GIngertipster’s horse-by-horse guide to the John Smith’s Grand National

I’m indebted to Gingertipster, a regular poster on TRF, for permission to re-publish his annual Grand National formguide

2012 AINTREE GRAND NATIONAL 4m4f

1) 13-P0311 SYNCHRONISED Saddlers Wells – Mayasta (Bob Back) 9-11-10
J P McManus / Jonjo O’Neill / A P McCoy (handicap mark in race 161-168 in future)
With big guns disappointing Synchronised won a substandard Gold Cup (3m2½f good), beating The Giant Bolster 2¼ lengths. Form which still gives a good chance of winning this. Now just 20 lbs worse off with The Midnight Club who was 63 lengths behind in 7th. 2010 Welsh National (3m5½f soft) and Midlands National (4m1½f heavy) winner Synchronised was suited by the test of stamina a strong pace provided at Cheltenham. Already 7 lbs well-in on official ratings and every chance of further progress at this extreme trip. Despite a roundish action is proven on good as well as heavy. Biggest problem to him winning could be the fences. Usually makes mistakes, doesn’t give them much room and sometimes skews on landing but has so far always found a leg.

2) 11/1121-4 BALLABRIGGS Presenting – Papoose (Little Bighorn) 11-11-09
Trevor Hemmings / Donald McCain / Jason Maguire (160-160)
Donald could become the first since father “Ginger”and Red Rum to win back to back Nationals. Not visibly well treated after upped 10 lbs for 2¼ length victory over Oscar Time giving him 5 lbs. 12 lbs worse off with 4th State Of Play 16¼ lengths away. Now a stone worse off with 6th The Midnight club who he beat a total of 27¼ lengths. The others who re-oppose did not finish. Almost lost 2010 Kim Muir after being clear over final fence, idling badly. It’s possible Ballabriggs is better than winning distances in the Grand National suggests, only doing just enough to win. Prolific winner of 6 of last 8 starts, only defeats in that time when unfit for National preps. Only one target this season. Best efforts so far on good, though impressive winner earlier in career on soft. Races prominently. Made one or two mistakes in last year’s race, particularly at Valentines, but generally jumps well.

3) 1/10P-13P WEIRD AL Accordian – Bucks Gift (Buckley) 9-11-08
Brannon, Dennis, Dick, Holden / Donald McCain / Timmy Murphy (159-164)
Moved to last year’s Grand National winning trainer Donald McCain at start of the season. Won Charlie Hall (3m1f good), beating Time For Rupert 3½ lengths with another 27 lengths back to a below par Chicago Grey, giving them both 3 lbs. Now only 6 lbs worse off with latter. Is well handicapped on evidence of finishing 10 lengths behind Kauto Star (2 behind Long Run) in Betfair Chase (3m Good-soft). It’s possible being held up in a strongly run race slightly flattered him. Put away until the Gold Cup 4 months later, usually runs well fresh but soon beaten after breaking a blood vessel, also bled in 2011 renewal. Ran poorly all three starts beyond 3m1f, but excuses each time. By Accordian who is a good stamina influence and brother to St Leger winner Sonus. Dam’s sire Buckley won Doncaster Cup. Weird Al has a good chance of staying the Grand National trip but will need a quick recovery. Acts on soft and good ground. Usually jumps well.

4) 106-P422 NEPTUNE COLLONGES Dom Alco – Castille Collonges (El Badr) 11-11-06
John Hales / Paul Nicholls / Daryl Jacob (157-162)
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls relies on this one time top class grey (almost white) to break his Grand National duck. Beaten just 7 lengths, 3rd in Denman’s Gold Cup (3m2½f) on good ground. Not as good nowadays but handicap mark reflects that. Best effort for some time upped to 3m4f on heavy latest start. Winner of 6 of 8 races on that surface. Found plenty and only went down by a neck trying to give 21 lbs (if taking in to account Harry Derham’s 7 lb claim) to Giles Cross. Now 2 lbs better off with that rival and officially 5 lbs well-in. Very genuine in a finish but has sulked if unable to get a prominent position. Usually jumps well despite his size. A still longer distance could bring Neptune Collonges closer to his best. Outsider with a chance.

5) 2F-0511 CALGARY BAY Taipan – Dante’s Thatch (Phardante) 9-11-06
Camilla Radford / Henrietta Knight / Dominic Elsworth (157-159)
Big brute, one of the best looking horses in training. Races off a mark 12 lbs higher than two starts ago (both handicap wins) raised 6 lbs each time. Jumped well last time out, giving 7 lbs and a 2½ length beating to Shakalakaboomboom, and only 1 lb worse off here. Failed to run to form all 5 attempts at further than 3 miles. Too free in 2010 Gold Cup (3m2½f). Fell at 4th only start beyond that distance in Grand National last year. Sire Taipan not noted for producing stayers. Calgary Bay seems highly unlikely to be suited by the trip especially if the ground turns testing. Raced mainly on good to soft or good. Seems to find more off the bridle than he used to.

