Tanya Stevenson's Racing UK Blog
|Saturday 5th April 2014|
Would there be a more fitting winner of the National than Tidal Bay?
So the white flag is flying from this quarter as at present I can’t get anything right.
All hopes are resting with Keegan Bradley, Henrik Stenson and Frederick Jacobsen in Texas or a last minute punting reprieve at Aintree. There’s only the small matter of the Crabbie’s Grand National to conquer, so nothing too hard!
In truth it has never been my lucky race as a punter and perhaps my father was right – “never go to two churches,” by which he meant be either a punter or a bookmaker.
The Grand National always served me well as a layer. However I wouldn’t have wanted to be a bookmaker on the course on Friday: “there’s no way back” seemed to be the general comment emanating from those with pitches at Aintree.
I fancy, though, their devotion to the cause and the prestige of the day will bring them all back for one last hurrah.
If not I could always try and get special dispensation to stand – I wish!
It feels as if every last ounce of energy has been zapped out of me today; the intensity was ramped up a notch, the noise and atmosphere was as passionate as I can remember.
In the ring you are exposed to all the emotions and you build a skin-equivalent to chain mail to absorb the bodies bumping into you.
All are just keen, or desperate, to get on their fancies or queue up and collect their money.
So on to the big day itself.
Wilde Blue Yonder (Pertemps Network Mersey Novices' Hurdle) is a horse who has twice managed to fall at the last, when seemingly having victory in his grasp.
Trainer Alan King has at least had a winner in Uxizandre. Wilde Blue Yonder ran well in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, a race which was franked in no uncertain terms by Josses Hill and Sgt Reckless on Friday.
Pick two is front runner Next Sensation (Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase), who ought to find Aintree to his liking providing the season hasn’t been too long for him.
The 2.05 looks at his mercy if it hasn’t.
The Grand National itself, which will already have a record number of words dedicated to it, is simply too difficult in my opinion.
I could make a case for the majority, but instead have just settled to mix a forecast of four and plump for Alvarado.
He caught the eye in November at Cheltenham and has I’ve been with him ever since; the way he scythed past his rivals including Monbeg Dude leads me to believe he could do it at Aintree.
The one problem is that over the last two days those who have prospered have raced up with the pace.
Good news for Teaforthree, who must be in everyone’s calculations courtesy of his good jumping.
Tidal Bay would be the sentimental pick as over his vast career at some point most people must have backed him, or enjoyed his charisma, or respect his achievements. A victory for him would be great for the sport.
Finally Chance Du Roy represents solid course form.
Whatever will be, will be and I’ll take satisfaction that I’m privileged to be at the course on such a special and magical day.
Tanya Stevenson's Saturday tips:
Crabbie's Grand National
1. Alvarado, 2. Teaforthree, 3. Chance Du Roy, 4 Tidal Bay
Tanya Stevenson's big-race pointers:
William & Angela Rucker have had a runner finish in the first four in the last five Nationals – Alvarado
Paul Moloney ridden a horse to finish in the first four in each of the last five Nationals
Eight of the last ten winners bypassed the Cheltenham Festival
Nicky Henderson has never won the Grand National
Eight of the last 11 winners of the Grand National had run over hurdles at some time that season
Nineteen of the last 20 winners have been aged 9 or older
No Irish winner for six years, yet they have won the race seven times in the last 15 years
Ballabriggs is the only winner in the last 15 years to have won more than once that season
Five of the last ten winners had run in the race the previous season
Seven of the last twelve winners had run over the National fences
Seven of the last ten winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival
Tweleve of the last 16 winners came from the first two in the betting
Five of the last ten favourites have won
Seventeen of the last 19 winners ran in the Arkle Trophy
Since 1997 all but last year’s winner have come from the first three in the betting
Paul Nicholls has had five winners and seven seconds since 1999
Eight of the last ten winners finished in the first three last time out
All the previous ten winners of this race had won or finished second at the meeting before
All but one of the previous ten winners had finished in the first four in the World Hurdle
All of the winners since 2002 had come from the first three in the betting
Only two winning favourites in the last ten years
Three of the last seven winners had run in the Byrne Group Plate
Six of the last eight winners had failed to make the frame (first four) on their most recent start
Since the first running in 1977 Ireland have failed to win the prize