Grand National 2018: Early thoughts

One For Arthur was an impressive winner of the 2017 Grand National but will have to overcome a likely hefty rise in the weights if he is to become the first horse since Red Rum to defend his crown in 2018.

Do you think he can do it? Or can one of the beaten horses comeback and take next year’s race? Cause Of Causes would almost certainly be campaigned with Aintree in mind next year and the third horse, Saint Are, looks set to be running in hunter chases next year so could he finally win the Grand National. Could Blaklion find the extra stamina he seems to need with another year on his back?

Some of the horses that failed to get round this such as The Young Master, Vicente, Saphir Du Rheu and Ucello Conti could also train again in 2018. Could any of them have a say in next year’s finish?

The bookies are putting forward the likes of Minella Rocco, Don Poli, Noble Endeavour and Our Duke as the horses likely to be involved for the first time in 2018.

Please add your early thoughts and selections for 2018 to this thread.

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745 Responses to Grand National 2018: Early thoughts

  1. mike campo says:

    Hi Showlad.

    Just received this reply from Weatherbys, Re Grand National Initial closing entry date and subsequent forfeit dates.
    Initial entry closing date 3o /Jan/ 2018 Fee £1100
    Weights Published 15 /Feb/ 2018
    1st Scratching 27 /Feb/ 2018 Fee £1100
    2nd Scratching 20 /Mar/ 2018 Fee £1100
    5 day decs 09 /Apr/ 2018 Fee £1700
    Final Decs 12 /Apr/ 2018 Fee £0.00

    I thought that Weights day was Tues 13th Feb so, either I’m wrong or the above is a typo.

  2. Kevski111 says:

    So we keep looking at horses that are trying to get their OR up and nothing so far is absolutely jumping out at anyone. I’m gonna sit tight because if nothing shows itself it’s gonna be something that’s already there, i.e. one of the top rated horses, surely Total Recall won’t win a gold cup so you would think they would have a crack at the national?

  3. miinnehoma says:

    Stat wise I reckon Ucello could do with winning the Thyestes
    but OR wise a nose would do.
    Daryl might have a tough choice between Ucello and Vyta for the GN.

  4. Lescargot says:

    NH quote on Whisper into days RP Trainer Nicky Henderson explained: “The Grand National is where we are going and he doesn’t need to be running at Cheltenham on Saturday in that ground.”

  5. Lescargot says:

    Surely this means that Blaklion can’t be given more than or 161 in the GN 9 lbs higher than last year. Maybe he will end up on 11.4?

  6. ESB says:

    I should be surprised if Blaklion only gets 11.04. As things stand, I would go for Whisper at 11.10 and Blaklion at 11.08.

    The rationale: Whisper is likely to be compressed by 3-4 lbs. Blaklion may be untouched or may even get an extra pound – but we will see soon…….

  7. Mike N says:

    Trouble for Ucello fans is he is rated nicely on 148 now. If he wins Thursday he could go to 154. Hard to fancy off that mark in GN. In theory with the 7lb claimer maybe back on he is running off 141 and potentially up to 147. But will the English handicapper take this in to account on weights day?

  8. mike campo says:

    Historically, Phil does not seem to take the jockey claims into account. I’m sure he believes that horses’ performances / chances are enhanced / improved when ridden by more experienced jockeys.

  9. daniel edwards says:

    Only my view of course but whatever the weight I’m convinced UC can’t win

    Hashtag maycomebscktohauntme

  10. ESB says:

    The Dutchman up a stonking 13 lbs for Saturday’s run – now at 148.

  11. Corbiere says:

    Wondering what everybody thinks of Whisper’s chance in GN ?
    He will have a high weight, BUT Many Clouds proved it can be done with a Class horse.
    What say you all ?
    Pedigree experts ?
    Still not had an AP bet, and he is tempting a Class horse at 50/1, who is being aimed at the race.
    Total Recall also starting to interest me, but 25/1 less tempting, thoughts everybody ?

  12. mike campo says:

    I’ve had an EW nibble on Whisper, 5 places with Coral, at 50/1.
    No idea whether it will stay, but dangerous if it does.

