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O’Brien bidding for Grand National first with Alvarado

Alvarado has form in the book which suggest he could bely his odds of 40/1 in the Crabbie’s Grand National.

The eight-year-old is set to be the first runner in the 4m 4f contest for trainer Fergal O’Brien.

Based near Northleach in Gloucestershire, O’Brien was head lad to dual Grand National winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies before taking out a licence on his own account three seasons ago.

Alvarado provided him with his biggest win to date when landing the Grade 3 Murphy Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham back in November.

Held-up at the rear that day, he made smooth progress four fences from home and after tracking the leaders into the straight stayed on powerfully to take up the running after the last and win going away by two lengths from Knockara Beau.

He had Monbeg Dude a further 2 1/4 lengths behind in fourth, and is due to meet Michael Scuamore’s charge on 7lb better terms at Aintree.

That gives him a huge chance of confirming the form, yet he can be backed at double the odds of that rival.

Another leading Grand National hope, Godsmejudge, was a further neck behind Monbeg Dude in fifth and Alvarado showed also be able to confirm the form with him on just 3lb worse terms.

Since then the son of Goldmark has had just one run, and that saw him pulled up in a race at Cheltenham in January won by Mendip Express.

The very soft ground was against him that day, and he has since been given a break to freshen him up for Aintree.

His connections will be hoping for ground no worse than good to soft come race day, as all his best form has come on it.

If he does get his conditions, then the form of his win in the Murphy Group Handicap Chase entitles him to the maximum respect.

The big question, however, is whether he will take to the Aintree fences.

He is a far from straightforward character having twice refused to race in the past, and backing him therefore comes with risks attached.

However, that has been factored into his odds and makes him look overpriced compared to the likes of Monbeg Dude and Godsmejudge on their running at Cheltenham.

His owners, William and Angela Rucker, also owned State Of Play who was placed in three Grand Nationals and it would be no surprise to see Alvarado carry their famous blue and pink colours with distinction in this year’s renewal on Saturday, April 5th.