Trading Places: Coral’s racing trader gives his Grand National thoughts
Our horse racing trader previews the showpiece
With the 2018 Aintree Grand National approaching fast on the horizon, every punter is trying to find an edge.
And there are fewer more knowledgeable people in the game than the Trading department.
That’s why the Coral News Team sat down with horse racing trader and equine guru Andrew Lobo to gauge his thoughts ahead of the big renewal…
Of the top four that head the betting, who has the best chance?
Andrew Lobo: Of the four, I would definitely prefer Total Recall and Anibale Fly to Tiger Roll and Blaklion. We’re a bit up in the air with the ground at the minute, and that’s going to make a big difference.
We’re working on the assumption, and this has been the case, that the money will come for horses that stay all day, and will love soft ground.
What’s not to like about Blaklion and Tiger Roll?
AL: We do think Blaklion will go off favourite as we get nearer to the race. Punters will be familiar with it from last year’s renewal and it’s a popular horse. But he’s 9lbs higher this year and I think that will make a difference.
He had a difficult race in his last outing at the Grand National Trial at Haydock on really heavy ground. And most favourites for the National don’t take part in the trial itself.
Tiger Roll obviously won at Cheltenham. And he does stay, but that cross country is a weird race. He does get a few pounds off Total Recall and Anibale Fly but he’d have been lapped in the Gold Cup, wouldn’t he?
Why do Anibale Fly and Total Recall have that edge?
AL: Anibale Fly had a really nice run in the Gold Cup, and it won the big handicap chase at Leopardstown over Christmas in a big field on bad ground so it’s definitely got that experience. Watching some videos back, it’s not one of those exuberant front-runners but it does stay all day.
Total Recall is a similar sort of profile, really. It’s been a bit more exposed and it’s from a really good yard in Willie Mullins. It’s got that class edge and was going really well in the Gold Cup before it fell.
It’s mixed hurdles and fences this season and it looks like it stays the trip. Obviously, it was off a lower weight but put in a superb performance to win the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury earlier in the season.
It’s a general rule of thumb but the Irish chasers don’t tend to dominate the British handicaps. But given that the Ladbrokes Trophy is a British race, Total Recall has got that class edge.
Going past the first four, are there any horses you like in the chasing pack?
The Last Samuri will likely be popular because a lot of punters will recognise the name.
But a few of the guys have backed Baie Des Illes at big prices over the weekend. And we’ve seen steady money for it today, too. So it’s a real momentum horse at the minute.
Could Katie Walsh make history?
AL: It’s Ross O’Sullivan’s horse but, yeah, Katie Walsh has been given the ride. Obviously, that will be a big story and it’s been covered in the media over the last few days.
She was just beaten on Seabass recently and a lot of money had come for it. We think it was gambled from 33s into 12/1. It’s Irish-trained so a lot of money is coming from Ireland.
And it’s not like it’s got no form. I think it was last seen in the Irish Grand National trial in February, coming third recently to Folsom Blues.
Are they any horses you’d be avoiding?
I wouldn’t be overly keen on Minella Rocco. He’s going off top weight and he doesn’t tend to finish a lot of his races. He’s actually fallen in three of his last seven which obviously isn’t great for his confidence.
In addition to that, he’s not really got any decent sort of form. He seems to keep his best for Cheltenham and has fallen on his only start at Aintree. He was pulled up in the last time he ran in a handicap. I’m actually quite surprised that he’s as short as he is.
Noel Fehily is probably pound-for-pound up there with the best jockeys around and he’ll be on board. But I think that price will probably drift out as we approach the race.
Any others you’d advise against?
AL: The other horse I didn’t really like around the 10/1-12/1 mark was Gold Present. It looks like it’ll be Nicky Henderson’s first string. And it has won on two of his last three starts in handicaps. But it definitely doesn’t want the soft ground.
It ran at Cheltenham and it had a bad prep. I was actually quite surprised it even ran there in the first place. Connections are on record as saying it doesn’t like the soft ground and the slog.
It fell when it ran in the Topham Chase here last year on a shorter trip and it’s not even a guaranteed stayer. Most of Gold Present’s first 15+ starts have all been at around 2-and-a-half miles. So this is a big jump.
Total Recall, to be fair, has a similar profile, but that has proven itself at the bigger trip in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Gold Present did win at Ascot but it was a smaller field and the emphasis wasn’t really on stamina. He’s just not a stayer for me.
Have you any major fancies elsewhere at the Festival?
AL: Yeah, so the one I like is Balko Des Flos. There’s been a lot of money for it and he’s been entered into a few races. He won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham beating Un De Sceaux.
He’s not been declared yet but he should be running in the Melling Chase. He’ll probably be up against Min and Politologue.
Min did run well at Cheltenham but I think the 2m 4f trip would be a bit of an issue for him. He’s an exuberant horse and loves to be a front-runner.
But Aintree is a long way home and I think Balko Des Flos cruising performance against Un De Sceaux – Min’s stablemate – is a good precursor for how this race could go.
At the minute, Min is a much shorter price at around 6/4 with Balko Des Flos at around 5/2. I wouldn’t be surprised if those prices swap around by the time the race goes off.
Politologue will be there or thereabouts but he’s not really a star. His early season form has trailed off. Balko Des Flos looks a good value prospect right now and worth taking at the current prices. I certainly don’t think that price will last.
What about the novice stars?
AL: The novices haven’t been declared yet but I’d be looking to oppose any of the horses who had a brutally hard Cheltenham. The likes of Santini, OK Corral and Chef Des Obeaux.
I’d be looking at horses around the 16/1 to 20/1 mark who had a slightly easier Cheltenham and then went off to the likes of Market Rasen or Huntingdon.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing