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    Tiger Roll ridden by jockey Davy Russell (2R) jumps the water jump heading to victory in the Grand National horse race on the final day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, northern England on April 14, 2018

    The Sputnik Intelligent Punter's Guide to the 2019 Grand National

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    Neil Clark
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    AND THEY'RE OFF! Saturday sees the 2019 renewal of the most famous - and exciting-jumps race in the world: the Aintree Grand National. Forty horses will go to post in the 4m two and a half furlongs race, worth a mouth-watering £561K to the winner. Start time is 5:15 p.m.

    Here's our horse-by-horse guide, in racecard order, to help you pick the winner! 

    **** Strong Chance

    *** Each-way possibilities

    ** Outsider

    * No Hoper

    1. ANIBALE FLY ***

    Weight: 11st 10lbs. Age: 9. Odds:12-1

    Fourth last year after finishing third in the Gold Cup, a position he bettered by one in this year's Cheltenham Blue Riband. 5lbs higher than last year, and given his big weight (no horse has carried more than 11st 8lbs to victory since 1974), more likely to get placed again than fly home in front.

    2. VALTOR **

    Weight: 11st 6lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 50-1.

    Pulled-up at Cheltenham last time but before that the French-import was impressive winner at Ascot on UK debut; stamina not proven, has plenty of weight and his trainer's poor record in the race is off-putting.

    3. TIGER ROLL ****

    Weight: 11st 5lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 7-2.

    Bids to become first back-to-back winner of the race since the legendary Red Rum. Is Tigerthe new Rummy? He could not have been more impressive than when running away with the Cross Country at Cheltenham last month, and looks to have improved from last year; that said, he needs to to take this off a 9lbs higher mark.

    Tiger Roll, the favourite for Saturday’s Grand National
    © Photo : Neil Clark
    Tiger Roll, the favourite for Saturday’s Grand National

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    While you can't rule out a repeat, the current odds don't represent great value considering the competitive nature of the race.  

    4. OUTLANDER *

    Weight: 11st 5lbs. Age: 11. Odds: 100-1.

    Well beaten by Rathvinden in his last outing in the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse in February, has never won beyond 3m and others make more appeal.

    5. DON POLI **

    Weight: 11st 3lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 66-1

    Has won over regulation fences at Aintree but tailed off in the Becher Chase over the National obstacles in December and this once top-grade performer  (he was third in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup) is now without a win since landing the Lexus in December 2015. The upside of that is that he's slipped to a  nice mark but will need to leave recent form behind him to win this.    

    6. GO CONQUER ***

    Weight: 11st 3lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 33-1.

    Back to form under new handler Nigel Twiston-Davies (who's won the race twice before), he was an impressive winner at Doncaster last time. He stayed on very well that day over 3m, but the furthest he's ever raced is over 3m1f so stamina is taken on trust.  

    7. MALA BEACH **

    Weight: 11st 2lbs. Age: 11. Odds: 50-1

    Lightly raced for his years; pulled-up last time tried over a marathon trip in the 2016 Irish National, could stay but taking everything into consideration others make more appeal.

    8. MINELLA ROCCO ***

    Weight: 11st 1lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 25-1.

    The 2017 Gold Cup runner-up and the winner of the 2016 4-miler at the Cheltenham Festival has slipped to a dangerous mark; and if we get a largely dry week (he was a late defector from last year's race due to the heavy going) he can't be discounted, others though look more solid.

    9. LAKE VIEW LAD ***

    Weight: 11st 1lbs. Age: 9. Odds; 14-1.

    A staying-on third in 3m1f Ultima at Cheltenham last time saw him attract market support for this; usually jumps well and could run a big race for owner Trevor Hemmings who has won this three times before, but stamina for this unproven as never gone beyond 3m2f in the past.

    10. PLEASANT COMPANY ***

    Weight: 11st 1lbs. Age: 11. Odds: 16-1.

