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6 Apr 2019

Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

The jumps world seems to evolve very quickly and the Grand National already feels an altogether different race to the one we knew even 10 years ago. So, from a trends perspective it pays to focus on very current things.

As the handicap is now less artificially compressed, what we'd expect to see (and what we do see) is a shift toward better quality types on a fair weight, rather than out and out handicappers smuggled in on a low weight. Handicappers do still win, but the balance has shifted and with probability you always want to be working with the gradient, than fighting it.

On this theme, one interesting filter is the strength of results from 2013 to 2018 achieved by runners who ran last time out in a non-handicap chase of any kind, and who have career winning form in Listed company or better - i.e. better than handicaps. Especially of course, those lining up here on a fair mark.

After chewing the fat on this approach JURY DUTY comes out a very strong each way candidate for Gordon Elliott. I put him up at 25/1 EW on the ENIGMA Forum a few days ago, and he's been widely touted since but 16's is still not a disaster.

Meanwhile, if he gets round in one piece, the impressive RATHVINDEN is a nailed-on stayer with a massive chance on the form book for Willie Mullins. Again, we backed him some time ago at much better prices - as did loads of people - so I'll put him up. His claims are there for all to see and hopefully you are already on.

But this is the Grand National, so why stop at 2. We need an outsider too!

I've backed MINELLA ROCCO, principally because JP McManus horses who record a 'Pulled Up' last time out have an uncanny habit of winning nice races the next day. Like many seasoned JP watchers, I've been selectively following and writing about this angle for years.

Don't Push It for example - ran a shocker at Cheltenham and was then backed off the boards on course at Aintree before winning this very race.

Minella Rocco had an almost carbon copy prep a few weeks ago (if prep is the word). Perhaps, too bad to be true. I'm not sure you would even actually send a horse here who is that out of form. Would you?

If the same thing happens today with Minella Rocco, I couldn't bear not to have a penny on a past winner of the 4-miler and 2nd in a Gold Cup in this ownership. The ground is coming right for him too.

The way his campaign has shaped since wind surgery, the whole season may have been planned around getting into this race on a workable mark. And being a JP horse, whatever he did last time out is best turned on it's head - it's just as likely to be have been about sending his price out.

The yard form is a concern. Tedham ran a shocker for Jonjo yesterday, for one of his biggest owners, when expected to run really well. They did have a Grade 2 mares' race winner in the past 2 weeks, and she ran very well. So, like Lostintranslation who hacked up yesterday for Mr Tizzard, whatever their tribulations, neither yard is entirely on the canvas.

You can also pick holes in Minella Rocco's jumping, but for 50/1 you can't have everything and he jumped great in the Gold Cup on good ground. He's fallen twice in his career, which would be one more than you'd like to see for a potential National horse, although coincidentally Don't Push It had the same number of prior falls. At the end of the day it's a punt, but crazier things happen every day.

For JP, Minella Rocco is a dart at the board and with his colossal stamina, for a lightly raced 9yo in that ownership, it's entirely logical that this has been the plan for some time.

5.15 Aintree, Rathvinden 1.5pt win 9/1 Coral, BFSB, Sportingbet
5.15 Aintree, Jury Duty 1pt EW 16/1 6x1/5 various (some 18's Redzone)
5.15 Aintree, Minella Rocco 0.75pt EW 6x1/5, 50/1 Lads, Coral


** Rathvinden ran well but Tiger Roll was all over the winner from miles out...outstanding **

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at: www.enigmaracing.net/racing-forum


It's time for THAT race again, Aintree Grand National 2019

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