The most famous horse race in the world, the Grand National not only has a first prize of £375,000 but also the chance for horses to write their name into racing folklore.
Minella Times helped Rachel Blackmore become the first female jockey to ride the winner of the Aintree showpiece this year, following on from the star’s superb Cheltenham Festival.
There is still a long way to go until we line up on Merseyside again for the big race, but it’s never too early to start planning your bets.
McManus holds the early clues
This year’s victory was a second triumph for the green and gold silks of JP McManus in the Grand National, and if the early ante post markets are anything to go by, he’s in a good spot going into the new season.
Minella Times was probably the cherry on top of a dream season for Henry De Bromhead, having landed all four of the Championship races at Cheltenham.
He was fairly lightly raced ahead of his Aintree assignment, with just two handicap seconds over the winter before the Grand National. He’s likely to be kept to similar events in 2021/22 and will surely be on course for a title defence.
McManus could also call upon the duo of Any Second Now and Time To Get Up. The former was third in the Grand National and while Minella Times will be hit hard 12 months on, he might escape quite the same punishment to his mark.
A Grade 2 and Grade 3 winner, he’s clearly classy and would be prominent in the day’s pools if lining up.
Time To Get Up was second to Monkfish over hurdles, and built up gradually over fences when switched to Jonjo O’Neill’s last season, culminating in victory in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter. He’s clearly laden with stamina and could be an Aintree candidate.
Cheltenham performers also early options
Building a Grand National shortlist this far in advance isn’t easy, but two horses who put up smart runs at the last Cheltenham Festival make plenty of appeal.
Galvin was the antepost favourite for the Scottish National after winning the National Hunt Chase at Prestbury Park, only to miss the Ayr event due to a set-back.
That win at Cheltenham was a fifth straight win for the Ronnie Bartlett-owned gelding and he’s another with oodles of stamina for Aintree’s 4m 2½f test.
Happygolucky wasn’t a winner at Cheltenham but he did nothing to hurt his blossoming reputation.
Kim Bailey’s likeable chaser had won two of his three over fences races prior to the Festival and was duly sent off favourite for the Ultima Handicap Chase. Travelling better than anything turning for home, it looked as though punters were in clover, only for long-time leader Vintage Clouds to pull out plenty more.
The seven-year-old got retribution at Aintree, with an impressive win in a Grade 3 event off a 2lb higher mark. His rating went up 8lb after that victory, so one would expect Kim Bailey to do his utmost to protect that figure ahead of next year’s National.
Tote Betting at the Grand National
Betting with Tote is often fraught with value when it comes to the Grand National. In 2021, 37 of the 40 runners in the race would have paid more betting at Tote.co.uk or via the Tote app, thanks to Tote+, than at SP.
Victor, Minella Times returned a Tote+ dividend of £13.20 in April, versus an industry SP of 11/1.
Overall, the Tote+ pool showed a 112% market compared to an official bookies overround of 146% - meaning it is clear that the value was there for Tote customers.
Check back throughout the National Hunt season for updates to our Grand National tips and thoughts on other races at Aintree.