Saturday 18 November 2017

Better call Soll for National glory

Tony McCoy riding Don Cossack clear from the last to win The Betfred Melling Chase at Aintree yesterday
Tony McCoy riding Don Cossack clear from the last to win The Betfred Melling Chase at Aintree yesterday
Davy Condon

Davy Condon

There's no fool-proof plan for picking one in the Grand National. There are too many variables in a race with 40 runners to back a horse with any real degree of certainty, but what you can do is look for a few clues to try and help whittle down the odds.

When I'm looking for something with a chance, I always want something that has proven itself over National-style fences and one that stays well.

You also want one that is proven at this trip or something similar, and for those reasons my eye is drawn towards Soll in the showpiece event this afternoon.

David Pipe's inmate has won on his last two runs and looks a nice weight so he has a real chance. Even though he has everything in his favour, he will need a little bit of luck in running and a decent start so you get some racing room and can see the fences as you approach them.

I should know. Today is my fifth ride in the race and last year was my first time to get around when finishing eighth.

Today I ride Potrait King and he is a good sort which also has the relevant criteria as he'll like the trip and we won a National trial together a couple of years ago at Punchestown.

But he won't like the ground as it has been drying out a fair bi.

There's another danger in the race in Cause of Causes, another horse I know well. We won the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot a couple of years ago, and more recently he won over four miles so he has a real chance.

I think Godsmedjudge will be in the shake-up too. He won the Scottish National two years ago and was second in the same race last year, which suggests he knows what will be required of him this afternoon.

Rocky Creek is another who can feature if his impressive win in Kempton is anything to go by. Admittedly, he tired badly in last year's race but had a wind operation since and that could make the difference.

The other one everyone will be keeping an eye on is AP McCoy's Shutthefrontdoor.

It would be a magnificent training performance if they were to get home, but I'd have my concerns as to whether he can overcome the lack of race time.

My nap for the day is in the first race with Nichols Canyon in the Novices' Hurdle. He ran third in the Neptune at Cheltenham and people might point to that as a negative for this race, but before that run he won at Leopardstown.

I think Aintree will suit him a lot better than Cheltenham as it is a much flatter track that is more of a speed test.

The Grade one chase at 2.05 should be one for God's Own to show his class. He ran really well when second behind Un De Sceaux in the Arkle at Cheltenham so Paddy Brennan could be on to a winner here, with Sizing Granite the main danger.

The Liverpool Hurdle is next on the list and Zarkandar is never too far away from the money; he looks like the one here.

Edgardo Sol runs in the Handicap Chase 3.25 and he won a grade three at Aintree a couple of years back and was second on his most recent run here so that could be a clue.

Directly after the National is the Amateurs' Race and while winners can be hard to pick, it's generally a good lead if you go with some of the better jockeys.

I think Johnny Burke is really good so he can win on Queen Alphabet, while Babylone Des Motte can take the Bumper.

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