    Narrowly denied by Tiger Roll twelve months ago, Willie Mullins's charge is 4lbs higher in the ratings this time and that is likely to prevent him going one better. Still, he's fair each-way value to finish in the frame again.

    11. BALLYOPTIC***

    Weight: 11st 1lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 33-1.

    Stamina certainly didn't appear to be an issue when he was only beaten a nose in last year's Scottish National; that run and his plugging on sixth in December's Welsh National- plus a previous win in a Grade 1 hurdle race at this meeting makes him of  each-way interest here; the negatives are that he fell over the National fences in December when slowly away and was tailed off when pulled up in the Grand National trial at Haydock on his last start.

    12. DOUNIKOS ***

    Weight: 11st 0lbs. Age: 8. Odds: 33-1.

    Stayed on well to win the Grand National Trial Handicap at Punchestown in February over 3m4f, indicating that stamina won't be an issue;  possibilities on that  form but the fact that he has failed to complete in four of his last seven starts tempers enthusiasm.

    13. RATHVINDEN ****

    Weight: 11st. Age: 11. Odds: 8-1.

    Won the 4-miler at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, so stamina won't be a problem, just had the two runs since then, the latest of which was a comfortable win in the Bobbyjo. With a clear round likely to be there or thereabouts.

    14. ONE FOR ARTHUR**

    Putin rides a horse during a visit to a mounted police unit to congratulate female officers with International Women's Day.
    © Sputnik / Алексей Никольский
    Weight: 11st. Age: 10. Odds: 25-1.

    The 2017 Grand National winner missed the whole of last season due to injury. Failed to complete in both his starts this term and is still 6lbs higher than when he won two years ago so although a return to the National fences could spark a revival, a repeat victory looks unlikely.

    15. ROCK THE KASBAH ***

    Weight: 10st 13lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 20-1.

    Useful performer and his second-placed behind Step Back (pair 14l clear) in the 3m5f bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last April augurs well for him staying the trip here; ticks the right age and weight boxes so a lot to like; but while he's gone well fresh and should go well for a long while, the lack of a recent run  (113 days) is usually a negative in this as 27 of the last 28 winners ran no more than 55 days earlier. 

    16. WARRIORS TALE**

    Weight: 10st 13lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 50-1.

    Won the Grand Sefton over the shorter trip (2m5f) over the National fences in December, but in the big race itself, last year gradually faded (off a 2lbs lower mark) and eventually pulled-up. May run in the Topham, over a shorter trip on Thursday, and that looks more suitable. 

    17. REGAL ENCORE **

    Weight: 10st 12lbs. Age: 11. Odds:  66-1

    If any horse deserves the epithet 'hit or miss', it's this fella, he's either won or failed to complete in 11 of his last 18 races. His staying-on eight-placed finish in this in 2017 when not given the most positive of rides- plus good efforts in previous runs at the track gives grounds for hope that he could outperform his odds, but he's certainly not bomb-proof.

    18. MAGIC OF LIFE *

    Weight: 10st 11lbs. Age: 8. Odds: 50-1.

    Talented mare, but never won over 3m or further and all her best form is over shorter, so stamina a big question mark and may need someone to wave a magic wand for her to win. 

    19. A TOI PHIL **

    Weight: 10st 11lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 50-1.

    Another who's been campaigned over much shorter trips and although he was staying on over 3m in his last two races, both over hurdles, and ticks the right age and weight boxes, stamina still has to be taken on trust.

    20. JURY DUTY ***

    Weight: 10st 11lbs. Age: 8. Odds: 16-1.

    Has attracted market support since landing a decent 3m2f    race at Down Royal on March 16th, stayed on well that day but was weakening when unseating in the 4 miler (won by Rathvinden) at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, and so while he's well-weighted, and should go well, the jury is still out on his stamina.    

    21. NOBLE ENDEAVOUR ***

    Weight: 10st 10lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 33-1.

