Grand National 2008 Entries: And The Winner Is....
You see, over the past few years, I have done really rather well in finding the winner of this race. Any of those ignorami (is that the plural of ignoramus?!) who tell you that the GN is a lottery have clearly not bothered to think about what they are vocalising.
To save my aching digits, I'll copy and paste from my very first post on this 'ere blog, way back in February last year (you can see it by clicking the February 2007 Archive button on the left hand side links, or the highlighted one above..!):
To recap, these are the reasons it is a good
- No other race has so many horses lining up
- No other race is run over such an extreme distance
- No other race has the Aintree fences (with the exception
of races at the track of course)
- No other race offers such much prize money and kudos
(attracting some very classy horses)
- No other race is guaranteed to be run at a frantic pace
from the outset
- No French race is run over anything like this distance
(French breds don't stay the trip!)
The stats angle for the race says to follow the logic.
This means that we're looking for:
- a proven stayer (won over 3m+);
- a reliable jumper (less than two falls in the last
two seasons), and at least into his third season jumping;
- a horse that has won in a field of at least 12;
- a horse mature enough to win the race, but not past his
best (aged 8-12);
- a horse in the handicap proper, but carrying 11stone or
less (i.e. scheduled to carry 10-00 to 11-00);
- a horse with proven class (placed in a Grade 3 chase or
- a horse who was not bred in France (some have run close,
none have won...);and,
- Pay special attention to the Irish (especially if they've
been hurdling!); and,
- Favour horses who have jumped the Aintree fences
Now then, I said this is usually one of my favourite days of the year. The reason for that is because we have a week between now and the publication of the weights for the race, which happens at a big 'stuffed shirts' nosh up in London next Tuesday (Paul Nicholls will be there, eating all the pies. Apologies, Mr Nicholls, if you're reading..!)
But, this year, there are a few little issuettes... Firstly, there's a record entry of 150 horses.
Secondly, there is a doubt (in my mind at least: does anybody out there know the trainer's intentions??) about whether topweight on official ratings, Turpin Green, is an intended runner in the race.
Thirdly, assuming Dick's Green Turpin doesn't show in Aintree in April, Ollie Magern (I believe, an intended runner) will be topweight.
And fourthly, the Aintree handicap ratings are not the same as the official handicap ratings. Due to the unique nature of the race, a special handicap is produced, which varies slightly from the normal one, acknowledging those who are course specialists.
In fairness, I think the Aintree handicapper does a very good job in giving as many horses as possible a chance: theoretically at least.
So, the imponderables are currently clouding my judgment. But, with more caveats than a dyslexic tie seller (geddit?!), I have managed to sculpt the 150 entries into a quaint little 19-runner entity. But there were a number of horses that I excluded based on the Ollie topweight assumption, and the weight criterion in the above.
If that is wrong, as it may well be, then I will need to rethink the whole darned thing. Booger.
No matter, for what it's worth (and it may not be worth much!), here are the 19 that I reckon would be the initial shortlist:
Horse Trainer Age Official Rating
Ballycassidy P Bowen 12 135
Baron Windrush N A Twiston-Davies 10 137
Bewleys Berry J Howard Johnson 10 144
Bob Bob Bobbin C L Tizzard 9 135
Cornish Sett P F Nicholls 9 140
D´Argent A King 11 142
Dun Doire A J Martin 9 140
Eric´s Charm O Sherwood 10 135
Homer Wells W P Mullins 10 136
Joes Edge Ferdy Murphy 11 137
Mckelvey P Bowen 9 144
Naunton Brook N A Twiston-Davies 9 140
Parsons Legacy P J Hobbs 10 140
Point Barrow P Hughes 10 139
Royal Auclair P F Nicholls 11 140
Rule Supreme W P Mullins 12 145
Sir Rembrandt V R A Dartnall 12 143
Vodka Bleu D E Pipe 9 146
I have to say, that for a number of reasons, I would choose to exclude a subset of these (though I will resist for now). The ones I like, and I think represent the best value, are:
D'Argent (doughty stayer from the King's stable)
Joes Edge (has won a Scottish National and a big Cheltenham handicap)
McKelvey (2nd last year, and weighted for another big run)
Naunton Brook (I had a sneaking fancy for this last year. The year before I fancied Silver Birch, who won last year. If that logic makes any sense to you, you'll know what I mean!)
Point Barrow (Irish National winner, sent off favourite last year, 25/1 is surely too big!)
So, those constitute my quintessential quintet which, this time next week, may well be totally different..!
I'll do another post on Tuesday, after the weights are out, and by which time I can hopefully be more categorical (at least a little more at any rate!).
By the way, I haven't backed any of these because I've just done my brains on Man City for the second time in four days. How can those overpaid tossers not turn over Sheffield or Derby?!!! (with the usual apologies to fans of those two sides...)
I'm away to lick my wounds and consider retiring hurt from football wagering for the rest of the season, or the rest of the week at least.