Grand National tips: Escaria Ten fits the Aintree bill
Full preview of Aintree’s big race
The Grand National is the world’s most famous steeplechase and a full field of 40 Grand National runners will tackle the marathon 4m2f trip and try to successfully navigate 30 of the toughest fences in horse racing.
Coral is paying six places on each-way Grand National betting and we have a full preview of the big race and some Grand National tips for the Aintree feature which goes to post at 5.15pm on Saturday April 9 and is live on ITV1 and RacingTV.
Escaria is Elliott’s ace
Gordon Elliott has a seven-strong squad assembled as he searches for a record-equalling fourth victory in the Grand National and although his two-time champion Tiger Roll is now enjoying a well-earned retirement, he still has the top of the Grand National market well covered.
DELTA WORK (9/1) crashed Tiger Roll’s retirement party at the Cheltenham Festival when taking the Cross Country Chase and with Elliott using that route to prep both Cause Of Causes (second in 2017) and Tiger Roll (first 2018 and 2019), it seems foolish to leave the former Irish Gold Cup winner out of our Grand National tips shortlist. He has a touch of class and despite carrying plenty of weight, is still only nine and a proven top-level performer.
DELTA WORK could be hard to stop if he gets into a jumping rhythm, but Elliott’s trump card looks to be ESCARIA TEN (11/1), who is our main Grand National tips hope and attempts to provide his Blackburn Rovers-supporting owners, the McNeill family, with the Aintree win they crave.
The eight-year-old showed his love for a stamina test when third in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2021, with two very classy operators barely a length ahead of him at the line.
The winner Galvin is now rated 167 and was sent off the 100/30 second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup recently, with the second, Next Destination, a Grade One winner who has always been held in the highest of regard by connections. That suggests that Escaria Ten could be a handicap snip off a mark of 152 which is only 1lb higher than his official rating.
He made a pleasing reappearance in the Thyestes Chase to blow away any cobwebs and fine-tuned his Aintree preparation when mugged on the line by ANY SECOND NOW (8/1) in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. But with that rival high up in the Grand National betting, the performance only adds further enthusiasm for our Grand National tips selection.
Crafty Cullentra crew can’t be ignored
DELTA WORK and ESCARIA TEN may be Elliott’s main chances of Grand National glory, but don’t be surprised if any of his other runners also get into the mix and all have solid claims of their own.
RUN WILD FRED (14/1) is the choice of two-time winning rider Davy Russell and has finished second in six of his last seven including an Irish Grand National, a National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and a Leopardstown Grade One. He won the other of those seven races when taking the Troytown in November and is a classy operator who shouldn’t be ignored.
DEATH DUTY (40/1) is another of the Elliott battalion who warrants consideration from a feather-weight at the bottom of the handicap. Elliott was at pains to ensure he sneaks into the race, which is perhaps a tip in itself, and he was a winner of the Punchestown Grand National Trial before finishing sixth in the Ultima at Prestbury Park.
Respect the Irish National form
Rhyme N Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde have all won the Irish Grand National before triumphing at Aintree, while Rule The World was second in the race in 2015, before winning on Merseyside a year later.
BURROWS SAINT (22/1) gave the Fairyhouse champions a good account when placing in the race 12 months ago and FREEWHEELIN DYLAN (33/1) looks to have a great chance of enhancing the record following his shock win in the Emerald Isle equivalent in 2021.
If conditions remain relatively dry then Dermot McLoughlin’s veteran looks to tick plenty of boxes and, only 1lb higher than his official rating of 146, he could be able to run amok from the front off a lovely racing weight as one of our Grand National tips.
We have already assessed the claims of the second in last year’s Irish Grand National RUN WILD FRED, but the third, ENJOY D’ALLEN (12/1) is another that enters calculations and is 4lb better off with FREEWHEELIN DYLAN with a three-and-a-quarter lengths gap to bridge.
Ciaran Murphy’s eight-year-old has been picked up by JP McManus prior to this year’s Grand National and his two recent efforts at Leopardstown suggest he is being targeted to strike with one day in mind.
Longhouse could be poetry in motion
Martin Brassil knows all about winning Grand Nationals and his LONGHOUSE POET (16/1) has to make our Grand National tips shortlist having landed a fine gamble in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran.
