2013 Grand National Review and Result

Get our full analysis of all 17 finishers in the Aintree 2013 Grand National, won by Auroras Encore at an SP of 66/1 PLUS tips for next year’s odds.

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Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1. Auroras Encore 66-1 Ryan Mania Sue Smith
2. Cappa Bleu 12-1 Paul Moloney Evan Williams
3. Teaforthree 10-1 Nick Scholfield Rebecca Curtis
4. Oscar Time 66-1 Mr S Waley-Cohen M M Lynch
5. Rare Bob 16-1 Bryan Cooper D T Hughes
6. Swing Bill 80-1 Conor O’Farrell David Pipe
7. Soll 33-1 Mark Grant Jo Hughes
8. Tarquinius 100-1 Wilson Renwick Gordon Elliott
9. Saint Are 50-1 Dougie Costello Tim Vaughan
10. Always Waining 33-1 Tom O’Brien Peter Bowen
11. Major Malarkey 50-1 Tom Scudamore Nigel Twiston-Davies
12. Join Together 25-1 Daryl Jacob Paul Nicholls
13. Seabass 11-2F Ms K Walsh T M Walsh
14. Across The Bay 40-1 Henry Brooke Donald McCain
15. Balthazar King 16-1 Richard Johnson Philip Hobbs
16. Quiscover Fontaine 40-1 D J Casey W P Mullins
17. Any Currency 100-1 Ian Popham Martin Keighley

2013 Grand National

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2013 Grand National Review

The 2013 Grand National could prove to be pivotal in the great race’s long and illustrious history.

The contest’s organisers were potentially in a no win situation as the 40 strong field headed to post on perfect jumping ground – any more equine casualties could well have spelled the end of the road for this great sporting institution, whilst the changes made to the course to try to combat that threat themselves threatened to take away the unique challenge that has made the race so compelling in the first place.

Mercifully, an almost impossible balance to achieve might just have been struck, with all of the horses coming home safe and sound after a thrilling race, which was won by a long shot to prove the National still retains its crucial X factor.

First Lap

For the first time, all of the field was still intact after jumping Becher’s Brook on the first circuit and the first casualties came at the Canal Turn (fence 8) where three jockeys were unseated. However, the lack of incident over the opening obstacles was far from a negative and the race wasn’t emasculated as a result – in fact there can have been few more thrilling sights since the race was first run in 1829 than so many horses tackling the sport’s most legendary obstacles in unison.

The first horse to fall was Tatenan at the 12th and the only other faller on the first circuit was the well backed Colbert Station who lost Tony McCoy at the Chair.

By the time the field crossed the Melling Road to head back out into the country for their second lap the eventual shock winner, AURORA’S ENCORE, who was allowed to go off at the mammoth price of 66/1 by punters, had crept on to the heels of the leaders. Sue Smith’s charge was fourth jumping Becher’s for the second time and turning for home, and the second last obstacle, he had moved up to third. However, he didn’t look to be travelling as well as the two in front of him – Oscar Time and Teaforthree, but he responded to pressure the best of the trio and showed a decent turn of foot after nearly four miles to take it up at the last, from which point the result was never in doubt.

The ground was the key to unlocking this level of performance from the winner, who has often run his best races in the spring (as evidenced by his second in the Scottish National last April) and with so many finishers he can hardly be called a lucky winner.

Runners Up

Teaforthree (3rd) and Oscar Time (4th), who had both been in the front line for much of the race, had nothing left to give in the closing stages. Cappa Bleu (2nd), followed up last year’s fourth with another fine effort here, again doing his best work at the death.

Presumably, Cappa Bleu will be back next year to achieve that elusive success, as will Teaforthree, who was giving plenty of weight to all those who finished the race around him. It’s hard to conclude that his stamina gave way given his achievements over marathon trips previously, but he may be suited by a more patient ride in 2014.

Cappa Bleu and Oscar Time underlined again the worth of previous form over these fences, with the latter having shown little since being runner up to Ballybriggs in 2011. He relished both the return here and the better underfoot conditions, leading to him running a mighty race at a mighty price.

