Grand National 2019: Ante Post Tips

That’s the Cheltenham Festival in the record books for another year, and what a Festival it was, providing its usual rollercoaster of highs and lows. The National Hunt season has plenty left in store for racing fans though with the Grand National Meeting at Aintree coming up hot on the heels of the Prestbury Park action.

We have another three-day feast to look forward to on Merseyside, with the runners going under orders for the first race on Thursday 4th April. Of course, to the majority of people the Aintree spectacular begins and ends with the big one, and here we take a look at a selection of the key contenders for the most famous race in the world.

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Tiger Ready To Roll Again

Where else to begin than with the defending Champion, Tiger Roll. The Gordon Elliott trained superstar heads into the race seemingly better than ever having landed a fourth career Cheltenham Festival success in this year’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and is out on his own at the head of the market at 11/2 with Betfair.

That may seem a short price for a race of this nature, but he really doesn’t have many negatives against his chances. True he is 9lbs higher than when holding on by a head from Pleasant Company last year, but such was the manner of his Cross Country victory, that he seems sure to be bumped up above his National mark of 159, and therefore be one of the runners who are officially well in on the handicap. Proven at the distance, over the fences, and in tip top shape he would be an immensely popular winner, and he might just do it.

Fly To Better Last Years Fourth

Also likely to head into the race with a few pounds in hand is another of the Irish raiders, Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly. Rated 164 (also his Grand National rating) headed into this seasons Cheltenham Gold Cup, he ran a screamer – and to our eyes a big career best – when storming up the hill to finish second to Al Boum Photo. A rise in his handicap mark surely awaits.

This one also ticks the course and distance form box having finished fourth off 5lb lower in the race last year. That was a fine effort and one which can be upgraded considering he was very badly hampered at the first fence and had to use up a lot of energy when coming from a mile back. Having been given a much lighter campaign than twelve months ago, he really caught the eye in the way he finished at Cheltenham and is a must for the shortlist at 12/1 with Ladbrokes.

Hemmings Duo Looking Good

Amongst racehorse owners, there perhaps aren’t any who target the Grand National to the extent that Trevor Hemmings does. Hemmings focus on stamina laden chasers has already borne fruit three times in the past, with Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds all carrying his yellow and green quartered silks to Grand National success.

With three amongst the current entries, Hemmings looks set to have another crack at the race this year, and whilst Warriors Tale can’t be discounted, the two we like are Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad.

Second and third respectively in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival the manner in which they stayed on up the hill at the end of that 3m1f contest bodes well for the even greater demands placed on stamina here. Both merit a look each way. Vintage Clouds can be backed at 16/1 with BetVictor, whilst Lake View Lad is available at a big looking 25/1 with Ladbrokes.

Walk To Win It For Walford

When it comes to weighing up the chances of the contenders, one of the key things to look for is previous form of these most formidable of obstacles. One runner who scores top marks on this front is the Robert Walford trained, Walk In The Mill. This nine year old son of Walk In The Park may not have run in the National itself before, but he did win what is perhaps the key trial for this race when forging clear on the run in in this seasons Becher Chase.

Looking a natural on his first encounter with the famous national obstacles that day, the subsequent hike to a mark of 144 will almost certainly ensure that he makes the final cut for this years race. Don’t pay too much attention to his two recent defeat as they each came over hurdles and over an inadequate trip, and likely served the main purpose of getting him primed and ready for the big one. At 33/1 with BetVictor he looks an appealing each way proposition.

Feel The Rath

Our final horse for the shortlist is Rathvinden from the powerful Irish yard of Willie Mullins. Mullins heads into the meeting on a high having landed a first career Cheltenham Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo, and there will be plenty who like his chances of claiming the biggest of big race doubles with this 11 year old son of Heron Island.

A winner of the National Hunt Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, we need have no concerns with this one on the stamina front, and he could hardly arrive in better form. Last sighted cruising home in a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse, he was bumped up to 159 by the Irish handicapper on the back of that win. Having already been handed a mark of 154 for this, he looks just the type of well handicapped dour stayer needed for success. Successful with Hedgehunter in 2005 and a narrow second with Pleasant Company last year, don’t be surprised to see Mullins go close once more. Rathvinden can be backed at 14/1 with bet365.