pace in third of the 5 runners, mistakes 7 and 3 out, weakened gradually thereafter as if needing the race.
    Only 6th 0f 11 finishers in Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (3m5f56yrds Good-Soft) off a mark of 159. Raced midfield until headway into 2nd at the 20th fence. Untidy at the water jump and briefly pushed along at the end of the second circuit, still 3rd when didn’t get very high 3 out and 2 out. Still an 8 length third run-in, weakened and not given a hard time once out of the places. Now 10 lbs better off with winner Foxy Jacks who beat him 17 lengths. Reported afterwards to be lame, which might explain his being below form.
    Given a prep race over hurdles latest start in the Boyne Hurdle (2m5f Heavy). 33/1, Unsuited by the slowly run race over an insufficient trip. Raced wide in mid-div, predictably left behind from the home turn and beaten 16 lengths by the winner Hiddenvalley Lake who gave 3 lb…
    So this season has hardly been put in races with a chance, other than the one he finished lame.
    However, in previous years he’s reserved his best for the Spring. So his last 3,6,6 form figures may not divulge his current abilities… And was again one of the favourites for the Cross Country in March before it was abandoned on the day. A bonus as far as the Grand National is concerned, as a hard race on bottomless ground there would have been difficult to get over in time.
    Delta Work was 3rd in the 2022 Grand National after spoiling his owner and stablemate – and Grand National legend (two time winner) Tiger Roll’s swan song by beating him ¾ length in that year’s Cheltenham Cross Country (3m6f37yrds Heavy). A race he also won in 2023.
    At Aintree (4m2f74yrds Good-Soft), tracked pace, bad mistake 4th, squeezed for room when another error at Beechers and after going fairly wide around Foinavon and Canal Turn saw him towards the rear. Hampered in jumping the first on the second circuit, headway around the inner from second Beechers to be in midfield by Valentines, slight mistake 5 out, possibly paid for making up the ground too quickly. One of seven to jump the second last disputing the lead. Jumped the final fence around 1½ lengths behind the two leaders who then quickened away, Delta Work just having enough to hold on to third. In my opinion – on form – it wasn’t as good a performance as his Cross Country victory, but considering the early mistakes (and the lost ground) he did well to get third. Now 21 lbs better off for the 22 lengths he was beaten by winner Noble Yeats.
    Delta Work may not have taken to the race as well at the second time of asking. Prominent on the inner, mistake at the first, squeezed for room and mistake second saw him in mid field, lost more ground with untidy jumps passing the stands and switched wide, made progress to be in contention when appearing to be buffeted by rivals, slip and unseat his rider at the 21st fence (the one before second Bechers).
    Is said by his trainer to be best with plenty of give underfoot, but is equally effective on good-soft. However, soft or heavy going would place much more emphasis on stamina and therefore Delta Work is one of the few that are pretty much guaranteed to stay in such testing conditions. So yes, he would have a better chance on that surface. Age, as well as his jumping are slight worries, but the handicapper has given him a chance. A 2 lbs lower mark than last year and 3 lbs lower than when 3rd in 2022.

    13… 10…11-3…FOXY JACKS 0U-21P314 Mouse Morris (Ireland) OR 157
    Foxy Jacks has been very inconsistent in the past, usually down to his jumping, but has developed an excellent partnership with 5lb claimer Gavin Brouder on his last 6 starts. But will be unable to claim in the Grand National if keeping the ride.
    In the (Irish) Midlands National at Kilbeggan (3m1f Yielding). Disputed the running over the first then allowed the lead. Jumped right and slight mistake 9th, went four lengths clear before 3 out, Stealthy Tom loomed up at the last but Foxy Jacks fought him off to win by 1¼ lengths in genuine fashion.
    Bit mulish at the start and did not get away well in the 22 runner Galway Plate (2m6f111yrds Good-Yielding). Behind runners when almost fell at the first, raced on inner in mid-div until gradually lost ground on the second circuit, pulled up soon after 3 out.
    40/1, Good third in Kerry National (3m Yielding-Soft) Led at the first where he made a slight mistake and lost the lead. Raced wide, probably away from the other prominent horses or for a clear view of his fences, led again by the 4th. In a clear lead, jumping well enough although slightly right-handed on a left-handed track. Joined going out onto the second circuit, Mistake 3 out when horses came both sides and carried head awkwardly, Had horses around him when blundered and almost unseated 2 out, stayed on again to get third on the line. Now 1 lb better off with winner Desertmore House who beat him a total of 6½ lengths, 8 lbs worse off with fifth The Goffer after beating him 3¾ lengths. But Foxy Jacks improved afterwards.
    Won Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m5f56yrds Good-Soft) under a brilliant ride by his claimer. Didn’t get a great start but being on the wide outside got an unhindered view of his early fences. Jumped into the lead at the 5th. Joined going out onto second circuit, but again led outright at “Canal Turn”, established 2 lengths lead, went right at the last, joined on run-in but fought to hold off Latenightpass by 1¼ lengths. Now 4lbs better off with runner-up and 10 lbs worse off with Delta Work (not at his best) who was beaten a total of 17 lengths.
    Foxy Jacks National prep’ was over hurdles, in the Pertemps Handicap Qualifier (2m7f80yrds Heavy) at Leopardstown. Made 4/1 favourite in a 12 runner field. Attempted to make all, four lengths clear at one stage, bad mistake 3 out and 2 out both when upsides / challenged. Stayed on.
    Foxy Jacks stays 3m5f well and may well stay this far if not forced to go quicker than ideal. Can be a poor jumper when he’s in behind horses or even with rivals alongside him. But with a lead (particularly a clear lead) he’s a lot better. Will probably try to make all which is a harder lob in a much larger field, although not impossible. However, the handicapper does seem to have a high (too high) opinion of the Cheltenham form, upped 8 lbs

    14… 10…11-1…GALVIN 1462U-854 Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 155
    The trainer has been saying he thinks Galvin is well handicapped and talking up his chances. Gordon Elliott’s record in the Grand National is better than any current trainer, so probably thinks the race is easier to win than it actually is. Being the youngest trainer to win it with Silver Birch and also twice with Tiger Roll.
    In last year’s race Galvin got no further than the first fence after a mistake saw jockey Davy Russell (rider of Tiger Roll) falling out the back door on his last Grand National ride. That was off a mark of 166. Now some 11 lbs lower. I agree with his trainer, the handicapper has potentially dropped Galvin quite a lot on very little evidence. Dropped 6 lbs for basically unseating at the first…
    Galvin hasn’t done much this season, but the suspicion is he’s capable of better than what he’s shown. Unusually ridden by a 7 lb claiming amateur on reappearance – over Cheltenham’s Cross Country fences. Held up, several awkward jumps not helping, pushed along 5 out, weakened home straight. Finished 8th of 13 finishers, beaten 21 lengths by the winner Foxy Jacks. Galvin predictably a long way below his best… So dropped a further 3 lbs for a dawdle around with a 7 lb amateur when probably unfit…
    Bit better over the same course and distance a month later. This time ridden by one of Elliott’s main jockeys Keith Donoghue. Raced mid-div initially, tracking the pace in 4th when beginning the final circuit, Lost ground quickly and just two fences later – with the rider seemingly doing little to rectify the situation – was in last after a particularly slow jump at “Canal Turn”. Pushed along after 3 out, made headway up the inner but found nowhere to go, mistake 2 out, 7th rounding home turn, weakened run-in. Is now 11 lb better off with the winner for the 9¼ lengths he was beaten. And 1 lb better off for the 3½ lengths he was behind Minella Indo – who was also below his form… Dropped another 2 lbs since for that poor ride too…
    On the form of his second to Delta Work in last year’s Cheltenham Cross Country (3m6f37yrds Soft) is now well handicapped. Settled in midfield there, jumped well, took closer order final circuit, slight mistake 5 out when in 4th, jumped left 2 out, the two stablemates locked together until Delta Work got the upper hand halfway up the run-in, Galvin is now 2 lbs better off with his stablemate for the 2½ lengths defeat.
    Won the National Hunt Novices Chase (3m5f201yrds Good-Soft) back in 2021… Raced midfield, blundered at the 2nd, slight mistake 7th, upsides at the last, stayed on best up the run-in to beat Next Destination 1½ lengths.
    …Has since needed the emphasis firmly on stamina when racing in the best of company at around 3m. Won 2021 Grade 1 Savill’s Chase at Leopardstown (3m Yielding). Tracked leader, outpaced between the final two fences. Looked third best at best and around 2 lengths down at the last, stayed on to lead on the post to beat A Plus Tard a short head.
    Next start was made 100/30 second favourite for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup (3m2f70 yrds Good-Soft) Midfield on inner, shuffled back towards rear, mistake 8 out (ditch), again badly outpaced despite the two furlong longer trip, Only 7th at the last, stayed on to be only just beaten for third. Now 4 lbs better off with the second Minella Indo for 2½ lengths. Galvin a total of 17½ lengths behind winner A Plus Tard.
    Galvin’s last time out performance was better than expected. Given a run over hurdles in his Cheltenham / Aintree prep’, in the 2m5f (Heavy) Boyne Hurdle. Despite his rider seemingly riding the horse for speed. Dropping the 25/1 shot out in rear in a slowly run race. Only beaten 5 lengths by winner Hiddenvalley Lake (who gave 3 lbs) and missing out on a place in the 8 runner race by just a length.
    Galvin gives the impression the 4¼ miles of the Grand National will be right up his street. His jumping is better than the first fence fall last year sounds, but is not without a mistake or two elsewhere. Has some form on very soft ground but seems more consistent on good-soft or even good ground. Also has an action that often lends itself to a sounder surface. Said by connections this week to be a doubtful starter unless the ground dries.