Rare Bob (5th) was another staying on well at the end, but he could never quite land a blow and may have been given a bit too much to do. There is a fine line between preserving a horse’s stamina and keeping him in touch with the leaders. He is another Irish challenger who seemed to enjoy the better ground, although a repeat effort next season won’t be easy given that he’ll be 12 by then.

That said, he had a 12 year old, Oscar Time, immediately in front of him at the line and another 12 year old, Swing Bill (6th) immediately behind him. The better ground here enabled Swing Bill’s stamina to last out longer into the race than it did last year and he travelled as well as anything on the run from Valentine’s to the third last.

Rest of the Field

The giant chaser Soll (7th) unsurprisingly negotiated the obstacles well to finish seventh. He is one who may have preferred some more give in the ground and he should be back for more next year, although he may need to climb the weights a bit to be sure of a run.

Anyone who believes the revamped National will become too predictable only need look at the starting prices of the first 10 horses home to be forced into a rethink. Those odds were 66/1, 12/1, 10/1, 66/1, 16/1, 80/1, 33/1, 100/1, 50/1 and 33/1.

The 100/1 shot was Tarquininus (8th) who had been in fine form at the turn of the year and suffered a hike in the weights as a result. His effort was particularly surprising given that most of his wins have been on heavy ground.

Saint Are (9th) was a never nearer 9th and there was a bit of a gap back to the remainder, with very few horses able to make up ground from the back on the final circuit.

By contrast, Across The Bay (14th) led the field from the 7th until about four out, when he weakened quickly to finished 14th. It was a brave effort for a yard that has such a great history in this race and just in front of him was Seabass (13th) who went off favourite in the end, but who also lost a lot of places over the final few fences and finished very tired. He doesn’t quite seem to have the stamina for this unique test.

Non-finishers

Of those who failed to complete, former Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander seemed to enjoy himself for a while before fading into an honourable retirement – he was pulled up before Becher’s second time.

Well fancied Irish pair Chicago Grey and On His Own could never land a blow and both were well out of contention when bowing out on the second circuit. The latter took a particularly nasty looking fall, but was thankfully quickly on his feet.

The occasion failed to spark a revival from the enigmatic What A Friend, whilst former winner Ballybriggs and former runner up Sunnyhillboy never looked likely to recreate past glories here, with both tailed off when exiting the race.

Below is our 2013 Grand National race preview and selections, from which we managed to pick the 2nd (12-1), 5th (22-1) and 7th (33-1) placed horses.

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2013 Preview and Tips

Imperial Commander:

The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is undoubtedly the class horse in the line-up for the 2013 Grand National. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 12 year old has only run four times since that unforgettable success over Denman at Cheltenham. Imperial Commander proved he is no back number by finishing runner up on his comeback on Trials Day at Cheltenham. He was apparently in flying form until a virus ruled him out of the race. The handicapper has given him a massive chance by allotting him a mark of just 158 (he was rated 185 at his peak). The drying ground should ensure he sees out the 2013 Grand National and he looks to have a very similar profile to last year’s winner, Neptune Collonges. He could be a big player.

What A Friend:

Another regular in Gold Cups in recent seasons has been What A Friend. He managed to finish fourth to Long Run in 2011. However, he pulled up in this race a few weeks later. This notorious thinker may begrudge being asked to face these fearsome fences for a second time. In his favour, he has been trained for this race all year, but he hasn’t won since 2010. He didn’t show a huge amount on his re-appearance in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton in February. Good ground suits him, but it is hard to see him giving Paul Nicholls the 2013 Grand National.

Weird Al:

Weird Al was pulled up in Long Run’s Gold Cup and suffered the same fate behind Synchronised last season. In fact, he has been pulled up in four of his last eight starts, including the last two. He fell four out here behind Neptune Collonges when out of contention. The McCain’s have had unparalleled success in the National in the past, but it is hard to see even their magic working. The horse just seems to have fallen out of love with the game.

