The world’s most famous horse race is just around the corner, and horse racing fans up and down the country will be glad to welcome back the Grand National after last year’s cancellation.
The big race will go off at 5.15pm on Saturday 10th April, with the full complement of 40 runners and riders aiming for racing’s most iconic prize. Tiger Roll, the two-time winner, will not be in the race, but there are plenty of other big names to catch the eye.
Indeed, one of the things that makes the Grand National unique is that it brings in viewers who don’t usually follow racing. Whether it’s the office sweepstake or a bet with the bookies, millions of people will invest in the race even if they refrain from having a flutter for the rest of the year. Many people will simply pick a name they like, and there is little wrong with that, given the race has had plenty of surprise winners down the years.
But there is some skill in picking a National winner. The markets will tighten as we get closer to race day as the money flows in. And, if you are reading this the night before the race when final declarations have been made, we would point you towards these free horse racing tips for tomorrow. However, stopping short of giving tips here, we want to look at the three horses that are the most intriguing candidates for the 2021 Grand National:
Potters Corner – 25/1
Science and data versus intuition and experience – which is more effective? You might not know the name Potters Corner, but the horse has the honour of winning the 2020 Grand National – albeit the virtual version of the race. As the National was cancelled last year, there was huge interest in the virtual race, and Potters Corner was the winner after all the data had been crunched. The only problem is that the horse hasn’t performed well at all since that time, so many racing fans are wondering whether the boffins got it right. A big turnaround in form will be needed, but the odds for Potters Corner suggest the horse is still respected.
Cloth Cap – 4/1
In the absence of Tiger Roll, punters have looked at Cloth Cap as the hot-favourite. The money has come pouring in on the Trevor Hemmings-owned horse over the past few weeks, and the odds of 4/1 are relatively short at this point. The problem is not the horse’s form or calibre: it’s more a case of the fact that favourites rarely win the Grand National. Tiger Roll was an exception to that rule when winning at 4/1 in 2019. But before that, the list of winners down the years had odds of 10/1, 14/1, 33/1, 25/1, 25/1, 66/1 and 33/1. Cloth Cap looks a worthy favourite, but history will tell you that usually counts for nothing in Britain’s toughest race.
Minella Times – 11/1
Even if you don’t follow racing, you could not fail to be inspired by the story of Rachael Blackmore. The Irish jockey became the first woman to win the Champion Hurdle and the Leading Jockey Award at Cheltenham a few weeks ago. Her meteoric rise to the top of racing – and the fact she rides for Henry de Bromhead (the top trainer at Cheltenham) means punters have been piling in on her most likely ride at Aintree – Minella Times. The odds for the horse have dropped from about 40/1 to 11/1 as bookies react to the flow of money. However, Minella Times is largely unproven at this level and has never been tested at Aintree before. Blackmore is a master in the saddle, but have punters jumped the gun a bit with Minella Times? The horse is far from the best in the field on the evidence we have seen so far. And for all Blackmore’s skill, she can only do so much.