6) F-6041UP ALFA BEAT Environment Friend – Belle D’anjou (Saint Cyrien) 8-11-05
Irvin Naylor / John Hanlon IRE / D N Russell (156-)
Weakened late, probably through lack of stamina, 4th in 2011 National Hunt Chase (4m good). Now 6 lbs worse off with winner Chicago Grey despite beaten 15¾ lengths. Never looked threat and Fell 15th in Topham over National fences. Bought and changed stables. First time blinkered, won Kerry National (at 3m a National in name only) for second successive year in September. Alfa Beat was put away afterwards and things haven’t gone right on return. Stumbled and unseated rider without an obstacle in sight. Then soon beaten and pulled up in Bobbyjo Chase in late February. Successful on firm and soft surfaces. Wears blinkers, as he’s done on last 3 starts.

7) F01/35-23 PLANET OF SOUND Kayf Tara – Herald The Dawn (Dubassof) 10-11-05
Charles Lloyd-Baker / Philip Hobbs / Richard Johnson (156-156)
Won Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup (3m1f Good) in 2010 in first time tongue tie (worn in every race since). Beat past his best War Of Attrition (levels) 3½ lengths. Reappearance 3¾ lengths 2nd trying to give 12 lbs to Carruthers in Hennessey. Form not worked out, first 6 home not won since. Disappointing 17 lengths behind Nacarat in Racing Plus (3m good). Best two performances over furthest he’s raced. Sire Ascot Gold Cup winner Kayf Tara. Distaff side mainly staying family. Great grand dam Frozen Dawn ran well in Welsh National, sister to Dawn Run’s dam and family of Scottish National winner Brasher. Planet Of Sound’s very best form is on good or good-soft. Can makes mistakes. Tongue tied.

8) 51U/022/2 BLACK APALACHI Old Vic – Hattons Dream (Be My Native) 13-11-03
Gerard Burke / Dessie Hughes IRE / Denis O’Regan (154-)
No teenager has won the Grand National since Sergeant Murphy in 1923. Different race nowadays. Of the last 800 horses in 21 years to run only 25 (3%) were 13 years old. So just one win in that time would turn a bad statistic in to a good one. Dropped to same mark (initially upped 5 lbs) as his 2010 Grand National 5 lengths 2nd on Good, receiving 1 lb from Don’t Push It. Only 3 lbs worse off with Hello Bud some 30 lengths behind. Absent almost 2 years and possible age is catching up with Black Apalachi, but don’t write him off. Encouraging 2nd in Bobbyjo Chase over inadequate 3m1f (heavy) on return. Making up many places in home straight. Has cheek pieces reapplied here, last 5 races with them having form figures of 11U22.

9) 6/3U34-1F DEEP PURPLE Halling – Seal Indigo (Glenstal) 11-11-03
Paul Green / Evan Williams / Jamie Moore (154-152)
Stable third string. Not ideal prep, already struggling when fell in Racing Plus Chase last time out (February). Deep Purple goes well after a break and won London National (3m5½f good-soft) on reappearance. Gave runner-up Do it For Dalkey 26 lbs and 3 length beating off a mark of 149; now 5 lbs higher. Possibly suited by very slow pace on first try over extreme trip. Not certain to stay 4½ miles. Dam winner up to 1½m, sire Halling and Deep Purple himself 1¼m performers on flat. Best on flat tracks and successful on ground no softer than good-soft. Can sulk if getting behind.

10) 31/321-02 JUNIOR Singspeil – For More (Sanglamore) 9-11-02
Middleham Park Racing LI / David Pipe / Tom Scudamore (153-158)
Winner at both Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival. Upped 19 lbs since impressive 24 length Kim Muir success. Beaten on the nod first chase start since; trying to give 22lbs to Ikorodu Road in Grimthorpe. Winner franked form by following up at Newbury by 4½ lengths off 3 lb higher mark. Junior now officially 5 lbs well-in. Formerly temperamental before joining David Pipe, application of blinkers and racing prominently. Yet to tackle more than 3m3½f. Record at extreme distances on the flat suggests excellent prospects of staying/improving at this trip if taking to Aintree. Never fallen but tends to flick through the top of his fences. Successful on most types of ground. Blinkered.

11) 10-U3032 CHICAGO GREY Luso – Carrigeen Acer (Lord Americo) 9-10-13
John Earls / Gordon Elliott IRE / P Carberry (150-)
Stable of 2007 Grand National victor Silver Birch. Chicago Grey won 2011 National Hunt Chase (4 miles Good) by 4½ lengths, from subsequent Scottish National winner Beshabar. Holds Alpha Beat (4th) on that form. Still every chance when unseating two out on reappearance (3m½f good-firm). Mark hasn’t dropped for two poor performances in Britain. 30 lengths 3rd to Weird Al in Charlie Hall (3m1f) and never travelling last of 7 in 3m3½f handicap. More encouraging latest start over inadequate 2½m (heavy) at Gowran Park. Staying on 16 lengths 2nd to eased Rubi Light (who gave 4 lbs). Again displaying tendency to make mistakes in closing stages. Return to a marathon trip should suit. Acts on any going. Always held up, which does not suit many Grand National winners. Tongue tied as usual.

