Grand National preview, by Chris Cook
Contrary to what regular readers may imagine, I do not generally like to provoke laughter with my big-race selections but I am steeling myself against the inevitable response because Lord Windermere (5.15) looks like the Grand National winner to me. A smile is the most restrained reaction one can expect from racing fans in response to this suggestion because the general view is that this horse has, in the parlance, ‘gone at the game’.
But a review of his efforts this season suggests he has another big prize in him, to go with the Cheltenham Gold Cup of 2014 which was his most recent success. In a little race at Thurles in November he ran Champagne Fever to a head, despite the distance being on the short side for him. In two quality races since then, on ground a fair bit softer than ideal for him, he showed up well for a long way.
Here he may get the soundest racing surface he has had for years, despite the artificial watering that has taken place this week. That makes it worth remembering what a good horse he can be in the spring on decent ground, as, in addition to his Gold Cup, he won a Grade One at the 2013 Festival as well.
Lord Windermere had a spin in this race in 2015 and was never sighted. But that was a time when horses from Jim Culloty’s stable would have had trouble beating a pit pony to the end of the street. Culloty is still not exactly flying but his season has been about as productive as those he had before Lord Windermere won at Cheltenham, giving hope that his string are in reasonable health.
Lord Windermere is now a stone lower in the ratings than when he came here two years ago. He has unmined reserves of stamina, the class to keep himself in contention and a tongue tie on for the first time to help his breathing. Leighton Aspell, the winning jockey in two recent Nationals, will maximise his chance. Odds of 50-1 look far too big and allow for a good return each-way, even if he finds something finishing more strongly.
Rogue Angel seems likely to test everyone’s stamina. At his peak he is extremely hard to pass, as his rivals learned in last year’s Irish National, and he hinted at a return to form when last seen in January. He comes from the Mouse Morris yard that won last year’s National. Morris has one of those gallops that disappears vertically into the sky, which has helped him produce a handful of strong contenders for marathon races in recent years.
Cause Of Causes would win this by 10 lengths if able to run up to his best but we have seen his very best only at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years and perhaps this is a lot to ask three weeks after his latest success there, especially since his stablemates have been underperforming in the past fortnight. Still, he remains remarkably well handicapped for such a talented beast and is worth a saver.
Measureofmydreams, another 50-1 shot, makes each-way appeal, bearing in mind his strong form last spring. He could complete a clean sweep of the places for Irish-trained horses. Doctor Harper and Double Shuffle could come out best of the home contingent.
1 Lord Windermere 50-1
2 Rogue Angel 25-1
3 Cause Of Causes 16-1
4 Measureofmydreams 66-1
Other races on ITV
2.25 So impressive at Kempton three weeks ago, Brio Conti can prove he belongs in the highest class.
3.00 Charbel is the obvious one but it may be dangerous to overlook Forest Bihan, who did not take to Cheltenham but looked a progressive young chaser before that and this track may suit him better.
3.40 This step up in trip looks like good news for Value At Risk, who comes here a lot fresher than most of these.
4.20 Yanworth looks a stayer in the making but this might not be the ideal time to catch him. Supasundae, a handicap winner at the Festival, still has more to offer.
Tips for all Saturday races
1.45 Whataknight 2.25 Brio Conti 3.00 Forest Bihan 3.40 Value At Risk 4.20 Supasundae 5.15 Lord Windermere (nap) 6.15 So Celebre
1.40 Bolving 2.15 Gold Mountain 2.50 Buy Me Out 3.30 Petite Power 4.05 Star Trouper 4.40 Peckhamecho 5.35 Roksana 6.05 Mont Des Avaloirs
2.00 Burren View Lady (nb) 2.35 Horroob 3.10 Ruby Wednesday 3.45 Eqtiraan 4.15 War Glory 4.50 Look My Way 5.40 Dubai Horizon
2.05 Ami Desbois 2.40 Golden Investment 3.20 William Money 3.55 Lord Wishes 4.30 Applaus 5.00 Sky Full Of Stars 5.45 Civil Unrest
6.20 Toy Theatre 6.50 Qatari Riyals 7.20 Faithful Promise 7.50 Midtech Star 8.20 Cold Fusion 8.50 Percys Princess 9.20 Top Of The Bank