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Thursday 9 April 2015

Grand National Preview – It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas!

Winners at 100/1, 66/1, 33/1 (twice) and 25/1 in the last ten years are just a few of the reasons why the Grand National is our favourite race of the year. Forty runners, 4 miles 3½ furlongs and 30 spruce fences are a few more but, frankly, the world’s greatest steeplechase needs no further introduction, so we’ll plunge straight into our annual search for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

At the time of writing, the bookmakers bet 15/2 Shutthefrontdoor, A.P. McCoy’s last ride in the race, and 33/1 bar the first ten or so in the betting, so there are plenty of ‘true’ outsiders to consider.

The first one that took our eye is Keith Reveley’s 9-year-old Night In Milan (33/1), who runs in his first National, but looks the right type for the race. The Milan gelding is 10lb higher in the weights than when last winning and, although his three placed efforts this season suggest the handicapper is in charge, the unique National fences could be the making of him. Like many of his rivals, he has his stamina to prove, but he’s usually a pretty accurate jumper and, if he can get into a rhythm, he could prove a danger to all.
Oscar Time (50/1) has already been placed in two Nationals and won over the National fences, in the Becher Chase, as recently as December so, even as a 14-year-old, is too big a price to resist. He’s 3lb lower in the weights than when second to Ballabriggs in 2011 and fourth to Auroras Encore in 2013 and appears to have been trained with this race in mind, so must have a chance of becoming the oldest National winner ever. The National winner always has a ‘story’, so maybe that’s his!

National Day wouldn’t be National Day without a ludicrous punt at seemingly ridiculous odds, so for our third and final selection this week, how about Gas Line Boy (100/1), who’s 9lb higher in the weights than when winning with plenty in hand at Haydock in November, but doesn’t need bottomless ground and could relish the extreme distance. Trainer Philip Hobbs, of course, also has the well-fancied Balthazar King in the field, along with Chance Du Roy and Duke of Lucca, but Gas Line Boy is a silly price for a horse of his ability.

So, for richer for poorer, our three against the field this week are, in no particular order, Night In Milan (33/1 with Sporting Bet and Ladbrokes), Oscar Time (50/1 generally available) and Gas Line Boy (100/1 with Totesport, Betfred, Sporting Bet, Coral and Betway). Good luck!