    His staying on sixth in the 2017 Irish National and his effort in the 2016 4-miler at Cheltenham, when he fell 2 out when just 6l off the pace, suggest stamina won't be a problem; given a sight of the Aintree fences when ninth in the Becher in December; each-way possibilities off a decent weight.  

    22. SANDYMOUNT DUKE (NON-RUNNER)

    23. MONBEG VICTORIOUS **

    Weight: 10st 10lbs. Age:8. Odds: 66-1.

    Well beaten in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February and tailed off in the Thyestes before that and is another who's stamina for this has to be taken on trust. 

    24. RAMSES DE TEILLEE **

    Weight: 10st 9lbs. Age: 7. Odds: 25-1.

    Horse runs into French sports bar, sends patrons running
    © Photo : YouTube/CBS News
    Has been in really consistent form this term, and showed that stamina won't be an issue with excellent close-up second in the Welsh National in December, followed by another stout effort in the Grand National Trial at Haydock; would really like his chances except for the 'killer stat' that he's a seven-year-old and no horse of that age has won the National since Hitler's forces were invading the Low Countries in 1940.

    25. TEA FOR TWO **

    Weight: 10st 9lbs. Age:10. Odds: 40-1.

    Has won at this meeting before but stamina not proven for this and the fact that he has failed to complete in three of his last five starts doesn't inspire confidence. 

    26. MALL DINI (NON-RUNNER)

    Weight: 10st 8lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 20-1.

    Aims to give connections some compensation for the poor run of Presenting Percy in the Gold Cup, and he could well do it. He's got a touch of class (has won and been placed second at the Cheltenham Festival) and the way he was staying on well over 3m5f on soft ground in a good race at Fairyhouse in December 2017, suggests stamina won't be a problem.

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    An interesting contender who ticks the right age and weight boxes.

    27. STEP BACK.***

    Weight: 10st 7lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 25-1.

    Stayed on very strongly to take last year's bet 365 Gold Cup at Sandown last April, and has been campaigned very quietly this year, with this race in mind. Ticks all the right boxes (age, weight and stamina); and although he's 12lbs higher than when winning last,  still has to be given serious consideration. 

    28. ULTRAGOLD.***

    Weight: 10st 7lbs. Age: 11. Odds: 50-1.

    Has a fantastic record over the National fences (winner of the last two Topham's and has also been placed in the Grand Sefton and last year's Becher Chase); not sure to stay the National trip but in any event he's likely to give supporters a good run for their money and there's far worse each-way options around.  

    29. PAIROFBROWNEYES (NON-RUNNER)

    Weight: 10st 6lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 25-1.

    Nice win at Naas in the 3m Leinster National last time out, the way he stayed on strongly at the finish gives some grounds for optimism in this; did though fall quite early on in last year's Irish National. Each-way possibilities if he stays. 

    30. BLOW BY BLOW*

    Weight: 10st 6lbs. Age: 8. Odds: 66-1.

    Yet to win over 3m and all his best form over shorter (got detached in the Leinster National won by Pairofbrowneyes on the last start),  so real concerns over stamina with this Irish challenger.

    31. UP FOR REVIEW ***

    Weight: 10st 6lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 25-1.

    Has won twice over 3m, should stay a bit further judging by his staying on third over 3m1f on soft in the Thyestes in January; but whether he'll last home beyond 4m has to be taken on trust. That said trainer Willie Mullins has done well with unproven stayers in the race before so we can't totally rule out a decent showing.  

    32. SINGLEFARMPAYMENT **

    Weight: 10st 6lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 50-1.

    Does most of his racing at Cheltenham, in races around the 3m mark, where he usually performs well, so this is a bit of a step into the unknown. If he takes to the fences is likely to go well for quite a way and could give his supporters some fun without winning.

    33. VIEUX LION ROUGE ***

    Weight: 10st 6lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 33-1.

    Record over the National fences is 716792; running in this for the fourth time (best finish was sixth off a mark of 149 in 2016); dropped to a mark of 142 now so on that basis you could make out an each-way case for him, especially bearing in mind the way he was closing on Walk in the Mill at the finish in the Becher in December.

