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Sunday, 2 April 2017

Grand National, Aintree, Saturday, April 8

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The world’s greatest steeplechase, the Grand National, is only a few days away and, with the leading bookmakers offering ‘non-runner no bet’, we can afford to dabble at long odds in the ante post market. Who knows, we might just uncover some value. The Grand National has a safety limit of 40, so we’ve concentrated on a few that have realistic chances of getting into the race.

One For Arthur (16/1) has yet to win beyond 3 miles 5 furlongs, but has winning form on soft and heavy going and appears to be improving, so must have every chance if lasting home over and extra 5½ furlongs. Lucinda Russell’s 8-year-old made a promising reappearance when fifth of 22, beaten 3 lengths, behind Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, on the Grand National Course in December. The way he finished that day suggested that he can reverse the form with the winner over this extra distance, despite being 4lb worse off at today’s weights. The Milan gelding confirmed that promise when winning the Classic Chase, over 3 miles 5 furlongs, at Warwick in January and, although 11lb higher in the weights, should remain competitive.

Double Shuffle (50/1), owned by the aptly-named Crossed Fingers Partnership, also has a question mark against him with regard to stamina, having done all his winning at 3 miles or shorter. However, he comes into the race in good form, having just been touched off in the Betbright Chase at Kempton six weeks ago. That performance – and his previous win at Kempton in December – came on good going, but he’s won on soft and looks reasonably handicapped if lasting home.

Wonderful Charm (66/1) has been running well in hunter chases this season, winning twice and going down by an ever-diminishing neck to Pacha Du Polder in the St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Paul Nicholls 9-year-old was pulled up in this race last year, but is 5lb lower in the weights this time around and, with his confidence boosted, could fare much better this time. Again, he has his stamina to prove, but that’s reflected in his price and he has winning form on the prevailing soft ground.

Selections: One For Arthur (16/1 with Betfair Sportsbook), Double Shuffle (50/1 with Bet Stars), Wonderful Charm (66/1 with Sportingbet)

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