Quel Esprit:

Willie Mullins enjoyed an incredible Cheltenham Festival with a number of horses ready for the 2013 Grand National. Each has some sort of chance when it comes to giving the great Irish handler a second National winner. Quel Esprit is the highest of them in the handicap. He went some way towards fulfilling that potential when winning the Irish Hennessy last season. Though, he was slightly disappointing when fourth of four in the same race 8 weeks ago. He had some jumping issues in his younger days, and hasn’t faced a trip anything like this in the past. So, on balance, he looks to have too many question marks. On the plus side, he does have form on most types of ground.

Big Fella Thanks:

Many Aintree specialists have emerged down the years and one of the most recent is Big Fella Thanks. He has run over these obstacles on no less than five occasions. He has completed on four of those, including when seventh in this race in 2011, fourth in 2010 and sixth in 2009. The common theme running through all of those appearances is that he has failed to last home. His lack of stamina was also exposed when he was third here in the Becher Chase in December (albeit on heavy ground). He should give his pilot another great spin but there is no obvious reason why he should stay the distance. Better ground would obviously help him to last home that bit longer in the 2013 Grand National.

Roberto Goldback:

Roberto Goldback was a standing dish in all of the best Irish chases for a number of seasons. Then he was purchased by Simon Munir and sent to Nicky Henderson with the Grand National in mind. He won on his first outing for his new yard, in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot in November. His handicap mark took an immediate battering and he has struggled to cope since. Those struggles can also be put down to the ground, running twice on unsuitably heavy going. He is very much a good ground performer. His new connections will be hoping that a return to a better surface and the longer trip may bring about some improvement. However, on balance he looks fairly exposed and there should be better handicapped horses in the field. Henderson also has a surprisingly poor record in the race.

Seabass:

The three horses home in 2012 all look set to do battle again in the 2013 Grand National. Seabass was an excellent third behind Neptune Collonges, travelling best of all between the last two fences. The question is whether or not his stamina will last. He also has to carry an extra 5lbs. He has run two encouraging races this season to suggest his exertions last year have had no ill effects. Katie Walsh, bidding to become the first female rider to win the National, will need to settle him early and deliver him late to improve on third place. On balance, though, the feeling is that he may have missed his big chance last year.

Ballabriggs:

One horse who very much took his chance in this race is Ballabriggs, the winner two seasons ago. He hasn’t won a race since, but the handicapper hasn’t really relented. Ballabriggs remains two pounds higher than he was on that warm sunny day in 2011. He was a creditable, but never threatening, sixth last year. Although he could complete again, there must be doubts that the 12 year old retains all of his old ability. Perhaps softer ground would help him in the 2013 Grand National to slow the others down. He seemed to be outpaced when the race began in earnest 12 months ago.

Sunnyhillboy:

There have been few more unlucky losers in the National than Sunnyhillboy. He looked all over the winner on the run in, only to be headed in the final stride. Plenty of people would love to see him go one better this time around. His campaign has been geared around achieving that result in the 2013 Grand National. However, it is slightly worrying that he hasn’t shown much on either start this season (albeit over hurdles). A 10lbs hike in the weights won’t make life any easier for him. He is another who would need good ground to have a chance. However, like Seabass, he may have his work cut out to repeat last year’s mammoth effort.

Teaforthree:

The two important characteristics for any potential National winner are sound jumping and stamina. These happen to be Teaforthree’s strongest attributes. He proved his stamina when winning the four miler at last season’s Cheltenham Festival. But was unlucky to be thwarted by a vintage ride from Paul Carberry aboard Monbeg Dude at the Welsh National. He was also disappointing in the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February. A return to a better surface could see him back to his best. His front running preference should see him stay out of trouble and give his jockey a real thrill. It is worth bearing in mind that he hasn’t run on good ground since his Festival success. He will only be five pounds higher for the 2013 Grand National.

