The dust has settled on an excellent meeting at Aintree and with bookmaker BetVictor already offering non-runner, free bet on the 2014 Grand National, perhaps it is time to have a long-range look at who we might expect to see at Aintree in 2014?
Shock 2013 Grand National winner Auroras Encore will almost certainly be aimed at Aintree again but the handicapper has raised Sue Smith’s gelding a whopping eleven pounds for winning at Aintree. We all know returning champions always face a much tougher task second time around and its difficult to see him winning again unless he gets a big drop in the ratings before next year.
Cappa Bleu has been raised only two pounds for finishing runner-up and third placed Teaforthree has also received the same amount of a raise in the ratings. Both must have excellent chances in next year’s Grand National if their mark remains at a similar level, although Cappa Bleu will be twelve-years-old in 2014. Perhaps Evan Williams and Paul Moloney might try riding him nearer the pace in 2014 as his fast-finishing efforts of the last two years could well have resulted in at least one victory if he had been more aggressively placed in the race.
The handicapper has moved some horses back down the handicap following poor performances in the 2013 Grand National, most notably a ten pound drop for 2012 runner-up, Sunnyhillboy. The Jonjo O’Neill trained gelding is now back on the same mark that saw him just touched off by Neptune Collonges and considering he had an interrupted programme in 2012/13 (he was withdrawn from the Gold Cup when he scoped badly) he must make some appeal if all was to go well next season. BetVicotr currently offer Sunnyhillboy non-runner free bet at odds of 33/1 .
Other interesting runners who are also moving back down the ratings are On His Own and Colbert Station. Handicapper Phil Smith has dropped Willie Mullins’ On His Own down five pounds to 143. The Graham and Andrea Wylie gelding has now fell in the last two renewals of the Grand National and did seem to be struggling when coming down in 2013 but perhaps once he has had the benefit of more experience (has still only had eight races over fences) he could become an interesting contender.
Ted Walsh’s Colbert Station was also dropped a couple of pounds and his shrewd trainer is bound to want to try and take advantage of that new rating.
The three horses that standout in the ante-post lists and have yet to face the Aintree fences are Back In Focus, Godsmejudge and Long Run.
Back In Focus seemed to need every yard of the four mile National Hunt Chase to be seen at best effect and it has to be questionable if he would get conditions soft enough for him at Aintree.
Scottish National winner Godsemjudge appears to tick a lot of the boxes required for a potential Aintree Grand National winner but given his trainer is usually not that enthusiastic about running horses in the Grand National it could be worth holding fire with any ante-post wagers on that horse.
Long Run currently sits on a rating of 170 whereas this year’s top weight Imperial Commander ran off a mark of 158. Phil Smith will undoubtedly try and give Long Run a more competitive mark for the Grand National but we could well see a lot of horses running from out of the handicap if Long Run does take his place in the National of 2014.
Who do you fancy at this early stage for the 2014 Grand National? Let us know your thoughts.
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