2017 Grand National Preview

Jockeys

Our in-depth analysis of the 2017 Grand National can be found below – or you can simply scroll to the bottom of the page to go directly to our 2017 Grand National tips.

We have selected 6 of the last 13 winners Grand National, including last year’s winner Rule The World at odds of 50-1, while in 2014 we tipped Pineau De Re at 33-1 and, back in 2012, Neptune Collonges at 40-1.

Incredibly, our first five predictions (from six tips) in 2012 included the first four home, who were available at 40-1, 20-1, 22-1 and 18-1 on the morning of the race.

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2017 Grand National Preview

The Last Samuri – last year’s runner up, The Last Samuri, bids to go one better here. He has 12lbs more to carry, which won’t make the task any easier, but he has continued to progress this season and has run three rock solid trials for this race, showing each time that this marathon trip is just what he needs. He was third behind Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase in December to again demonstrate his liking for these fences too. There are few chinks in his armour.

More Of That – although not carrying top weight, More Of That is arguably the class horse of the race having won the World Hurdle as a novice three seasons ago. He hasn’t quite scaled those heights since, although a number of health and fitness problems haven’t helped. He has shown signs of a revival on his last two starts – he unseated when bang in contention at the last in the Irish Gold Cup and then finished a credible sixth in the Gold Cup last month. Jonjo O’Neill is the master when it comes to training staying chasers, but will this horse’s issues resurface when faced with such a stern test?

Shantou Flyer – Shantou Flyer was a decent novice in Ireland last season when his wins included a 3m chase at Cheltenham on good ground. He seems to have improved again since moving to Rebecca Curtis and took a valuable handicap at the Gloucestershire track on New Year’s day, this time on very soft ground. He has run well in two starts since, looking like a step up in trip would suit on both occasions. However, he will have to overcome a career high mark to win this.

Perfect Candidate – another horse who looks high in the weights is Perfect Candidate when you consider he will only be receiving 1lb from More Of That. He is a consistent sort, however, who should be suited by this stamina test. He has form on good ground.

Saphir Du Rheu – like More Of That, Saphir Du Rheu ran in the Gold Cup recently and he put up a really bold show there to finish an excellent fifth. Also like Jonjo’s horse, he had very good form as a staying hurdler, but has struggled a bit to reach the same level over fences. He seems to have got his confidence back and if his Cheltenham efforts haven’t left a mark he must have a big chance here. Don’t forget, he looked like a Gold Cup winner in waiting when sluicing home in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at this meeting two years ago.

Roi Des Francs – fresh off a Cheltenham Festival to remember, Gordon Elliott is sending another strong raiding party over from his Irish base in search of some of our biggest prizes and Roi Des Francs is the highest rated of his National runners. He is lightly raced enough to still be improving and won nicely over 3m 2f last time out. He became a bit disappointing for Willie Mullins last season so perhaps Elliott is starting to find the key to him. If he enjoys the ground he could outrun his price.

Wounded Warrior – like Roi Des France, Wounded Warrior represents last year’s winning owners, Gigginstown House Stud. He has been running in decent races all season, but really hasn’t shown very much so these fences will have to bring about a major revival for him to figure here.

Wonderful Charm – Wonderful Charm seems to have relished the switch to hunter chasing this season and finished with a real rattle to nearly catch stablemate Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunters. This is a much tougher test altogether and he looks to have plenty of weight on his back. He was also pulled up here last year.

Tenor Nivernais – there aren’t many more consistent horses running in top class handicap chases than Tenor Nivernais and he could show up well for a long way here too. However, he has never raced over anything like this far and is a doubtful stayer.

Blaklion – many people expected Blaklion to develop into a Gold Cup horse this year after his RSA Chase win last season, but things haven’t quite gone to plan. He hasn’t been running too badly, though, and bypassed Cheltenham to come here a fresh horse. He seems to stay well and has the big race jockey of the moment, Noel Fehily, on board. He deserves his place near the head of the market.

Drop Out Joe – good ground is absolutely crucial to Drop Out Joe’s chances. He loves to hear his hooves rattling and won the Summer Cup last time out. He hasn’t run since, though, and it would be some training feat to bring him back to win this race after such a long absence.

Le Mercurey – a model of consistency, Le Mercurey has kept some decent company this season. He was probably flattered by his proximity to Native River in the Denman Chase though and has yet to win beyond 2m 5f.

The Young Master – few professional jockeys ride this course as well as Sam Waley-Cohen and the top amateur is back for another crack at this race with The Young Master. His mount here looks likely to see out the trip well and has been trained for the race. He had the perfect prep run in a big handicap at the Festival where he stayed on nicely into sixth. The slight worry is that he disappointed in the Becher Chase where he was behind when falling two out. He looks on a reasonable mark, so if he can put that effort behind him he could go close.

Cause Of Causes – Cause Of Causes is fast becoming a Festival legend, having won three different chases at the big meeting. Those races included the National Hunt Chase and the Cross Country, so jumping and stamina shouldn’t be issues. He also loves spring ground. He ran okay when eighth here behind the late Many Clouds in 2015 and has to go on any shortlist. As with a number of these, the unknown is how well he will have recovered from his Cheltenham exertions.

