No-one will thank me for saying it but I am opposing Snow Leopardess in the Randox Grand National at 17:15.
I will have copious amounts of egg on my face if she wins. It will hit my pocket, too, as I have laid her win and place.
I’ve analysed enough Nationals over the years for the papers, and like to think I know what is needed to win.
The old grey mare ticks several boxes as she is in the weight range that winners tend to come from and she is the perfect age, 10. She has never fallen and finishes in the first three more often than not. That’s four things you look for, and her will to win is a bonus.
However, a mare hasn’t won the race for 70 years and she appears to have insufficient stamina to play a part in the finish.
Stamina is the issue for Snow Leopardess
You can look at ’70 years since a mare last won’ in two ways just as you can ‘a seven-year-old hasn’t won for 80 years’.
A statistician will tell you that these two facts are not a coincidence, and that they are fact-based trends. Someone who isn’t a statistician will go ahead and bet on the basis that all such runs come to an end sooner or later and there’s no time like the present.
I’m in the first camp – it is quite a statistic for Snow Leopardess to overcome.
With regard to stamina, Snow Leopardess won over the National fences as recently as December but the distance of the race was over a mile shorter than the National. She led for the whole of the final circuit but that lead was whittled down to a nose at the line. How will she fare off a higher mark in a tougher race against horses with proven stamina?
The only time she tried a marathon trip – three and three-quarter miles as a novice at last year’s Cheltenham Festival – she dropped out of contention after the second last.
It’s not my task to come up with the winner but what I can say is that Snow Leopardess wouldn’t be on my shortlist.
Beauport needs to improve to figure in the opener
Handicaps with 22 runners are not my scene but I think I’ve found a profitable place lay in the EFT Construction Handicap Hurdle at 13:45.
Beauport is ranked 17th by the Racing Post handicapper, yet is as short as 109/1 for a win, so likely to be around 43/1 for a place.
The six-year-old has finished in the first three in all his eight races over hurdles, but has to carry top weight as a consequence.
Others appeal more – notably First Wind, Hughie Morrison’s winner of the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. The third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth in that Final – Mill Green, Winter Fog, If The Cap Fits, Whatsnotoknow, and Coeur Serein all take part and will make life difficult for Beauport.
David Pipe has had five winners this week, including a treble on Thursday, so I would expect Remastered to run well.
Only three top weights have been placed in the last 10 years – the last one to win was Cape Tribulation in 2012. I reckon Beauport will go the way of most saddled with 11st 12lb and finish out of the first four.
Henderson runner Walking on thin Air
The third place-lay is in the Mersey Novices Hurdle at 14:25.
As regulars will know, I favour previous Grade 1 winners in top-level races and there is only one Stage Star, winner of the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury in December. He also has been to Aintree before, finishing third in the Grade 2 bumper here 12 months ago.
I also like Three Stripe Life, runner-up in three Grade 1s. He was runner-up to Mighty Potter at Leopardstown’s post-Christmas jamboree, before chasing home to Sir Gerhard at the Dublin track and again at Cheltenham. Colonel Mustard, six lengths behind Three Stripe Life at Leopardstown in February, takes him on again.
Elle Est Belle has won two Listeds. Good Risk At All has won a valuable handicap at Ascot. Nells Son and North Lodge fought out the finish to Kelso’s Grade 2 Premier Novices’ Hurdle.
That is six horses with pretty good form, and yet Walking On Air has worked his way down to  on the back of good work at home since making a winning hurdles debut at Newbury in January.
The runner-up was beaten at Fontwell in a three-runner race yesterday, tracks that are not in the same league as those that Walking On Air’s rivals have been running at.
Every now and then a hyped novice will beat those with solid Graded form but hopefully that won’t be the case with the Henderson runner, which needs to improve to be placed, let alone win.
Edwardstone looks the best in his race
I can’t see anything wrong with Edwardstone’s form, so wouldn’t oppose him in the Poundland Maghull Novices’ Chase at 15:00, for which he is odds-on.
The JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle at 15:35 is more open. The favourite is the winner of the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle at the Festival, Flooring Porter.
The next four in the betting were all beaten at Cheltenham – Thyme Hill, Champ, Ashdale Bob and Sire Du Berlais.
On form you would think the favourite should win again but you could argue that Flooring Porter was allowed an early four-length lead and the jockeys on Thyme Hill and Champ left themselves with too much ground to make up in too short a time.
It makes sense to watch how the race develops and lay Flooring Porter in running if he isn’t allowed to go as far clear of the field as at Cheltenham.