  13. Mike N says:

    Ive just backed Total Recall at 16s. Bigger elsewhere but wanted the 5 places.
    Ive been left shaking my head by this year’s race and just want a worthwhile runner. lol

    my AP bets were:
    Mall Dini – would hope they run but don’t know.
    Native River – shocked if he runs having had joint trouble this campaign so written that bet off as a throwaway.
    Ucello Conti – backed him for Thursday so wont be winning this if that happens.

    If the handicapper ‘is fair’ I see Total Recall weight possibly like this.

    Whisper 167 11 stone 10
    Blaklion 161 11 stone 9
    Total Recall 156 11 stone 4

    if my estimation is correct wouldn’t surprise me if Total Recall ends up near favourite on weights day.

  14. Mike N says:

    there may be money for Whisper too on that estimation on the weight turnaround but not sure about the trip for him and that hes another Many Clouds.

  15. Mike N says:

    actually just noticed 25s 5 places elsewhere for TR. might have to switch.

  16. kj says:

    Phil still got it ey ;)
    It does make you take a look again at a horse that hasn’t been the distance that kind of reaction, good all over staying pedigree The Dutchman from what I can see.
    Phil does tend to overeact to a few wins a year (sometimes right usually wrong on average would we say?)
    I felt shocked for the Saint that time, but equally, as consequent yrs has proven he is still endanger of not getting in! With him I already rated his winning chances re this race and only this race! so I suppose if you are a course specialist this is hardly surprising, can’t think of other examples right now.
    I feel sorry for Whisper racing much more generally. Lack of options, the reason they are heading to the national?? we are talking a big weight and distance, didn’t feel too strongly he would even enter, but did think he has the scope. I have liked him quite a while it feels and he has improved, but didn’t see him running in the national with top weight a yr ago. All big weights this yr (potentially) aren’t leaping out as Many Clouds, Neptune or DPI did for me, the winning edge. Anything above 11-6 has got to be seriously good and a good stayer. I think he may like the course but top weight! Ok he may get something back if at the top with compression but still top weight ;) Whispers grand sire is Alleged but its Sire side, his dam doesn’t look too hot to me?? but at 50s if you play laying or having half the field running for you haha, can’t put you off at this point. Note he is not entered for anything soon and god knows how you would judge a well beaten run with the big boys. I really feel the team are still just gutted for him, but he is a tryer.
    If one horse is the Saint Are this yr I thought it was Total Recall, then the hennessy happened, TR and Whisper! impressed there, in terms of actual weight Whisper will be better off with TR, but in real terms top weight, is what it is ;) also I see Whispers improvement stopped by handicapper and I see TR as more likely to continue. I still think he is the best winning bet.
    I gotta mention re Phils weights fun, I feel as bad for those he punishes the other way a pound or 3 down every time, year on year horses running against good opposition,unfavourable ground and even placing with credit and other reasonable excuses (usually traffic problems) they get nibbled at and there efforts put them in greater danger of not qualifying, a real problem. This yr that award so far goes to Vintage Clouds, mind you running well in that stops most,. maybe better luck next yr win a G3 like Saint Are did ;)

  17. kj says:

    Haha didn’t press refresh after lunch, Mike you’ve said it in much fewer words ;)

  18. Mike N says:

    Poxy corals only doing 4 places in the shops so will stick with 16s. Not opening new accounts again. ;)

  19. daniel edwards says:

    Re the Dutchman I am predicting Fine Rightly is going to win a decent race by some distance fairly soon. He must be a stone well in if not more from the way he was travelling for the first 3 miles of that race.

    I think some people were suggesting he doesn’t stay 3 miles, but that was 3m2f in heavy, and when they say heavy they mean HEAVY at Haydock.

    He’ll see out 3 miles no problem in the right conditions.

  20. mike campo says:

    I’m sure I saw Total Recall entered in a UK race recently where Phil allocated him a British mark of OR159.
    With Whisper dropped to OR167, he now has a 6lbs pull for a neck defeat with Total Recall, before any possible weights compression favouring Whisper further. Both are lightly raced over fences, with Eight chases a piece so both could be improving.
    Don’t understand Whisper being twice the price at this stage.

  21. daniel edwards says:

    Is that down to likely targets mike?

  22. daniel edwards says:

    And maybe the fact some people (unfairly I would say to some extent) might have been less impressed with the King George run?

  23. Mike N says:

    Don’t think Whisper is improving at 10. What you are seeing is what you get. ;)

  24. mike campo says:

    Yes Daniel.
    It was a race in which he was initially entered but then withdrew.

