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Grand National 2020

Afternoon Folks,

I appreciate this is an early start for the thread this year, since entries don’t close for a few weeks yet, but it is an unusual situation with Tiger Roll aiming for an unprecedented hat trick.

Importantly from my perspective, making the (pretty safe) assumption that he’ll carry top weight if he runs (regardless of possible weights compression and competition), even with the best possible prep under his belt having recovered from his setback, my model rates Tiger Roll, carrying 11.10, at best as “strong run but no cigar”.

That’s the first time in 3 years that the model I’ve used has not given him a winning chance. Having painfully passed him by in the last 2 GNs I’m aiming to use his strength in the ante-post market this time to an advantage by (hopefully) exploiting a little value elsewhere - value that could disappear at any moment, of course, should the Tiger’s return from injury be derailed (or ultimately should O’Leary take exception to the GN weights).

With that in mind, based on assessments of probable GN stat-ratings at the Off, my main ante-post wager is on:

ELEGANT ESCAPE each-way at 28/1 (Bet365 – 5 places ¼ odds)

While his stat-rating may be relatively stronger or weaker when all moving parts come to rest, its winning calibre is robust to key variables: Tiger Roll’s participation, weights, going and (barring a serious mishap) his prep.

Naturally I’m making an assumption about EE’s participation but the GN would seem his natural target and, having given him a GN entry last year and later concluding that he’s “just a gear short” of being a Gold Cup contender, one would think it's very much in connections' minds - that’s not to say he won’t have a GC entry again of course as one prep option but, for me, his perfect (sole) prep race would be the (post-GN weights) Denman Chase.

I’ll write up his stat-profile in due course but he’s currently top of the pile for me and sure to be on my betting slip if lining up on 4 April. Most unlikely to be as long as 28s then, regardless of whether the Tiger also lines up.


  • And they’re off....
  • I think that Elegant Escape is a great call. I notice that Skybet are 25/1 for 4 places, but are going "Non-Runner No Bet". Might be worth considering. 
  • the annual CL Classic .. welcome back Peanuts
  • The takeover AND the start of the GN thread in one week. Does it get much better 😀
  • Superb.  Nice to see you to see you...
  • Fascinating insight. Thank you Peanuts.
  • edited January 11
    What a impressive win by Kimberlite Candy. Bob's cut him to 25s for the big one. “We’ll definitely see about Aintree, it’s definitely an option, but it will have to be soft ground for him." - Tom Lacey, trainer.
    Capt. Chaos took no prisoners setting the pace and, though he travelled well, The Conditional clearly didn't see out the trip.
    Soft (GS places).
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  • Absolutely brilliant stuff, Peanuts. Great to see a lovely early start to this thread, though I've still got eyes on Cheltenham for the time being. I'll keep any AP festival thoughts on the other thread!

    He will likely need an awful lot of horses to come out, but I would be intrigued to see how Cogry would perform in the GN. A very, very game horse who has won beyond three miles on various occasions, while the evident change in the nature of the fences (for safety) could well be to his advantage, as he hasn't always jumped too fluently. 50s are available with bookies, while the exchanges are in the small triple figures. Powder still very much dry for now though.

