Al Co On Course For Aintree Glory – Grand National 2015 Tips
Aintree Grand National
Some punters look forward to Cheltenham, others opt for Punchestown, but there aren’t many that won’t be up early on Saturday morning hunting down this year’s winner of the world famous Grand National (4.15).
McCoy’s Last Stand?
This historic race from Aintree is one every owner, punter, trainer and jockey wants to win, including the retiring, Tony McCoy, who will seek to call time on his amazing career by riding Saturday’s winner.
There may not be a dry eye in the house if McCoy gets Shutthefrontdoor past the famous winning post in first place, just as he did five years ago on Back In Front – trained by Jonjo O’Neill and owned by JP McManus. The same trio combines once more on Saturday with Shutthefrontdoor, who has already proven popular with punters and heads the market at 7/1.
Last year’s Irish Grand National winner stayed on strongly to win over 3m5f at Fairyhouse (good to yielding), prior to making a winning return in a small event at Carlisle in November (3m, soft). That victory showed Shutthefrontdoor had retained his from last season, and connections have stored him away for Saturday to protect his weight.
While the 4m4f that awaits looks sure to suit this sound 8yo jumper who has never fallen, not many winners of this race arrived following a 152-day absence, while his age suggests he will need to be very good – the last 10 National winners were all 9-11yo’s.
Balthazar To Be King Of Aintree?
A lengthy absence may also count against Balthazar King (10/1), who was last seen winning a cross country chase over 3m7f at Cheltenham in November (good), and is 3lb higher than when a 5l runner-up in this race 12 months ago. This 11yo was beaten by Pineau De Re on that occasion, who also returns to defend his crown from an 8lb higher mark, but hasn’t been in the same form as when lining-up here in 2014.
Rocky Can Go The Distance
Rocky Creek (9/1) on the other hand, does face the starter in good form, having won a valuable Grade 3 handicap at Kempton 49 days ago (3m, soft). Paul Nicholls’ 9yo races off the same mark on Saturday, which is also 2lb lower than when beaten 19l into fifth by Pineau De Re last year.
Also involved in last year’s National was Alvarado (20/1), who was beaten 16l into fourth and has just 1lb more this time. Given just the one outing since, when a distant fifth 52 days ago, this 10yo is respected, but will need more come the big day.
The Irish challenge is spearheaded by Gordon Eliiott’s Cause Of Causes (16/1), who arrives following success 32 days ago at Cheltenham where the 7yo won the Listed Novices’ Chase (4m, good to soft). It can’t be a coincidence that was his first chase victory in 11 attempts, when tackling the furthest trip to date.
Goonyella represents Tom Dreaper, who sent the 8yo on a triumphant raid to Britain in scooping Uttoxeter’s Midlands Grand National last month (4m2f, soft). That trip takes some getting, and while the 8yo unseated at the first in December’s Becher Chase here, he has the right staying pedigree.
Those making the short-list include Portrait King, Night In Milan and Carlito Brigante,
but the vote goes to last season’s Scottish National winner, Al Co, who has been laid out for this since. He stays well, handles good ground and is a sound jumper – just the recipe required for this unique test.