Grand National 2015 Tips

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Grand National tips

The great thing about betting on horse racing is that everyone who takes part has an opinion, and it is these often vastly differing views that create such interest in the betting markets. None more so than today’s “world’s greatest steeplechase”, the Crabbie’s Grand National (Aintree 4.15) in which tips fly about like confetti right up to the moment the starter sends the runners on their way for the marathon event.

Now, with just 39 horses left in the race following Friday’s surprise defection of Carlito Brigante, everyone can focus on the horses they believe are most likely to get into the thick of the action. One detail still unresolved is who will ride the top weight Lord Windermere? His intended jockey, Robbie McNamara, had a bad fall in Ireland yesterday, but as of Saturday morning, trainer Jim Culloty still had made no decision on who will be aboard the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, currently a 50/1 shot.

Run at Aintree on Merseyside over the unique course that has become so familiar to millions of racing fans across the globe over the years, the Grand National is one of the ultimate tests of the thoroughbred racehorse. While Flat racing essentially focuses on speed, National Hunt racing focuses on stamina. The minimum distance for any jumps race is two miles, but the Grand National is very much a marathon, incorporating 30 awesome fences on a race that lasts almost four-and-a-half miles and is uniquely designed to test the agility, bravery, and stamina of the horses that compete for the crown each year.

No sooner is one new champion crowned than Grand National tips are already volunteered as people air their opinions of which horses are likely to return in 12 months time to have another go at the Liverpool race. The ante-post betting market for the following year’s renewal is established within minutes of the winner crossing the line, but it is following the turn of the year, and then the Cheltenham Festival when a series of decent Grand National trials have been run, that the final complexion of the great race begins to emerge.

The Cheltenham Festival, as usual, provided additional clues to the wellbeing of a number of leading Grand National candidates and there were some notable changes to the market by the time the great meeting reached its thrilling conclusion on March 13.

Amongst the principal movers was Neil Mulholland’s The Druid’s Nephew, who landed the Grade 3 Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase in impressive fashion on the opening day of the fixture and is now a top priced 14/1 fourth-favourite (from 33’s before the race) for the Grand National. Last week the news broke that Mulholland’s rising star will be partnered by top jockey Aidan Coleman in the great race, and Mulholland on Sunday issued a very positive bulleting about the wellbeing of his big-race contender.

In other news earlier this week, David Bass – who rode an Aintree winner yesterday – was booked to ride The Rainbow Hunter (66/1) for Kim Bailey, and Robbie McNamara was confirmed as the big-race partner for the top weight Lord Windermere (40/1), winner of last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Daryl Jacob will be on board last year’s winner Pineau de Re (25/1), and Nick Scholfield, who finished third a couple of years ago on Teaforthree, will partner Jim Culloty’s Spring Heeled (20/1) in the big race as his intended mount.

On Wednesday there were a series of other jockey bookings. Will Kennedy will ride Super Duty for Ian Williams, Brendan Powell rides Royale Knight for Dr Richard Newland, Liam Treadwell is on Monbeg Dude, and David Casey has the mount on Corrin Wood.

On Monday, following the five-day declarations, Philip Hobbs’ Balthazar King (Richard Johnson), runner-up in the race 12 months ago, was clipped across-the-board from 12/1 to 10/1 joint-second-favourite with Paul Nicholls’ Rocky Creek, fifth in last year’s renewal. Probably the highest profile absentee from the declarations was Nicholls’ Benvolio, who may instead bid for the Scottish National next weekend.

There was disappointment though for connections of Jonjo O’Neill’s well fancied Merry King, who will also miss the big race due to a breathing problem, while Nicky Henderson’s Hadrian’s Approach (40/1) has met with a slight setback and is far from certain to be fit in time to take his chance next weekend. There was also heartbreak for jockey Jamie Moore who broke his leg at Towcester on Wednesday and will miss the ride on Peter Bowen’s Al Co (25/1 from 40/1), winner of last season’s Scottish Grand National. On Tuesday Bowen confirmed that Dennis O’Regan has been booked to replace the unfortunate Moore.

