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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1,402 Responses to Grand National 2018: Early thoughts

  1. pablo says:

    PDR and OFA wouldn’t have been on many people’s radar less than a week after the previous year’s GN – except perhaps wishful thinking from connections

    Also Many Clouds wouldn’t have topped many lists – except for Trevor Hemmings

  2. pablo says:

    RTW and Auroras coming second in Nationals might have put them in a few notebooks though

  3. miinnehoma says:

    One For Arthur –

    New OR 156 – has been given only 8 Lbs for his Grand National win.

    Started the season in Oct on OR127 with only a 5K C4 chase to his name.
    After 2 wins he goes up 21 Lbs in the season to GNOR148.

    The assistant trainer Scu said earlier in the week that the more rain the better
    because he is a slow horse who runs from the back and would need the rain to slow down the front runners.

  4. Supersub says:

    Very surprised to see Phil has only put OFA up by 8lbs. Makes you wonder what connections of TLS did to upset Phil as he went up 12lbs for coming second in, what for me, was a slightly sub-standard renewal last year.

    I would say that OFA is still very well handicapped off that mark as he appeared to have a fair bit in hand at the line. The way he scythed through the field approaching the second last made him one of the most impressive National winners I’ve seen and I do think this year’s race will turn out to be a good one.

    The challenge for Lucinda and Scu now is to protect that rating for next year. We don’t know what meddling with his mark Phil is going to do in February but if he runs off 156 in next year’s race he would surely have a favourite’s chance. He would be unlikely to be top weight off that mark either and would likely carry around 11-07 which would be manageable.

    Could this finally be our first dual winner since Rummy?

  5. Supersub says:

    A soft ground National next year would probably unearth further improvement in OFA as it would place an even greater emphasis on his stamina which is clearly his strong suit.

    Obviously we don’t know what newcomers we are going to have in the race next year but it is clear that the 39 horses he beat on Saturday are going to find it very tough reversing the form.

    Native River would obviously have had a big chance on the formbook but it looks as if the Tizzards are going down the Gold Cup route with him next year.

  6. Corbiere says:

    Pollyowls I got a bit carried away on my early thoughts post and forgot Our Duke had only had 3 chases.
    Silly me !

  7. pablo says:

    This is Phil Smith’s blog – the other one I put up covers the rest of the Aintree meeting

  8. Seven Towers says:

    Did TLS get put up 12lbs for his National runner up run. He was already well in for National because his Grimthorpe win hadn’t been taken into account as he won it post weights.

  9. Supersub says:

    That’s true Seven, but as TLS didn’t win the GN off his old rating he could easily have been re-assessed downwards but wasn’t. So I still perceive it, strictly speaking, as a 12lbs rise for coming second.

  10. daniel edwards says:

    Don’t know if anybody can prove this but it looks to me like they went slowly on the second circuit before Blaklion took it up

    Could explain how the first 3 home were runners who come late

  11. daniel edwards says:

    Well, it was 12lb for his pre Aintree win AND his GN 2nd

    You tend not to go down for finishing 2nd in any race. More likely to go up if anything

  12. pablo says:

    “The Last Samuri is a thoroughly likeable and highly progressive chaser and he ran a big race, as he was entitled to if taking to fences given he was 12lb well in”

    From RP report for last year’s race

  13. Seven Towers says:

    Although there were commendable efforts, it has to be said that Many Clouds was not at his best during the season that followed his GN triumph but came back as good as ever this season. It may be that like Many Clouds, TLS will take time to come alive again. Certainly wouldn’t give up on him but I still don’t think he will ever win the big one.

