The Grand National is a great spectacle and I offered my initial preview earlier this week assuming the ground would be on the soft side and quite testing. There is no way now that is likely to be the case, so any inclination I had to go towards the more established, older horses is now muted. History suggests that when the ground is decent only a horse between 8-10 years old is worth showing an interest in.
YOU CAN READ MY INITIAL GRAND NATIONAL PREVIEW BY CLICKING **HERE**
What I may add further to those comments is that I do not believe Giles Cross will have a prayer in the conditions this afternoon and he can be excluded from my earlier thoughts. This race will evidently go to a horse in the top half of the weights, with class likely to prevail on the better ground.
Synchronised would be far and away my number one hope to win but my stakes on him are very small as I backed him Antepost and now he is favourite I have an urge to seek the bigger prices. Of those bigger prices I am going to stay true to the chances of ALWAYS RIGHT who hopefully can return to form now his early season problems have hopefully been fixed by the vets.
For a horse lacking in experience he defied the trends to place in the Scottish National and would have won but for charging into the second last fence one would have thought. He is all about stamina and a horse who can run on any type of surface which illustrates just how good he is. Only the best horses can gain results in any type of ground and this is one of them.
Always Right began this season in emphatic style running out a stylish winner against last season Grand National entrant Skipper's Brig. That rival was a very good marker as he had infact beaten the Grand National winner Baillabriggs in a similar C&D event, before that rival progressed onto his famous win.
There is a huge risk behind backing Always Right as he will no doubt be put into a stalking position early on and work his way through the field as it becomes smaller throughout the race. This type of ride can is riddled with obstructions and many who attempt this route can easily be displaced or unseated after a fence.
Elsewhere at Aintree betting opportunities are minimal with Sprinter Sacre a certainty alongside Simonsig to win their events. I am keen to avoid the handicap races having seen some remarkable results already this week and that therefore only leaves me with one likely winner and even he has become the favourite in his race this morning.
ZARKANDAR was readily dismissed into 5th place in the recent Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but it was still a creditable effort when you consider the facts. He was still a five year old, running for a stable who was very much out of form, and a horse who would more than likely find the race unfolding too quickly before him. He looks the best bet of the day at viable odds to win the 2.50 John Smith's Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1).
An extended trip of 2m 4f is ideal for this horse and with his stable now back in form he can turn the tables on Rock On Ruby and displace the 2011 victor of this event Oscar Whisky. The former is also trained by Paul Nicholl's but did all his work at a substitute yard ahead of Cheltenham which meant he did not catch the bug that was swarming the main Nicholl's depot.
Zarkandar already has Aintree form having beaten Kumbeshwar in the Matalan Anniversary Hurdle at this meeting last season. He is a former exuberant Triumph hurdle winner who has had his problems this season but his decent effort in the Champion hurdle can be marked up considerably due to the illness factor and by the fact he had only had one seasonal outing prior to that run.
2-1 is still a fair price about his chance as the only two likely to trouble him are Rock On Ruby and Oscar Whisky. However Rock On Ruby has probably showed his best form now and Oscar Whisky will have spent far too much time working on his stamina this season to prove a capable rival for the superior Zarkandar.
The next time I blog, it will be on the flat! The jumps season in my mind ends on Grand National Day.