    34. VALSEUR LIDO***

    Weight; 10st 6lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 66-1.

    Same odds last year, but outperformed them; was looking like he could place quite close to home on the heavy ground before weakening to finish eighth;  on that showing should last longer on Saturday off a much lower rating provided the going is less testing. If it is he is no forlorn each-way hope. 

    35. VINTAGE CLOUDS ****

    Weight: 10st 4lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 11-1.

    Placed in last year's Welsh and Scottish Nationals so stamina shouldn't be an issue and this prominent racer and gutsy performer ticks other boxes too, definitely short-list material for trainer Sue Smith, who won this in 2013 with Aurora's Encore and owner Trevor Hemmings, successful three times before.

    36. GENERAL PRINCIPLE ****

    Weight; 10st 4lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 40-1. 

    Went  on my ante-post shortlist for this after his running-on, last-stride victory in last April's Irish National, not done much this season but trainer Gordon Elliot (who's won this twice before) did speak well of him at the Weights Launch and so he has to enter calculations; the more rain that falls the better as he stays all day.

    37. LIVELOVELAUGH *

    Weight: 10st 4lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 66-1.

    His name is a wonderful guide to how we should live our lives, but his cv doesn't scream 'Grand National winner' as the furthest he's won over is 2m5f and no real indication from the occasions he has raced over further than a marathon trip is what he needs.   

    38. WALK IN THE MILL ***.

    Weight: 10st 4lbs. Age: 9. Odds: 25-1.

    Stayed on strongly when landing the Becher over the National Fences in December, has to go another mile here, but could stay and ticks the age and weight boxes so worthy of short-list consideration.

    39. FOLSOM BLUE ***

    Weight: 10st 4lbs. Age: 12. Odds: 50-1.

    Famously tends to get going too late, stamina absolutely no issue, rain would help his cause, but in any case likely to be staying on like a steam train in the closing stages.  Definite each-way possibilities.

    40. CAPTAIN REDBEARD**

    Weight 10st 3lbs Age: 10. Odds: 50-1.

    Started at 20-1 for this last year but only got as far as the 7th fence when he blundered and unseated, made mistakes again over these fences when finishing 9th in the Becher Chase in December, generally consistent form over regulation fences, but stamina for this unproven.

    41.  BLESS THE WINGS **

    Weight: 10st 3lbs. Age: 14. Odds: 66-1.

    Sprouted wings at the finish to come third last year at the age of 13; but another year older now (no teenager has won the race since Sergeant Murphy in 1923) and is 6lbs higher in the ratings, so a win would probably need angelic intervention. 

    42 (RESERVE) JOE FARRELL ***

    Weight 10st 2lbs. Age: 10. Odds: 16-1.

    Last year's Scottish National winner so stamina should be ok; only had two runs this year after the National weights came out, 11lbs higher than when winning last, but could still go well off his low weight and might make the frame provided there‘s not too much rain.

    43 (RESERVE) JUST A PAR **

    Weight 10st 2lbs. Age: 12. Odds: 100-1.

    A veteran who would be having his third run in the race having finished 15th in 2016, and 14th a year later. 4lbs lower than two years ago, and while he should once again jump round, and could improve on previous placings, he'll have his work cut out to win.

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    VERDICT: Another cracking renewal in prospect as TIGER ROLL bids to make history. While you can't rule out a repeat win bearing in mind how easily he won the Cross Country last time, there are dangers aplenty, including  MALL DINI, STEP BACK, RATHVINDEN, VINTAGE CLOUDS and last year's Irish National winner GENERAL PRINCIPLE, especially if the rain comes. VIEUX LION ROUGE, WALK IN THE MILL, VALSEUR LIDO, NOBLE ENDEAVOUR and FOLSOM BLUE are among a number with each-way chances, especially if you can find a bookie paying six places.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar.

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