While racing fans and punters still have the rather substantial treat of the Cheltenham Festival to look forward to, the release of the weights for the Grand National have stoked the fires of interest in the April showpiece.
As expected by most, Tiger Roll has been treated the most harshly by the handicapper, and at the top mark of 170 he will now need to make history in more ways than one.
The Gigginstown favourite is looking to become the first horse to win three consecutive editions of the Aintree feature, but to do so he will have to beat the field in the marathon slog from a top weight of 11-10 – you have to go back to Red Rum, ironically the only other three-time National champion, to find the last time that a winner fought off such a heavy handicap.
The Grand National betting market is live, and despite being top weight Tiger Roll has already been backed into 5/1 to create a stunning piece of history.
And, given the weight of money that ‘mug punters’ are likely to pile in with leading up to the race, Gordon Elliott’s could go off at a ridiculously short 2/1 in arguably the hardest race to win in the world.
The spokesman for Ladbrokes Coral, Simon Clare, said:
“We go 5/1 about Tiger Roll and it’s not stretching credibility to suggest he could go off at half those odds on the day – or even shorter.”
The field is 12/1 bar, and that suggests that the ‘Anyone But Tiger Roll’ market, which will be priced up nearer the time, could be plundered heavily by sharper punters. The top horses currently in the betting are shown in the table below.
|Tiger Roll||Gordon Elliot||11st 10lbs||5/1|
|Burrows Saint||Willie Mullions||10st 10lbs||12/1|
|Native River||Colin Tizzard||11st 6lbs||14/1|
|Kimberlite Candy||Tom Lacey||10st 4lbs||16/1|
|Walk In The Mill||Robert Walford||10st 4lbs||16/1|
|Definitely Red||Brian Ellison||10st 10lbs||20/1|
|Le Breuil||Ben Pauling||9st 13lbs||20/1|
This River May Not Run
Ironically, one of the horses most likely to contest the spoils with Tiger Roll may not even start the Grand National.
Native River, a former Gold Cup winner, is expected to run well from a lower mark than the favourite, but his owner Garth Broom has claimed that he will only make a decision on his Aintree declaration after the Cheltenham Festival.
The Colin Tizzard horse is expected to try his luck for a second Gold Cup triumph, and he will only then go on for a crack a the National if he gets through the Cheltenham showpiece in good order.
“We are not ruling it out completely, but I think it’s unlikely and I wouldn’t go saying anyone should back him for the Grand National until after the Gold Cup,” said Broom, who owns the horse with his wife Anne as part of Brocade Racing.
“I think he has been dealt with fairly and have no complaints about his weight – I think it’s very reasonable.
“We have to get the Gold Cup over first and see how he comes out of it. If he puts everything into the Gold Cup as he has done before, then, if you look, he has not run again after his Gold Cup efforts.”
After a quiet time of it last season Native River has been somewhere near his best again this term, beating the likes of Might Bite and Black Corton in the Many Clouds Chase before winning the Denman Chase by a handy margin too.
Native River delivers! ?
He wins the Betfair Denman Chase at @NewburyRacing!
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) February 8, 2020
His absence would be something of a blow to any ‘Anyone but Tiger Roll’ backers!