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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 5 May, 2015

A Pinsticker’s Guide to … the Aintree Grand National

Fancy a flutter on today’s big race but haven’t the first clue where to put your money? We give you a one-line assessment of each horse’s chances.

Image: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THERE IS SOMETHING about the Grand National which inspires people who have no interest in betting for the other 364 days of the year to part with their hard-earned cash.

If you are one of those people, then this is the guide for you as we help you pick a winner in the most unscientific way possible.

If at any point while reading this, you find yourself thinking “that’s not how I’ve been reading that horse’s form,” then you’re probably in the wrong place.

Read on, racing lovers, read on.

1. Don’t Push It (Tony McCoy)

Last year’s winner. The last horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals was Red Rum in 1974. Coincidentally, Red Rum in 1974 was the last horse to win carrying this much weight.

Back it if: You like thumbing your nose at historical trends.

2. Tidal Bay (Brian Hughes)

Sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A game horse with lots in the tank, but probably carrying too much weight.

Back it if: You like an underdog.

3. What A Friend (Daryl Jacob)

Surprised many with a big run at Cheltenham this year. Should probably be carrying a higher weight – can he use that to his advantage?

Back it if: You’re a Manchester United fan – he’s owned by Alex Ferguson.

4. Vic Venturi (Andrew Lynch)

Has won over these obstacles before, which counts for a lot in the Grand National.

Back it if: You’re in the market for an each-way Irish prospect.

5. Majestic Concorde (Mr Robbie McNamara)

Irish-trained winner on the flat, over hurdles and over fences. Trainer Dermot Weld has never won a Grand National.

Back it if: You were ever on a superfast airplane.

6. Or Noir De Somoza (Tom Scudamore)

A French horse, as if the name wasn’t a big enough giveaway. Only one French horse has ever won the national.

Back it if: You’re a big fan of Nicaraguan dicators.

7. Dooneys Gate (Mr Patrick Mullins)

Another Mullins contender. Put in a clear round over these fences last year which will stand to him.

Back it if: You fancy an amateur jockey to win for the first time in 21 years.

8. Big Fella Thanks (Graham Lee)

Has switched stables since finishing fourth in this race as favourite last year. Trained with the national in mind.

Back it if: You backed it last year. Any reasons you might have had for picking it then are still valid now.

9. The Tother One (Mr Ryan Mahon)

Unlikely to make it the whole way around without making a mistake.

Back it if: You think the above sentence is totally inaccurate.

10. Ballabriggs (Jason Maguire)

A big talking horse this week and a solid jumper. Every chance.

Back it if: You backed Amberleigh House, trained by Donald’s father Ginger, in 2003.

11. The Midnight Club (Ruby Walsh)

Likely to go off favourite and one of the top Irish contenders for the race. Won the Bobbyjo Chase (a Grand National trial) in February.

Back it if: You’re a Ruby backer. Today might be a bad day to change your mind.

12. Niche Market (Harry Skelton)

Winner of the Irish National in 2009. Paul Nicholls’ main contender this time around.

Back it if: You think Ruby’s judgement might be a bit messed-up after all of those recent falls. This was the horse he chose not to ride.

13. Silver By Nature (Peter Buchanan)

Second in the 2009 Welsh National. Might have liked slightly softer ground, but should still jump well.

Back it if: You like grey horses. Of the four in the field, this is the one with the best chance.

14. Backstage (Paul Carberry)

Gordon Elliot is a young trainer whose already has one Grand National win under his belt. He’s been talking up Backstage’s chances all week.

Back it if: You’re looking for an Irish runner with a decent chance. Don’t back it if you know who Paul Carberry is.

15. Chief Dan George (Paddy Aspell)

Question marks over his jumping. At 11, maybe his best days are behind him.

Back it if: You’re name is Dan. Or George. You’d be surprised at how often a tactic like that works.

16. Calgary Bay (Hadden Frost)

A good jumper but untested at Aintree and over the distance.

Back it if: You’re Canadian, or have ever been to Calgary Bay.

17. Killyglen (Robert Power)

Failed to live up to his early promise over the last few years.

Back it if: You live in the town just outside of Larne.

18. Oscar Time (Mr Sam Waley-Cohen)

Third in the Bobbyjo Chase behind The Midnight Club in February. Excellent chance.

Back it if: You believe the rumour that jockey Sam Waley-Cohen was responsible for getting Prince William and Kate Middleton back together after their “split.” Eh?

19. Quinz (Richard Johnson)

Young, inexperienced and French to boot – but a decent jumper. I’d be surprised.

