15 Feb Grand National support grows for Seeyouatmidnight
CAN the north win the Grand National for the second year running? It’s asking a lot but after the National weights were unveiled it’s not an impossibility. Seeyouatmidnight stands out as a well handicapped horse on 10st 8lb and he would give Scotland their second successive National following One For Arthur last season. There are seven northern entries and only two are guaranteed to get into the field.
Brian Ellison’s stable star has the Cheltenham Gold Cup as his number one priority but if he runs well there he could take in the National too. There is a four-week gap between Cheltenham and Aintree and although he has top weight of 11st 10lb he is a class horse. Neptune Collonges and Many Clouds are recent winners with welter burdens.
Current Odds: 20/1
Very interesting off a lovely racing weight of 10st 8lb. There has been good support in the ante-post market already for Sandy Thomson’s chaser and if he runs well in his prep race, wherever that may be, his odds will contract again. Stamina is not a problem and his style of racing could be suited to Aintree. Brilliant each-way value in my book. Thomson said: “I hoped he might be rated 150 so to get 149, I’m very pleased. We’re delighted with where we are at the moment. He seems very well and we’re aiming for either the Premier Chase at Kelso or the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, which are both on March 3.
“He has to run in a chase to qualify, so he’ll probably go for one of those. We’ll give him an entry in the three-mile handicap at Cheltenham (Ultima Handicap Chase), but that would be a big ask on his first run. Hopefully we’ll get a run in, possibly at Kelso, and all roads will lead to Aintree then. Blaklion will definitely run in the National so whatever happens, our horse will carry less than 11 stone and I always think if you’re under 11 stone in these long-distance handicap chases, you’re pretty well-in.”
Current Odds: 33/1
May struggle to get a run as he is 75th in the handicap, so will need 35 to come out. If he does sneak in he would have an each-way squeak for Sue Smith, who won the National with Auroras Encore in 2013.
Current odds: 50/1
Sue Smith also trains this one and he needs 31 to come out above him to get a run. He is very good on his day and has a real love of Catterick. If he took to Aintree he would be interesting.
Current odds: 50/1
I JUST KNOW (also trained by Smith), KNOCK HOUSE (Donald McCain) and CAPTAIN REDBEARD (Stuart Coltherd) are the other northern entries.
HERE ARE SOME RIVALS TO SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT…
Treated more kindly than some at the weights, Total Recall will carry 11st 1lb in the 2018 Grand National, although that figure could rise if a few of the Grade One winners pull out. Trained by Willie Mullins, he has all the makings of a potential National winner. Last time out, he defeated 15 rivals to win over hurdles at Leopardstown on soft ground and beat 19 opponents to claim victory on better ground at Newbury prior to that. Winning at least one race that is longer than three miles is an absolute must for the National check-list and this nine-year-old fits the bill.
Current odds: 16/1
CAUSE OF CAUSES
Second to One For Arthur in 2017, Gordon Elliott’s versatile charge may head to Aintree for another shot at the National. As usual, the Cheltenham Festival will be the number one priority for Cause of Causes; he is a three-time winner at Prestbury Park’s March festival, with each win coming in a different race. He would certainly be a popular victor. At 10 years old, this is his moment to shine on Merseyside and Elliott will be quietly confident. Carrying less than 11 stone is a huge positive for his chances and, with the right ground, he will go very close.
Current odds: 25/1
Another Willie Mullins-trained raider, Pleasant Company was ninth in 2017. He has struggled to emulate that form so far this year but the winter weather has been a key reason for his woes. Give him good, spring ground and we should see a positive transformation. If he completes the trip for a second successive year, he could go even closer this time around. The latest betting markets have Pleasant Company at 66/1 and plenty of punters will be snapping that price up in the coming weeks. In the build-up to Aintree’s major event, the latest tips at Timeform will focus on a few National outsiders and Pleasant Company could feature prominently. That 66/1 will not last long if Mullins confirms that he will run in April.
Current odds: 66/1
Another worth noting, Vicente has won the Scottish Grand National in the last two years. He fell at the first fence in 2017 but that shouldn’t put you off – he was badly hampered by another horse and a luckier passage should see him go close. Paul Nicholls is certainly confident enough in Vicente’s ability but maintains that a third crack at Ayr may be the priority He is a northern racecourse specialist though and should not be discounted. He is still worth a punt at 33/1, especially if your bookmaker is offering non-runner, no bet markets. Vicente has the class but does he have the confidence?
Current odds: 33/1