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Grand National Betting Odds 2017
5.15pm Saturday April 8, 2017; click best odds in bold to visit bookie; Each-Way Place Terms: 1/4 odds 1-4
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Many Clouds has been favourite in the 2016 Grand National odds market since his victory in the race last year. No horse has won back-to-back Nationals since Red Rum in the 1970s but Many Clouds has more going for him than most who have tried, writes Fiora.
Many Clouds defied stats and lugged 11st 9lb to victory at Aintree, the best weight carrying performance since Red Rum in 1974. He will carry just a pound more actual weight this year at 11st 10lb, but his handicap mark is up 5lb for the race to 165. The handicapper has not been punitive and this must give him every chance.
It has to be an advantage that this season the National has been the aim from day one. Last year Many Clouds’ campaign was successfully targeted at the Hennessy. Trainer Oliver Sherwood didn’t even want to run him at Aintree. Fortunately his owner Trevor Hemmings had different ideas.
Now a nine-year-old, this son of Cloudings is at a more typical age to take the race and his campaign has gone well. A lacklustre seasonal debut in October was followed by a creditable second to Don Poli at Aintree in December. At the end of January only Alan King’s Smad Place was too good for him in the Betbright Chase at Cheltenham. Many Clouds was giving weight to both the horses that beat him. He could well make it three in a row for his jockey Leighton Aspell.
Another past winner aiming for Aintree is Pineau De Re. Trained by the multi-talented Dr Richard Newland, he provided Aspell with his first National win in 2014. Not many trainers win the National with their first ever runner. Any horse that Newland saddles has to be worth a look.
Pineau De Re looked a spent force last season, failing to earn a penny of prize money. He finished nearly 60 lengths behind Many Clouds having suffered from the ministrations of the handicapper, but he seems revitalised this time.
Pineau De Re finished second in a veteran’s handicap chase in November and we can forgive him for falling early on in the Bechers – he scored in a three mile hurdle race in the mud at Carlisle a week later. He has overcome the notorious National winners’ hoodoo of never winning again and his handicap mark has dropped to 143, the precise level of his winning performance. At 13 years old he is a bit long in the tooth but is an interesting each-way prospect at a decent price.
His stablemate, Royale Knight, was beaten 15 lengths into a respectable sixth here last year. He is in good form and could well improve on that placing if the ground is softish on the day. This ten-year-old son of King’s Theatre won the Durham National at Sedgefield in late October off a 12lb higher mark than when winning the same race in 2014. He was next seen finishing second in a staying hurdle at Plumpton in February. It will almost certainly be hurdle races only from here on in to protect his handicap mark. He’s also an each-way option.
Another son of King’s Theatre, The Druids Nephew, looked unlucky on his National debut. He seemed to be going well when he took the lead six out but lost his back end after clearing the next and fell.
This season The Druids Nephew was well beaten in his initial run over hurdles and in his subsequent start over fences at Cheltenham in December. He nearly fell and finished last of the six finishers. It’s not the greatest beginning but trainer Neil Mulholland has high hopes for this nine-year-old.
Saint Are, the 2015 runner-up, has been beaten more than 30 lengths in his two starts this season. The first was a cross country race at Cheltenham in November. Cheekpieces were reapplied for his run in the Bechers but he blundered four out and weakened. He’s difficult to follow with much confidence on his form so far.
The same sentiment applies to Shutthefrontdoor who was fifth in the 2015 National, even though his prep run over hurdles in November was respectable. This nine-year-old owned by JP McManus finished third, giving weight to the horses in front of him, but hung left suggesting a degree of discomfort. He didn’t quite get home under AP McCoy in the National last year. Trained by Jonjo O’Neill, he will need to be more kindly treated in the weights to stand a chance of staying the distance.