    15… 9…11-0…FAROUK D’ALENE 221F/-F52P Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 154
    Ran in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m7f213yrds Soft) last time out. Tracked the pace until a mistake 3 out and soon pushed along, midfield by 2 out, weakened quickly and pulled up. That was his first start since a good second in the Leopardstown qualifier (2m7f80yrds Heavy) almost 3 months previously. Prominent but unlike Cheltenham without rivals around him. Leading the pack behind a clear leader second circuit, led home turn, headed close home. Beaten a neck by Gaoth Chuil, trying to give the winner 22 lbs.
    Before that he’d made mistakes over fences even in those he finished / won.
    Last successful in the 2022 Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase (3m Heavy) at long odds on… Raced in second of 4, reached and only just got over the 3rd, led a circuit out, jumped right at the open ditch, blundered 4 out, joined 2 out where a better jump by Beacon Edge saw Farouk D’alene lose the lead and under pressure, fought back well to lead again halfway up the run-in. His owner companion was giving Farouk 10 lbs.
    Then came the 2022 Browns Advisory at Cheltenham (3m80yrds Soft). Jumped big over the first, landing steeply and pecked on landing, slight mistake second and awkward both at the water and 8th. Despite this, was challenging at the second last when going through the top, came down too steeply and fell.
    Off until November 2023, in the 20 runner Troytown Handicap Chase. This time dropped out the back and took a crashing fall at the first.
    So to Thurles for a 6 runner Listed Chase (2m6f Yielding). Raced in 3rd with a clear view of his fences. Blundered at the 3rd (first ditch) and not great at the next – losing a place each time, made ground at the beginning of the second circuit out wide back into 3rd, stuttered into another and lost a place. Weakened from before 3 out probably due to fitness – but seemed to jump better when on his own. Not what is going to happen in the Grand National.
    The Browns Advisory form actually gives Farouk D’Alene a chance at these weights if getting around. A fit and well Farouk D’Alene may well improve at an extreme distance too. The problem is he’ll have more obstacles to jump and 33 rivals to find some room. If the authorities are serious about stopping bad jumpers from running in the Grand National, they really should step in and stop Farouk D’Alene!

    16… 10…10-13…ELDORADO ALLEN 2245754-345P Joe Tizzard (England) OR 153
    The grey horse Eldorado Allen usually travels with enthusiasm, but there has been none of that on his last two runs. Having his first start over hurdles since 2020, in a Plumpton Grade 2 handicap hurdle (3m2f12yrds Soft) penultimate outing. Soon pushed along and left behind when the pace increased. Finishing a remote 5th, 24¼ lengths behind the winner.
    Given a wind (breathing) operation and 65 days off the track. It seemed to make no difference in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham (3m1f Heavy) last time out. Lined up to get an early prominent position, but a bit slow away, tracked pace over the first and soon found himself in midfield on the inside, pushed along from fully a circuit out and pulled up 4 out. Something is still surely amiss.
    Had earlier run well to be placed in what is one of the most competitive races of the season, Coral (Hennessey) Gold Cup at Newbury (3m1f214yrds Good-Soft). Settled in the rear third of the field (no hindrance, as the winner came from further back) jumping soundly. Never got to challenging the leaders, the closest was around 7 lengths back turning for home.in 9th (alongside the winner Datsalrightgino at the time). No chance with the first two, but stayed on to be 12 lengths behind in 4th, Promising to stay further. Although whether he’ll get 4¼ is questionable. Now 8 lbs better off for 8½ lengths with the second Mahler Mission.
    Was also placed – a 7 length 3rd – to Victorino in the Sodexo Handicap at right-handed Ascot (2m7f180yrds Good-Soft). Took a strong hold early, when setting a steady early pace on reappearance, Made no “mistakes” but jumped left-handed on a right-handed track. Kicked on 9 out, getting around a 4 length lead, Took a breather 6 out and allowed them to close, headed home turn, looking well beaten before staying on again (would not have been placed but for two fallers at the last.
    Eldorado Allen may be at his best these days going left-handed, His Denman Chase victory beating Royale Pegaille (levels) 2½ lengths; Charlie Hall 3½ lengths second to Bravemansgame (when giving him 3 lbs)… And Betfair Chase 11 lengths second to Protektorat (levels) all coming left-handed. All of those were in 2022. Eldorado Allen probably isn’t quite as good as he was then and so wasn’t that well handicapped even before his recent physical problems.

    17… 10…10-12…AIN’T THAT A SHAME 0/2410-9P1 Henry De Bromhead (Ireland) OR 152
    Ain’t That A Shame has been bought by amateur jockey David Maxwell for him to ride in the Grand National. In 2022 Sam Waley-Cohen on Noble Yeats became the first “amateur” jockey to win the great race since Marcus Armytage on Mr Frisk in 1990. They were both exceptional amateurs. David Maxwell is a true amateur, more in the mould of the “Iron” Duke Of Alberquerque, a not so good amateur that tried and failed to win the race several times. Well, maybe being a little unkind. Maxwell has improved quite a bit in recent years, but he will still be a negative towards the horse’s chance.
    Ain’t That A Shame was back to form under Rachael Blackmore when winning the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase (3m1f Heavy) last time out, at Gowran Park in January. Possibly suited by being ridden closer to the front than usual, racing with more enthusiasm. Started in mid-div but was soon tracking the pace on the wide outside (like the second horse too), taking a keen hold but jumping soundly. Made his challenge 3 out, led fractionally 2 out, hard ridden, joined at the final fence and passed on run-in, fought back in a slow motion finish to beat Glengouly 2½ lengths. Now on 3 lbs worse terms with runner up.
    Had disappointed in the Troytown (3m Soft to Heavy) on his penultimate start when pulled up… And in the Kerry National (3m Yielding to Soft) the time before. In the latter making a bad mistake at the 3rd fence, took closer order to be 5th 3 out where a bit slow. Weakened 2 out, Finished a 15 lengths 9th behind Desertmore House who was getting 11 lbs.
    Last season finished off with a last of 17 finishers in the Grand National (Good-Soft). Held up in rear, Jumped ok, travelled well – said by the commentator to be travelling “very smoothly” at fence 27 when in around 8th position just behind the eventual winner Corach Rambler. Pushed along rounding the home turn (just ahead of Noble Yeats who eventually finishes 4th), weakened badly from 2 out. Unless something went amiss, I have to say he didn’t stay.
    Ain’t That A Shame may be able to improve at some stage, especially when ridden towards the front. But the keen hold he took when doing so when in the good hands of Rachael Blackmore would mean he’d be even less likely to stay – especially with a less able jockey on board..

