Our flagship tipping column recommended Noble Yeats at 50/1 in last year’s Randox Grand National – check out the unmissable preview for Saturday’s cracking Aintree card.
- The Value Bet is designed to generate long-term profit by searching for overpriced horses in the feature weekend races and at the big Festivals in the UK and Ireland.
- Following all of Matt’s tips to advertised stakes/odds since he took over from Ben Linfoot in June 2020 would have produced over 110pts profit.
- Last year's winners included Noble Yeats at 50/1, Desert Crown in the Derby at 25/1 and this year he's tipped Aucunrisque at 14/1, Maskada at 25/1, Stage Star at 11/1 and last Saturday's winner Tiger Jet at 16/1.
Value Bet tips: Saturday, April 15
1pt win Vanillier in 5.15 Aintree at 18/1 (Paddy Power, William Hill) – 16/1 min
1pt win Mr Incredible in 5.15 Aintree at 14/1 (General) – take no lower
1pt win Karl Philippe in 4.15 Aintree at 16/1 (Ladbrokes) - 14/1 min
1pt win Gericault Roque in 5.15 Aintree at 33/1 – Non-runner
1pt win Gaillard Du Mesnil in 5.15 Aintree at 33/1
What does it take to win the National these days?
The Randox Grand National remains a superb sporting spectacle and, more importantly as far as this column is concerned, a brilliant betting race too despite all the modifications Aintree has made over the years.
It has been written elsewhere this week that the modern-day National is more of a ‘lottery’ than ever and anything can win it, but I’m not convinced by that argument at all and a run of winning SPs at 14/1, 10/1, 4/1 and 11/1 between 2017 and 2021 shows that punters have hardly been scratching their heads in disbelief in the immediate aftermath of recent editions of the great race.
I won’t dwell on last year’s 50/1 winner Noble Yeats too long, but he was a young, unexposed stayer who had been plotted up for the big day in the same manner that many other horses regularly are for all sorts of valuable handicap races throughout the National Hunt season.
And, in essence, that’s going to have to be the way to approach the race for the foreseeable future too, almost like any other staying handicap chase, the once terrifying fences here nowhere near as big and bad as they once were.
So while many will point to the undoubted class of those towards the top of the weights this year – Cross Country Chase one-two Delta Work and Galvin plus the Grade 1-winning Capodanno have been screaming their names at us all for several weeks – I was inevitably always going to end up trying to unearth something well ahead of their mark a little further down the ratings, and a couple stand out after the final declaration stage.
Who is the best bet in the Grand National?
First up is VANILLIER, who we know stays extremely well as he was a top novice hurdler two years ago, including an 11-length victory in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival.
His life over fences started promisingly enough with a fair third behind Lifetime Ambition at Down Royal and a Grade 2 win at Punchestown in November 2021, but he was subsequently found to have a back problem and that no doubt explains why he looked to lose his way completely over fences thereafter.
So much so that trainer Gavin Cromwell reverted to hurdles for his final run of the last campaign at Punchestown 12 months ago, without success, but he’s returned to chasing this time around and looks to be building towards something seismic based on a much-improved, staying-on second behind Kemboy in the Bobbyjo Chase towards the end of February (full replay below).
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The now-retired Kemboy still had a rating of 157 and was getting 8lb from Vanillier at Fairyhouse which shows what a fine effort it was on paper, while it’s hard to argue Sean Flanagan (having his first ride on the grey that day) unduly punished the horse after the last. In short, it smacked of a fine prep run.
Prior to that Vanillier had been well supported (went off 8/1) on his belated handicap debut in the 2m5f chase at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival, only to fall at the sixth fence.
Consequently, the son of Martaline looks to be ghosting into the Grand National with a more than manageable BHA rating of 147 (just 2lb higher than his Irish mark) and, for one reason or another, he’s effectively been able to hide his light under a bushel before being granted a proper stamina test over fences – something by which he’s always looked likely to be suited.
After just two starts - one completed - in the cheekpieces, there’s further improvement to come on that score too and while the sun beating down all day prior to the late kick-off on Merseyside wouldn’t be absolutely ideal for this one, it’s still highly likely to resemble the archetypal ‘no excuses ground’ come the main race at 5.15.
Can Willie Mullins win a second National at Aintree?
Vanillier is eight years old and appears to tick all the right boxes for a National nowadays, while I’m also going to take a chance on another seven-year-old in MR INCREDIBLE for (namesake?) Willie Mullins.
He looked a probable favourite for this after being raised just 3lb for his excellent second to Iwilldoit in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January but remains a very backable price in light of the extremely strong support for his former stablemate Ain't That A Shame, the mount of household favourite Rachael Blackmore.
Mr Incredible was no doubt a major source of frustration for Henry De Bromhead earlier on in his career as he swiftly became recalcitrant after his first visit to the UK when a distant second to Ahoy Senor in a Grade 2 novice chase at Newbury back in November 2021.
He was switched to the Mullins yard after pulling-up at Tramore last April and didn’t get off to the best of starts when brought down in the valuable and often-informative Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, though that was clearly no fault of his own other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Something similar could clearly happen again this weekend, and it could be particularly nervous viewing just before the off, but he’s now produced two encouraging back-to-back performances having stayed on from the rear of the field to take third in the Kim Muir at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, where he again jumped off fine with all the others, and he may well have won there but for meeting the last fence all wrong.
I’m sure Patrick Mullins, who has reportedly done a lot of work to turn this horse around both mentally and physically at Closutton, would have loved to be able to keep the ride but he can’t do such a low weight. Nevertheless, Brian Hayes has experience riding him from earlier in the season so I don’t see that as an issue one bit.
The bottom line is that Mr Incredible – owned by Noble Yeats’ former owner – has a very similar profile to last year’s winner in that he’s a progressive, second-season chaser, and I reckon he’ll prove himself to be the best-handicapped horse in the field with anything like a clear round of jumping.
What else appeals at Aintree on Saturday?
KARL PHILIPPE, one of three in the William Hill Handicap Chase part-owned by Harry Redknapp, is the best bet elsewhere on Saturday's card.
His trainer Fergal O’Brien has already hit the target at this meeting earlier in the week and the eight-year-old looks bound to appreciate a return to a sharp, flat track after his old jumping mistakes reared up again at Cheltenham on Trials Day and at the Festival last month.
He certainly wasn’t disgraced on either occasion, finishing seventh to Il Ridoto in a race that worked out reasonably well in the Plate, and seventh again behind Corach Rambler in the Ultima when last seen.
He led the big field early on and remained handy travelling well on the inside until some sticky jumps at the top of the hill and was ultimately brought home in his own time by this season’s regular rider Jack Hogan.
The resulting 2lb drop in the handicap from the start of the year means he’s back on the same mark as when a fast-finishing second earlier in the campaign and he’s still only had nine starts over fences in his life so unlikely to have peaked.
I’m convinced Prestbury Park’s undulations aren’t really his bag, something backed up by his strong form around Ludlow and Wetherby, which allow a lot of chasers to get into a smoother rhythm, and it’s easy to envisage three miles around Aintree playing to his strengths.
Click here for the full Value Bet record
Published at 1600 BST on 14/04/23
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