Published: 14:47 08/04/2011
40 Horses are set to go to post for the 2011 John Smith's Grand National, and while that falls some way short of the 66 that competed for the 1929 renewal, this years' race will rank as one of the most open in recent history.
With a top weight of 11s 10lb and a bottom of 10s 2lb, all horses will be running off their official mark, and it is difficult to completely write off many participants.
The Paul Nicholls trained What A Friend is the class act of the race, and has got in lightly off 11s 6lb considering the 8 year-old is a dual grade 1 winner, and Daryl Jacob's mount was only a nose behind Kato Star when fourth behind Long Run in this seasons' Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 14/1 currently available with totesport about the son of Alflora is the best value among those at the head of the market.
Big Fella Thanks, 18/1 with totesport and sportingbet, is now in the care of staying handicap chase specialist Ferdy Murphy, and with Grand National winning jockey Graham Lee likely to employ more patient tactics this time, the 9 year-old will be a threat to all if avoiding trouble in running.
Although last years' third State of Play has not seen the racecourse for twelve months, Evan William's charge will be a fresh horse who should run another solid race, and makes plenty of each-way appeal at totesports 28/1.
Two places behind State of Play last year was Scottish Grand National winner Hello Bud, a general 33/1 chance tomorrow.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, responsible for previous winners Earth Summit and Bindaree, Sam Twiston-Davies' mount may be 13 years old but has been trained with this race in mind all season, and is sure to run a huge race with his prominent style of running and confident jumping set to have many of his rivals in trouble by the second circuit.
For those looking for a realistic longshot, the one that takes the eye is another Paul Nicholls inmate in the shape of The Tother One.
Bet365 are quoting 66/1 and five places about the amateur ridden 10 year-old, who was a creditable fourth in this seasons' Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.
Still lightly raced over fences, the horse has many decent performances to his name, including a 4l second behind Nacarat in Wetherby's Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, and if taking to the Grand National fences the thorough stayer can outrun his massive price by some way.