12) 3100-015 TATENEN Lost World – Tamaziya (Law Society) 8-10-13
The Stewart Family / Richard Rowe / Andrew Thornton (150-148)
Not always the best of jumpers, likes to be on his own and often taken wide of his field; probably impossible here. Inconsistent, but genuine in a finish and seems an Ascot specialist these days. Goes well for Andrew Thornton. Outclassed 5th of 7 finishers there in Grade 1 Ascot Chase (2m5½f good-soft), 44 lengths behind winner Riverside Theatre. Officially 2 lbs badly in on Saturday. Tatenen won class 2 handicap (same course and going) penultimate start by a head, receiving 6 lbs from Imsingingtheblues. Upped 7 lbs looks harsh. Possibly best on good-soft or soft. Never convinced he truly stays 3 miles in 5 attempts, very doubtful to stay 4½m.

13) F11/-(1)1111 SEABASS Turtle Island – Muscovy Duck (Moscow Society) 9-10-12
Gunners Syndicate / Ted Walsh IRE / Ms Katie Walsh (149-)
Difficult horse to asses. Exceptionally progressive winner of last seven races (including point). Best effort yet last time out; won Grade 2 at Naas over just 2 miles (soft), gave 3 lbs and a length beating to Zaarito. Got back up despite mistakes at final two fences and looking set for third. Will be better over further than 2m so could still be well handicapped despite going up 35 lbs this season. Given impression when staying on over the furthest trip he’s tackled under rules (2¾m) should be suited by 3m+. Dual winner at that distance in points. Questionable whether he’ll stay 4½m. By soft ground miler Turtle Island. Some of his stock get 3 miles (like Bensalem) but few stay much further. Dam Muscovy Duck won over the furthest she raced, 2m3f hurdles. She’s closely related to Moscow Flyer; both by Moscow Society out of a Ducky mare. Moscow Society was a stayer, 2nd in Queens Vase (2m on flat) as a 3 year old. His progeny also include Grand National placed Snowy Morning. Seabass is usually a good jumper (at least is when leading/disputing it), usually a front runner when racing at shorter trips. Ran disappointingly only start on good going. However, although proven in very soft, such conditions may place too much emphasis on stamina. Ruby Walsh has chosen On His Own over Seabass and sister Katie now rides.

14) 000-1122 SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM Anshan – Tia Maria (Supreme Leader) 8-10-12
Liam Breslin / Nicky Henderson / Barry Geraghty (149-149)
Novice hurdle start last time can be ignored. Improved performer over fences. Jumped well to be 7th in Topham. Successful in 24 runner 3m1f (good-soft) handicap at Punchestown Festival. Just got home giving 2 lbs to Beautiful Sound. Won 3m1½f (furthest trip tackled) Cheltenham handicap on good. Going away at line in receipt of 3 lbs from Knockara Beau. Up 4 lbs, good 2½ lengths 2nd receiving 7 lbs to Calgary Bay in Skybet Chase (3m good). Now just 1 lb better off with winner and up another 5 lbs in his mark. Doubtful to stay 4½m. By Anshan; 3rd in 2000 Guineas though sired Grand National 2nd McKelvey, who’s dam’s sire Le Bavard was a much stronger stamina influence than Shakalakaboomboom’s, Supreme Leader. Raced mainly on good and good-soft.

15) 11PB-P1 WEST END ROCKER Grand Plaisir – Slyguff Lord (Lord Americo) 10-10-12
Barry Winfield & Tim Leadbeater / Alan King / Wayne Huchinson (149-149)
Brought down first Becher’s in last year’s race. Won Becher Chase (3m2f) over these fences in December by 22 lengths with 32 back to third. Now off 12 lbs higher mark which may seem lenient. However, it took a longer time per furlong than Ballagriggs National; bottomless ground prevented many horses acting on the ground, probably including second Niche Market. Unraced since that win in early December. Declared for prep run but pulled out due to ground being too firm. Although a dual winner on good ground West End Rocker is probably better with give and goes particularly well on heavy. Also successful in 2011 Totesport Classic Handicap (3m5f) on heavy. One to bear in mind if stamina is at a premium (on soft or heavy). Robert Thornton does not have a good record on him with 0 wins in 12 starts, Wayne Hutchinson 4 from 5.

16) 22-30112 ACCORDING TO PETE Accordian – Magic Bloom (Full Of hope) 11-10-12
Peter Nelson / Malcolm Jefferson / Harry Haynes (149-145)
Form of Kelso (2m6½f good) 2nd last time not worth a pinch of salt; both he and Ballabriggs stayers. Beat him 5¼ lengths and now 11 lbs better off. According To Pete won Rowland Meyrick (3m1f soft) by a length from Helpston, making all and finding plenty under pressure. Then won Peter Marsh (3m heavy) receiving 1 lb from Pearlysteps who he beat 3½ lengths. Done well to win two good handicaps, but neither looked chock full of progressive sorts. Now on a stone higher mark than 3 starts ago. Since the weights came out the Handicapper has reassessed According To Pete and is to carry 4 lbs less in future handicaps. Best form with give in the ground. Races prominently / tracks pace. Proven at 3¾m and should be suited by 4½m.