    18… 9…10-11…VANILLIER 6F22-5502 Gavin Cromwell (Ireland) OR 151
    For many years the handicapper has used the so-called “Aintree Factor”. The theory that horses who’ve put up good performances over the Grand National course deserve / should have more weight than those of the same standard of performance around normal fences. That is no longer the case… And if anything the handicapper has instead given last year’s second Vanillier a great chance at the weights after finishing a good 2nd in 2023. Now 5 lbs worse off with (the 2022 winner) Noble Yeats who was 6¼ lengths back in 4th.
    On Good-Soft ground Vanillier was held up in rear, jumped well, still travelling strongly but down in 17th position at second Canal Turn. only 13th 3 out and 8th jumping the last. Finished well to take second at the elbow where Corach Rambler was still around 6 lengths clear. Passed the post with a rapidly diminishing 2¼ lengths deficit. Is now 9 lbs better off for those 2¼ lengths. Even allowing for Corach Rambler idling, 9 lbs seems a lot. That said, the winner has improved his form since the weights were published, whereas Vanillier….
    Vanillier has had a very similar campaign to last year. Three races over vastly inadequate trips until the Grand National weights came out, and then a prep 2nd place in the Bobbyjoe. Those three a 2m160yrds chase on Soft to Heavy, 2m3f15yrds hurdle on Heavy and 2m5f107yrds on Yielding to Soft. So not much to report on them, other than he has not been as good a jumper without the cheek pieces he wore at Aintree, making at least one mistake in all of them.
    Jumped better with pieces back on last time out, although that was in just the 4 runner Bobbyjoe Chase (3m118yrds Soft to Heavy). Raced in second, some bold jumps took him to the front 5 out, headed 2 out and gradually lost ground to be beaten 14 lengths. Vanillier is now 4 lbs worse off with the easy winner I Am Maximus so it may not sound promising. However, Vanillier’s drifting in the betting market on the day suggests he was either not thought of as being at peak fitness… And / or the “Soft to Heavy” going was against him. His best form over fences has (up to this point) been on a sounder surface – from Good through to Good-Soft – and has in the past been a non-runner when the going was Heavy..
    Trainer Gavin Cromwell does not have the public following of his fellow Irish trainers, Mullins, Elliott or De Bromhead… But has a better strike rate with his British runners than any of them. A top trainer; he can be relied on to get Vanillier to post in peak form. But will the going be in his favour?

    19… 8…10-10…MR INCREDIBLE 2RP/B23U-2 Willie Mullins (Ireland) OR 150
    Mr Incredible has only had five races for the World’s best trainer Willie Mullins. His last two runs before the move resulted in refusing to race and pulling himself up. Since taking over it’s been better but not without its problems.
    Jockey Brian Hayes couldn’t do a Mr Incredible in the 2022 Grand National… Mr Incredible (the horse) raced mid-div, slight mistake 5th, went left and mistake 11th, headway passing the stands to track pace at the beginning of the second circuit, jumped a bit left 18th. Mistake second Foinavon and after jumping the Canal Turn fine, his jockey can be seen struggling after the 90 degree corner and Hayes exited out the side door. The saddle had slipped.
    Only one run since, in the Midlands Grand National (4m2f8yrds Heavy) at Uttoxetter with Hayes again on board. Raced mid-div, mistake 15th, pushed along entering straight, 4th 2 out, very hard ridden into the last (rider used the whip four times in fairly quick succession before the last fence and again four times afterwards). Got in front of the one he was chasing but not Beauport who was wide of him. Mr Incredible beaten 1¾ lengths. Hayes arguably should have got a riding ban. Mr Incredible can idle / down tools in a finish which may be why his jockey broke the whip rules; to try and keep him going and it worked to a certain extent..
    When Hayes was not available in last year’s Kim Muir Amateur Riders Handicap (3m2f Soft). Dropped out in the last pair early, jumped well, gradual headway but still 9th home turn, finishing fast, 3rd and a diminishing 3 lengths down at the final fence where a mistake didn’t help,, seemed to down tools halfway up the run-in before relenting to run on again.
    Mr Incredible is improving and obviously stays very well, his chance would be increased markedly on very soft ground… But is often given plenty to do – probably on purpose – with his jockey trying to get in front as near to the finishing line as possible. Not ideal for the Grand National.

    20… 10…10-9… RUN WILD FRED 2FF/23-59PBP Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 149
    One of the Gordon Elliott conglomerate that has lost his form.
    2021 Irish Grand National (3m5f Yielding) second, on his only run for Denise Foster (while Elliott was banned) as a maiden chaser. Soon tracking leader on outer with a clear view of his fences, going best 3 out, had jumped well until untidy at the last two fences and couldn’t or wouldn’t get past the all the way winner Freewheelin Dylan (who received 3 lbs).
    His only victory in 20 runs over fences came in the 16 runner 2021 Troytown. (3m Good). In front at the first and never headed, 6 lengths up when running to the left and a slow jump at the last. Won by 7½ lengths from Farclas (who gave 3 lbs).
    Finished 8 lengths 2nd to Stattler in the 6 runner 2022 National Hunt Chase. For which he’s 9 lbs better off. Running in it as a second season novice. Disputed running on the outside, reached for the 3rd, led outright 7th, went into a 2 length lead and jumped much more fluently until the others got close, mistake 18th (open ditch), went clear again and more fluent, not so the final two where joined and then passed.
    After Cheltenham ran in the 2022 Grand National (4m2f74yrds Good-Soft), made the 8/1 second favourite. Jumped the first 7 fences reasonably well in midfield for Davy Russell until falling at the first Canal Turn.
    Out just 9 days later and ridden by a 7b lb claimer, fell when trying to bank the fence in front of the stands.
    Only ran twice last season, both in October and off a year before this season’s reappearance. In the Munster National (3m Soft). Settled in midfield, only one noticeable slight mistake at around halfway. Outspeeded home straight.
    Didn’t build on that, in the Troytown (3m Heavy). Raced in midfield, seemingly tried to bank 7 out but got away with it, moved briefly into 3rd on home turn, left behind straight, finished a well beaten 9th.
    No better in the Paddy Power Chase (3m100yrds Soft). Raced prominently, jumping ok initially, Led over the first in the back straight final circuit, headed after a slower jump at the next, Passed on both sides 3 out (usual 4 out), back into midfield when blundered 2 out (usual 3 out and quickly pulled up.
    Back in a much smaller 4 horse field in a Rated Chase at Fairyhouse in February (3m42yrds Heavy). Disputed lead kept wide. Jumped well until going badly right-handed into 3 out and the following Corbetts Cross had nowhere to go and collided. Bringing them both down. “Brought down” may be a bit lenient, it was his fault. Too far out to know where he’d have finished. None of the runners having been asked a serious question.
    Last time out ran in the Ultima (3m1f Heavy). Possibly remembering the Fairyhouse experience, or just didn’t like being held up in rear. Never jumping or travelling with any fluency, vigorously pushed along from 4 out, way behind when rider finally accepted the situation when Run Wild Fred looked tired, pulled up approaching 2 out,
    Possibly more consistent when fresh (comes here with only a month off). Even his good seconds in the Irish Grand National and National Hunt chases came after short breaks. Often seems not to enjoy having horses around him. Only chase win came making all and raced prominently in those two races already mentioned. Jumps and travels better with a clear view of the front. Sometimes a horse ridden in a way it does not like can be pulled up and then when ridden the way it likes can run well. However for a horse of his ability, Run Wild Fred’s chase strike rate is none too convincing, 1 win in 20 chase starts. Temperamental.