Unlike O’Neill, Nicky Henderson has yet to win the National but Triolo D’Alene might end his losing streak. This beautifully put together 2013 Hennessy winner has had problems galore, but so did Aldaniti. He has been through the entire menu of wind operations and has metal work in his knee. Now a nine-year-old, this French-bred is a natural jumper who won the Topham in 2013. He was fancied in the 2014 National but pulled up before second Bechers. Physical problems have been identified since.
Triolo D’Alene looked impressive when winning at Kempton in January after a year’s absence. Admittedly it was a three runner affair and the hot favourite unseated but he galloped all the way to the line. Henderson thought he would need the run and that the ground was too soft for him. He’s a class act and a proven jumper who should run well if uncompromised by his physical issues.
Another classy potential contender is Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti. He has six Grade 1 chases to his name including the Betfred Bowl here in 2015 and 2014. He enjoys this flat track as much as he dislikes the undulations of Cheltenham. This ten-year-old is a French-bred son of Dom Alco, the sire of Nicholls’ National winner, Neptune Collonges.
Silviniaco Conti is untested over these obstacles but is usually a very efficient jumper. He has only fallen once in his 29 starts. Nicholls has always said that all he does is stay but has warned punters that he will wait and see how he is treated in the weights before deciding whether to run him. His pull-up in the King George on Boxing Day is a concern but, if Nicholls’ horses hit form in the spring, Silviniaco Conti has to be taken very seriously.
Small yards have often outperformed the big boys in the National. Rookie trainer Kerry Lee has caught the eye since taking over her father’s operation and has realistic hopes with Mountainous. He reclaimed his lost Welsh National title in January.
This 11-year-old son of Milan has stamina galore but his sole run at Aintree ended with a fall at Valentines in 2014. It is the only time he has ever hit the deck. Soft ground would aid his cause for a fairytale result and without it his chance would surely be compromised, so do not get involved with the Grand National odds until late on with this one.
Irish challenger Goonyella stays all day too. His trainer Jim Dreaper thinks he needs a minimum of four miles to perform. Grand National aspirations were abandoned last season after he unseated Jonathan Burke at the first fence in the Bechers. Goonyella went on to win the Midlands National at Uttoxeter instead and was the runner up in the Scottish National.
This time Goonyella managed a clear round in the Bechers but was well beaten over the inadequate trip. He may be tapped for toe if the ground is decent but could appear from nowhere in the closing stages if his jumping holds up.
Carlingford Lough is yet to try a marathon distance but he did appear from nowhere and outstay the field spectacularly when landing the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in early February. Mark Walsh considered pulling him up three out but fortunately changed his mind when he started passing horses. He beat Road To Riches 12 lengths. Be warned that the customary hold up tactics were definitely a major factor in his win. A very strong pace was set on the heavy ground.
Trained by John Kiely for JP McManus, Carlingford Lough was unfancied after disappointing in the Lexus Chase (over course and distance). It was his first decent effort since winning the same race last year under an exceptionally robust AP McCoy drive. This 10-year-old (yet another son of King’s Theatre) has a worrying style of running, often coming off the bridle. His two trips to Cheltenham have been fruitless, exposing his lack of speed and leading to jumping blunders. He is entered in the Gold Cup again but connections are understandably thinking Aintree might play to his strengths. The larger obstacles are a concern but if takes to them who knows?
Another Irish horse with Cheltenham Gold Cup and National entries is Willie Mullins’ proven staying chaser, Don Poli. This seven-year-old has won twice at Prestbury Park and he’s more likely to line up there than at Aintree. If he succeeds in the Gold Cup I hope they skip the National. Two Gold Cup winners have met their end in it, Alverton and Synchronised.
Many Clouds looks a worthy favourite in the Grand National odds, especially as this is his sole objective of the season, but winning back to back Nationals is still a huge ask but his handicap mark is only 5lb higher. One small, erm, cloud is that he is sometimes wobbly after his races, suggesting a physical problem does exist.
Nearer the time pay close attention to Richard Newland’s runners in the big-race betting. The good doctor won the race at the first attempt and has made no secret of his desire to do so once again.