Brassil last won that Gowran handicap with Numbersixvalverde, who went on to win both the Irish Grand National and this Aintree showpiece in 2006 and this lad looks every inch as good if not better than the handler’s previous Liverpool champion.
The handicapper hasn’t made this the easiest of tasks, but he has a touch of class and his form in the book gives you plenty of optimism there could be plenty more to come from this progressive eight-year-old.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 27, 2022
Here come the girls
SNOW LEOPARDESS (7/1) has been the gamble of the race in recent days and it is easy to see why, with punters latching on to her fan-friendly back story which combines nicely with a solid-looking CV.
She arrives here having won three on the bounce and having relished these fences when gamely holding off Hill Sixteen in the Becher Chase, has shown her suitability for the course. She has also proved she doesn’t mind a stamina test and this gutsy grey is sure to give a bold sight from the front end.
Behind Charlie Longsdon’s mare in that pre-Christmas look at the Grand National fences was DOMAINE DE L’ISLE (100/1), who has snuck into this race and back down to a winning mark.
TOP VILLE BEN (66/1) was loving it from the front before making a real mess of the 12th and he wouldn’t be without a chance having been kept to hurdles to protect his rating following a respectable effort at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
🤯 “How would you put into words that you’ve led-up a Randox Grand National winner?!”
SNOW LEOPARDESS and her devoted groom, Jess, have a truly special bond 🥰 pic.twitter.com/fqN701fnwq
— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) April 5, 2022
The other mares in the line-up are AGUSTA GOLD (66/1) and MOUNT IDA (20/1) as the girls look to end a 71-year wait for a Grand National victory, although Denis O’Regan might need to be at his very best to conjure up some magic on the latter, who could struggle with some of the sharp left-hand turns on this track.
Tough task for last year’s top four
MINELLA TIMES (10/1) was a part of history 12 months ago when carrying Rachael Blackmore to Grand National victory, but the handicapper has walloped him and he is set to carry a mammoth 11st 10lb as he attempts to join the select group of multiple champions.
ANY SECOND NOW was, to most eyes, an unlucky loser last year when third, but he is another to feel the assessor’s wrath and is 7lb higher this time. He showed his well-being with a victory in the Bobbyjo last time over our main Grand National tips fancy ESCARIA TEN and is well worth his place towards the top of the Grand National betting. But it may be a case that last year was his best opportunity to win this race.
Similar applies to the fourth BURROWS SAINT, who was travelling like the winner approaching two out before the petrol tank emptied quickly. Although he is a year older and wiser and is allowed to compete off the same rating this year, he was 42-lengths adrift of ANY SECOND NOW and ESCARIA TEN at Fairyhouse and may be another who has missed his chance to win the race they all want to win.
One from last year’s race that could be under the radar though is DISCORAMA (40/1), who replays will show was right in the mix crossing the Melling Road and perhaps paid the price for a lack of fitness in the closing stages.
He was second in a National Hunt Chase so there is an inclination that it was fitness rather than a lack of stamina that cost him 12 months ago and he could be worth chancing in Grand National tips in first-time cheekpieces off a mark 1lb lower than when seventh in 2021.
Others to note….
As always, the Grand National is a super-competitive race to assess and there is a good chance the winner hasn’t even been mentioned yet in our Grand National tips preview.
Emma Lavelle already had a lively outsider with her former Ladbrokes Trophy winner DE RASHER COUNTER (40/1), but her hand was strengthened when ECLAIR SURF (14/1) snuck into the race at the 11th hour and the form of his Classic Chase win at Warwick and Eider second can’t be sniffed at despite the capability of throwing in the odd jumping blunder.
Colin Tizzard is another handler double-handed and he saddles classy pair LOSTINTRANSLATION (50/1) and FIDDLERONTHEROOF (16/1). The former’s best days are perhaps beyond him now, but the latter has been saved for this race since finishing second in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November.
He has only been seen at Ascot since when second to FORTESCUE (40/1) and with Henry Daly’s winner slowly progressing through the ranks this term, that one-two from the Berkshire track could easily make the frame and warrant a mention in our Grand National tips preview.
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All odds and market correct at date of publication