    21… 11…10-9…LATENIGHTPASS 142/1/4-215 Tom Ellis (England) OR 149
    The only horse in this field to have been placed over the Grand National three times. In the 2021, 22 and 23 Foxhunters, all when trained by Tom Ellis who has now taken back the reigns from Dan Skelton.
    In 20121 (2m5f19yrds good-soft) going wide at Canal Turn, mistake 14th and pecked 3 out, disputed the running from 2 out, led outright at the elbow but soon caught and passed by Cousin Pascal. Latenightpass 2nd, beaten 2½ lengths.
    In 2022 (good-soft) jumped well although slightly right, disputing the lead from an early stage, led outright between the last two but never by far, joined run-in before going away again close home to beat Cap Tiger by 1¼ lengths.
    In 2023 (good-soft) tracked the leader until left in front, jumped right-handed again, badly at times and sometimes bumping into his rivals, only noticeable mistake came at the last. Soon headed by winner, still second at the Elbow, passed by two others in the last ½ furlong. Beaten a total of 6 lengths by impressive winner Famous Clermont.
    Afterwards transferred to Dan Skelton.
    In the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase (3m5f56yrds Good-Soft) at Cheltenham, off a mark of 137. Same jockey as usual, Gina Andrews, wife of former and now current trainer Tom Ellis. Ridden in contrasting style though, dropped out last presumably with a doubt about staying. Jumping well (and straight), took closer order at the start of the final circuit into mid-field, slight mistake 23rd, into 4th by 3 out, challenged and got to within a length on run-in, weakened final ½ furlong. Beaten by Foxy Jacks who made almost all. Latenightpass is now 4 lbs worse off with the winner who beat him 1¼ lengths.
    A month later in the Glenfarclas Crystal Cup over the same course and distance but soft ground and upped 3 lbs by the handicapper. Again dropped out last early, slight mistake 9th, headway at the beginning of the final circuit to dispute the lead from Canal Turn, led outright 2 out but a little hesitant into final “hurdle”, headed but had plenty in hand up the run-in. Won by 4 lengths from Francky Du Berlais who received 6 lbs. That was in all probability Latenightpass’s best ever performance and with one of the best trainers in the country Dan Skelton only having him for two runs, looked a fair chance of a little bit more improvement – even for a now 11 year old. But back with his old trainer, the same or even regressive form now looks the more likely and unfortunately Latenightpass has been clobbered by the handicapper. Now 10 lbs worse off with Minella Indo for the 5¾ back to the 4th… And 11 lbs worse off for a total of 9¼ lengths back to 5th placed Galvin. That seems a lot as both of them seemed “tenderly handled” in different ways.
    Latenightpass had one more run for Dan Skelton a prep’ for Aintree in February, a 5th of 10 in a Grade 2 novice hurdle, presumably to keep him fit for Aintree.
    Latenightpass is genuine, consistent, stays extreme distances but is no sluggard… and a sound jumper. So in many ways is an ideal Aintree type. However, handicap marks are of greater importance nowadays – since the track changes and (together with the change of trainers) looks up against it..

    22… 8…10-9…MINELLA CROONER 32P-1P33P Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 149
    Pulled up in 3 of his last 6 starts, with 2 of those coming on his only 2 runs in Britain. All 3 were also in races of double figure runners. May not like a big field Grand National.
    The first “P” was in the 2023 National Hunt Chase (3m6f good-soft). Tracked pace, reached for the 6th and gave the 7th and 16th plenty of room, reached for 18th (ditch) when disputing second, jumped right-handed 19th, pushed along afterwards, to hold his place, weakened quickly and pulled up 3 out.
    On reappearance in a Wexford Listed event (2m7f Heavy). Disputed lead but sometimes jumping big and / or slow. Often being asked to rejoin the odds-on favourite Bronn on the flat until something went amiss with Bronn before 2 out. Joyeux Machin would probably have won too, if he hadn’t blundered at the last. Minella Crooner a lucky winner by ½ length giving the runner-up 5 lbs.
    Then made 7/2 joint favourite off a mark of 144 for the 18 runner Potterstown Handicap Chase (3m5f130yrds Soft). Settled in 5th on the inner with a clear view of his fences, Didn’t seem to go with as much zest once surrounded. Brief effort 5 out but weakened 4 out and pulled up after clambering over 3 out.
    The race that probably gets him the Grand National 149 mark (he’s now been dropped to 143 in future handicaps) is the New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore (2m6f170yrds Heavy). Raced in 5th of the 6 runners. The two front runners went too fast too soon in the testing conditions. Around 20 lengths clear of Crooner down the hill to 2 out and both out on their feet coming to the last when still over 10 clear. Only beaten a rapidly diminishing 1½ lengths by the winner Jungle Boogie who was receiving 3 lbs. In all probability grossly flattered by his proximity which makes him poorly handicapped here.
    In the 4 runner Bobbyjoe 3m1f88yrds Heavy) shortly after the Grand National weights were announced. Set off to make all but is not a flamboyant jumper and constantly outjumped when Vanillier joined and passed him. Still pushed up to join Vanillier and I Am Maximus 2 out. Soon under pressure and left behind in the straight. Beaten a total of 25 lengths by winner I Am Maximus, 11 by Vanillier. Is now 1 lb worse off with the winner and 5 lb better off with Vanillier.
    His National prep came in the Ultima at Cheltenham (3m1f Heavy) in a bigger field off 146, 3lbs less than his Grand National mark. Raced on the outside of the pack in mid division, with a clear view of his fences. Often pushed along to keep his position from the beginning of the final circuit. Hampered 5 out (open ditch), vigorously pushed along from 4 out down the hill. Around 4 lengths from the leader going into 3 out where a slightly right handed slow jump ended what chance he had, pulled up before 2 out.
    Being often pushed along to keep up might mean he’ll do better at extreme distances – at least in small fields.

    23… 7…10-8…ADAMANTLY CHOSEN 276P-4071 OR 148
    The first “7” in Adamantly Chosen’s form figures was in the Grade 1 2023 Browns Advisory (3m80yrds Soft). Dropped out in the last pair on the outer, made ground into mid-div a circuit out, in 5th 4 out, lost a couple of places down the hill and mistake 3 out ended any chance. Finishing 28 lengths behind the winner The Real Whacker.
    Ended last season with a couple of poor performances over shorter distances at Fairyhouse and Punchestown. Then probably needed his reappearance before…
    In the Paddy Power Chase (3m100yrds Soft… Racing Post Standard Times on the day suggest it was Heavy). Initially raced handily on the outer (not a disadvantage at this meeting), slight mistake 4th, slipped back to midfield at the beginning of the second circuit, made ground travelling well in the back straight to go prominent 2 out (usual 3 out), weakened badly from the home turn as if not getting home. 10th of 12 finishers. Now 17 lbs better off for the 32½ lengths to the winner Meetingofthewaters… And just 6 lbs better off for the 28 lengths between Adamantly Chosen and Panda Boy.
    On penultimate start in the 25 runner O’Driscoll Irish Whiskey Leopardstown Handicap (2m5f107yrds Yielding to Soft). Raced mid-div towards the inner, slight mistake at the 2nd, bumped 6th, dropped towards rear by 4 out, pushed along back into midfield, stayed on. 7th of 16 finishers, beaten 29 lengths by easy winner Heart Wood who was getting 12 lbs.
    After the Grand National weights came out Adamantly Chosen won the 5 runner Bluegrass Stam Chase (3m2f50yrds Soft) at Down Royal. Upped to 3¼ miles for the first time. Settled in last place, reached for the fourth (a ditch) where the jockey briefly lost an iron without losing momentum. Jumping overall an asset though, gaining ground at some fences. Travelled well, challenged and led touching down 2 out, went clear. Is now 7 lbs worse off for the 12 lengths to second Roi Mage. Seemingly impressive, but what the performance is worth on form is questionable as the race fell apart. Of his rivals, one pulled up, one out of form and one weak finisher possibly left only an admirable 12 year old 18/1 shot to beat.
    His best form prior to Down Royal had come when 2nd in two Grade 1 novice chases last season at around 2½ miles.. Beaten 8½ lengths by Mighty Potter at Leopardstown and 4¼ lengths by Gerri Colombe at Limerick, in 6 and 5 runner fields. There’s a question mark about whether he needs a small field to produce his best over fences given those two big handicap disappointments. At just 7 years old, Adamantly Chosen still has scope to progress. But even if giving him the benefit of the doubt about staying 3¼ miles he seems unlikely to stay 4¼. Would probably have been best to go for the Topham, but who am I to argue with his trainer?.