Back it if: You think that French horses’ poor showing in the National is a fluke.

20. Becauseicouldntsee (Davy Russell)

Worth a second look. Well-weighted considering his previous chasing form.

Back it if: Anybody has ever told you that you “should have gone to Specsavers.”

21. Comply or Die (Timmy Murphy)

Winner of this race in 2008 and runner-up in 2009. Has been on the slide since then.

Back it if: You think that age is just a number.

22. Quolibet (Mark Walsh)

French and grey? No thanks.

Back it if: You disagree whenever somebody calls a grey horse “mangy-looking” – they’re all beautiful animals.

23. Grand Slam Hero (Aidan Coleman)

Ground will suit, but there should be at least fifteen horses better than him in the field. At least.

Back it if: You were at the Aviva a few weeks ago to witness England’s historic Grand Slam triumph. Oh wait …

24. State of Play (Paul Moloney)

Fourth in 2009 and third last year. Has been laid out for this and connections are aware that this is his last chance at glory. Could be a dud, but worth keeping an eye on.

Back it if: You backed it the last two years – changing your mind is just asking for trouble. Also if you’re a fan of the BBC political drama of the same name.

25. King Fontaine (Denis O’Regan)

Fifth at Cheltenham recently, but probably not experienced enough for the big Aintree fences.

Back it if: You were alive in 1958 when French footballer Just Fontaine scored a record 13 goals in the World Cup. We presume that’s who he’s named after.

26. In Compliance (Leighton Aspell)

A real long shot. Likely to get around safely, but there should be one or two better if he’s still in contention late on.

Back it if: You fancy backing a proper Irish warhorse as a long-shot.

27. Hello Bud (Sam Twiston-Davies)

No 13-year-old has won since 1923. Put a line through him.

Back it if: You’ve ever used the phrase or any of it’s derivatives as a greeting.

28. West End Rocker (Robert Thornton)

Always improving. Could have an outside chance if he jumps well.

Back it if: You can figure out why jockey Robert Thornton is often referred to as “Choc.”

29. Santa’s Son (Jamie Moore)

Will be lucky to last a circuit.

Back it if: You believe.

30. Bluesea Cracker (Andrew McNamara)

Irish National winner. Disappointing in the Bobbyjo recently, but think twice before dismissing completely.

Back it if: You’re first thought on reading the horse’s name was “that sounds like ‘BlueCheese Cracker.’” Just us? Fine.

31. That’s Rhythm (James Reveley)

Unreliable. If I drew him in the office sweep, I’d ask for my money back.

Back it if: You’ve got rhythm.

32. Surface To Air (Tom Messenger)

Recently made his comeback after a three-year absence, finishing last. This could be the greatest comeback story of all time – but it won’t be.

Back it if: You’re a Call of Duty: Black Ops fan.

33. Piraya (Johnny Farrelly)

Very few redeeming qualities.

Back it if: You’re a grey backer. This is another one for you.

34. Can’t Buy Time (Richie McLernon)

Fell in 2009 and 2010. Anything could happen if he actually manages to get around.

Back it if: You think that “third time lucky” is an acceptable motto to make decisions by.

35. Character Building (Miss Nina Carberry)

One of the better prospects down this end of the weights. Hard to argue for him improving on last year’s performance when he finished 7th.

Back it if: You want to see a female jockey win for the first time ever.

36. Ornais (Nick Scholfield)

Decent novice form, but was out of action for a long time with injury. Should be too big a test.

Back it if: You are from the Orne region of North-West France, the area after which this French horse is presumably named.

37. Arbor Supreme (David Casey)

Hasn’t won since 2008 and a faller in this race last year. Second in the Bobbyjo recently and if he can replicate that run, who knows? But that’s a huge if.

Back it if: You’re looking for a bigger-priced runner from Willie Mullins’ yard.

38. Royal Rosa (Paul Gallagher)

Has successfully made his way around these fences before, but nowhere near good enough. And he’s French.

Back it if: You ever met American civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason at all for you to back this horse.

39. Skippers Brig (Dominic Elsworth)

Beat many people’s fancy Ballabriggs at Kelso recently, but the ground is likely to go against him this time around.

Back it if: You know what a “brig” is. Without using Google.

40. Golden Kite (Shane Hassett)

Won the “Munster National” in October and loves good ground. Bottom weight always an interesting prospect.

Back it if: You are one of the 1,067,492 people who was awarded an Order of the Golden Kite. This one’s especially for our big Japanese readership.

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