17) 14P1-B1 ON HIS OWN Presenting – Shuil Na Mhuire (Roselier) 8-10-11
Andrea & Graham Wylie / Willie Mullins IRE / Ruby Walsh (148-)
Like most of his intake from the owners, Willie Mullins improved On His Own to win Thyestes Chase (3m Soft) last time. Mightily impressive, leading a long way out to beat Tullintain 13 lengths giving 2 lbs. That his first completed start for the stable off an Irish Handicap mark of 125, now has an English mark 148 (though it’s a bit like centigrade and fahrenheit, with the Irish mark often around 7 lbs lower than English). Needs to improve again. Didn’t jump fluently in amongst horses held up penultimate start before brought down. Never fallen/unseated but can make mistakes. Successful going left-handed but has occasionally jumped right. Winner on Good as well as very soft. Just 7 starts over obstacles including 6 over fences. Sire Presenting gets plenty of quality stayers including last year’s winner Ballabriggs and Denman. Dam 3m1f winner by very strong stamina influence Roselier. Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride On His Own over Seabass.

18) 2113-1PP ALWAYS RIGHT Right Win – Kemal Brave (Kemal) 10-10-10
John Wade / John Wade / James Reveley (147-147)
Lot better chance than recent form figures suggest, Pulled up last time out in Grand National Trial (3m4f heavy) at Haydock. Going just as well as winner Giles Cross (now same terms) on home turn. 2 lbs worse off with 2nd Neptune Collonges. Mistake and rider soon called it a day 3 out. However, has had a breathing operation since. Only beaten a length in last year’s Scottish National (4m½f good), receiving 4 lbs from winner Beshabar off a mark of 142. Doing by far the best of those held up. Winner on reappearance at 2m6f½f from Skippers Brig (levels). If his operation has done the trick (it often does) would have a chance. Always Right had looked a progressive and accurate jumping stayer who’s effective on soft and good ground.

19) 3F2P/-133 CAPPA BLEU Pistolet Bleu – Cappagale (Strong Gale) 10-10-10
William & Angela Rucker / Evan Williams / Paul Moloney (147-147)
Impressive in 2009 Cheltenham Foxhunter. Possibly amiss 09/10 season, including when falling in Hennessey. First start since March 2010, won 3m handicap in November beating Tamarinbleu (level weights) a head, off a mark of 140, now up another 7 lbs. Also 7 lbs worse off with Killyglen who was 6 lengths away. Both 2nd (off 5 lbs higher mark) and 3rd winners since. Deserves credit for below-par 3rd in Welsh National (3m5f heavy). Best of those held up under possibly softer than ideal; best form so far on good-soft. 22 lengths 3rd giving 16 lbs to Le Beau Bai; has 15 lengths to make up on Giles Cross (winner since) but has 11 lb pull. Had easier race than first two at Ascot last time, mistake final fence while unsighted possibly costing victory behind Massini’s Maguire (who gave 1 lb). Sire Pistolet Bleu placed in Arc, has sired plenty of stayers including Eider and Scottish National winner (and 2nd) Merigo. Grand dam half sister to luckless Cahervillahow; disqualified Whitbread winner, 2nd in Hennessey as well as to Esha Ness in “Void” Grand National. Only 6 chase starts + 4 points Cappa Bleu is inexperienced but unexposed, especially at extreme trips. Tongue tied, as he has been in all starts under rules bar when pulled up.

20) U-345053 RARE BOB Bob Back – Cut Ahead (Kalaglow) 10-10-09
D A Syndicate / Dessie Hughes IRE / Bryan J Cooper (146-)
Inconsistent and often finds little off bridle; though ran well at Aintree in 3m1f Aintree handicap last two seasons. Challenging when unseating 2 out in 2011; placed year before. Fair 6¼ lengths 3rd gave Paddy Pub 15 lbs (+ 3 lb claim) in Leinster National (3m good-soft) last time out. All wins on soft/heavy, just as meritorious efforts when placed on good. Last win in January 2011 when blinkered for the first time. Below form 59 lengths 5th in Becher Chase (3m2f Heavy) giving a stone to winner West End Rocker. In 2009 Rare Bob was 12 lengths 4th in Irish National (3m5f good), gave 4 lbs (+ 3 lb claim) to Niche Marke. Fact he’s not raced as far since suggests connections thought he didn’t stay. Half brother Tiutchev (by weaker stamina influence Soviet Star than Rare Bob’s, Bob Back) better known at shorter distances; but stayed further with age, King George 2nd at 10, won Melling (3m1f) at 11. Dam from family of St Leger winner Cut Above.

21) 12-133F5 ORGANISEDCONFUSION Laveron – Histologie (Quart De Vin) 7-10-08
Grace Dunlop / Arthur Moore IRE / Ms Nina Carberry (145-)
This season’s form at shorter distances can almost be forgotten. 5th last time (2m2f soft). Two hurdle runs prior to falling at first penultimate start. Campaigned with the Grand National in mind to protect his mark. That handicap mark isn’t particularly lenient for what he’s done, but age and only once raced beyond 2m5f make him totally unexposed at extreme trips. Could improve significantly. Improved to win 2011 Irish National (3m5f) off an Irish mark of 132, receiving 7 lbs from Western Charmer. Now 10 lbs worse off with 3rd home Sunnyhillboy having beaten him just 6 lengths. Youngest to win the race since Rhyme ‘N’ Reason who went on to Aintree victory. Sire Laveron won German St Leger on the flat and French Champion Hurdle (3m1½f). Organisedconfusion is from the family of Nupsala (King George) and UcelloII (duel Grande Steeplechase De Paris 3m5f). Grand dam produced Aintree Fox Hunter winner Moncadou. Organisedconfusion has won on soft, that stand out win on good. Held up. Nina Carberry rode Character Building twice in this race, got around both times but gave him plenty to do on first occasion. Could this be a real “National Velvet”?