    24… 11…10-8…MAC TOTTIE P631/P-177 Peter Bowen (Wales) OR 148
    An Aintree specialist, on both conventional and Grand National courses. Mac Tottie won the Grand Sefton (2m5f19yrds Good-Soft) over National fences in November 2021 off a mark of 135. Tracked pace, only error coming at Foinavon, led between the last two, fought off the persistent challenge of Senior Citizen (who was giving 4 lbs) by a length.
    Returned for the Becher a month later (3m1f188yrds Soft) but fell at The Chair.
    Within a month tried an extreme trip in Welsh Grand National (3m6f130yrds Soft) off 142. Again tracked pace but pulled up by the 15th; well before stamina would’ve become an issue. Possibly just that he was away from Aintree.
    Two more disappointing runs at Kempton and Newbury before a return to Liverpool for the Topham (2m5f19yrds Good-Soft… time under 3 seconds slow suggested Good ground) in 2022 off the same 135 mark as his Sefton victory. Tracked pace on inner, squeezed at the first, mistake 2nd and bumped 3rd, in midfield by the water jump went a bit wide Canal Turn, some headway on outer but still only around 10th jumping 3 out but disputing the lead 2 out travelling best, led last and went around 6 lengths clear, won by 4¼ from Batcio (levels).
    Only one run last season but after a 430 days break and back at Aintree – this time over conventional fences – in a Veterans Handicap Chase (2m3f200yrds Soft) off a mark of 143. This time held up last of the 4 runners. Unlike a couple of his rivals Mac Tottie jumped well, challenged at the last and quickened 3¼ lengths clear of Top Ville Ben (who he gave 13lbs). Of the other two runners, one was having his first run in almost 1000 days and hasn’t run since; the other had wind surgery afterwards. Top Ville Ben ran ok to be 8th in a top Irish handicap. The two races for Mac Tottie since has seen him beat one home in each – mean nothing as they weren’t at Aintree. However, he probably didn’t need to be at his best to win that day in December and is probably on the downgrade. Yet is now on a 5 lb higher mark and still has his stamina to prove. The sounder the surface the more likely he is to stay.

    25… 8…10-8…CHEMICAL ENERGY 85/1142P-6 Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 148
    Another Gordon Elliott runner. Chemical Energy ran well in the 10 runner 2022 National Hunt Chase (3m5f201yrds Soft, some race times on the day suggest it was good-soft). Dropped out early, put in a short one and a slow jump at the 15th, headway into midfield, awkward 5 out, went second before home turn, 4 lengths down on leader Mahler Mission when that horse fell 2 out. Around 2 lengths up on Galliard Du Mesnil at the last, passed on the run-in to be beaten 2¾ lengths. Winner went on to be 7 lengths 3rd in the Grand National off a mark of 155, that’s 7 lb higher than Chemical Energy’s mark here. Mahler Mission was not beaten at the time of his departure, but Chemical Energy is 10 lbs better off with him. That said, Mahler has improved quite a bit since; Chemical Energy hasn’t.
    After Cheltenham he ran in the Irish Grand National (3m5f Soft). Dropped out on the inner early. Couple of ponderous jumps saw him switch to the outside at the 6th, mistake 9th, some headway at the beginning of the second circuit, in about 10th but lost ground on the leading pack when jumped badly right 5 out, weakened home turn, pulled up after a very slow jump 2 out.
    Only run this season was in September’s Kerry National (3m Yielding to Soft) with 17 runners. This time there was a change of tactics, led at the first, headed before the 4th where he jumped slightly right, allowed Foxy Jacks a two length lead but still headed the pack, put in a short one and mistake 6th and 10th, disputed the lead from 5 out. Led outright home turn, headed 2 out, weakened. Finishing 10 lengths 6th to Desertmore House (who gave 12 lbs). 9 lbs better off with the 3rd Foxy Jacks for around 3¾ lengths, but FJ has improved again since.
    Chemical Energy has a lot of size about him and has physical scope, so wouldn’t be a surprise to see him progress further. Looks well handicapped on the National Hunt Chase run, but that remains a stand out piece of form… And the way he’s been ridden both at Cheltenham and since suggests he has his quirks. Dropped out and then raced wide in two races and led / raced prominently in the other makes me think Chemical Energy does not like being crowded. He usually makes a mistake or two (even without being crowded) and has around 33 rivals here. The fact he hasn’t run since September might suggest a physical problem, but Gordon Elliott says they’ve “been waiting for Spring ground”. The reason for being a non-runner in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown (on soft) was “unsuitable ground”. So the trainer agrees, the going was proper good-soft for Chemical Energy’s stand out. A possible excuse for at least one of his poor efforts too. However, the going for this year’s Grand National – by mine and the trainer’s reckoning – is likely to be too soft.

    26… 7…10-7…LIMERICK LACE 1123-1211 Gavin Cromwell (Ireland) OR 147
    Just how far will Limerick Lace stay? Winner of the Mares Chase (2m4f127yrds Heavy) at the Cheltenham Festival.Settled in mid-div on the inner in a field of 10, Travelled well, tried to get through on the inside of leader after 4 out when blocked, had to reign back and went around her. Landed with a share of the lead 3 out, quickened rounding home turn. Still had a 2 length lead when getting in a bit close to the last (jumped very well otherwise) losing a bit of momentum. Runner-up was gradually closing but Limerick Lace had enough in hand. Staying on well to win by ¾ length from owner companion Dinoblue (who gave 5 lbs). Did flash her tail at one stage on the run-in and carries her head a bit high, which can both be temperamental signs, but has done absolutely nothing wrong in her races. Dinoblue wasn’t at her very best over this trip in conditions that placed an emphasis on stamina. Having split El Fabiolo and Captain Guiness in a Grade 1 event at 2m1f last time. But Limerick Lace looks ultra-consistent and promises more to come.
    Also jumped well in the main on her penultimate start at Doncaster, one error came walking through 2 out when clear.
    The one defeat this season was in one of Ireland’s biggest handicaps, the Troytown (3m Soft to Heavy) at Naas. Didn’t jump as well for a 5 lb claimer. Raced in the centre of the pack, slight mistake 3rd, then a couple of untidy jumps up the back straight saw her drop to the rear by 5 out. Only 8th on home turn, got to within a length of winner going to the last but couldn’t sustain the effort. Possibly outstayed at the 3 miles trip, but more than likely beaten by a better handicapped horse at the time. And / or… Despite the fact they went plenty fast enough early, the other three in the first four all raced more prominently than Limerick Lace… And all the other races on the card seemed to have a pace bias too.
    Limerick Lace is by Walk In The Park, out of Sway. Limerick Lace’s full brother Inothewayurthinkin won the Kim Muir (3m2f) at this year’s festival, looking better the further he went… And a half brother (by Yeats) called Spades Are Trumps won the Ulster National over 3m4½f. So although going up to 4¼ miles is an obvious question mark, there is at least some encouragement.
    The Trends gurus will say no mare has won the Grand National since Nickel Coin in 1951, but I bet not many mares have tried.

    27… 7…10-7…MEETINGOFTHEWATERS 76-4311U3 Willie Mullins (Ireland) OR 147
    Ran a good trial in the most competitive 3m+ handicap seen this season, the Ultima at Cheltenham (3m1f Heavy). Took a bit of a hold over the first three, then travelled and jumped well in the main. In midfield towards the inner, reached for 9th, caught in the backwash when the two infront made mistakes / were slow 6 out, good jumps saw him tracking the pace in 5th 3 out (all 5 still going well), outpaced a little between last two before staying on again when under pressure run-in for 3rd, beaten 5¼ lengths. Winner Chianti Classico (who received 4 lbs from Meetingofthewaters) has been put up 11 lbs in future handicaps. A gap of 16 lengths back to the 4th. The standard of Meetingofthewaters’ performance would in my opinion have seen him placed in the Grade 1 Browns Advisory at the meeting… And is still improving. Seven year old novice Noble Yeats was beaten 19 lengths in the Ultima before improving to win the 2022 Grand National.
    The “U” in his form is extremely harsh. In the O’Driscoll’s Irish Whiskey Leopardstown Handicap, didn’t make any sort of mistake. Meetingofthewaters jumped the first fence fine but one in front fell and he sidestepped the prone jockey, sharply moving left and “unseating” his own rider.
    Won the Paddy Power Handicap Chase (3m100yrds Soft). Prominent, on the arrowhead at the first two and taking a keen hold until taken back behind runners by the 3rd. In 11th position by 7th – a circuit out. Headway from 3 out, particularly bold jump 2 out (usual 3 out (ditch), still going well when switched left to challenge and jumped left last. Went clear under pressure run-in. Now 11 lbs worse off with the 4½ lengths 2nd Panda Boy. But would probably have been a bit easier had Meetingofthewaters not drifted so far at the final fence and has improved since December.
    The fact Meetingofthewaters has improved so much this season in his five completed starts for Willie Mullins suggests there is more to come. If any horse is going to run away with this year’s Grand National in my opinion it will be him. However, he’s not a guaranteed stayer. The early stages will be important; needs to settle better than he did over the first three at Cheltenham or Leopardstown. Connections learnt from the latter race, by racing in behind last time. But the way he’s finished his races at 3m and 3m1f on stamina sapping ground is very encouraging. Raced only on soft or heavy going for Mullins. Ran right up to his best hurdle form on Yielding and Good-Yielding for his previous trainer Eugene O’Sullivan.

