3 each-way shots that could land you a jackpot in the Grand National

So you’re telling us there’s a chance?

FORTY HORSES, COUNTLESS fairytales waiting to be written, but there can only be one winner of the Grand National.

The iconic Aintree showpiece has thrown up some big-priced winners in the last five years — 33/1, 66/1, 25/1, 25/1 and 33/1.

So while everybody in the office or down in the pub will have their two cents on Definitly Red, Vieux Lion Rouge and Pleasant Company, this year’s market leaders, recent history shows that it can pay to take a chance on an each-way outsider.

After all, on the 50th anniversary of Foinavon’s famous win, it’s worth remembering that this is one race where anything can happen. With that in mind, we’ve concentrated our efforts on the horses priced at 25/1 or bigger.

Our track record in the race isn’t exactly disgraceful (at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves). Pineau de Re made our shortlist in 2014 before going on to win at 25/1, and we had runner-up Saint Are (33/1) and fourth-place Alvarado (20/1) onside in 2015.

The less said about last year’s selections, the better — 10th, 11th and 13th — but considering only 16 of the 40 horses managed to complete the race, at least we picked three who made it to the finish line.

So no, we’re not psychic, and yes, it is all a bit of a guessing game, so if you’re going to take our half-baked hunches as gospel, please don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.

All odds correct at the time of writing. Check to see how many places your bookmaker is offering for each-way bets.

Raz de Maree (25/1)

Horse Racing - 2014 Betfred Midlands Grand National - Uttoxeter Racecourse Source: PA Archive/PA Images

If you scroll down through the winners’ list, you’ll see that 12-year-olds don’t have a great record when it comes to the big prize. Amberleigh House was the last 12-year-old winner back in 2004, and one of only two in the last 26 runnings.

But it’s not unheard of for a wily old veteran to run into the places at bigger odds — take 13-year-old Vics Canvas, third at 100/1 last year, as the most recent example.

So while age might be a concern for Raz de Maree, there’s a lot to like about him as well. For starters, he’s well used to these marathon races, twice winning the Cork National over 3m4f while also boasting a second-place finish in the Midlands Grand National over 4m1f two seasons ago.

And that’s before we even get to his most impressive piece of recent form, finishing less than two lengths second to Native River in the Welsh National (3m5f) last December — yes, the same Native River that was sent off second-favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and finished third.

A lot of his best form is on winter ground, but he has won on good, so the drying conditions shouldn’t be too much of a concern. His jumping is usually solid, unseating just once in 20 chase starts, and he had a clear round over these fences when he finished eighth in the 2014 Grand National.

Trained by Gavin Cromwell, and ridden by Ger Fox, he has a chance to make this a very special day for County Meath.

Saint Are (33/1)

Grand National Day - Crabbie's Grand National Festival - Aintree Racecourse Source: David Davies

They say you should never go back but there’s more than just sentimental reasons for giving Saint Are, runner-up when we picked him in 2015, a second chance.

Admittedly he hasn’t shown a huge amount of encouraging form since that near miss, pulling up after a couple of mistakes on soft ground in last year’s Grand National, and then falling early on in the Becher Chase over these same faces in December.

But his prep run, a fast second when carrying top weight in a three-mile handicap chase at Doncaster in February, is enough reason to believe that all is not lost.

“It’s his time of year,” trainer Tom George told the Guardian this week.

“He loves this time of year and you can see it in his coat, even now. Loves the track, loves the weather. So whatever’s happened up to now, now’s when you’re going to see the best of him.”

With Davy Russell booked, you can be sure he’ll get a good ride if nothing else.

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Wonderful Charm (40/1)

Cheltenham Races - The International - Day One Source: David Davies

What a story this would be. On Thursday afternoon, Aintree officials put out the news that Katie Walsh had broken her arm after a nasty fall and had been ruled out of the Grand National.

So you can imagine the general surprise when, little more than an hour later, Walsh tweeted that her x-rays had come back all clear and that she would be fit to partner Wonderful Charm after all.

On this, the 40th anniversary of Charlotte Brew becoming the first woman to ride in the Grand National, could the stars be aligning for something even more historic to unfold?

Let’s stick to the facts here though. There’s a reason why Wonderful Charm is tailed off down towards the bottom of the betting, and it’s not because we know something that everybody else doesn’t.

Once a top-level chaser (there’s a couple of Grade 2 wins in the locker from his novice days), he simply didn’t feature when he ran and was pulled up in this race 12 months ago.

But there’s no doubting his jumping ability, and Paul Nicholls’ decision to focus on hunter chases this year, could yet be a prudent one. Had the Foxhunters’ at Cheltenham been a stride or two longer last month, he almost certainly would have got up to win in the hands of Walsh.

Maybe, just maybe.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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