22) P/P-51423 TREACLE Zaffaran – Current Liability (Caribo) 11-10-08
Bjorn Nielsen / Tom Taaffe IRE / Andrew Lynch (145-)
Seemingly a career best last time, 7½ lengths 3rd to Quel Esprit (levels) in Grade 1 Irish Hennessey (good-soft). But taking out the winner, it looks a poor race of its type. 5½ lengths behind 2nd Roberto Goldback doesn’t sound quite so good. Treacle and winner not run, but all the other five well beaten since. Nearest at the finish and runs as if may improve for an increased test of stamina. Staying on 2nd in Paddy Power Chase penultimate start (3m good-soft) off an Irish Handicap mark of just 128. Didn’t jump well over Mildmay fences, 4th at Aintree in October (3m1f good). Out of form (after 3 pulled up’s) at 3m6f, only try beyond 3m1f in May. Sire Zaffaran a fair stamina influence, responsible for Gold Cup winner Looks Like Trouble. Treacle is effective held up or from the front, on soft or good ground.

23) 216-B430 THE MIDNIGHT CLUB Flemensfirth – Larry’s Peach (Laurence O) 11-10-08
Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE / Paul Townend (145-)
Favourite in last year’s Grand National. Reasonable 6th considering made a few errors, including a serious one at the 3rd and badly hampered 4 out. Finished 27¼ lengths behind Ballabriggs and now a stone better off with winner. Just 2 lbs difference with 4th State Of Play for 11 lengths deficit. The Midnight Club is racing off a 4 lb lower mark than in 2011. Difficult to asses form this term. 100/1, seemed to be given an easy ride in Gold Cup (3m2½f good) after mistake 1st and hampered 2nd fence. 63 lengths behind winner Synchronised and just 20 lbs better off. Two races over inadequate trips of around 2½m and brought down 4th only other starts since Aintree. Ruby Walsh didn’t seem to consider riding him this year, but shouldn’t be written off. Effective on good and heavy ground.

24) 3F/-52PP0 MON MOME Passing Sale Etoile Du Lion (New Target) 12-10-08
Vida Bingham / Venetia Williams / Aidan Coleman (145-140)
Won 2009 Grand National by 12 lengths, receiving 6 lbs from the 2nd Comply Or Die. Had a better chance than 100/1 SP suggested, however the form looks a little suspect. Pace slowed dramatically when both front runners fell at second Bechers, allowing the whole field to bunch up. Mon Mome fell the following year. Flattered 30 lengths 3rd to Imperial Commander in 2010 Gold Cup. Stayed on past beaten rivals who’d taken on the principles. Only form since and again flattered, when 2nd (3m2½f good-soft) beaten 4½ lengths trying to give winner Mostly Bob16 lbs. First two coming from way back. Three poor efforts afterwards and no encouragement last time out, 12th of 14 finishers. Although on a 3 lbs lower mark than when winning this, will be 5 lbs lower still in future handicaps. Goes on good and heavy ground.

25) 0P2F-60 ARBOR SUPREME Supreme Leader – Peter’s Well (Electric) 10-10-07
J P McManus / Jonjo O’Neill / M P Walsh (144-)
Not the best of jumpers, unseated and fell in the last two Grand Nationals for trainer Willie Mulluns. Lucky to get as far as 3 out in 2011 (beaten at time) after several mistakes. Prior to that running was a good 2nd behind The Midnight Club (levels) in Bobbyjo Chase (3m1f heavy). Now 1 lb better off for a length beating. Two poor runs over hurdles only starts this season since transferred to Jonjo O’Neil; unraced since December and has not run well fresh in the past. Is better over fences, but difficult to see him figuring. Sire Supreme Leader doesn’t get many that stay extreme distances, although Arbor Supreme has been successful at 3m6f, the furthest he’s raced away from Aintree. Winner on heavy and good ground. Inconsistent and gives the impression has his own ideas about the game. Tongue tied for the first time.

26) 3F-30P01 SUNNYHILLBOY Old Vic – Sizzle (High Line) 9-10-05
J P McManus / Jonjo O’Neill / Richie McLernon (142-152)
Improved to win Kim Muir (3m1½f good). Beat Becauseicouldntsee 4½ lengths giving 2 lbs, showing turn of foot to win going away. One notable error at top of the hill. One of the best handicapped horses in this field, now officially 10 lbs well-in. Raced mainly around 2½m, bred to get lot further. Sire Old Vic responsible for Grand National winners Comply Or Die and Don’t Push It. Grand dam Cauldron dam of Whitbread winner and National placed Brown Windsor. Sunnyhillboy’s only start beyond 3m1½f a good third in Irish National (3m5f good). Gave 7 lbs to Organisedconfusion, now 10 lbs better off with winner. Possibly best on good or good-soft. Not a natural jumper and sometimes makes mistakes. Held up.