    28… 7…10-7…THE GOFFER 14P4-8585 Gordon Elliott (Ireland) OR 147
    The Goffer started favourite for the Ultima (3m1f Heavy) last time out, but it’s hard to know why. After a well beaten 5th and 8th in his two previous runs this season in the Kerry and Munster Nationals. Now 7 lbs better off for the 10 lengths he was beaten by Desertmore House in the former. In the Ultima he was held up, jumped better than of late, made ground gradually on the final circuit. Pushed into 4 out, landed over 3 out in front of Meetingofthewaters. The Goffer was part of a group of 5 that went well clear after 3 out and deserves credit for it. From there though, vigorously pushed along on the outside rounding the home turn and the first beaten. Weakened in the straight and beaten 34 lengths by winner Chianti Classico (who received 4 lbs). The Goffer beaten a total of 28 lengths by the 3rd Meetingofthewaters and almost caught by the 6th and 7th Kitty’s Light. Latter just a diminishing ¾ length back. Now meets Meetingofthewaters and Kitty’s Light on identical terms.
    If it were only this race I’d say he didn’t stay, but he’d been 4th off a mark 2 lbs higher in the same race the previous year on Good-Soft. Only that time going into it having won the Bulmers (2m5f44yrds Yielding) the time before (hasn’t won since).
    In the 2023 Ultima he travelled well into the race and led 2 out. Upsides leaders at the last, only to fade up the hill and beaten 10¾ lengths by Corach Rambler. The Goffer is now 15 lbs better off with the winner, but we know Corach Rambler has improved since.
    The Goffer showed he stays an easy 3m4f in last year’s Bet365 Handicap Chase (3m4f146yrds Good-Soft). Held up, jumped big and came down steeply at the first two, put in short one at the same fence final circuit, slow 11 out, made ground from rear 4 out (after the railway fences) jumped 3 out (pond fence) still going well in 8th, pushed along from home turn, 6th 2 out, did take 4th place on run-in but left behind by the three in front. Now 8 lbs better off with the winner Kitty’s Light for the 14 lengths beating.
    The Goffer stays an easy 3m4f, whether he’d get 4m2f of the Grand National is doubtful. Has sometimes travelled well through races at lesser distances and not found as much as anticipated. The Topham (over just one circuit of the National fences is apparently under consideration. It would be interesting to see what he would do at a lesser distance these days. Weak finishing could be just as much to do with his temperament as stamina. Or maybe he finds more in less testing ground.

    29… 12…10-7…ROI MAGE 33F27-162 Patrick Griffin (Ireland) OR 147
    Which horse jumped the fences best in last year’s Grand National (Good-Soft)? Roi Mage did not touch a twig. Settled in midfield early, made steady progress to be 5th going out on the second circuit. Bold jump 5 out saw him in 3rd and rewarded by a pat from his rider Felix De Gilles, who started pushing him along around the home turn, another super jump at the last when still in 4th, passed by some better handicapped horses on the run-in, 8th at the elbow but only around 2½ lengths down on the 2nd, eventually finishing 7th. Now 15 lbs better off with winner Corach Rambler for the 13¾ lengths he was beaten. 6 lbs better off for the 11½ lengths he was behind Vanillier… And 1 lb better off with Noble Yeats for 5¼ lengths. The trouble is Roi Mage is now 12 years old. Twelve year olds have won the National, the last was Amberleigh House in 2004 for Ginger McCain… and comparatively few have tried since. But more younger horses – whose form is unexposed to the handicapper – run in it since the latest fence changes.
    Roi Mage won a Listed Cross Country Chase at Compeigne France (3m3f Heavy) on his reappearance. Can’t tell you how because I can’t find the pictures. He had a great record over that course earlier in his career when trained there. Still probably has some French connection in his ownership as Felix De Gilles is a British jockey based over in France and so too is his rider this year, James Reveley.
    Roi Mage ran in the New Year’s Day Chase over an inadequate trip (2m6f170yrds Heavy) at Tramore. Although he should have done better, just an off day?
    His Aintree prep came in the same race as last year and seemingly ran at least as well. Again filling the runner-up spot. In the 5 runner Bluegrass Stam (3m2f50yrds Soft). Led over the first two, headed 3rd, dropped to third soon after starting the second circuit, relegated to 4th 3 out where he jumped big and slow. Lost a few lengths and looked fourth best 2 out and under pressure, no chance with the winner but stayed on to take a clear 2nd. The way he ran suggested a better performance back over an extreme distance. Now 7 lbs better off for the 12 lengths to the easy winner Adamantly Chosen. Roi Mage is an outsider with a chance of a place. Might be worth a look at the place only market on the day. You’d think there’d be one or two better handicapped for win purposes though.

    30… 8…10-6 GLENGOULY P1FP5-220 Willie Mullins (Ireland)
    Glengouly didn’t “stay” 2m4½f (Soft) in the Trustatrader Plate at Cheltenham last time out – the way he raced – let alone 4m2f of the Grand National. Rider Danny Mullins very eager to be in front, lit the horse up. Jumped well disputing the lead but too keen. Still in contention turning for home but nothing left in straight and weakened quickly. The race can be forgotten about in regards form – he’s probably still “in form” – but not as far as temperament goes.
    On his penultimate start was a good second over as far as 3m1f of the Thyestes (Heavy). Paul Townend wanting to lead but this time allowed by his rivals to dictate on the first circuit and settled reasonably well in front. Sticking to the outside rail which was probably better ground. Headed 2 out, led again run-in but no extra close home. Is now 3 1b better off with winner Ain’t That A Shame for the 2½ lengths verdict.
    Glengouly’s first try at 3 miles was in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase (Good-Yielding) at Navan last season. Townend tried to settle him in midfield but it didn’t work, taking a strong hold early although settling a bit better by halfway, still only a couple of lengths down jumping 3 out but soon beaten and pulled up.
    It seems being able to dictate is important to Glengouly being able to settle enough to stay 3m1f. Hardly bodes well for staying the Grand National distance, especially with 33 rivals and here are other front runners in the field like Foxy Jacks. Seems surprising connections are running. Looks like the trainer’s worst chance of his battalion. He’s also entered in the Scottish National and Bet365 Gold Cup, so presumably Willie Mullins believes Glengouly is a stayer. I don’t.

