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2019 Grand National tips - Brian Healy's tips for Aintree's April feature

Brian Healy in Tips 5 Apr 2019
Aintree races.

Brian Healy looks ahead to the upcoming Aintree Grand National in April, and he picks out three potential runners against the field who could post big runs in the world's greatest steeplechase.

With the dust settling now on the Cheltenham Festival, punters’ thoughts will be turning towards Aintree in a couple of weeks’ time and the latest renewal of the Grand National, the world’s most famous steeplechase.

The latest renewal of the famous race is the pinnacle of a fantastic Aintree Festival meeting which again will boast several top-class races and many big names will be in action at the Merseyside track. 

The Aintree marathon takes place on the Saturday of the three-day meeting and it is always a hugely competitive affair with a large field of 40 entrants going to post to tackle the unique demands of the race around the Liverpool venue in what is the ultimate test of horse and rider to navigate their way around the extreme trip and fearsome fences that lie in wait.

All eyes will again be on Tiger Roll (9/2, William Hill) who will bid to defend the title he won twelve months ago. Gordon Elliott’s charge has been in top-class form since his Aintree win, and he will head to Aintree having easily disposed rivals to successfully retain his Cross-Country Chase crown.

The nine-year old Authorized gelding saw off Pleasant Company in this race twelve months ago, scoring by a fast-diminishing head; but he ought to prove a tough nut to crack once more as he bids to retain his crown with only an extra 2lbs to carry over the weight he bore twelve months ago.

The race trends perhaps could also be against Gordon Elliott's charge with only a handful of runners having defied weights of 11-0 or more; Many Clouds was the last, carrying 11-6 to victory in 2015, and only 6 have managed to win with 11-0 or more on their back since the turn of the century.

Meanwhile, the last winner to return single figures in the betting was Comply Or Die in 2008; while Don't Push It in 2010 was the last horse to defy the favourite's tag - albeit he was joint-favourite - when scoring at 10/1.

While he is the one to beat, he looks plenty short enough in the betting as he bids to successfully retain, while the potential for better ground may not be altogether ideal to his chances, and Brian Healy picks out three against the field in the current Grand National betting who could serve it up to Gordon Elliott’s defending champion if taking their chances in the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Trevor Hemmings’ colours have been carried twice to victory in the Grand National, most recently by the great Many Clouds who defied a big weight to win the world’s greatest steeplechase in 2015. The famous colours could again be carried to victory in the race by VINTAGE CLOUDS (14/1, William Hill) who ran a screamer in the recent Ultima Handicap Chase where he was denied only by Nicky Henderson’s Beware The Bear.

Sue Smith’s charge was making his second start following a wind operation when posting that gallant silver medal finish, and while he does appear to run at his best when fresh there is a slight concern that a relatively quick turnaround (25 days) between the Ultima Handicap and the Grand National might just be insufficient time for him.

Like Mall Dini, the Cloudings gelding doesn’t win often; but he did produce a fine run to deny Takingrisks at Haydock back in November on his first run back in seven months, although he pulled up on his next outing in the Welsh Grand National.

It is possible that having undergone surgery on his wind that his recovery time between races could be shortened, and he has already proven that he can manage extreme tests of stamina having finished fourth in the 2018 Welsh Grand National in January prior to later finishing third behind Joe Farrell when contesting the Scottish Grand National in April.

Inbetween those runs, he chased home Ballyoptic in the Towton Novices’ Chase, and finished third to Coo Star Sivola in last season’s Ultima Handicap Chase; he would be dangerous to discount from a potential featherweight if proving none the worse for recent Cheltenham exertions, and he has been handed the minimum 10-0 in the initial weights announcement having been rated 144.

His subsequent Cheltenham run has pushed him up to a mark of 149 over fences, and if he were to replicate that effort over the Grand National trip where stamina is all but assured then he looks weighted to go close with no concerns over likely ground conditions.

Vintage Clouds (grey horse) could be well-treated at the weights if none the worse for Cheltenham exertions.

Eleven-year olds won three consecutive renewals of the Grand National between 2012 and 2014, and it could prove significant that RATHVINDEN (12/1, William Hill) was kept out of trainer Willie Mullins’ Cheltenham Festival team to potentially spearhead the Closutton trainer’s assault on Aintree instead.

The Heron Island gelding might be an eleven-year old, but he remains a relatively lightly-raced horse for his age, and he could thrive for this longer test having seen off the challenge of Ms Parfois in last season’s National Hunt Chase.

He had been campaigning over shorter trips prior to that success, but he appeared to relish the marathon trip as he battled Anthony Honeyball’s charge to the line, prevailing by a half-length.

Fourth subsequently in the Growise Novices’ Chase behind The Storyteller at Punchestown, he wasn’t seen out again until readily beating Alpha Des Obeaux to win the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.

Pleasant Company, who finished runner-up to Tiger Roll in last season’s Grand National had won the Bobbyjo Chase twelve months prior, and Rathvinden could be set to follow a similar path. 

Initially allocated 10-10 from his 154 mark when the Grand National weights were announced, he is now rated 159 following that Bobbyjo Chase success, and he is another who looks weighted to post a big run.

Rathvinden (red cap) won the National Hunt twelve months ago and looks to have been saved for a Grand National tilt.


VINTAGE CLOUDS (14/1, William Hill), RATHVINDEN (12/1, William Hill)

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2019 Grand National tips - Brian Healy's tips for Aintree's April feature

Brian Healy looks ahead to the upcoming Aintree Grand National in April, and he picks out three potential runners against the field who could post big runs in the world's greatest steeplechase.

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