Weatherbys preview: The Grand National
Our Weatherbys expert tipster, Paul Jones has previewed all the big races from Aintree and here are his thoughts on the biggest race of all, The Grand National.
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One of the most wide-open Grand National's in years and I would be keen on Parsons Legacy if the rains keep off as he has big handicap chase form in the bag having placed in the Scottish National, Hennessy, Kim Muir (x2) and won a Badge Ales Trophy and he has been kept fresh for this.
He has never fallen, and ran a personal best when upped to marathon trips for the only time when beaten less than two lengths in the Scottish National, but the forecast rain does worry me.
I think the most solid option is Rambling Minster who is in the form of his life, has also never fallen, stays well, has the right sort of weight, has the required experience and won't mind whatever the ground is. The doubt with him is his inexperienced jockey for such a test.
My Will is a deserving favourite being 8lbs well in on his Gold Cup fifth but how much did that take out of him? He has his chance but the value went a long time ago.
Butler's Cabin has been teed up for this since falling when going well in last season's race and bids to give A P McCoy his first win in the race.
However, I do worry he may not fully stay and the champion jockey took an eternity to commit to him when his other option was L'Ami who is far from straightforward and that worries me.
Those sentiments do not apply to Himalayan Trail who I think could be the best of the relative longshots. Last season's Midlands National winner has shown little since but this is the only day he is being trained for and his trainer, Jimmy Mangan, has pulled it off before with Monty's Pass.
Hear The Echo won last season's Irish National as a novice and that has been the best guide of all races but he is short on experience for me as is Big Fella Thanks.
State Of Play is at his best when racing fresh on flat, left-handed tracks so has his ideal conditions and I can see him going well for a long way.
Don't forget Comply Or Die who has place claims for sure after an encouraging prep race at Cheltenham but it may be asking too much to think he can win it again off a 15lbs higher mark.
The top three in the weights Cloudy Lane, Chelsea Harbour and Snowy Morning all race off significantly higher marks than when beaten in the race last season so I am struggling to see how they can win.
Black Apalachi blew his handicap mark by winning the Becher Chase by 74 lengths no less, and he would want it very soft.
Darkness and Southern Vic are two more to throw into the mix. Darkness is lightly-raced for a ten-year-old and looked a thorough stayer during his novice season where he was a Grade 1 winner.
Southern Vic may get the cut he likes if the rain do come as forecast and represents Ted Walsh whose Papillon won the Grand National and Southern Vic is not dissimilar to him. He is versatile regards to trip as has the pace for quality 2m races but stays 3m well.
A fascinating renewal as always and I would give Rambling Minster the nod on good-to-soft or worse and Parsons Legacy the nod if it is any quicker.