    31… 8…10-6…GALIA DES LITEAUX P154-1224 Dan Skelton (England) OR 146
    Dan Skelton may have lost Latenightpass, but he still has one with a chance, especially if there’s plenty of give in the ground. The big mare Galia Des Liteaux improved quite a bit, upped in trip and in first time cheek pieces, jumping well when 2nd in the Warwick Classic Chase (3m5f54yrds Soft). Held up initially, made ground on the outer to be 6th of the 14 runners on the outer at the 3rd, headway by the 14th to be 4th, outpaced in the back straight by eventual winner (but still in 3rd), vigorously pushed along home turn to be a clear 2nd jumping 2 out where around 3 lengths down, stayed on really well to be beaten ¾ length by My Silver Lining who was getting 20 llbs from Galia Des Liteaux. Winner went on to be a good second in both the Haydock Grand National Trial and Midlands Grand National off first a 5 lb and then a further 4 lb higher marks. Galia Des Liteaux herself looked very well suited by the extreme distance.
    Beaten at odds-on last time out (3m54yrds Heavy) in a Listed Mares Chase at Exeter.. Disputed lead at a fast pace given conditions but kept wide, led outright a circuit out, pushed along 5 out, passed and quickly beaten straight, finished tired. Possible the race came too soon, less than a month after the hard race at Warwick. However, she could be best or more consistent on left-handed courses. Did win at right-handed Market Rasen, but arguably not at her best to do so. Some disappointing runs at Kempton (a couple of bad mistakes when pulled up) and over hurdles at Ascot and Perth also came right-handed.
    Also beaten at odds-on at left-handed Newbury the time before (2m7f86yrds Soft) but beaten for speed in a slowly run affair.
    Last season’s best was probably at Warwick too, in the Grade 2 Hampton Novices (3m Heavy). Disputing it early and then his jockey attacking with some bold and accurate jumping. Seeing off the 5/4 fav Complete Unknown who gave just 2 lbs (less than the mares allowance) by 13 lengths. Difficult to know exactly what she achieved because the winning ride possibly stopped any of the other three from producing their bests.
    On the back of that made 14/1 for the Grade 1 Browns Advisory (3m80yrds Soft) at Cheltenham. Tracked pace on outer, reached for a couple first circuit but some bold jumps also kept her in it, pushed along and outpaced after 3 out, not fluent 2 out. Finished 5th, beaten around 16½ lengths by winner The Real Whacker (who gave the 7 lb mares allowance). Galia Des Liteaux is now 6 lbs better off with the 4th I Am Maximus for the 5½ lengths between them (both have improved since though).
    Harry Skelton overdid the forcing tactics in the Mildmay (2m7f210yrds Good-Soft). Going clear before reeled in up the home straight by some better horses.
    She’ll need to improve on the form of her Warwick Classic Chase 2nd, but that was only her first go at an extreme distance and may well improve again under similar conditions, probably at her best on soft or heavy and on a left-handed tracks. Her best run was with cheek pieces, does have a slightly high head carriage but seems genuine enough. Jumps well and sometimes flamboyantly, a mare with plenty of stamina. If there is plenty of rain around Liverpool in mid-April she is probably one to have on your side at big odds

    32… 8…10-6…PANDA BOY 43F5-4424 Martin Brassil (Ireland) OR 146
    Form figures might put some off Panda Boy, but they are much better than at first glance. Some are best ignored completely. eg On reappearance in the “Carvills Hill” won by Minella Indo who has a good record fresh, from a fit but what looked an exposed handicapper Hello Georgie, with three – Delta Work, Panda Boy and Conflated who all needed it badly well beaten. Then another “prep” a grade 3 over a wholly inadequate 2 miles before his first target race…
    Placed in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase (3m100yrds Soft) over Christmas for the second year running, this time Panda Boy going one position better than 2022. Wearing cheek pieces for the first time. In a long line of about 10 horses disputing the running over the first, before easing back to track pace and then to mid-division. Jumped soundly if not flamboyantly, headway again in the back straight, pushed along after 2 out, outpaced before staying on well approaching / after the last. Going away from the rest but – having got within a couple of lengths – the winner found more close home. Panda Boy beaten 4½ lengths but will be 11 lbs better off with Meetingofthewaters here. Would’ve been beaten further if the winner had kept straight at the last. Meetingofthewaters has also improved again since. However, Panda Boy himself promises to be better suited by further than the Paddy Power..
    Meetingofthewaters had his prep in the Ultima, Panda Boy had his in calmer waters, in a listed handicap hurdle at Leopardstown (3m104yrds Soft) off a much lower hurdles mark of 134. Running right up to his best smaller obstacle form, despite the slow pace not playing to his strengths. Raced prominently, with a clear view of the front. In third of a bunched field 3 out where a mistake didn’t help, badly outpaced and back into mid-div of a 22 runner field, before staying on again up the inner to take 4th. Beaten only 2¼ lengths by Maxxum. Panda Boy gave the impression he’d at least have gone close in a truly run race and is certainly in form going into Aintree.
    In last year’s Irish Grand National (3m5f Soft)… Raced prominently over the first two, then gradually moved back to race mid-div while still travelling well. Made gradual headway on the second circuit to be 6th and pushed along 4 out. In a 3 way share of 2nd 2 out where he pecked on landing and steadily lost ground to finish 5th. Some might say he barely stayed; but the peck may also be the reason he lost ground late… And at the time it was a career best performance (until the Paddy Power) anyway. Very few horses fail to stay and yet put up a personal best. So imo he stayed. Panda Boy is now 4 lbs better off for the 7¾ lengths he was beaten into 5th by I Am Maximus. He is generally a much better jumper than I Am Maximus which should stand him in good stead in the Grand National. (Despite the changes to make them easier, being a good jumper is still quite an advantage).
    Trainer Martin Brassil won the Grand National in 2006 with Numbersixvalverdie, who’d won the Irish Grand National the previous year and been brought down in the Paddy Power between the two..

    33… 10…10-6…EKLAT DE RIRE 130/4-82P Henry De Bromhead (Ireland) OR 146
    Eklat De Rire was second favourite and finished first past the post in the 2021 Browns Advisory (3m170yrds Heavy) in front of Monkfish. Trouble is he was without a jockey. Tracked the pace and jumped really well, even jumped the 12th fine but pecked on or after landing and unseated Rachael Blackmore. Eklat De Rire carried on jumping all the fences with enthusiasm.
    Reappeared in a 4 runner Wexford Listed event at odds on, beating Conflated (levels) by 4 ½ lengths – before that horse improved into the Grade 1 winner he is today. Again tracking the pace jumping left at times but well in the main, leading before halfway and making the rest.
    It seemed Eklat De Rire had a lot of potential and on the strength of Wexford was made 3/1 favourite off a mark of 154 (now 8 lbs lower) for the 21 runner 2021 Ladbrokes Trophy (3m1f214yrds Good-Soft) – the old Hennessey – at Newbury. Took a keen hold tracking the leaders towards the outer. In 5th still going well at the 2nd in the back straight final circuit, pushed along on landing over the 3rd. Then – after the jockey looked down – was quickly pulled up as if something amiss before the end of that back straight. Had just five races since and has not been anywhere near his 2021 form.
    Couple of months later (January 2022) again made favourite in the Thyestes Chase. Leading early but weakened quickly after a second bad mistake and not seen on the track again until December when 4th in a hurdle – his only start that season..
    After another year off; on this season’s reappearance in the Foxrock Handicap at Navan (2m4f100yrds Heavy). Tracked pace jumping sometimes big and out to the left, lost place 8 out, in a close 3rd 3 out, weakened quickly and mistake 2 out. Finished a tired 46 lengths 8th of 9 to complete.
    The “2” on the penultimate start of Eklat De Rire’s form figures is flattering. The outsider of 4 in a Fairyhouse Rated Chase (3m42yrds Heavy). Initially held up in last, but the fav wanted that position’. Going a very sedate gallop and Blackmore having to restrain Eklat De Rire after jumping many of the fences. Corbetts Cross jumped into Run Wild Fred bringing them both down 3 out which left just 2 runners. Didn’t put up much of a fight in the straight, winner Velvet Elvis (who was receiving 4 lbs) won a shade comfortably by 3¼ lengths.
    Last time out in the Ultima (3m1f Heavy), Eklat De Rire disputed the lead jumping well and straight this time, dropped to 4th 6 out and not given at all a hard time thereafter. In the process of being pulled up after 3 out with some behind (including Kitty’s Light) still racing. In many ways this pulled up run was more promising than the two finished races this term. However, finding little once coming off the bridle and / or hasn’t seemed to want to know once making a mistake in other races – is still in the memory. Was he just not fit? The way he often takes a keen hold at 3 miles is not that encouraging for staying this extreme distance either,
    Eklat De Rire may improve on his recent form, but would need to come right back to his novice best of 3 years ago to have much of a chance of winning. A significant shortening in the betting market might be a prelude to a return of form. If his price goes the other way then probably best to take the hint. On betfair he’s 179/1 at the time of writing.