    Surely relatively inexperienced chasers, with say under 10 chase races to their name. can improve with experience even at the age of Ten and I’m of the opinion that some can continue to strengthen up and improve their stamina upto the age of Twelve.

  25. Lucky Vane2 says:

    “Mike N says:
    January 23, 2018 at 4:38 am
    Trouble for Ucello fans is he is rated nicely on 148 now. If he wins Thursday he could go to 154. Hard to fancy off that mark in GN. In theory with the 7lb claimer maybe back on he is running off 141 and potentially up to 147. But will the English handicapper take this in to account on weights day?”

    Don’t think you can claim in the National!

  26. Seven Towers says:

    The signs are good for Whisper (and indeed Total Recall) in one particular aspect. He finished in the first two over the furthest distance he travelled in his career. That is generally a good sign. Of the ‘new’ Nationals all bar Many Clouds did this. He won the Hennessy over 3m 2f (the furthest he had gone up until then) but then didn’t over .5 furlong further in the Gold Cup when his trainer was adamant he didn’t run his race.

  27. Corbiere says:

    Think bookies are monitoring are site, best odds available on Whisper in High street shops now 33/1 !!!

  28. daniel edwards says:

    I agree that as a second season chaser that Whisper could quite easily still be open to improvement

  29. Corbiere says:

    Next time I fancy a horse think I’ll back it and then discuss on here.

  30. Corbiere says:

    Quite fancy Arkle, Red Rum and L’escargot.
    Anybody got their pedigree’s, in case I fancy a flutter ?

  31. Mike N says:

    Whisper 2nd season chaser improvement theory is a red herring in my opinion. From 2012-16 he’s been a hurdler. So not a 2nd season chaser in the traditional sense where they have a season or 2 over hurdles then switch at a relatively young age. I’ll stand by what I said in that he’s done well last couple of seasons and wont get better.

  32. mike campo says:

    Sorry Corbs.
    I was getting the price mixed up with my bet on Milansbar.
    I only got 33/1 on Whisper, EW, 5 places, but happy enough with that.

  33. daniel edwards says:

    You could well be right Mike!

    Time will tell

    Either way, regardless of whether he can improve or not, if Might Bite turns out to be the real deal he might not need to do much if any improving!

  34. mike campo says:

    Milansbar posted its best ever RPR in latest of a 14 chase career to date at 11 years of age.
    Therefor, if you accept RPR’s at face value, Milansbar has improved at 11 years of age after 14 chases ( 24 races in total ).

  35. daniel edwards says:

    Anybody got any news views or soundbites on DOUBLE SHUFFLE

    I’d initially stuck a line through him on the basis he pulled up last year, as a 7 year old though, but then I saw his jockey last year said this when he got off him;

    “I got a great ride off him and he might be a horse for next year”

    Which is interesting…

    His last 2 runs this season, where’s he got very close to 2 very good animals on level weights, tells me he’s a far better horse than when he was rated 149 last year.

    I’d love to hear from connections as to why they think he will stay the extra 5 or 6f this year if he’s aimed at Aintree this year.


  36. daniel edwards says:

    Ha, scratch that, now rated 166!

    The hunt continues

    Maybe one with a chance in something like the Ryanair, or the Bowl

  37. Mike N says:

    Milansbar is a mudlark which is a different kettle of fish. Their ratings can go up at any age as rivals are floundering in the bog and then go down when switching surfaces. Look at Bristol De Mai, if the gold cup was run on heavy ground year on year he’d be the next Arkle. :D
    Don’t get me wrong Whisper hasn’t done a lot wrong and who knows his current form might be alright in the context of the race as Daniel hinted but improvement nah not for me. Henderson has already said he’s ruined his handicap mark so if he’s not confident of a win and is running as ‘theres nowhere else to go’ then no reason for me to back him. Good luck if you are keeping the faith. ;)

  38. Seven Towers says:

    A selection of horses who have finished 1st or 2nd in races where they have tackled the furthest distance they have encountered (in case of Vicente and SFP I haven’t included the races in which they fell when tackling furthest distance)

