McCoy win would be a dream but call on Soll for a value bet
IF some of the bookmakers I've spoken to this week are to be believed, a Tony McCoy win on his last ever Grand National ride (4.15) could cost the industry somewhere in the region of €90m.
How much of that is hyperbole in an attempt to drum up some PR is uncertain but if Shutthefrontdoor crosses the line in front, it will be very interesting to see which bookie share prices take a dip when the financial markets reopen on Monday morning.
Speculative figures aside, it's absolutely amazing to think that one man, in a single race, may well affect the share prices of some very big companies. This type of situation does not come around very often although back in 1996, Frankie Dettori is said to have cost the industry £30m when he completed his 'Magnificent Seven' wins at Ascot. While it's often said that you never see a poor bookie, some smaller and even medium-sized operators were put out of business by Dettori's victories that day including the colourful Gary Wiltshire, who had to sell everything he owned and start his business again from scratch.
McCoy has said he may even retire on the spot if he wins, and it would be a momentous day in sport which every racing fan would love to see. But therein lies the dilemma for anyone who adores the sport of kings but who also tries their best to take a calculated approach to their betting.
On the one hand, a punt on Shutthefrontdoor (if successful) would allow you to be part of one of the greatest coups in gambling history and it would be one, as they say, to tell the grandkids.
And you'd no doubt exaggerate, just a little, when they ask how much you had on. But on the other hand the cynic in me thinks that, despite their talk of potential doom, bookmakers are more than happy to lead us by the hand into their shop or onto their website to back a horse at odds as low as 7/1 in one of the hardest races of the entire year.
Of course the punters sometimes get it right and the likes of Earth Summit (1998), Hedgehunter (2005) and Comply Or Die (2008) are recent examples of winners which went off in single figures but I still can't bring myself to back a horse at such a short price in a race where almost anything can happen.
Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first one to celebrate if McCoy somehow manages to add yet another fairytale on to his already sublime career and I almost feel guilty about opposing him. But I don't want to let the heart rule the head and I reckon a horse like Soll can give me just as good a run for my money at twice or three times the price.
Seventh in this race in 2013, he has plenty of experience in some big-field chases and that's in stark contrast to the favourite which has only raced six times over fences.
Soll has raced just twice for David Pipe since leaving Jo Hughes but he won both starts and would seem to be settling in nicely. Pipe has some National style fences at Pond House and the ten-year-old has schooled on them very well in preparation for the big day - although the trainer only got confirmation that he was guaranteed a place on Monday. Blinkers and a tongue strap have helped a lot, and he's sneaked in nicely at the bottom of the weights.
All the focus is on Aintree today but it could be worth keeping one eye on Lingfield where Jacob Cats is a nice each-way price (13/2) in the eight-runner Coral.co.uk Handicap (3.00). The Dutch Art colt has gone up 5lbs to 86 for a recent handicap win at Kempton but jockey Callum Shepherd will negate some of that rise with his 7lb claim.
1.30 Aintree: Parlour Games
2.05 Aintree: God's Own
2.50 Aintree: Cole Harden
3.0 Lingfield: Jacob Cats (e/w)
3.40 Lingfield: Lexington Times
4.15 Aintree: Soll (e/w)