Regal Encore – like Cause of Causes, Regal Encore represents JP McManus, but this horse is arguably the least fancied of the great Irish owner’s runners. That is not to say this horse is without talent, it is just that he often fails to deliver. Sometimes these fences can be just the cure for an inconsistent type and that makes him one of the more interesting long shots. His yard is flying at the moment.

Vieux Lion Rouge – Vieux Lion Rouge has been ante post favourite for this race for a while now and it is easy to see why. He ran well for a long way when seventh last year and appears a stronger horse this season. In fact, he is two from two since his effort behind Rule The World, including a win over these fences in the Becher Chase. He beat Blaklion in the Grand National Trial at Haydock last time out over 3m 4f and the only slight question mark is whether he will see out the extra half mile here.

Definitely Red – Definitely Red shot to the fore in this market by running away with the Grimthorpe last time out. He had The Last Samuri 14l back in second that day and runs off the same mark here. That means he is 9lbs well in based on his new rating so his chance is there for all to see. That means his price has gone, but he has to go on the shortlist.

Ucello Conti – last year’s sixth, Ucello Conti, was fourth in the Becher Chase in December to prove his love of the track. He is on the same mark as last season and may see out the trip better on this faster ground. He is better off at the weights with a number of the rivals he met in the Becher and could have the best chance of those that contested that race despite being a bigger price than the likes of Vieux Lion Rouge.

Double Shuffle – 7 year olds don’t have a great record in this famous race so Double Shuffle has some unfavourable statistics to overcome. He is usually a solid jumper and has shown his best form on this ground, but it is hard to overlook his lack of experience.

Houblon Des Obeaux – Houblon Des Obeaux has run a number of big races in staying chases down the years, but they have mainly been on soft ground. He could well run respectably here too, but is likely to find a number of these too good for, or better handicapped than, him.

Pleasant Company – it has been a rollercoaster season for Willie Mullins, so it would be no surprise to see this fickle sport serve him up the ultimate high courtesy of Pleasant Company. He is his only representative in the race and he definitely has a good chance on form, if handling the better ground. He is peaking at the right time and is lightly raced enough to still have improvement in him. Being by Presenting the ground might actually suit him.

One For Arthur – One For Arthur bids to be the first Scottish trained winner since Rubstic and he has a good chance of pulling it off. He was very impressive in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on his last start, proving himself a real stayer in the process. Before that he had jumped these fences successfully when a staying on fifth in the Becher Chase. The ground is a worry as most of his winning has been done on soft going. He also tends to finish his races well, but he can’t afford to give the leaders too much rope here.

Ballynagour – Ballynagour seems to have fallen out of love with the game recently and has been pulled up on his last three starts. It will take the combination of good ground, the spring and these fences to stir him into action if he is to have any chance. He is a talented horse and was running well here last season when unseating rider at the 19th. He then continued in good form when sent summer jumping. He tends to run well fresh as he has a history of bursting blood vessels. This is the lowest mark he has run off since winning at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

O’Faolains Boy – O’Faolains Boy looked a possible future Gold Cup winner when taking the RSA Chase in 2014 beating Smad Place and a number of other big names in the process (both Many Clouds and Don Cossack failed to complete that day). He has shown flashes of brilliance since and ran well for a long way in last year’s Gold Cup. He has shown nothing on two starts this year, however, but may be sparked into life by the better ground and the sunshine. He is dangerously well handicapped based on his best form and has a top pilot on board.

Highland Lodge – former National winning owner Mrs David Thompson (Party Politics) has recently purchased Highland Lodge, who will represent one of the smaller trainers, Jimmy Moffatt. He was a decent horse in his younger days for Emma Lavelle, and he has since been revitalised by Moffatt and these fences. He won the Becher Chase last season and was runner up this. He comes alive here, but may need a drop of rain. His front running style should keep him out of trouble.

Bishops Road – Bishops Road has looked a Grand National contender in the making for a couple of seasons now, but he tends to run his best races on soft ground. He unseated rider in last year’s Topham and hasn’t been at his best so far this campaign. His yard has a good record with staying chasers.

Lord Windermere – it is amazing to see a former Gold Cup winner so far down the list of runners and with only 10st 10lbs on his back, but little has gone right for Jim Culloty’s charge since those heady days in 2014. In fact, he has only run eight times since then and one of those efforts saw him pull up here last year. The ground will be in his favour, and he could outrun his odds, but it is hard to see him winning. To have any chance he needs to be ridden closer to the pace than is often the case.

Saint Are – Aintree is second home to Saint Are now and if anyone deserves a big race win it is probably him. He will have his ground and is only 4lbs higher than when second to Many Clouds in 2015. He is 11 now, but veterans have a good recent record in the race and he goes into the contest in good form. His yard has had a fine season too and they have booked one of the best big race pilots around.