    34… 12…10-6…CHAMBARD U44-21P88 Venitia Williams (England) OR 146
    Chambard came to prominence quite late in life, after wind (breathing) surgery at the age of 9. Claiming amateur Miss Lucy Turner struck up a formidable partnership between January 1st 2022 to March 17th that year, running 6 times, going from a rating of 110 to 141, runner-up twice and winning four. The last of which (off a mark of 134) the 20 runner Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival (3m2f Soft). In what has since become almost a trademark way… In the last pair over the first, headway from the 8th fence to dispute the lead going out onto their final circuit, led outright touching down 3 out, pecked slightly 2 out but didn’t stop momentum, mistake last, stayed on well run-in to win from Mister Coffey (who gave 3 lbs). The two mistakes over the last two fences were the exception to what was up to then a good round of jumping, often making ground over his obstacles.
    First victory since the Kim Muir when winning the Becher Chase (3m1f188yrds Heavy) on the Grand National course in December. Setting off on the outer towards the rear, but was disputing the lead by the 4th. Ploughed through The Chair which saw him back into midfield. In front by the start of their final circuit and dropped back to 3rd by Bechers. Led again Valentines, pecked 4 out, joined and pushed along 2 out, clear last, tired and wandered a little run-in. In truth conditions were so bad that he may have been the only one to cope. Now 7 lb worse off with the 13 lengths second Coko Beach, who was ridden to get home – barely stayed. 3rd Percussion was 6 lbs out of the handicap and 4th Celebre D’Allen going best on the home turn but then slowed dramatically in the closing stages – didn’t stay.
    Despite the hard race at Aintree, Chambard was out again before the month’s end. Ran in the Welsh Grand National (3m6f130yrds Heavy). Dropped out on the outer, rapid move from the 4th to the 6th to dispute the lead. Reached for and sprawled on landing 11 out. Weakened with slow jumps from 7 out. Pulled up.
    Finished his races but well below form on last two starts. Disputed the lead from the start in the Haydock Grand National Trial (3m4f97yrds Heavy). Again racing on the outer, led outright at the start of the final circuit, headed 18th, lost ground and 7th 3 out, not fluent 2 out, weakened. Beaten 30½ lengths by Yeah Man (who received 14 lbs).
    Last time out ran in the Ultima (3m1f Heavy). In a 3 lengths detached last position over the first, joined the pack 2nd, pushed along and rapid headway on the outer to be around 3 lengths down in 7th jumping 3 out, weakened quickly and finished tired. Last of 8 finishers behind Chianti Classico (who received 3 lbs). Chambard was well below form, but it is worth noting just how much he has to make up in one go with only a month’s rest. Now on identical terms with and has: 36¼ lengths to make up on the 3rd Meetingofthewaters, 8¼ lengths on 5th placed The Goffer and 7 lengths to 7th Kitty’s Light.
    Chambard’s style of running is a slight concern in the (now) 34 runner Grand National. Making a quick move from the back was easier with 12 runners in the Becher Chase. Where his rider got a prominent position going around the Becher, Foinavon and Canal Turn/s. Going around the outside there could lose a lot of ground.
    Chambard is equally effective on good-soft or heavy. He’s disappointed when tried over extreme distances but has probably been out of form when doing so. The Becher and Kim Muir suggest he may be suited by further than 3¼ miles.
    Chambard’s victory in the Becher was off a mark of 140, minus the 5 lb amateur riders allowance of Lucy Turner. If as expected she keeps the ride here but Lucy will not be able to claim. So if she rides, the 12 year old Chambard will effectively be racing off a mark 11 lbs more than his highest ever winning mark.

    35… 8…10-6…KITTY’S LIGHT 111-47057 Christian Williams (Wales) OR 146
    Ignore Kitty’s Light’s form so far this season, he’s infinitely better in the Spring, with the sun on his back… And / or with the sun on the ground drying it up. Did as well as could be expected last time out in the Ultima (3m1f Heavy). Not far enough and wrong going. Raced towards rear on the inner, slight mistake 8th when possibly short of room, Pushed along after each fence final circuit in order to keep up and scrubbed along vigorously from 4 out, badly outpaced 3 out, stayed on to be 7th of 8 finishers. Beaten a total of 34¾ lengths by the winner Chianti Classico (who received 3 lb). Diminishing 1¼ lengths from the 5th The Goffer. Potentially meets The Goffer on the same terms. Kitty’s Light has 29¼ lengths to make up on the 3rd Meetingofthewaters – again on the same weight terms. Ditto Chambard, who jumped 2 out in front of Kitty’s Light yet finished 7 lengths behind in 8th (although neither ran anywhere near their bests).
    Despite being only 8 years old, Kitty’s Light has been around some time. Should have won the 2021 Bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase (3m4f166yrds Good) as a 5 year old, off a mark of 139. Came with a winning run only for the leader Enrilo to wander left into his path, stopping Kitty’s Light’s momentum. Even losing second by a short head, which sadly meant because he finished only 3rd could only get 2nd in the stewards room.
    Twelve months later Kitty’s Light was made the 4/1 favourite off a mark of 145 (1 lb less than he races off in the Grand National). Finished 8½ lengths 3rd to Hewick. Winner went on to Grade 1 success in USA and in Kempton’s King George. So Kitty’s Light finishing 3rd to him receiving only 4 lbs was a very good effort. Indeed, you could argue it was better than his victory in the 2023 renewal.
    In the 22/23 season five races over inadequate trips from October to January somehow saw the handicapper reduce his mark down 13 lbs to 132 for the Eider Chase at Newcastle (4m1f56yrds Good-Soft). After a few mistakes was scrubbed along to make up ground before the home turn where he was only 8th… and 5th 2 out. Under pressure he took 2nd at the last and led on the run-in to win by 2½ lengths from The Galloping Bear who was trying to give Kitty’s LightL 8 lb. The manner of victory at Newcastle meant the handicapper could not put him up much and ran off a mark of 140 (3 lb lower than when 2nd a year earlier) in both 2023 Scottish National and Bet365.
    At Ayr (3m7f176yrds Good). Travelled and jumped better in first time cheek pieces. Towards rear, made some ground into mid-div before the final circuit, mistake 16th (a ditch), slightly hampered 19th, in 8th 4 out and in a crowd jumping in 2nd 2 out, led between the last two, didn’t get very high at the last but didn’t stop momentum. Going away to win by an increasing 3 lengths from Coopers Cross who was receiving 7 lbs.
    Then back to Sandown (3m4f166yrds Good-Soft). His best round of jumping yet, but still only 10th jumping the last of “The Railways” 4 out. Starting the home turn in a close 6th before finding a way through to leap into 2nd 2 out. Challenged leader at the last, led run-in and went 2½ lengths clear of Moroder (who received 4 lbs). Kitty’s Light is now 8 lbs worse off for a total of 14 lengths back to The Goffer in 4th.
    Kitty’s Light is best tongue tied and with cheek pieces. Latter were left off in the Ultima, which was the first time he’d encountered heavy. Displays a pointed toe action on Good ground and Good-Soft, so it is not surprising he seems unsuited by Soft or Heavy. Unusually for a jumper it was over 10 starts before he even ran on Good-Soft. The weather forecast currently predicts rain most days in the lead up to the race. His excellent trainer now says he is more encouraged by Kitty’s performance in the heavy going Ultima to think the horse may be effective on very soft going over further. I hope so but it could easily be wishful thinking.
    If the going is in his favour can he improve again? The step up to 4¼ miles can only be in his favour. Have to remind myself he is still only 8 years old. But isn’t that big in stature and therefore lacks the physical scope for improvement some 8 year olds have. Kitty’s Light was also well handicapped when winning the Scottish National and Bet365 (Now 6 lbs higher)… Already had plenty of racing (35 altogether) and 6 races at long distances too… So although he may improve, it is not a given.

    Value Is Everything
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    WOW, a fantastic Grand National preview, GT, thanks

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