  14. daniel edwards says:

    I reckon by the time TLS gets back down to his 2016 mark you are looking at 2 years time. You’d want him below that mark too as he won’t have improved by then

    Taking into account he wants it soft too, his chances don’t look good to me

  15. daniel edwards says:

    Southfield Royale is on my radar at the moment

    Good result in the festival 4 miler last season, unexposed, right age, can even take a rise in the weights given he’s only 141 at the minute

    Will be watching to see if and how he runs at Ayr or Sandown in the coming weeks

  16. pablo says:

    I’m a fully paid up member of the Thistlecrack fan club but I’m not sure he’ll ever win a Gold Cup. The Cotswold form was Grade 2 form for me. Many Clouds never a Grade 1 horse. Lovely rhythm for his National and Hennessy wins, but too slow for a Grade 1.

  17. daniel edwards says:

    Each to their own but disagree there. He wasn’t out of depth in the GC and the way he beat Thistlecrack that day was all heart and class

    Not good enough to win a GC I don’t think, but not all grade 1s are as strong as the GC

  18. daniel edwards says:

    Although I agree with your Thistlecrack point!

  19. pablo says:

    Fair point – changed to too slow for a Grade 1 in the spring at Cheltenham or Aintree

  20. pablo says:

    Costwold form told me more about Thistle’s shortcomings than MC’s renaissance

  21. Supersub says:

    pablo says:
    April 13, 2017 at 9:37 am

    “The Last Samuri is a thoroughly likeable and highly progressive chaser and he ran a big race, as he was entitled to if taking to fences given he was 12lb well in”

    From RP report for last year’s race
    I think it was harsh of Phil to allow the full 12lbs rise to stand after failing to win last year’s race off his old rating.

    I agree with Seven and daniel when they say that Phil has pretty much ensured he will never win this race.

    The combination of weight and ground this year meant that he got round but couldn’t land a blow.

    It’s unlikely he will have dropped 12lbs by next year or 2019 for that matter, after which time he will probably be too old to win it.

  22. pablo says:

    My research of finishing times for the GN from 2 out suggests that those that win and finish relatively quickly have a better chance of placing again or running well in other tests

    Mr Frisk (Whitbread)
    Party Politics (GN)
    Bindaree (Welsh GN)
    Hedgehunter (Gold Cup and GN)
    DPI (GN)
    COD (GN)

    TLS outside the ideal time as he was slower than RTW whose time was outside (although quick compared with the rest of the race run on soft ground)

    Theory being that if they start to weaken at the business end then maybe they never get it back to run well over a real test?

    Initial finding was that OFA’s time was on the cusp – not as quick as the ones above, but not slow

    As with any other GN research the sample sizes are small in the whole scheme of things – so will probably end up being unreliable at some point!

  23. crisp73 says:

    Those sectional times of One For Arthur – timeform- from 3 out suggest in the context of the GN, a quick and classy horse. I think they stated only Mr Frisk- on firm- went quicker. OFA was something like 5 seconds quicker than Blaklion from three out to winning post and in the context of the race it did appear as though Blaklion stayed on at the finish. It looks like from as early as the twelfth fence that OFA was roughly 3 seconds behind Blaklion- who led from the 28th to the 29th fence- a gap which stayed constant until OFA made his move from three out. Pretty impressive list of sires breeding in to OFAs family line in the last four generations: Mill Reef, Kris, Persian Bold, Trempolino. Class from a mile to a mile six furlongs. A good spectrum?

    Looking at the race I don’t think it was a full on test of stamina as some renewals though you have to factor in going stick etc. I roughly timed OFA 7m 11secs from 1st fence to 28th fence. I reckon about par for the course. I haven’t got all my times to hand but Ballabriggs and Many Clouds did it in the same time, 6m 57secs. Amberleigh did it in something like 7m 6secs and he was hanging on afterwards which makes you realise how much the leaders in that race slowed. Hedgehunter’s time was something like 7m 3secs in Amberleigh’s year when he fell at the last, and 7m 14secs when he won.

  24. Mike N says:

    Take OFA weight rise with a pinch of salt as he has only been assessed as if it was an ordinary handicap chase. Come weights day whatever mark he is on more will be added as we know Phil adds a few extra lbs for course specialists.