27) F-030341 KILLYGLEN Presenting – Tina Maria (Phardante) 10-10-04
David McCammon / Stuart Crawford IRE / Robbie Power (141-)
Sometimes a weak finisher these days. Clear 3 out in November (3m good-soft) before going down by over 6 lengths; now 7 lbs better off with winner Cappa Bleu. Won uncompetitive 6 finisher conditions chase last time out (3m2f soft) gave 3 lbs and a 5½ lengths beating to Saddlers Storm. Now only 4 lbs worse off with In Compliance who he beat 36½ lengths. Killyglen’s first victory since Mildmay Novices at Aintree in April 2009. Travelled well for a long way in last year’s Grand National. Led at Valentines but just beginning to back pedal when falling 4 out (mistake at previous fence too). Goes in to this year’s race in better form and on a 5 lbs lower mark. Now better off with winner Ballabriggs (15 lbs), 4th State Of Play and 6th The Midnight Club both 1 lb. Successful on soft and good going. Sire Presenting (see On His Own) a good influence of stamina. Dam’s sire Phardante 2nd to Oh So Sharp in St Leger. Killyglen should stay further than 3m2f on breeding, but was also pulled up in 2010 Scottish National. Tongue tied as has been last 2 starts.

28) 2F-4010 QUISCOVER FONTAINE Antarctique – Blanche Fontaine (Oakland) 8-10-04
J P McManus / Willie Mullins IRE / D J Casey (141-)
Good 4th last April in 2011 Irish Grand National (3m5f good) on his only start beyond 2m5f, off an Irish Handicap mark of 142. Now a stone better off with winner Organisedconfusion who beat him 10½ lengths. Also 4 lbs better off with 3rd Sunnyhillboy for 4½ lengths. Ran in 2m hurdles since, successful penultimate start despite the trip (2m good). Quiscover Fontaine probably doesn’t have so much scope for further improvement as those two. Effective on good or heavy going.

29) 4-P13000 THARAWAAT Alhaarth – Sevi’s Choice (Sir Ivor) 7-10-04
Gigginstown House Stud / Gordon Elliott IRE / B T O’Connell (141-)
Winner of 2¾m (Heavy) handicap chase by 7 lengths, giving 8 lbs to Indifference Curve, off an Irish Handicap mark of 133. Upped 8 lbs for that and not been able to repeat the form since, yet his mark hasn’t dropped. Ran no better over hurdles latest start. Front runner or races prominently. Seems inconsistent but for when the mud is flying, last three wins have all come on heavy. However, those conditions will probably put far too great an emphasis on stamina. Stays 3 miles, the longest trip he’s tackled. Sire Alhaarth winner of Dewhurst (7f) and Prix Dollar (1m2f). Although is responsible for Chester Cup winner Admiral on the flat, few of progeny are stayers. Tharawaat already stays further than most jumps horses by Alhaarth. Effective with or without headgear. Tongue tied as he usually is, but blinkers are left off.

30) 2F-63F22 BECAUSEICOULDNTSEE Beneficial – Ath Dara (Duky) 9-10-03
Noel Glynn / Noel Glynn IRE / D J Condon (140-)
Career best effort last time despite setting a slow pace at 3m1½f on good not placing much emphasis on stamina. 4½ lengths 2nd receiving 2 lbs from Sunnyhillboy in Kim Muir (same terms here). Becauseicouldntsee has a bit to make up on the winner, but he’s well handicapped himself. Already proven at 4m, 2nd in 2010 National Hunt Chase. Acts on good and soft ground. Two falls in form figures doesn’t inspire confidence. Only got as far as second fence in last year’s race when not settling; generally jumps better than that. Displayed good technique and only one slight mistake at Cheltenham. Grand National tends to favour those ridden prominently.

31) 144/P3/4- STATE OF PLAY Hernando – Kaprice (Windwurf) 12-10-03
William & Angela Rucker / Evan Williams / Noel Fehily (140-140)
Lightly raced, last 4 starts include 3 Grand Nationals placed efforts, 4th 3rd and 4th again in 2011 off a 2 lbs higher mark than Saturday. Now 12 lbs better off with Ballabriggs for a 16¼ lengths beating. Just 2 lbs worse for 11 lengths back to a possibly below form The Midnight Club in 6th. 1 lb worse with 3 out faller Killyglen. Three Grand Nationals were on good or good-soft. Earlier in career won Charlie Hall on good-firm and Hennessey soft. Although is thought by connections to be ideally suited by less testing conditions these days. Another year on his back and jockey Paul Moloney has got off State Of Play to ride Cappa Bleu for same owner and trainer combination.

32) 2313P20 SWING BILL Grey Risk – Melodie Royale (Garde Royale) 11-10-03
David Johnson / David Pipe / C O’Farrell (140-138)
Proved suited by a step up to 3m½f, winning handicap chase at Cheltenham by 7 lengths from Stewarts House (levels) in November off 134. Placed twice off 141 since but the 11 year old has never won off as high a mark. Below form recently including in Topham, distant 6th when pulled up behind West End Rocker at Aintree. Poor 17th of 21 finishers last time out, 3 lbs worse off with the winner Sunnyhillboy and has 58½ lengths to make up. Been dropped 2 lbs in future handicaps. Swing Bill has been successful on all types of ground but the softer it is the less likely he is to stay. Although dam’s sire Garde Royale is a very good stamina influence, including being responsible for Grand National runner-up Royal Auclair – Few of Swing Bill’s sire Grey Risk (a miler himself)’s progeny stayed further than 3m over obstacles, including Thousand Stars. Wears cheek pieces for the first time since 2007 (3rd).

