Silver By Nature worth shot in dark
Wayne Bailey: THOSE of us who write about horse racing will have spent a number of days going through the Grand National field looking for potential angles but, being honest, all the hard work is most likely in vain and the old 'pin in the paper' trick would probably work just as well.
It's notoriously hard to pick the winner of the world's greatest steeplechase and all the form study in the world won't save you if your horse gets caught in a pile-up at one of the 30 fences, but that's all part of the fun.
For some, it's the only time they'll have a bet this year and the buzz in the bookie shops and pubs is most welcome in these times of doom and gloom.
Indeed, even a relation of mine (who is a Mormon and not supposed to gamble) got caught up in the Grand National hype in 2005 and had a bet on Hedgehunter.
Needless to say, he wasn't the most popular bloke in the local when he wouldn't buy a round of drinks with the winnings as he reckoned Mormons don't agree with alcohol! For years, we used to make fun of another mate who always backs horses that begin with the letter M.
He wiped the smile off our faces when Monty's Pass won at 16/1 in 2003, and he completely shut us up when Mon Mome triumphed in 2009 at 100/1.
Whatever method you use to pick your horses, make sure you shop around for the best prices as the bookmakers will have plenty of special offers and if they're not offering five places for each-way punters, spend your money elsewhere.
I'll have some fun picking out names and silks with my six-year-old daughter, but for what it's worth, my form study tells me that Silver By Nature is overpriced at 14/1 and with 10st 12lbs is not overly burdened with weight.
He's a front-running sort so that should help keep him out of trouble and a gruelling test around Haydock in the Grand National Trial proved that he's one of the toughest stayers in training at the moment.
Whether or not he can replicate that form at a course like Aintree is a question worth pondering, but the nine-year-old should see out the distance when others start getting weary -- and any cut in the ground can be seen as a big plus.
At the time of writing, the ground is expected to be slightly softer than good so here's hoping it doesn't dry out too much this morning.
His trainer, Lucinda Russell, has told the press that the horse is in fantastic shape and by my reckoning the gelding has a very good chance at becoming the first grey coloured winner since Nicolaus Silver came home in front back back in 1961.
It would be foolish to put all your eggs in one basket so I'll also have Quinz and What A Friend running for me at 16/1 and 12/1 respectively.
The former is improving all the time but gets off lightly in the weights while the latter, part-owned by Alex Ferguson, theoretically has 15lbs to play with as today's racing weight doesn't take into account his fourth place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Tom Eaves-trained The Osteopath doesn't jump off the page in the Bet On totescoop6 At totesport.com Handicap after a 203-day absence, but he races well when fresh and at these weights, he's worth an each-way punt around 16/1.
3.0 Lingfield: Dubawi Gold
2.10 Thirsk: The Osteopath (e/w)
2.15 Aintree: Finian's Rainbow
4.15 Aintree: Silver By Nature (e/w)
4.15 Aintree: Quinz (e/w)
4.15 Aintree: What A Friend (e/w)
5.05 Lingfield: Advertisement