  25. crisp73 says:

    14/15 have won a chase prize worth 30k+. Pineau didn’t but that’s a healthy success rate on probabilities. The only runner up not to have done it in the last 15 renewals was King Johns Castle.

    This year Pleasant Company, Le Mercurey, Goodtoknow, La Vaticane, Tenor Nivernais, Roi des Francs, Wonderful Charm, Cocktails At Dawn, Stellar Notion, Perfect Candidate, Doctor Harper, Wounded Warrior, Double Shuffle, Ucello Conti, Measureofmydreams hadn’t.

  26. miinnehoma says:

    So that’s 2 from the last 3 GN Winners over the new fences that 1 yr
    before had only won a 5 or 6k mickey mouse chase.
    Most GN winners had won a big Hcap or had a Top 3 in a National in the yr before or so.
    But then Many Clouds & Arthur did the business in the Grand National season.
    Many Clouds with 3 wins including the Hennessy & Arthur with 2 wins including his 34k Warwick classic chase @ 28f+.

    Arthur’s close 5th in the Becher & the Warwick 28f+ win certainly put him in the mix.
    But with the LTO stat being so strong, working every year for 45 yrs & then with what Scu said that week about the more rain the better one would find it very hard to lump on.

    Stat wise in the last 7 yrs we have lost -
    the weight stat, a few times.
    the 17k stat.
    top 3 in one of the last 3 races.
    top 3 in the season.
    3 chase wins.
    Won a race @ 24f.
    Chase win SR.
    Chase place SR.
    & now the LTO stat.

    The problem now is we just can’t trust any stat like we did before, so we end up with a long,long short list.

  27. galileo says:

    Hi gang,
    A bit off topic,
    But if ADMINS around any chance of a new CHELTENHAM 2018 thread,would be greatly appreciated…

  28. moreen says:

    I’ve been thinking recently that the race has changed totally over the past few years. Still as fascinating but, with the compression of the handicap etc finding the winner is getting more and more difficult. It had to happen for the race to survive, and I do understand that but it has had to evolve into a race with fewer risks. I guess that OFA did, at least have a run this year but it was still a hard stat to lose.

  29. miinnehoma says:

    Last year we had 11 with a top 3 @ 28f+.
    This year we had 17 with a top 3 @ 28f+.

  30. kj says:

    RIP Amberleigh, you were pretty god damn awesome, such a special winning yr.
    Sadly bloody colic got him after parading at GN this yr.

  31. Lucky Vane says:

    With Amberleigh House we close the late great Ginger McCain’s story. From having a cripple horse (Red Rum) the most wins from a single horse to date, to Amberleigh House. On a personal note AH was the first winner I had which didn’t jump the last fence in the lead, but was there on the the line.

  32. Pollyowls says:

    Last year, as the old season ended, Ewok picked his top 6 for next year’s race, and Seven & I joined in as below…

    ewok says:
    April 25, 2016 at 1:10 pm
    2017 vote

    6 – Minella Rocco
    5 – The Druids Nephew
    4 – Seeyouatmidnight
    3 – Rogue Angel
    2 – Measureofmydreams
    1 – O’Faolain’s Boy

    Hehe (just for a laugh) ;)

    Pollyowls says:
    April 25, 2016 at 7:44 pm
    Following on from Ewok’s fine example…

    6 – The Young Master
    5 – Seeyouatmidnight
    4 – Onenightinvienna
    3 – Cause Of Causes
    2 – Knockanrawley
    1 – Monksland

    Seven Towers says:
    April 26, 2016 at 11:26 am
    Following examples from the two before and taking into account Brocade have never had a runner (otherwise Native River would have to be in there) my very long range six are,

    6. Noble Endeavour
    5. The Tullow Tank
    4. The Last Samuri
    3. Alvarado
    2. Many Clouds
    1. Federici

    Anyone care to nominate their 2018 picks…?