33) FP-26611 POSTMASTER Dansili – Post Modern (Nureyev) 10-10-02
The Bill & Ben Partnership / Tim Vaughan / Dougie Costello (139-139)
Fell at the first over these fences in Topham last year. First race for 7 months, successful last time out (Marh 27th) in Ludlow 4 finisher Hunter chase (2m4f good-firm). Didn’t take much winning and been reassessed 1 lb lower in future. Gave 6 lbs and a 2 ½ length beating to the poor jumping Bermuda Boy. Won 3m½f (good) handicap on penultimate start, off a mark of 132 (now 7 lbs higher). Receiving 1 lb from Ostland (winner since) and beating him 1¼ lengths. Most form on a sound surface though has won on soft. Furthest Postmaster has raced is 3m½f but is highly unlikely to stay 4½m. Sire and dam’s sire Dansili and Nureyev milers. Dam Post Modern out of the outstanding broodmare Modena. Which makes her a half sister to Irish Champion Stakes winner (Derby placed) Elmaamul and Oaks winner Reams Of Verse. Modena is a half sister to Zaizafon, dam of both Champion miler (including 2000 Guineas) Zafonic and Zamindar, sire of Arc winner Zarkava. Postmaster himself won over just 1m1f on the flat as a 5 year old. One thing the family are not known for is stayers! Tongue Tied as usual.

34) 3/P22-121 GILES CROSS Saddlers Hall – Mystockings (Idiot’s Delight) 10-10-01
KCMS Partnership / Victor Dartnall / Paddy Brennan (138-144)
Met Le Beau Bai twice this season. Firstly in the Welsh National (3m5½f heavy) going much the best two out, but having to settle for 2nd (for second year running) overhauled to be beaten 7 lengths giving 5 lbs. 11 lbs worse off with Cappa Bleu here for beating him 15 lengths. Giles Cross improved to win Grand National Trial (3m4f Heavy) at Haydock last time. With a 7 lbs pull (in receipt of 2 lbs) this time had just over 11 lengths to spare over 3rd Le Beau Bai. Again looked to be travelling well, but only clung on by a neck from the rallying Neptune Collonges. If 2nd jockey’s claim is taken in to account, Giles Cross is now 2 lb worse off with Paul Nicholls grey. Although himself officially 6 lbs well-in and one of the best handicapped horses in the field. Looking the Chepstow winner before failing and scrambling home at Haydock might suggest he’s getting to the end of his (stamina) tether. But all Giles Cross’ 5 victories have come by 2 lengths or less and may idle at sound of the crowd. Also 2nd 5 times and never out of the first 3 in 12 completed starts, so genuine enough. Might be wise to either back him each way or put a saver in the betting in running market at very short odds. Earlier won Southern National (3m4f soft) at Fontwell off a mark of 132 (now 138), gave a stone and 1¾ lengths beating to Rey Nacarado (winner on next start off 2 lbs higher). Giles Cross was one of just 3 to finish of 12 runners (2nd) in 2011 Eider (4m1f heavy) in near unraceable ground. And last of only 3 finishers in 18 runner Midlands Grand National (4m1½f heavy). So stays well. Developed an exceptional jumping technique (at least when racing prominently) over normal fences, enabling Giles Cross to often take lengths off rivals. Usual rider Dennis O’Regan can’t do the weight so Paddy Brennan takes over. Has won on good-soft, but goes particularly well on soft/heavy.

35) 21/10P-16 MIDNIGHT HAZE Midnight Legend – Gypsy Haze (Romany Rye) 10-10-00
Kim Bailey Racing Partnership / Kim Bailey / Sean Quinlan (137-137)
From the yard of Grand National winning trainer Kim Bailey. Like Mr Frisk, Midnight Haze usually races prominently, but didn’t do so at Cheltenham. Still in with a chance on the turn for home in the Cross Country Chase (3m7f good-firm), after down on his nose at the 21st fence. 12½ lengths 6th receiving 2 lbs from winner Balthazar King. Always up there with the pace penultimate start in Ludlow 3m1½f (soft) chase off a 9 lbs lower mark than Saturday. Giving 3 lbs and an 11 length beating to Inside Dealer. Setting a strong pace which had many in trouble (only 4 of 9 finished). Should be suited by the increased test of stamina. Winner on soft and good (probably good-firm) ground.

36) 044B-2(1)(1)0 VIC VENTURI Old Vic – Carmen Lady (Torus) 12-10-00
Seamus Dunne / Dessie Hughes IRE / Harry Skelton (137-)
“Unlucky” in the last two Nationals, unseated when hampered 20th in 2010, beaten at the time and brought down 2nd fence 2011. Won 8 runner, 5 finisher 2009 Becher Chase (3m2f soft) giving 20 lbs and beating Keenan’s Future (4th in today’s Fox Hunter) 5 lengths, off a mark of 148. Reappearance 2nd in what turned out to be a very poor grade 1 (Kauto Star pulled up) Punchestown Gold Cup (3m1f good) in May 2011; 11 lengths behind Follow The Plan (levels). Winner of two points afterwards. Well below form last time out in February, 12th of 13 finishers in 3m hunter chase (good-soft). Goes on soft and good going. By Old Vic, sire of Grand National winners Comply Or Die and Don’t Push It and (from this yard) runner-up Black Apalachi. Dam’s sire Torus responsible for Gold Cup winner Mr Mulligan. Should stay trip on breeding, but disappointed both starts in Irish National. Wears cheek pieces as usually does under rules.

