Grand National Tips 2018
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Long Run 20-1 for Grand National after Kelso victory

Long Run may not be the force of old but he made a welcome return to winning ways at Kelso on Thursday, beating Knockara Beau by six lengths. He was entitled to win comfortably as he had over a stone in hand on official ratings but this was a valuable confidence booster for the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.

Sam Waley-Cohen was anxious to restrain him behind Knockara Beau who had sprung a 66-1 surprise when beating Big Buck’s in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham last month. Although he made one or two deliberate jumps, he didn’t lose any significant ground and his jockey did not ask him to quicken until after the last.

Henderson has not completely ruled out another tilt at the Gold Cup but he re-iterated that the Grand National is his major objective this season. The nine-year-old has been third in the last two Gold Cups and also has two King George VI chases under his belt.

Monbeg Dude is likely to run at Doncaster in two weeks’ time after a minor setback ruled him out of Saturday’s Grand National Trial at Haydock. The Grimthorpe Handicap Chase on 1st March looks his most likely destination although trainer Michael Scudamore did not rule out another race over hurdles if necessary.

Another Aintree hope that misses the Haydock race is Scottish National winner Godsmejudge. Trainer Alan King reported that the horse was not quite ready for Haydock but he will look at other options including going straight to Liverpool without another run.

There is still plenty of interest in the Haydock race with David Pipe’s Our Father just shading favouritism over Welsh National runner-up Hawkes Point. Our Father was a big gamble for the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury but faded in the home straight to finish seventh.

The grey is known to run his best races when fresh and punters are clearly anticipating a bold run from him on Saturday. Last year’s winner Well Refreshed and Jonjo O’Neill’s Merry King are others who will be putting their Grand National credentials to the test at Haydock.