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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 2020
    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 2020
    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 2020
    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 2020

    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 2020
    Woah, missed this earlier.
    Elegant Escape has had a 2lb (collateral - The Conditional) drop to OR162.  :)
  • edited January 2020
    Not sure you can get 66/1 on yala enki any more: 

    oops yes you can
  • PM your knowledge is astounding, some of this it is hard to understand but you sound like you know what you are talking about when it comes to horses. I have always followed your threads on here too, both a good read and potential tips.

    I don't really understand the handicapping, also the horse weights impact on OR. I don't want you to educate me or put in layman terms but keep up the good work. I am going to Cheltenham this year first time ever and I cant wait, drink/betting what's not to like.

  • PM your knowledge is astounding, some of this it is hard to understand but you sound like you know what you are talking about when it comes to horses. I have always followed your threads on here too, both a good read and potential tips.

    I don't really understand the handicapping, also the horse weights impact on OR. I don't want you to educate me or put in layman terms but keep up the good work. I am going to Cheltenham this year first time ever and I cant wait, drink/betting what's not to like.

    Many thanks @johnnybev1987 - you're too kind. I am a one-trick pony when it comes to the Gee-Gees so you're best advised to follow the many other seriously knowledgeable contributors on here when it comes to racing generally and especially Cheltenham.
    The handicap isn't as complicated as I made it sound - apologies. You'll get the hang of it down at the Festival - some races there are handicaps (horses carry different weights according to their Official Rating, or "mark", like in the GN) but the "top-drawer" racing (Grade 1, eg Gold Cup) is at level weights. Enjoy!!
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  • edited February 2020
    Hmm, Anibale Fly could well be available at bigger now but thoughts of backing him on hold after his run in the Irish GC. Wasn't expecting much but he was beaten a long way out.

    EDIT - interesting aspect to Delta Work’s win today is that, though he probably won’t run, he’ll now most likely relegate Tiger Roll as the highest rated GN entry.
    Defeating 177 rated Kemboy, he is very likely to be re-rated above 172.
    Framing the GN weights on 11 Feb with Delta Work as top weight sets the debate about TR’s weight compression in a somewhat different context. 

  • Mail reporting that Tiger Roll is back in work after a knee operation. 
  • edited February 2020
    Delta Work raised 2lbs to 171 by the Irish handicapper (Kemboy dropped 2 to 175 - not sure the logic of these as there were no excuses yesterday when DW beat him, not that handicaps are likely to be relevant to these boys for the time-being).
    Tiger Roll is also 171 in Ireland but was rated 172 here after the last GN. Adds a new angle to the GN weights' announcement next Tuesday 11 Feb but the Handicapper will cop it whatever he does with TR's mark.
  • edited February 2020
    Hmm, current 2nd favourite for GN Burrows Saint (14-20/1) been matched at 800 and 1000 on Betfair - fat finger or does someone know something? 
  • edited February 2020

    Absolutely spot on. Will he have the balls to face down the O’Drearys?

    Grand National weights: this is what the handicapper should do with Tiger Roll

    The situation in which BHA handicapper Martin Greenwood finds himself came to mind last week, when large parts of Soho were evacuated after a half-tonne World War II bomb was discovered during building work. The leaden, heavy ordnance had not served its intended purpose and lain undiscovered for nearly 80 years.

    There was a relatively happy ending in Soho, where there was a successful deactivation. Greenwood has not been so lucky. The bomb that was left under his chair has gone off.

    Compression of the Grand National weights was brought in by Greenwood's predecessor in charge of staying chasers, Phil Smith. The aim was to attract more high-class horses to run in the race, by giving them lower ratings than they would be allotted in any other handicap.

    The practice has been controversial and is generally seen in handicapping circles as a means for Smith to carve the Grand National in his own image. In fairness, he would be able to legitimately claim that compression has been a success. The desired correlation has been observed, although the causation is harder to prove.

    Over the same period, the race's purse has swelled, while the fences have shrunk. Look at the Ebor, which draws increasingly smart types based on a hefty prize fund and an established route to the Melbourne Cup. It is hard to put the two races side by side and confidently claim that compression alone has brought the big names to Aintree.

