Famous Irish owner JP McManus is no stranger to big-day gambles. He is also no stranger to landing a huge punt in the Aintree Grand National.
Don’t Push It won the prestigious race in 2010, backed from 22-1 all the way into 10-1 joint-favourite on the day. In the hands of Tony McCoy, the horse duly obliged and no doubt McManus won a lot of money to boot.
The wealthy businessman pumps a huge amount of money into the sport for pleasure. In doing so, he directly and indirectly creates hundreds of jobs for people across the industry and keeps small trainers in business.
Nobody could begrudge the man another Grand National winner given his contributions to the game. But which of his runners is the one that he is likely to put his money on?
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McManus National contenders
Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly finished 5th in this race in 2019 from a mark of 164. That was after finishing runner-up in the Gold Cup a few weeks earlier. His form has been very patchy since but he is now 9lb lower.
Kimberlite Candy is a proper stayer and won the Classic Chase at Warwick in January 2020. He has only ran once since but he has finished second from two starts over these fences at Aintree. The ground may be on the quick side for him.
On paper, Any Second Now could be JP’s best chance of success. The 9-year-old was very strong in the betting when bolting up in a Navan Grade 2 last time out. That was the perfect prep for this and the former Kim Muir winner is a very likely stayer.
Nicky Henderson doesn’t have too good a record with his marathon chasers and Ok Corral might struggle in this. Granted, he was a winner of the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster but he was pulled up lame at Cheltenham when last seen and has a lot to prove.
Alan King’s Canelo is a smart chaser but is unproven over marathon distances. He looked very one paced over 3m 2f at Doncaster latest and his mark might also be too high.
The Long Mile is an under the radar Irish challenger for the Dempsey yard. There was plenty to like about his 3rd in the Bobbyjo Chase over the extended 3m 1f, doing his best work late on. Looks a stayer in the making.
Is Rachael on the money horse?
Leading jockey Rachael Blackmore had an incredible Cheltenham Festival and is the confirmed mount for Minella Times. Trained by Henry de Bromhead who won the Champion Chase and the Gold Cup, every chaser of his deserves a lot of respect.
The 8-year-old Oscar gelding has never gone further than three times to date in his career. However, he looked like a stayer in the making when runner-up in both the Paddy Power Chase and Leopardstown Handicap Chase.
He might not want the ground to dry out too much but he could be thrown in from a rating of just 146. It would be no surprise to see this horse halve in price between now and the big race on Saturday.