The Randox Health Grand National: Three longshots to consider in build-up

By Will Hayler
Wed 14 Feb 2018

By Will Hayler

However many toys get thrown out of the pram by trainers upon the publication of the weights for the Randox Health Grand National (and from here, I can’t see a case for much wailing), it seems unlikely that horses allocated 10st 1lb or less in today’s initial list will actually make the final line-up.

That’s a shame, as it effectively eliminates a number of the horses who I had been eyeing as potential ‘live outsiders’ in the contest.

Cogry probably lacks the required class given the way the race has evolved in the last decade or so, but he again ran really well at the weekend and I think he’d love both the fences and the test of stamina (having finished second in the Scottish National).

Off the same weight, connections of Splash Of Ginge will also be disappointed that their dream of a Grand National runner looks most unlikely to be realised this year, while The Young Master’s abject showing in the mud at Newcastle last week may have cost Aintree specialist Sam Waley-Cohen the chance of another ride in the race.

From a pound higher, last season’s Irish National fifth General Principle, a notable eyecatcher over an inadequate trip at the Dublin Racing Festival on his latest start, is also unlikely to make the cut whereas the likes of fellow Gigginstown runners Thunder And Roses and Road To Riches, both of whom appear to not quite be firing at present, could nearly scrape in. Not ideal.

The prospects of Blaklion, Total Recall and The Last Samuri are obvious. Everyone seems to agree that the first-named was set alight too early in last year’s race.

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I’ve no doubt he’ll be ridden with more patience this time, but I’m not sure I’d want to get involved now if I hadn’t already lapped up a bigger price (and a quick scan through Twitter suggests everyone else in the world apart from me has done just that – well done to all of them).

Maggio to win the Grand National at 100-1:

Grand National Day - Crabbie's Grand National Festival - Aintree Racecourse

At 10 times the odds though, I do like the look of Maggio.

This is a horse I’ve been sweet on ever since he did me an each-way favour at 33-1 when finishing second at Haydock more than four years ago – and he has developed a happy habit of winning when the market has given up on him.

Having narrowly missed the cut to make the final National field in 2016, owner and trainer must have been left feeling somewhat bittersweet when seeing him scoot up (at 50-1) in a fiercely-run renewal of the 3m1f handicap chase that precedes the big race by 55 minutes.

At least the 8lb rise he was handed for winning that day means he ought to get a run this year, because he’s had only two opportunities since to show his hand over fences and in neither did he have any realistic chance of success, meaning the handicapper hasn’t been able to ease him right down in the weights.

Sure, he’s 13 now. Trends fanatics won’t entertain him on that basis alone and I’m aware of one racing writer who doesn’t even think he should be allowed to run on that basis. Evidently, I don’t agree with either view. Lest we forget, a 13-year-old beat another 13-year-old in the Welsh National at Chepstow little more than a month ago.

Maggio was far from disgraced over an inadequate trip over hurdles last month at Ayr and a decent showing in the Eider at Newcastle on his next likely start could well put him in the picture, as well as making it clear whether he has the stamina for an Aintree challenge. Make note he is entered in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.

This horse’s owners took the National in 2013 with Auroras Encore. They obviously fancy a second slice of the same very tasty cake, having bought Maggio with this race in mind. He has a considerably better chance of success than his rather dismissive odds suggest.

Cause Of Causes to win the Grand National at 25-1:

2017 Randox Health Grand National Festival - Grand National Day - Aintree

Cause Of Causes is a 25-1 chance, having been 33-1 on Tuesday morning, and that’s also a bet I want to make now.

It’s not just his remarkable record at the Cheltenham Festival that is a bit freakish.

His dam also produced Kris Kin – surely no other broodmare can have been responsible for a Derby winner and a Grand National winner?

I thought last year’s National, in which he was second, was a good renewal. Some decent horses finished out of the frame, there was a healthy number of finishers and the time of the race was tidy.

Cause Of Causes jumped well, travelled well and just found one too good. It’s a shade disappointing that he’s 3lb higher this year, but I’m convinced his campaign will be geared to a greater extent around Aintree this year, despite Gordon Elliott preferring to focus upon his chance of winning yet again at the Cheltenham Festival when recently interviewed (a repeat win in the cross-country chase is the stated target).

Yes, there may have been extenuating tactical circumstances last year for him finishing in front of Blaklion. But maybe, just maybe, it’s because he saw out the trip and Blaklion didn’t.

Seeyouatmidnight to win the Grand National at 50-1:

Cheltenham Races - New Year's Day

My third stab at a decent-priced winner of the National comes in the shape of Seeyouatmidnight, reportedly set to return to action at Kelso next month as Sandy Thomson nurses him back to fitness after an early-season setback.

That, or a spin in one of the Cheltenham handicaps, is likely to be his only start before Aintree and clearly it isn’t a wholly ideal preparation. He has been eased back to a mark of 149, though, the same rating from which he finished third in the Scottish National in 2016.

Despite having been around for a while, the ten-year-old Seeyouatmidnight has astonishingly few miles on the clock and some excellent form in the book. For example, what was the horse with whom he pulled 20 lengths clear of their rivals when finishing first and second in the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham two seasons ago? It was our old friend Blaklion (from whom he receives 12lb here), of course.

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