I always like to have a good look at the big Saturday races on the Sunday before, as on Monday morning the entries are confirmed, and as such the market on Sunday night is always a good time to get in, as it can be shaken up quite considerably just a day later. Next weekend’s big betting handicap is the Becher Chase.
Two horses who I expect to be confirmed, and also expect to give a very bold showing over the big fences on Saturday are last year’s winner Chance Du Roy and Saint Are. Ladbrokes are top price about both at 12/1 and 20/1, and it is well worth securing these prices each-way now.
Chance Du Roy’s claims are clear for all to see – winner of last year’s race, a faller when going very well in the Grand Sefton the year before, 2nd in the 2012 Topham and a very creditable sixth in last year’s Grand National. He simply loves those fences, and in addition to that Phillip Hobbs’ chasers (and in particular his older ones) have been carrying all before them.
As a 10-year-old, in any normal race he could be vulnerable to sprightly young rivals, but the races over the National fences are the domain of the battle-toughened, experience-laden horses. Chance Du Roy fits the bill perfectly, and I can’t see him being a 12/1 shot on the day.
Saint Are is an Aintree fanatic, he has won twice on the Mildmay course and got round in the 2013 National without ever troubling the judge. Things went a bit pear-shaped when trained by Tim Vaughan, but he has clearly enjoyed his switch to the Tom George yard.
He ran an eye-catching race at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power meeting and was mixing it with Sam Winner and The Druids Nephew for a long way. That run will have brought him on and Tom George will surely have targeted this race with a horse he’ll view as a replacement for his National-fences stalwart Big Fella Thanks.
Saint Are is extremely well handicapped and George will be buoyed by the dry weekly forecast as the better the ground, the better Saint Are’s chance. He is no 20/1 shot.
Chance Du Roy (each-way) – 12/1 (Ladbrokes)
Saint Are (each-way) – 20/1 (Ladbrokes)