The Grand National in Aintree is the highlight of the National Hunt calendar for many horse racing trainers, jockeys and owners. With the weights now out, we can examine who are the standout bets for the 4m2½f contest this year.
Here is a look at three horses from Gloucestershire who should be on your shortlist to be backed in April and the odds they have been chalked up at by the bookmakers in their ante-post market.
Four-time Grade One winner Bristol De Mai is one of the classiest horses in the Grand National field this year. It is no surprise that he is one of the prominent runners in the betting at 20/1.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies at Grange Hill Farm in Naunton, the talented grey has had a lot of success over fences, with the highlight being his 57-length success in the Betfair Chase at Haydock back in 2017.
Before he lines up at Aintree, the nine-year-old will have a shot at the Gold Cup, where he has odds on Cheltenham 2020 of 25/1. He finished third in that race in 2019 behind Anibale Fly and Al Boum Photo respectively, with the latter coming in at 7/2 with the Cheltenham betting tips.
Bristol De Mai will need to carry 11st-8lb at Aintree but that shouldn’t be enough to put you off backing him. Many Clouds was successful five years ago with just 1lb more on his back.
Twiston-Davies has a rich history in the Grand National as he was successful in 1998 with Earth Summit and then four years later with Bindaree. He has a great chance of landing a hat-trick of wins this year with Ballyoptic, who is a 25/1 shot with the bookmakers.
The Gloucestershire-based trainer will be delighted with the season Ballyoptic has had so far. He has been successful three times in his last five starts. His most recent victory came in a Listed contest at Ascot over 3m where he started at 8/1.
Ballyoptic came down at the fourth fence from home in the 2019 Grand National in the race which was won by One For Arthur. The experience of that race should stand him in good stead this year, so he may be worth an investment this time around.
The Grand National has thrown up some big price winners over the last couple of decades, so don’t be afraid to look further down the betting in the race. One horse who looks over-priced in 2020 is Double Shuffle at 100/1.
Trained by Tom George in Slad at Down Farm, the 10-year-old is guaranteed a spot in the 40-runner field now due to withdrawals above him in the initial weights.
Double Shuffle was second in the 2017 King George VI Chase at Kempton at odds of 50/1. Although his form this season has not been great, he is off a very dangerous mark at Aintree.
George’s runner has featured twice over the Grand National fences so the course will not be new to him. He may just have been underestimated by the bookmakers. And Tom is no stranger to Aintree success. His St Are paraded at Andoversford a few years back after a gallant second in the race.
Enjoy the thrill of the race this year and hopefully, a Gloucestershire-based horse can come out on top in the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Going for Sunday April 3 - Good (Thursday)
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)