At 11.45am this morning, Tuesday the 16th February, Aintree vainly attempted to steal some of Cheltenham’s thunder with the loudly heralded announcement of the Grand National handicap weights, and this is our first chance to see how that may affect certain horses’ chances and, perhaps more importantly, the ante post betting market. The race will be run on Saturday 9th April in front of an audience of hundreds of millions around the World, and is the most valuable jumps race outside of Japan with prize money of £1,000,000 for the 169th renewal.
Naturally, a bit of digging was needed to make any sense of the new ratings but the first port of call has to be 2015 winner Many Clouds (12/1), the Oliver Sherwood trained nine year old who has been put in this year off of a rating a mere pound higher which looks generous when you look at his form behind the likes of Smad Place, Don Poli, and Cue Card, and as his trainer has made it clear this is his target for 2016 we can easily understand why he now trades as 12/1 favourite.
In 2014, Dr Richard Newland pulled off a shock with Pineau De Re at odds of 25/1 and the now thirteen year old is weighted to have a chance again this year. Rated 143 this season, that is the same mark he carried to victory, and a full eight pounds lower than last year when he ran well enough to finish eleventh and although getting on a bit in racing terms, he may yet have an each way squeak yet is currently priced as big as 50/1
Naturally, the Irish have a very strong hand and if Don Poli (25/1) arrives here (which is not assured), then he seems well handicapped even if trip and track are an unknown quantity though he did win here in December on the other course. He would get a pound from Many Clouds who is at least that amount his inferior over any other fences, and if he takes to them he is the class act who invariably looks better the further he goes
Of the placed horses from last season, runner up Saint Are (33/1) is up three pounds for the 2016 renewal, while fourth placed Alvarado (40/1) (plus three pounds), fifth placed Shutthefrontdoor (25/1) (down a pound), and sixth home Royale Knight (50/1) (plus three pounds) all looking for another big run and not necessarily out of things over this marathon trip with such minor weight changes.
Looking for a couple that appeal to us at this very early stage (and remembering we don’t have a clue about the actual weights to be carried or the going come race day), and Sir Des Champs (40/1) leaps off the page for Willie Mullins for starters. Rated as highly as 173 at his peak he gets in here off of 154 which could yet be extremely generous if the fences wake him up as they sometimes so, a remark that may yet apply to Silviniaco Conti (25/1) for Paul Nicholls. He gets in a full stone lower than his highest mark but has been described by his trainer as a one paced galloper in the past, and with the Gold Cup possibly beyond him now, he could well be targetted here and is worth a second thought at the very least.
Keep checking our Grand National betting tips