Across The Bay:

Few current trainers will have a better idea about what it takes to win than Donald McCain. His best chance of success this year may lie with Across The Bay. This horse was seventh under top weight in the Welsh National. But, then put up a career best effort over hurdles next time out to claim the Rendlesham at Haydock. He had a wind operation before that win and it clearly did the trick. He was in fine form over the larger obstacles earlier in the season when he won over Cappa Bleu (level weights) at Carlisle. It may be that better ground here will see him to greater effect over this trip. All in all, he could be an interesting outsider. Like Teaforthree, his one disappointing effort this season can be put down to a big weight in desperate ground.

Join Together:

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls will be hoping Join Together will give him back to back successes. This horse deserves a change having just failed to claw back Hello Bud in the Becher Chase in November. He was badly hampered in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time out (so the “P” in his form should be ignored). He was just below the best novice chasers last season when his victories included a defeat of Teaforthree (at level weights) at Cheltenham. Join Together looks likely to be suited by the stamina test of the 2013 Grand National. All of his best form has been on a good to soft surface. So, the only real question mark is his slight lack of experience.

Bob Lingo:

JP McManus has a host of entries in the race as usual. But it would be a real surprise were Bob Lingo to end up the pick of his runners. He’s no mug, as victory in the Galway Plate in August testifies. However, he has struggled to cope with the hike in the weights that followed that victory. He has been well behind a few of these on his last couple of starts. His stamina for this trip is also in question as he can often race keenly.

Colbert Station:

A much more likely winner for JP is Colbert Station. He has been in fine form over hurdles and fences recently. He took the competitive Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting before a Pertemps Qualifier over hurdles at Punchestown in February. Both wins were over three miles on heavy ground. You would have thought that stamina shouldn’t be an issue, although he had been doing his winning at 2½ miles and shorter before then. Though, we’ve seen with Seabass (and Papillon in 2000) what an excellent trainer of National horses Ted Walsh is. The two issues are the ground (will he be effective on a sounder surface?) and that he has gone up 17lbs in the handicap since that Leopardstown win. He is also quite inexperienced over fences.

Forpadydeplasterer:

One horse with massive stamina doubts is former Arkle winner Forpadydeplasterer. He has tumbled in the weights since that success in 2009. His victory in November was the only time he has got his head in front subsequently. He has also often been a chancy jumper (despite the fact that he has never fallen) so it is hard to make a case for him here.

On His Own:

The history of the National is littered with examples of horses who fell only to come back and win. If there was an unlucky loser who failed to complete in 2012, it was On His Own. He was travelling well in third when coming down at Becher’s second time around. He still looks unexposed over fences. Indeed, he showed that he is very much on the upgrade by posting a career best effort over hurdles, winning a Grade 2 at Navan. Whatever happens here, he definitely has a big race in him. It seems odd that some people have put him down as a soft ground specialist given that he has won on both good and good to soft. With Ruby Walsh likely to be aboard, he looks a worthy favourite.

Joncol:

The biggest horse in this year’s field will be Joncol. This Irish chaser will be hoping to replicate Party Politics who triumphed in 1992. His connections hoped for a number of seasons that he would develop into a genuine Gold Cup horse. However, things haven’t always gone to plan for Paul Nolan’s ten year old. He has won over £300,000 in win and place prize money. Though of his best form has been on a very soft surface. This is a worry given the forecast, but he has at least dropped in the weights to a stone lower than at his peak. He has also often looked as if a real test of stamina would play to his strengths so he may have more of a chance than his big price suggests.

Balthazar King:

The good ground has really come right for Balthazar King. He won the Cross Country Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival on good ground and this race has been his target ever since. That effort over the banks and ditches at Prestbury Park also showed what a nimble and accurate fencer he is. With his stamina all but assured, he ticks plenty of boxes. He has good from on park courses too. He runs well when fresh so his absence from the track since November is a positive rather than a negative. In fact, the only negative is that he will have to defy a career high mark to win here. His jockey, Richard Johnson, holds the record for the most losing rides in the race.

