SAFETY modifications made in recent years to the Randox Health Grand National fences have actually made finding the winner of the world’s most famous horse race even harder.
The last five winners have been returned at 33/1, 66/1, 25/1, 25/1, and 33/1 proving that it’s virtually impossible to rule any of the 40 out of the marathon contest.
Fences which used to claim the dodgy jumpers in the field can now be brushed through meaning the selection elimination process is even harder.
Well, enough of the excuses and time to nail my colours to the mast with four selections.
BLAKLION has been a horse close to my heart ever since he won last year’s RSA Chase at the Festival.
He seems to be at his best in the spring and I love the fact that his connections opted to bypass Cheltenham and come here fresh.
I love the fact that he has bundles of stamina and, as his name suggests, has the heart of a lion.
That toughness will stand him in good stead and granted the usual luck required, he should go close at a best-priced 14/1.
My second pick has to be the Jonjo O’Neill-trained MORE OF THAT who is the only horse to have ever beaten Annie Power over hurdles when she has stayed on her feet.
That win in the World Hurdle a few years ago demonstrates the class of my selection and, even though things haven’t gone as sweetly over fences, he proved in the Gold Cup last time he is on the comeback trail.
He was beaten less than ten lengths by Sizing John when sixth at Cheltenham and wasn’t given the hardest of times.
This race has always been the plan for this one, who is also 14/1, and he too can run well.
UCELLO CONTI hasn’t managed to win a race in nine starts for Gordon Elliott since moving over from France. But he has run some gallant races in defeat.
Importantly, two of those decent performances have come over these fences, including when sixth in this 12 months ago and fourth back here last December.
Another year older, and with the better ground likely to help him stay, he makes appeal at 20/1.
Finally, my last pick goes to 66/1 outsider GAS LINE BOY.
What he lacks in class, he more than makes up for in stamina and his stable are in red-hot form.