    Whisper 2nd over 26f
    Total Recall 1st over 26f
    Saint Are 2nd over 34.5f
    Cause Of Causes over 2nd 34.5f
    Our Duke 1st over 29f
    Chase The Spud 1st over 33.5f
    Tiger Roll 1st over 32f
    Vicente 1st over 32f
    Singlefarmpayment 1st over 25.5f
    Minella Rocco 1st over 32f
    Native River 2nd over 32f
    Djakadam 2nd over 26.5f
    Anibale Fly 1st over 24.5f
    Coney Island 2nd over 24f
    Gold Present 1st over 24f
    The Last Samuri 2nd over 34.5f
    I Just Know 1st over 30f
    As De Mee 1st over 26f
    Milansbar 2nd over 33.5f (bit doubtful as Golden Chieftan would have won easily had he not come down at the last)

  39. pablo says:

    Phil Smith raised the post-GN OR to a career high for eight of the last ten winners

    Exceptions Neptune (who was previously Grade 1 class) and Aurora’s (who recorded his highest RPR in winning the GN)

    Their ages:

  40. miinnehoma says:

    -125 Whisper – might be a cracker ?
    Could be Henderson’s year with his new Mrs.
    He has 3 runs under his belt sofar this season which is mighty and is down for the Gold Cup.
    I thought with only 8 chases it might be a yr too soon but I see he’s a 10 yr old with
    3 wins and 4 seconds from only 8 chases – mighty %.

    Chase 8 / 3-4-0 = 87.5%
    Life 25 / 11-5-2 = 72%
    OR 167
    RPR 171
    TS 158
    RPR 171 > OR 161 = 10, 2 chases ago.
    RPR 171 > GNOR ? =

    2nd in the RSA chase 100k
    2nd in the Aintree Mildmay chase 56k
    2nd/20 in the Hennessy Hcap chase 142k (only hcap run).
    5th in the King George chase 128k.
    Has a Top 2 chase place in March.
    Has a Top 2 chase place at a Spring Festival.
    Has won 3 chases up to 2m5f.
    Dosage & CMP are ok -
    DP 14, DI=1.33, CD=0.14
    CMP – 8, 15, 0.75, 14-15-21
    OR167 should mean top wt in GN on 11-10
    No Top 3 @ 28f+ but then no runs beyond 26f.
    Has only run in one hcap, the Hennessy like Many Clouds – Top 3 in a hcap chase 43/43 stat.
    No chase wins @ 24f+ but has won the Aintree stayers hurdle 68k @ 25f.
    1 yr before had only run in 5 chases – the GN norm was 7+ until Many Clouds lowered that to 6 chases.

  41. Lescargot says:

    Miinnehoma. great summary on Whisper, although I read somewhere that the average DI of a G/N was 1.20, do you know when the last horse to win a national had a DI over 1.00?

  42. mike campo says:

    Hi Mike.
    I agree that Bristol De Mai improves dramatically for very soft or heavy ground. However, I believe such horses are far and few between and that the majority of supposed mudlarks simply take advantage of the slower pace of the race together with the advantage over those horses which simply don’t handle very soft conditions.
    In many cases, I believe that marathon distances, possibly in conjunction with the higher looking GN fences, can have the same effect.
    That’s why I wouldn’t dismiss the GN chances of Milansbar on faster G/Soft ground although I would be a little worried about him being swamped and potentially downing tools, making errors or failing to settle into a rythm if the early pace is too fast.

  43. Kevski111 says:

    Hey Seven Towers what about adding Doing Fine to your list, won over 3 1/2 miles needs good ground. Yes needs to put in a good run when comes out again to up it’s OR, 10yr old but lightly raced.

  44. Seven Towers says:

    I didn’t add Doing Fine for two reasons. 1. He is not getting in to the race as things stand, and 2. he didn’t get home over four miles in the NH Chase i.e. the furthest distance he has raced. His dam won over four miles but he didn’t!

  45. Lucky Vane2 says:

    “Lescargot says:
    January 24, 2018 at 12:17 am
    Miinnehoma. great summary on Whisper, although I read somewhere that the average DI of a G/N was 1.20, do you know when the last horse to win a national had a DI over 1.00?”

    Lescargot the last winner with a DI over 1.00 was Don’t Push It in 2010 with a DI of 1.55 and before him it was Mon Mome in 2009 with a DI of 3.00, it difficult to get an exact average because of the likes of Royal Athlete whose DI is infinity.

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