Cappa Bleu:

Of the returning horses who finished the race last year, Cappa Bleu has arguably the strongest chance. As with Balthazar King, the ground has come in his favour. Now that connections know he can cope with the unique demands of Aintree, he can be ridden more positively. He was also slightly unlucky running as he was badly hampered at the Foinavon fence on the first circuit. His two starts so far this campaign show that he remains a well handicapped horse (he is actually on a 2lbs lower mark going into the contest this year). He performed with real distinction on both occasions despite racing on totally unsuitable ground. His last start, when he chased home the in form Vino Griego, was particularly encouraging and he has to go on any shortlist.

Oscar Time:

Not much has gone right for Oscar Time since he chased home Ballabriggs in the 2011 National. He has only raced five times since and hasn’t bettered fourth place. In fact, he has finished last on his latest two outings. The only hope for connections is that a return to the 2013 Grand National will rekindle his enthusiasm. He doesn’t look well handicapped, despite his poor form, so he’s hard to recommend.

Always Waning:

Always Waning has enjoyed his best days here and won the Topham Chase three times. He had to run in that race last year simply because he didn’t qualify for the main event. But he has certainly served his apprenticeship and thoroughly deserves this crack at the big one. He hasn’t been in the best of form this season and, at 12 years old, is unlikely to be improving. The handicapper doesn’t seem to have been generous allocating him a mark of 144 (he was on 138 at Topham). The drying ground should help him see out the trip. But there are likely to be better handicapped horses in the field and his love of the track may not be enough to enable him to overcome that.

Quinz:

A horse that has pulled up three times in his last four starts can usually be dismissed as a no hoper in a race of this nature. His chance seems even more remote given that the first of those “Ps” was in this race in 2011. However, he was one of the favourites that day and was an up and coming chaser to follow at the time. That disappointment can be put down to the fact that he broke a blood vessel during the race. He did show some encouraging signs on his return to action in the Racing Plus Chase recently. He is also back to the mark that saw him win that Kempton handicap two seasons ago. So there are some reasons for his supporters to be hopeful, but he does look a risky proposition for the 2013 Grand National.

Tatenen:

Tatenen is another doubtful stayer in the line up and although he likes the ground. The conditions should see his stamina last longer than might otherwise be the case. Horses that are unproven over three miles, let alone four, don’t win the National.

Treacle:

Treacle was one of the better backed Irish runners amongst the shrewd punters last season. But he came down at the tenth, which was too early to tell how he might have fared. He has dropped a couple of pounds in the handicap, but showed he is as good as ever with an easy win at Down Royal. He prefers less give underfoot and so is likely to have his supporters. His level weights third to Quel Esprit in the 2012 Irish Hennessy suggests he is capable of running well. All in all, he could outrun his big price in the 2013 Grand National.

Lost Glory:

Lost Glory had a fruitful first half of the season, winning in June, July, September and October. This saw him rise two stone in the weights. Three of those successes were over three miles or further, so he looks a decent young staying chaser in the making. However, he has never run in a race anything like this competitive. Given that he also has to overcome a career high mark in the 2013 Grand National, he has plenty on his plate. On the plus side, Jonjo O’Neill is the master when it comes to training horses for stamina tests, both over hurdles and fences.

Saint Are:

The biggest win of Saint Are’s career so far actually came on Grand National day last season. He won the valuable John Smith’s Handicap Chase off of a mark of 137. The decent ground that day definitely brought about an improvement in Tim Vaughan’s seven year old. But he hasn’t always been the best of jumpers. His inexperience makes him a risky proposition here. He will do well to get round the 2013 Grand National.

Swing Bill:

By contrast, there is every chance of Swing Bill completing for the second successive year. But he was beaten by Neptune Collonges and Co finishing 55 lengths back. He negotiated these obstacles again in the Becher Chase, but he doesn’t seem to stay this trip. Another safe passage is surely the best his connections can hope for in the 2013 Grand National.

