The Grand National is the ultimate test of horse and rider with 40 horses taking on 30 huge fences over the 4m 4f course.
In the past the race was considered a bit of a lottery but over the past few years the improved jumping and ground conditions have attracted a better standard of horse in general and the professional punters have begun to take more of an interest.
With this in mind, it is more beneficial to look at the formbook and perhaps check out the free tips at OLBG, when trying to pick the winner. This is as opposed to plucking a name out of the office sweepstake.
When trying to narrow down the field to some good value selections the first variable to consider is the weight being carried by the horses.
Top-weight for the race this year is Don’t Push It (20/1), the horse that partnered Tony McCoy to victory last year. Asked by the handicapper to carry the most weight at 11st 12lb, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained runner has been largely ignored by the shrewd insiders so far.
As no horse has carried more than 11st 5lbs since Red Rum took the spoils in 1977 with 11st 8lbs on his back it seems unlikely that he will defend his crown but it McCoy chooses to ride him then he will get some support.
Of more interest will be most certainly be Niche Market (16/1). The Paul Nicholls-trained horse has good form having won a Listed race at Ascot and it is well known that he is a favourite at home.
The favorite for the race at the moment is The Midnight Club (12/1). Favorites have a poor record in the race but trainer Willie Mullins has won before with Hedgehunter in 2005 and his chances should be respected.
The horse has not won either a Listed race or a graded chase in his career and these seem to be good form guides for National success.
With all of this in mind, the chances of Big Fella Thanks (20/1) should be taken seriously. The National winner usually comes with a story and this horse is likely to be the last runner for legendary gambler Harry Findlay before he sells his entire racehorse ownership interests.
In addition, the horse has much to recommend it in its own right. The horse is the right age at nine years old and has the right form to do well. The weight of 11st 1lb appears reasonable and if we don’t get too much rain then conditions could be ideal.