  33. galileo says:

    Hi gang,
    Early one for GN 2018,
    TIGER ROLL, took the 50′s at PP,
    A Munster national winner,triumph winner and NH 4mile winner both at Cheltenham,
    His run in the IGN I think we can ignore as his season was geared towards Cheltenham,but most definitely
    One to keep onside for next year…..

  34. pablo says:

    Not GN-related but a great story nonetheless

    Perhaps the Mad Mooses and Labaiks of this world have missed their vocation…

  35. kj says:

    He’s got nothing on Pigcasso Pablo ;) his eye for colour and flair for a landscape is more Van Gogh in style ;) remarkable ability, check him out, he’s got it going on! and ofcourse he avoided being turned into sausages.

    So another absolute great of the big fences slips away,.. the sixth to die since October apparently! and ofcourse Comply died only a few months before that.
    I remember picking Papillion out first pick, partly because I’d just seen the epic film for the first time,. so I had a little on at 50-1 ….remember sitting back (as much as you can) and watching the ears of a winner! absolutely loved it… jumping for fun, wearing luckiest green ;) like COD and Amberleigh for me, a great jumping winner seemingly plotted there, was a thrill to watch these winners over the old course, and like many he got to enjoy a happy retirement.
    RIP Papillion

  36. kj says:

    Agree Galileo, Tiger Roll on my list, was on Phils radar this yr tho, think he got given the biggest extra burden on weights day, expect he could get the same next.

  37. pablo says:

    According to the RP in its round-up following the Irish Grand National:

    “…Elliott, who reported that his Tiger Roll, winner of the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last month, had bled before being pulled up.”

  38. galileo says:

    Hi gang,
    Agree he probably was on Phil’s radar,but if you look through his form he’s carried big weights and won,
    Think Gordon Elliott will campaign him specifically with the GN in mind next year…..

  39. Pollyowls says:

    A very sad few months… Rough Quest lost in October, then Red Marauder in November, Lord Gyllene in December, Many Clouds at the end of January – now Amberleigh House & Papillon in little more than a week.
    At least the majority of these heroes got the opportunity to live a long and happy retirement…

  40. galileo says:

    Hi gang,
    Well said POLLYOWLS,well said……

  41. kj says:

    Sad to report The Tullow Tank has apparently passed away since his last race, I know Seven was keen on him.

  42. pablo says:

    On a happier note kj I’m watching your old pal Carruthers parading at Newbury as part of Retraining of Racehorses initiative. Also that old loveable old loon Mabait is now playing polo rather than the old rogue.

  43. pablo says:

    It’s not polo it’s some new hybrid game apparently with a bit of netball involved

  44. Mike N says:

    This will likely not happen but if I wanted to try to win the race again I would put One For Arthur in the following races before the weights…

    Betfair Chase – Nov
    Cotswold Chase – Jan

    Be uncompetitive in those and that should knock off about 4 to 6 pounds.

  45. ESB says:


    I doubt if that would fool Phil one little bit….

  46. Mike N says:

    It wont if he reads this blog ESB. ;)

    But its usual to reduce the rating after moderate runs. Happened to Vicente during the season, and he was able to win the Scottish national again.

  47. moreen says:

    And we’ve now lost Well Chief.

  48. Seven Towers says:

    Yes, we lose Many Clouds and his half brother The Tullow Tank in the same year. Very sad. TTT very much a what might have been horse.

    Vintage Clouds could be an interesting horse to follow next year, primarily as a yardstick I would imagine. Ran a cracker to stay on in the GN Trial, was going past a few and was going to place before capsizing in the Peter Marsh, was running another very good race when coming down at Cheltenham and wasn’t that far behind at Ayr.

    Of the potential newbies for 2018, Singlefarmpayment and Noble Endeavor would be high on my long range list, particularly the latter with his big field form but of the two SFP looks to be the better stayer. Abolitionist appears to be being aimed at the race and I still haven’t given up completely on a resurgence from Minella Foru.

    I suspect Native River and Minella Rocco would be on most long range lists too.

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