Chicago Grey:

Neptune Collonges proved last season that greys can win the National. The in form Gordon Elliott will be hoping that lightning strikes twice in the form of Chicago Grey. He was brought down in the race last season, but goes into this year’s race in much better form. He won the four miler at Cheltenham in 2011, so should see out the trip. Though, he will need luck in running as he is usually patiently ridden. He should be picking off plenty of rivals in the closing stages and at 10 years of age he could be reaching his peak. All in all, he has to be respected and the heavy support for him in the 2013 Grand National looks well placed provided his jumping holds up.

Quiscover Fontaine:

Quiscover Fontaine is another who returns to Aintree having failed to complete last year. He was an outsider on that occasion and will be again here. But you can make a case for him on some of his form as a novice chaser. He was also a very good novice hurdler, so there is plenty of ability there. However, he has been lightly raced in recent times. He has also often been campaigned at much shorter trips. However, his best performance over the last couple of seasons came in the Irish National. He relished the step up in distance and finished an excellent fourth. A repeat of that effort in the 2013 Grand National would give him some sort of chance.

Rare Bob:

Rare Bob is returning to Aintree after ending up on the floor in 2012. He has completed around these fences before though, fifth on heavy ground in the Becher Chase in 2011. He was in contention in the John Smith’s Handicap Chase on National day when unseating his rider. Interestingly, he carried 11st 4lbs that day. The winner, Prince De Beauchene, who was a major fancy for this race until injury ran off just 10st 5lbs. That is a good indication of the talent Rare Bob undoubtedly has. He has finished off his three races in the manner of a horse who should relish the 2013 Grand National. The handicapper has given him a chance with a rating of just 140 and he’s run well on a sound surface before. He is another interesting outsider, given that the Irish horses have been carrying all before them this season.

The Rainbow Hunter:

Trainer Kim Bailey has enjoyed a real revival in his fortunes in recent seasons. A victory in the Grand National would be the icing on the cake for the man who won the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle in 1995. However, it is hard to see The Rainbow Hunter triumphing in the 2013 Grand National. He has been in decent enough form over recent seasons, but has been climbing the weights as a result. He doesn’t look well treated compared to others near in the handicap.

Becauseicouldntsee:

Becauseicouldntsee has fallen in the last two Nationals. In terms of winning, he is unlikely to make it third time lucky in the 2013 Grand National. He isn’t without ability, as close seconds to Poker De Sivola at Cheltenham in 2010 and Sunnyhillboy in the Kim Muir 2012 testify. However, it is doubtful whether he could see out this marathon trip. Even if he does manage to stay on his feet, his form this season has been unpromising.

Harry The Viking:

The least fancied and least experienced of Paul Nicholls’ runners is Harry The Viking. His form is a real mixed bag. In his 10 starts to date, he was first or second in his first six outings. Though, he has been pulled up twice, ninth and tenth in the last four. Good ground is a must for him, and he was only beaten two lengths by Teaforthree in the Cheltenham Festival. Whilst the winner has continued to improve, Harry The Viking’s form has nose dived. It will take all of Nicholls’ skills to get him back to a level for him to be competitive in the 2013 Grand National.

Mr Moonshine:

Mr Moonshine’s chances look equally remote. He has been badly out of form since winning his first two starts as a novice chaser. Whilst this front runner may show up prominently for a while, it would be a massive shock were he still in contention at the end of the race.

Mumbles Head:

Mumbles Head was another to contest the Becher Chase, but got no further than the first. He probably hated the heavy ground after doing much of his winning on a sounder surface. We’ve seen with Always Waning that Peter Bowen is an expert when it comes to preparing a horse for Aintree. But at 12 years of age, this Perth specialist (he is 4-4 at the Scottish track) is likely to find plenty of younger rivals too good for him at the 2013 Grand National.