Good trainers are capable of planning to have their horse at the very peak of his powers right on the day of the big race itself, and those trainers whose owners like a bet, (or who themselves like to back their judgement with hard cash), took advantage of the ante-post market to develop a portfolio of bets on their horse.

This was very much the case in 2010 when the mighty Tony McCoy partnered the JP McManus-owned Don’t Push It to a famous victory in the Grand National for trainer Jonjo O’Neill. McManus, one of the most fearless punters in the long history of the sport, had his eye on winning at Aintree for many years but had on numerous occasions run out of luck, even when his horses were leading.

On one occasion, his horse was in the lead at Bechers on the second circuit only to be carried out by a loose horse who denied him the chance to jump the fence! In 2010 his Don’t Push It had been available at odds of around 33/1 a week before the race, but steady support for the 10-year-old gelding saw him backed down to 20/1 on the morning of the big event. McCoy’s mount proved a popular choice in the Grand National tips columns of a number of daily newspapers, and by the time the runners jumped away from the starting tape in mid-afternoon he had been the subject of a massive nationwide gamble that saw his odds tumble to just 10/1 joint-favourite.

The rest is history. Given a copybook ride by McCoy, Don’t Push It raced in mid-division for the first circuit, avoiding all the casualties and staying out of trouble. He began to make ground entering the final mile-and-a-half and had moved into second place behind Black Apalachi at the second last fence. With the pair clear of their rivals, McCoy decided to bide his time knowing that the famously long run from the final fence couldn’t be underestimated. He waited until passing The Elbow to ask Don’t Push It to produce a winning surge and his mount answered the call without question, storming past the hapless Black Apalachi to power away to a five-length success and land one of the biggest Grand National gambles in recent history.

McCoy will partner the current hot favourite Shutthefrontdoor in this year’s renewal. Last week more solid support saw last season’s Irish Grand National winner cut from 9/1 to 8/1 across–the-board to give McCoy the perfect send-off, and this week he has been backed again and is now generally 7/1, although on Friday there was some 15/2 and even the odd bit of 8/1 in places. It would indeed by a fairytale finale should McCoy win the big race once again and he may start the shortest priced favourite in the modern era if the gamble continues. Owner JP McManus is also set to be represented by last month‘s Cheltenham Festival winner Cause of Causes (18/1 from 20/1) and appears to have a very strong hand in the quest for the lion’s share of the £1 million prize money.

Don’t Push It had been a significant long-term gamble, but one of the most dramatic late gambles in the history of the race took place in millennium year, 2000, when a flurry of Grand National tips from recognised experts writing for morning newspapers across Britain and Ireland highlighted the chance of 33/1 shot Papillon, the mount of star Irish rider Ruby Walsh, and trained by his father, Ted.

The nine-year-old had been given a quiet preparation for the Aintree showcase event, running third in a Leopardstown handicap hurdle three weeks earlier. It appears however the word was out on the morning of the big race itself, and after being tipped up by a series of pundits the money started pouring in on Papillon. By the time the race began he had been backed all the way down to just 10/1.

In a race where so much can go wrong (and so often does), supporters of Walsh’s charge always knew they had a serious chance of collecting on their bets. The gelding was prominent throughout under his outstanding jockey and jumped like a stag, clearly relishing the challenge of the massive Aintree spruce fences. He took up the running at the fifth fence from home, but then had to fend off a host of challengers, who each took a turn to try and get by the Irish stayer.

One by one they fell by the wayside, but it was only in the last 100 yards that Papillon managed to see off the gallant Mely Moss (under Norman Williamson), whose lack of a previous outing that season probably made all the difference between winning and losing. In the end, Papillon prevailed and landed a monster on-the-day gamble by just a length-and-a-quarter.

So while some people believe it can be a lottery, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Grand National tips can sometimes hit the target, as the recent record of five winning favourites in the last 20 renewals clearly indicates. As ever, keep your ear to the ground and monitor the betting markets right up to the start of today’s great race. It’s key to having a chance to make it pay.