    The strong feeling is that Greenwood, who handicapped the National for the first time in 2019 and is understood not to share Smith's fondness of compression, would have quietly defused the issue within a few years. Unfortunately for him, Tiger Roll is the wrong horse – with, frankly, the wrong connections – to let the practice go out quietly. Ka-boom.

    Gigginstown House Stud is owned by Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary, so it comes as no surprise that they are leveraging any perceived advantage to its full extent. It should also be familiar to note that they are ploughing on with the campaign, despite the sense that public opinion is against them. It is only the figures that matter to them. Not, in this case, counted in millions, but just a few pounds.

    Naturally, they have framed their case in the most weighted terms. The campaign started straight after last year's Grand National and it is difficult not to see even the recent skirmish over Dallas Des Pictons' mark for Cheltenham – "we wouldn't cross the road with a mark like that", according to Eddie O'Leary – as a proxy war given that the same horse has since been entered at Aintree.

    Racing Post handicapper Sam Walker dealt with the strict numbers a couple of weeks ago. Basically, if Tiger Roll were to be treated like a given Grand National topweight from recent history, his connections might expect up to 4lb of compression.

    Of course, he is not just any topweight. He is the first multiple winner since Red Rum. Smith, when he handicapped the National, had two favourite tools: compression, and what he liked to call the Aintree factor. What he gave with one hand to top weights, he would take away from those who had previously excelled over the National fences.

    Therefore, the important horse when weighing up Tiger Roll is not Bristol De Mai, nor Exotic Dancer. It is Many Clouds. He is the only Grand National topweight in recent years whose rating was based on a performance over Aintree's Grand National course, specifically his 2015 success. The extent of his compression? 1lb.

    This goes for other returning winners. Ballabriggs had no compression from his mark of 160 the year after he won the National, even though the only horse with a higher rating (Synchronised) was given 6lb. In the case of Mon Mome, who was not a topweight but still carried 11st 7lb when defending his title, the Aintree factor actually held sway. He was raised 2lb.

    A handicapping case for compression does exist. Most Grand National runners get their ratings from races over significantly shorter and it would be reasonable to expect a difference in the pound-per-length scale given that disparity. However, compression is a blunt instrument to address the purported issue and its days are hopefully numbered.

    This year Greenwood does not need to play Gigginstown's game. Even Phil Smith, who seemed to feel an almost romantic sense of duty to the Grand National, would probably have done no more than knock off a token pound or two. If the O'Learys get even that, they should consider themselves to have been treated in line with recent history. It is predicted with confidence that will not be the case.

  • edited February 2020
    Apologies folks. Didn’t spot that RP article was Members only.
    Now copied and pasted above.
  • Peanuts, without visiting the whole thread, who are your current e/w bets in order?
  • edited February 2020
    Peanuts, without visiting the whole thread, who are your current e/w bets in order?
    I’ll explain why in due course but my model’s 2 top picks (rock solid Winning calibre stat profiles - albeit varying in strength according to going and weight) are:
    • ELEGANT ESCAPE (now 28/1) (likely to be #1 selection on GS, assuming he carries <11-07) - 1 prep, seemingly Saturday’s GNTrial at Haydock (much better choice than the GC)
    • KIMBERLITE CANDY (now 20/1) (likely to be #1 selection on Soft) - straight to Aintree
    Currently next best (still evolving of course):
    • NATIVE RIVER (comments this evening from owners cast considerable doubt over him running in the GN unless his GC tilt is derailed)
    • YALA ENKI (now 33/1) - following in Neptune Collonges’ hoof steps with a prep in Saturday’s GNTrial
    I also had a speculative shilling ante-post on Ramses De Teillee at 66/1, before his recent hurdle win. He too is due to run in the GNTrial and needs to put in a competitive run there to make the team - just a safe spin’s fine for EE and Yala Enki.
  • edited February 2020
    Tiger Roll on 170 (up 11lb) along with Delta Work
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