Vicente – Grand National lover Trevor Hemmings has recently bought Vicente to give him a chance of another big Aintree success and this horse already has a Scottish National win under his belt. Good ground is crucial to him, but it may also be that he is best in the spring too. That will be what his connections will be hoping as his recent form has been disappointing. He is dropping down the weights and is another to have a top jockey on board.

Just A Par – Just A Par is another contender from Paul Nicholls’ yard and the Somerset trainer needs a win here to retain his trainers’ title. Like Vicente, this horse has already won a big handicap over a staying trip – the 2015 Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown. He also bounced back to form last time out and the ground has come in his favour. He was well beaten here last year, but that was on ground that wouldn’t have suited him. The worry is that he likes to come fast and late, and they are hard tactics to pull off here.

Measureofmydreams – last year’s National Hunt Chase has proven to be some renewal given the subsequent efforts of the likes of Minella Rocco, Native River, Vicente and Vieux Lion Rouge. Measureofmydreams was third for Willie Mullins and has since moved to Noel Meade. He pulled up on his first start for his new yard and then finished 13th at the Festival in the Ultima Chase. He would have finished a bit closer, but was hampered two out. If Meade has found the key to him he could be a decent longshot based on his efforts last season.

Raz De Maree – Raz De Maree is now entering veteran stage but has run well here before. He has also been in good form again this season as a second in the Welsh National shows. However, he tends to run his best races on soft ground and they may go too quick for him here.

Stellar Notion – Stellar Notion is one of a number of horses owner Roger Brookhouse has moved to Ireland and this lightly raced 9 year old has got his career back on track under the care of Henry De Bromhead. He will like the ground here, but has yet to prove he has the stamina for this sort of assignment.

Rogue Angel – last year’s Irish National winner bids to add the big one to his CV. He isn’t the most consistent of sorts and has yet to make the frame in six starts this campaign. One of those starts was over these fences when he was well beaten in the Becher Chase. He has probably been trained for this, but there look to be better long shots.

Cocktails At Dawn – Cocktails At Dawn can be a flamboyant jumper and so is likely to be a spectacular sight over these fences. However, he does make mistakes and one of those errors cost him in last year’s Topham. With stamina to prove as well, it isn’t easy to make a case for this horse giving Nicky Henderson a first win in the race.

Thunder And Roses – like Rogue Angel, Thunder And Roses represents last year’s winning connections and a repeat success isn’t totally impossible given that this horse has already won an Irish National (when he actually beat Rule The World). He lost his form a bit after that and moved from Sandra Hughes to Mouse Morris. He has yet to win for his new yard but went down narrowly to Pleasant Company on his penultimate start. He is by Presenting, so this better ground could spark further improvement.

Gas Line Boy – Gas Line Boy often likes to go from the front so he could show up well for a long way here if he can get into a decent jumping rhythm. However, he is likely to get out gunned in the closing stages, as he did at Haydock behind Vieux Lion Rouge last time out.

Goodtoknow – Goodtoknow was pulled up in the Grand National Trial last time out which hardly bodes well for his chances here. He stays well, but is likely to be outclassed.

La Vaticane – La Vaticane ran poorly at Cheltenham last time out and that was the second disappointing effort in a row from David Pipe’s 8 year old. He also looked a non-stayer when fading to fifth in the Sefton Chase here in December.

Doctor Harper – Doctor Harper is another inconsistent performer whose connections will be hoping bounces back to form when faced with this unique challenge. The going has come right for him, but he could get too far out of his ground early on and looks opposable.

Conclusion

This looks the most competitive Grand National for years and it would be no real surprise were any of about 25 of these to claim our sports’ most high profile race.

Given the depth of their success at the Cheltenham Festival recently it would be foolish to ignore the Irish raiding party and we think their strongest challengers could be horses representing their strongest trainers – UCELLO CONTI (16-1) for Gordon Elliott and PLEASANT COMPANY (14-1) for Willie Mullins.

More Of That is arguably the class horse in the race, but there isn’t much on that score between him and SAPHIR DU RHEU (22-1) and preference is for the Nicholls runner on the basis that More Of That has had issues in the past that could re-surface here. He and THE YOUNG MASTER (20-1) look the pick of the home contingent.

The Young Master has been laid out for this and ran a really encouraging race at the Festival recently. He couldn’t have a better pilot aboard and loves these conditions.

It would be no surprise to see another very big price winner and of the long shots we like SHANTOU FLYER (66-1) on ground that could see him improve again.

Measureofmydreams (50-1), Regal Encore (66-1) and Thunder And Roses (33-1) are other big outsiders to consider.

Ladbrokes are offering FIVE PLACES for each way bets on the Grand National.

Grand National 2017 Tips

Horse Odds Bookmaker
1st – UCELLO CONTI
18/1
Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places
2nd – PLEASANT COMPANY
14/1
Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places
3rd – SAPHIR DU RHEU
22/1
Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places
4th – THE YOUNG MASTER
20/1
Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places
5th – SHANTOU FLYER
66/1
Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places