    Walk in the Mill would give a good account of himself but at 20s, that's a bit skinny. Based on odds offered vs exchanges and other bookies, if you can get more than £3.65 on with Bob's lot, then there appears to be some value in Le Breuil at 50/1. One other bookie offers 40s, no others offer more than 25s or 33s. He won the 4-miler at last year's Cheltenham Festival, and today's run - in the race won by Kimberlite Candy - can be excused after being hampered and left with no chance. Trip could be a bit long for now though, as he's only 8.
  • edited January 12
    Cheers @PaddyP17
    Agree with your ruminations re Cogry. He's had such a weird career - so near yet so far in many ways but he's never been in better form and is not too old to figure as an 11 yo. 11 runners aged 11~13 have made the first 5 home (2 as winners) since 2013. Running style, with the pace, suits of course.
    For what it's worth, he has the "X" Factor on his dam-side and that 3m2f chase he won at Cheltenham in Dec (for 2nd year running) was the same race won by Mon Mome in his 2009 GN-winning season.
    Obviously had his issues jumping but wouldn’t be specifically worried he departed early on only sighting of the fences to date (2016 Becher) - Pineau De Re did likewise before his 2014 win.
    NT-D's confirmed the GN as the target (not surprisingly) and you'd be disappointed not to get in with OR144 (OR143 guaranteed it last 2 years but 145 was needed in 2016). If Tiger Roll runs that would surely mean just 10-00 on his back, even with compression. In theory he could be 4lbs O/H, but I can't believe the handicapper won't knock 2 or 3lbs off Tiger (and some off Bristol De Mai and Native River if they're entered) to avoid O'Leary being an even bigger arse than he is every day of the week.
    From my model's perspective, enough on his CV at 28-32f such that he just needs a safe prep somewhere to complete a nice stat-profile with definite place potential (strong if it's a win or near-miss but not raising his mark) but likely to be the bridesmaid once again. 
    One to keep an eye on for sure from an e/w value perspective.
  • edited January 14
    Morning folks,
    So, unsurprisingly, the handicapper has hiked Kimberlite Candy 10lbs for his romp home on Saturday, to OR150. That assures a run on 4 April if connections so wish.
    Unfortunately for Walk In The Mill, he's copped an extra 3lbs (also to OR150) as a "collateral" rise, owing to KC's win and their proximity in the Becher. Still puts him theoretically 7lbs well in with KC at 26f but, over the the extra mile, that advantage may prove illusory. 
    Anything is possible when it comes to the handicapper and the GN but, given that O'Leary could withdraw him if his mark's not reduced ("compressed") and that all those with OR147 or less would run from out of the handicap, I think it's highly likely that Tiger Roll's mark will be dropped when the GN weights are announced in Feb.
    Bristol De Mai was entered last year also with a prevailing OR172 and he was dropped 4lbs to OR168, but he wasn't proven around the GN course so I can't see he how a drop to less than OR168 could be justified. Assuming that 4lbs is the most that Tiger's OR is likely to drop, that would mean WITM and KC would be due to carry 10.06 - less if the handicapper were less generous to Tiger and probably more if Tiger doesn't run. 
    WITM carried 10.04 (OR144) last time when 16L 4th and, while his stats indicate he should go well and (if avoiding misfortune) could make the frame again, it's difficult to see why he should fare materially better this time. 
    OR150 won't dent KC's winning-calibre GN stat-profile - the one issue being that he would much prefer soft ground. Whether GN-style Good to Soft would disadvantage him critically is the big unknown. He didn't look comfortable last season in the 4m Eider (14.5L 5th) on quicker ground but he's only 8 and has clearly progressed this season.

    Le Breuil -3lbs to OR145 (should make the cut)
    Crosspark -2lbs to OR142 (touch and go - unlikely)
    The Conditional -2lbs to OR140 (no chance)

    Further update on another ante-post dabble shortly.
  • edited January 14

    Having cashed out at a loss (a bit less than expected – cheers Bob. I guess, ominously, that means you welcome my custom :/ ) on The Conditional after Saturday’s race, my AP ticket for the GN was looking thus (e/w with Bet365, 5 places ¼ odds):

    • Elegant Escape 28/1
    • Kimberlite Candy 50/1

    There is certainly value to be had elsewhere with Tiger heading the market but, as we’re still waiting on entries (later this month) let alone weights (mid-Feb), acting on my model's first cut at the race is obviously based on some key assumptions. So I’m only going to add a 3rd now if (in my view) there's a seriously appealing risk-reward.

    EE’s winning-calibre stat-profile is robust as regards ground (and weight-rise, though a tad weaker if he carried more than 11.06 [should now be 11.00~11.04 depending on whether Tiger's OR is compressed]), KC’s is appreciably stronger on soft but still viable on GS, according to my model. Despite also much preferring soft ground, there’s one more that IMO stands out as being too tasty to resist taking a nibble ....... so I've added:

    • Yala Enki at 66/1 (Bet365 once again).

    Not even a quote on Betfair, which is surprising given Nicholls’ comments after YE’s fine close 3rd, lumping 11-07 but staying on in the (now 30.5f) Welsh National on Heavy last time out:

    “Giving all that weight away he ran well. I’ve got to persuade the owner to let me run him in the Grand National. He is just like Neptune Collonges – he stays and stayed on strongly. To me he would be ace around Aintree and they make sure it is soft around there. He doesn’t have to have a bog and Aintree always has plenty of cut in it now.”

    Unlike Neptune Collonges (who won with 11-06 in 2012), if Tiger Roll lines up, even with 4lbs weight compression, YE would carry <11 stone at Aintree (assuming he retains his current OR157, +2lbs for Chepstow). By the way, at current ratings, that would put him 9lbs “well-in” with Potters Corner (also GN-targeted - best-price 33/1). Assuming a safe prep (he's entered for a 28f chase at Taunton on Saturday) and that he’s sub-11.00 on 4 April, my model gives him a winning chance on Soft and strong place potential on GS, though the strength of his chance would be slightly impaired if 11.00+.