Pearlysteps:

It used to be the case that horses carrying 11st or more couldn’t win the National. Though, the last four winners have done just that. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about the chances of many of the bottom weights this year.  Though that trend towards horses carrying bigger weights could continue for some time to come. One of those at the lower end of the weights is Pearlysteps. He should relish the 2013 Grand National and he was running a cracker at Haydock in 2011 before falling at the last. Were the rains to arrive, and this turn into a slog, his stamina would really come into play. On the forecast better ground, however, he may not have the toe to live with the principals.

Ninetieth Minute:

Despite being good over hurdles to win the Coral Cup in 2009, Ninetieth Minute finds himself at the bottom end of the weights. This is because his career over fences hasn’t taken off in the way his connections hoped. The positive is that he is well handicapped based on his best form over the smaller obstacles. However, he has been well beaten by both Treacle and Colbert Station so far this campaign. He has shown signs in his races that a test of stamina may suit. Also, Festival success came on much better ground than he has encountered in Ireland recently.

Auroras Encore:

Auroras Encore has been a fine servant to his connections down the year. He has amassed career earnings of nearly £180,000. One of the highlights was a win over hurdles in 2008 and a second in the Scottish National last year. Given those efforts, he cannot be dismissed but, as with Mr Moonshine, his recent efforts are uninspiring. Even a drop in weights won’t be enough to see him involved at the finish of the 2013 Grand National.

Tarquinius:

Tarquinius was described as being “as slow as a hearse” by his trainer after his win at Fairyhouse in January. So, whilst the trip will suit him, the ground certainly won’t. He looks likely to be run off his feet in the 2013 Grand National. Given that he won off a mark of 109 in December, a mark of 136 may be too much.

Any Currency:

Any Currency has been competing in some of the highest profile staying chases for a couple of seasons. But his form during that period has been frustratingly inconsistent and he never runs well when you expect him to. His third to Tidal Bay in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last season was a decent effort. But he ran poorly in the Scottish and Welsh Nationals prior to that. His effort in this year’s Welsh National was more encouraging, but came to grief at in the Becher Chase. There’s a big race in him, but there is no telling whether it will be the 2o13 Grand National.

Poker De Sivola:

Poker De Sivola’s last win came in that season finale at the Sandown Bet365 Gold Cup. That was two seasons ago under an inspired ride from Timmy Murphy. The season before that he had won the four miler at the Cheltenham Festival under Katie Walsh. Those two wins came on good to firm ground, the key to this horse’s success. He missed last seasons and his latest start was in the Becher Chase. He was seventh on unsuitable ground, but did prove he could jump and stamina shouldn’t be an issue. His yard has had another quiet season, and his running style means he will need plenty of luck. But he certainly isn’t without a chance in the 2013 Grand National.

Major Malarkey:

Major Malarkey’s form is littered with “Ps” (including his last start in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter). He is another horse that is hard to predict. He does stay extreme distances, but doesn’t look especially well handicapped. A clear round is probably the height of his ambitions.

Soll:

With a maximum of 40 allowed to line up for the great race, Soll may not get a run. But, if he does, he would have a decent chance. He was lightly raced for Willie Mullins last year and was well fancied for the four miler. Though, he came to grief at the 12th. Since then, he has switched to Jo Hughes’ yard. After a promising re-appearance in the Hennessy in December he ran an easy winner at Sandown last time. He is well handicapped based on that effort and jumped really well on the day. He might prefer the ground a bit softer (although most Presenting’s like a sounder surface). Though, he is unexposed over fences and will certainly rate much higher in the future. He and Poker De Sivola look to have the best chance at the foot of the handicap in the 2013 Grand National.

Backstage, Viking Blond, Cloudy Lane, Pentiffic, Gullible Gordon and Mortimers Cross seem unlikely to make the cut.

2013 Grand National Prediction

Horse Odds Bookmakers
1st – Rare Bob 22-1 LADBROKES
2nd – On His Own 10-1 LADBROKES
3rd – Imperial Commander 18-1 LADBROKES
4th – Chicago Grey 14-1 LADBROKES
5th – Cappa Bleu 12-1 LADBROKES
6th – Soll 40-1 LADBROKES

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