37) 431U0-P3 IN COMPLIANCE Old Vic – Lady Bellingham (Montelimar) 12-10-00
Dessie Hughes / Dessie Hughes IRE / N P Madden (137-)
One time Grade 1 chaser, winner of 2006 John Durkan (2m4f heavy) by 2 ½ lengths from War Of Attrition (levels). Been on the downgrade for some time. Furthest he’s won is 2¾m and didn’t stay in last year’s National when 13th of 19 finishers, off a 4 lb higher mark than on Saturday. Also below form 6th, beaten 22 lengths in 2010 Topham. No form in two starts this season. Slowly away and pulled up in first of them. Not much better last time out, poor 3rd beaten 36½ lengths by Killyglen in 3m2f uncompetitive conditions chase (soft) and now only 4 lbs better off. Possibly best these days in small fields with give in the ground. Last win in February 2011, made all in 5 finisher Cashel Chase when blinkered for the first time. Won by 18 lengths only because the1\2 fav Quiscover Fontaine fell when gaining ground 2 out. Possibly of doubtful temperament these days. Is not blinkered.

38) 00-143P5 VIKING BLOND Varese – Sweet Jaune (Le Nain Jaune) 7-10-00
Caroline Mould / Nigel Twiston-Davies / Brian Hughes (137-135)
Stable won Grand National with Earth Summit and Bindaree. Viking Blond jumps well for a novice with only 5 chase starts. 15 lengths 3rd getting 3 lbs from winner Grands Crus in Newbury Grade 2 in November. Disappointed in both starts since. Didn’t look to be enjoying being crowded once losing a prominent position, pulled up in Welsh National (3m5½f Heavy). Last of 5 finishers last time out at Ascot, has 45 lengths to make up on 3rd Cappa Bleu and now only 2 lbs better off. Been dropped 2 lbs in future handicaps. Already stays further than most by sire Varese, but Viking Blond is lazy so is not typical. Dam’s sire Le Nain Jaune is responsible for Hennessey (3m2f) winner on disqualification Gingembre. Viking Blond stays 3m3f and should stay further if his mind lets him. Wears blinkers as usual.

39) PP-5U654 HELLO BUD Jurado – Orchestral Sport (Orchestra) 14-10-00
Seamus Murphy / Nigel Twiston-Davies / Sam Twiston-Davies (137-127)
Veteran out and out stayer. Did not win his first chase (outside points) until the age of 9. Unusually showed improved form at 11 to win 2009 Scottish National (4m½f good). Successful at 12 over National fences in 2010 Becher Chase (3m2f soft) off the same mark as Ayr of 133. Also finished 5th, receiving 13 lbs to Don’t Push It in 2010 Grand National. Now only 3 lbs better off with 2nd Black Apalachi for 30 lengths deficit. Handicapper seemingly bent over backwards to get this Aintree specialist in to the race. Given a mark 10 lbs more than he’d get in a normal handicap. Probably in process of running his best race this season; still travelling and jumping well (as usual) in front when taking the Canal Turn too tightly and unseating. Sometimes doesn’t find as much as expected under pressure. Fair effort penultimate start in Classic Chase (3m5f good-soft), possibly flattered able to dictate, 7 lengths 5th receiving 23 lbs from winner Hey Big Spender. Disappointing 4th last time out when expected by connections to run well. Beaten 33 lengths giving 10 lbs to Marufo, off a 7 lbs lower mark than Saturday. Possible Hello Bud is finally showing his age. Effective on soft and good-firm. Tongue tied as usual.

40) 315045 NEPTUNE EQUESTER Sovereign Water – All Things Nice (Sweet Monday) 9-10-00
Koo’s Racing Club / Brian Ellison / Felix De Giles (132-131)
Proved suited by the step up to 3m4f (good-soft) in November, off a mark 8 lbs including 5lbs out of the handicap lower than Saturday. Coming through from the back to win by 2 lengths, giving 11 lbs to Morning Moment. Neptune Equester has lost his form since, only beaten two of those to finish in his last 3 starts. Last last time out in March. Those backing him are relying on these unique fences bringing about a return to form. Goes on good and heavy ground.

Reserve) 32-3P40 ANY CURRENCY 9-10-00 (9-08)
Cash Is King / Martin Keighley (131-131)

Reserve) 4202650 OUR ISLAND 7-10-00 (9-07)
David Fox / Tim Vaughan (130-130)

Reserve) 31P/-FP33 ABBEYBRANEY 11-10-00 (9-05)
Sue Johnson / George Bewley (128-128)

Reserve) 5-341064 SMOKING ACES 8-10-00 (9-05)
J P McManus / Tom Taaffe IRE (128-)

About Steeplechasing

Writer, horse-racing fan, cyclist, consultant, entrepreneur. Worked at Aintree, SiS, The Tote, Ladbrokes. Created scoop6. Now run Gamtrain Ltd

Posted on April 12, 2012, in John Smith's Grand National and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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