    Obviously, at 66/1 there are risks attached. 

    Will his owners let him take his chance? Who knows but, personally, I can’t see why you’d move a 10 yo staying chaser (who's already done well for you) to Nicholls if you’re not prepared to shoot for the biggest prize of all, given that Grade 1's out of reach (no GC entry this time).

    As regards GN ground specifically, I don’t agree with Nicholls' comment. “GN Good-to-Soft” may be appreciably slower than typical pre-2013 GNs but it can still be on the quick side, as the RP’s time-based assessments of the ground (as “Good” for 4 of the 5 GNs since 2013 run on officially Good to Soft) indicate.

    However, I do have sympathy with his view that YE doesn’t need a bog to perform. He’s never won on Good ground (and struggled on it in the 28f GNTrial at Haydock last year) but, in his first run this season, he travelled and jumped the stiff Newbury fences well at a decent clip (with the pace, carrying 11-07) over the first 2¼ miles of a Hennessy run on GS, but in a time fast of standard. He got outpaced and swallowed up by younger and speedier steeds approaching the home bend but there’s another mile to run in a GN and, providing he takes to the fences, it's not unreasonable to figure he could be competitive with any reasonable juice in the ground (i.e. proper GS).

    There's only upside if it's softer and, for what it's worth, the long-range forecast for Liverpool from Accuweather (obviously a sizeable margin of error applies) shows a consistently wet end to March and a consistently wet start to April. Maybe connections would scratch him if it were quick ground but what’s for sure is that he’d be going off at a fraction of 66s if it were to come up soft (as it did in 2016 and 2018). 

  • edited January 14
    Woah, missed this earlier.
    Elegant Escape has had a 2lb (collateral - The Conditional) drop to OR162.  :)
  • edited January 14
    Not sure you can get 66/1 on yala enki any more: 

    oops yes you can
  • edited 9:14AM
    Good news this morning if you took the 66s on Yala Enki last week. Having lifted the 28f Portman Cup at Taunton on Saturday (as, on paper, he should have at the level weights), the handicapper's left his OR unchanged on 157 - the winning distances pretty much reflecting current handicap marks.
    He's now 20s with Bob's mob (25-33 with others). Soft ground would be preferred for YE (though I strongly suspect genuine GS would be fine), so I certainly wouldn't add him this far out at current prices. Yet to confirm he'll even be entered, though Nicholls is very keen on a GN tilt and he was given an entry last year by Venetia Williams.
    Elsewhere on Saturday, Magic Of Light won nicely on testing ground over hurdles. Seems like this genuine mare's stamina is bottomless and she's now 16-20s to go one better than last year in the GN. She'll take in 2 more preps beforehand, including the Mares hurdle at the Festival. Trainer and jockey believe the 9 yo's improved this season and they may well be right but she'll need to have done, given the probable weights.  
    At Haydock, Vintage Clouds managed to stay upright and ran out a convincing winner of the 26f Peter Marsh at Haydock (heavily eased at the line). He's not taken to the GN fences in 2 attempts and won't be lining up there. Definitly Red stayed on to be 2nd (slightly flattered by the 7L margin). He was badly hampered and put out of the race early in his only GN run 3 years ago and has been attracting money since his 4th (15L) in December's Becher Chase - now generally 25/1. A former Charlie Hall and Cotswold Chase winner and twice winner of the Many Clouds Chase round Aintree's Mildmay course, he's now OR156, down 11lbs from his peak in the handicap 2 years ago (which matched his RPR high of 167). Despite that and a win at 26f on his CV, his stat-profile's not currently strong enough to suggest he'll be in the mix at the business end on 4 April.
    Another northern-trained runner, Takingrisks (last year's Scottish National winner,  who took the Rehearsal Chase nicely at Newcastle last run over fences, despite a +8lb OR hike) had a reasonable spin over hurdles at Haydock, protecting his OR147 chase mark (+12lbs since the Ayr marathon) for the GN, which is his definite target. That rating should assure him a run and around 10-00 for the GN and the 11 y-o will certainly appreciate the Spring ground at Aintree but his stats aren't strong enough as yet to merit support. He was pushed out to 50s by Bob after Saturday.
    More anon.
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