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Escalado for the National?
You may hate it because the horses can, and do, sometimes get hurt, but you can’t deny that at 4.15 on Saturday the nation’s attention won’t be on Ed Milipede, the Cameroon, or even Oakwell, it’ll be on the Grand National at Aintree.

A few years ago you might have found several moderate horses in the race, many entered almost as an after thought after a long hard season. Now a horse has to be good even to line up. The fences are easier. Class horses enter, rather than avoid the race for fear of injury. Many horses are trained almost exclusively for this one outing. And prize money of over half a million to the winner runs down to the tenth placed finisher.

As an animal lover I hate to see a horse hurt, but as a lover of horse racing I live with the contradictory knowledge that not only do they get hurt at Aintree, but also at Cheltenham, on the flat at Ascot and in training. Thoroughbreds are beautiful, brave and fragile animals. We over-produce slow horses in search of the fast and have no proper means of ensuring that the natural wastage is treated with humanity. Racing has many wrongs, but those who care for racehorses in general love them dearly and give them a much better life than the meat on your plate, which in itself is a very poor argument in favour of anything.

So, as the worst tipster in the known universe (even though my online betting account is well in profit) here’s the benefit of a lifetime of racing knowledge. I tipped my first National winner at six and read the racing pages, Dylan Thomas and Shakespeare at school ….

It’s a handicap, so the top weights can carry two stones more than the bottom. The two best horses in the race are Lord Windermere and Many Clouds, but they were aimed at the Gold Cup, not this race. Down the handicap Unioniste is beautiful, grey and long distances might be his thing, Rocky Creek will get round, but fifth last time was about right, First Lieutentant doesn’t seem to be improving these days, so the first potential winner you’ll see is Balthazar King, second last year, a bit quirky, but aimed at the race by a top trainer.

This is AP McCoy’s last National, he’s on Shuthefrontdoor, who is not only too-Larry-Grayson, but too inexperienced in my eyes …. But the papers will be full of him. Last year’s shock winner Pineau de Re is next down and on this year’s form he’s no chance, but his trainer is clever, fancies him and the horse hasn’t been in races he could win for a whole year. Rebel Rebellion is the next to watch. He’s good, he can jump, but there’s been no indication that he will stay the trip.

Rubi Light is the first odd-looking entry having won nine times, but at two miles short of this trip. Equally The Druid’s Nephew should be one to avoid. He clouts too many fences, but he’s tough, improving, has a clever young trainer and excellent jockey and does have a real chance. Cause of Causes won at Cheltenham over 4 miles so may be fancied, but he had a very hard race for which his jockey received a ban and as the winner of only one chase, perhaps should be avoided. Al Co won the Scottish National, but seemed to hate these fences when he tried them, though as his shrewd trainer has aimed him for this he may well figure and spring a surprise.

Monbeg Dude’s royal connection will interest people and he’ll get round, Saint Are has also proved he can jump round and is back at his best, whilst Across The Bay has seemed to both love and hate the fences at Aintree depending on his mood, unlike Oscar Time who does love it, but a 14 year old hasn’t won since the nineteenth century (he says striving for a dodgy statistic). Chance Du Roy ran well last year, will again, but should only be backed if you’re called Roy. Portrait King lives up to his name and could one for TV. River Choice, I hope will be withdrawn. Soll is a huge horse, can jump round, is quirky, didn’t quite seem to stay the trip two years ago, but don’t rule him out.

That brings me to my two selections. Dr Newland who trained last year’s winner has only a small stable, but it’s very successful and he has a second runner in the race, Royale Knight, who is consistent and has won a 4 mile race. I think Aintree might be his thing, but he could be just run out of it by ALVARADO, fourth last year when everything went wrong. He was too keen early on, hampered several times, but still finished really strongly for fourth. This year he has been trained only for this race. I think he can beat those who beat him last year. So my 12345 is
1. Alvarado 2. Royale Knight 3. Balthazar King 4. The Druid’s Nephew 5. Unioniste

But do remember what they say about fast women and slow horses. And try and take your own biases into account - do I only like Alvarado, because it reminds me of Escalado?
Interesting Dev you've gone for the same horse I have Alvarado.

1. Alvarado 2. Rocky Creek 3. Shutthefrontdoor 4. Rebel Rebellion 5. Court By Surprise

It would be a great ending to AP McCoy's career if he can win it on shutthefrontdoor but just can't see it myself.

More to Football than the Premier League and SKY
Trained for this race and no other ..... obviously there's a secret Derbyshire connection. Get ready to collect your winnings.
Well Dev won £12.50 off Alvarado as it came 4th. What happened to Rebel Rebellion? he was jumping well for the first 17 jumps and then just disappeared, did he jump through a time portal?

It was good that all horses returned home safe and well. Since they've altered the fences in the last 3 years for the Grand National there's been no deaths.

More to Football than the Premier League and SKY
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