The 2018 Grand National is set to go down this weekend at Aintree in Liverpool, England. As of today, the final 40 have officially been announced!
We are in for quite the treat this year as we have many talented horses and jockeys in contention to with the Grand National this year. Considering there are 40 runners in the race, it’s no surprise that there is no clear-cut favorite. Anything can happen over the course of the 4.25-mile course.
It’s been raining in Liverpool for most of the week, so the runners and riders will likely be dealing with something of a soft course. Fortunately, it’s not expected to be so bad that the horses are having to run through the mud for the duration of the race, so that’s a plus.
While we’ve got 40 potential winners, here are 5 that look like solid betting values. If you’ve got your bets ready to roll, be sure to check out our list of the top horse racing betting sites where you can bet safely right now.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is one of the more decorated trainers connected with the Grand National, and he’s got 4 horses in the field this time around. Blaklion, who raced to a fourth-place finish in this event last year, is likely Twiston-Davies’ best hope at winning it this time around.
The horse is quite familiar with Aintree, having also won the Becher Chase in 2017 on Merseyside. Blaklion hasn’t run a race in quite some time, so he’ll have a rest advantage over some of his competitors in the field. The thoroughbred has run just 3 races so far this season, so he figures to be fresh.
Twiston-Davies has teamed up with former jockey Carl Llewellyn to train Blaklion. Llewellyn rode Earth Summit to a win at the Grand National for Twiston-Davies 20 years ago in 1998. Blaklion’s most recent event was at the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Haydock Park back in February, where he finished a distant second. Twiston-Davies’ son, Sam, will ride Blaklion, as he did in February.
Twiston-Davies is hoping to win his third Grand National after Earth Summit and Bindaree (2002). Llewellyn is optimistic about the horse’s chances at glory. He said, “Blaklion is in great form – we couldn’t be happier with him. He had a little wind operation after his latest run at Haydock and had a quiet time for about 10 days after that.”
“He hasn’t missed a day’s work and we couldn’t be happier with his physical condition – he looks really well. Some very good horses were pulled up at Haydock last time on ground that was very deep and holding. Blaklion had a lot of weight and I thought he ran a big race despite people picking holes in him because he got tired – I wouldn’t let that performance at Haydock put me off him. He was impressive in the Becher Chase earlier this season. His jumping was superb and very accurate – he won as he liked. If he can be in that sort of form and jump as well as that, then hopefully he will have a good chance.”
At 10/1, Blaklion makes for an outstanding value among the favorites.
Captain Redbeard (22/1)
Despite the rather long 22/1 odds, Captain Redbeard won’t be sneaking up on anybody. Prior to One For Arthur’s win last year, no Scotland-based horse had won the Grand National since Rubstic way back in 1979. Captain Redbeard will be looking to make it 2 straight wins for Scotland this weekend.
Redbeard is trained by Stuart Coltherd, and he has enjoyed some good showing at similar tracks in the past. He finished sixth at Grand Sefton back in December in a race in which he showed good form over the fences. Redbeard was the horse that easily beat Blaklion and a host of others at Haydock just a couple of weeks after Grand Sefton.
One potential red flag with Captain Redbeard is the fact that he’s never run a race this long. Redbeard’s longest race to date came at Peter Marsh (3m 11/2f), but he profiles as a horse that can handle the additional rigors that come with the added distance at Aintree. Redbeard has won 2 of the last 3 races he’s won, so he enters the Grand National in excellent overall form.
He’s not as “safe” a bet to win as Blaklion, but the profit potential at 22/1 is rather immense.
Tiger Roll (11/1)
As is the case with Blaklion, Tiger Roll will enter the race without having run a grueling schedule leading up to the Grand National, which should help with his endurance. This horse has a decorated history, having won the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in addition to the National Hunt Chase at Prestbury Park last year.
All but one of the last 27 winners of the event have run at least one race within 8 weeks of the start of the National. Considering Tiger Roll ran at Cheltenham last month, he figures to be fit enough to compete over the course of the lengthy track.
This is a horse that has shown no signs of slowing down despite various jumps and fences, so he should have little issue with the Canal Turn, The Chair or Becher’s Brook at Aintree. Tiger Roll is considered among the favorites, but he isn’t the odds-on outright favorite. That may bode well for his chances, however, since no outright favorite has gone on to win the race since Hedgehunter back in 2005.
Some horses (Minella Rocco, for example) come into the race with some disturbing trends. That isn’t the case for Tiger Roll, who seems to check just about every box for horses that profile well at Aintree. Tiger Roll is my favorite play on the board here at 11/1.
Ucello Conti (18/1)
Ucello Conti has been among the more popular picks to fare well at the National in the last 2 years, but he hasn’t quite lived up to billing. He finished sixth back in 2016 before struggling to an 18th-place finish and an unseating last year. This horse finished fourth at Becher back in 2016, and trainer Gordon Elliott has been training him for weeks with faring well at the National specifically in mind. It’s worth noting that Elliott is also training Tiger Roll as well as Bless The Wings (50/1).
Ucello Conti is another that should be physically fresh for the run, as this will be just his third start since last year’s National. Elliott’s lone triumph at the event came back in 2007 when Silver Birch took first. When asked about Ucello Conti, Elliott said,
“Ucello Conti was running very well until he unseated last year and we’ve trained him for the race all season. He’s in great form. He’s a good horse and this has been the plan. I’m 99 percent sure Daryl Jacob rides.”
Conti finished second at Leopardstown at the Paddy Power Chase back in December.
Total Recall (10/1)
Total Recall has an excellent chance in this year’s National. The talented chaser has already won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury this season, and has shown a general upturn in form since Willie Mullins took over his training earlier this year. In fact, he has won three of his four starts under the Irish trainer.
It’s the one race he DIDN’T win in those four starts that gives some cause for concern. During the Gold Cup at Cheltenham he took the fourth fence out all wrong and fell. The fences at Aintree are far more challenging than those at Cheltenham, so there must be doubts as to whether he can make it the whole way around the course.
If Total Recall does avoid a fall, he’ll surely be in contention. The longer trip here is unknown territory for him, but he’s proved he can stay in the past and will definitely handle the ground. Willie Mullins experience in this race will also be a great help.
It’s never easy to pick the winner of the Grand National. It’s even tougher than usual this year as the field is especially competitive. There are several top-class horses taking part and any one of them could take first place in this prestigious race.
I’ve highlighted Tiger Roll as my top pick and I’m happy with that. The other four horses mentioned here are definitely worth considering, though, and many others in the field have claims too.
This is one race where you can easily justify backing two or three selections, so don’t be afraid to spread your money around. This will give you a better chance of winning and reduce your overall risk.