By Simon Jackson.
Silviniaco Conti is fancied to add another big prize to his already illustrious career by landing the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.
The 10-year-old’s seven Grade 1 wins include the William Hill King George VI Chase in 2013 and 2014, in a superb career that has amassed more that £1million in prize money.
Paul Nicholl’s charge impressed with the manner of his last-start victory in a Grade 1 at Ascot in February and while he has yet to race over the Grand National distance, the trainer is confident the unique four mile, two furlong and 72 yard contest will suit him.
“From the day I had him in the young days he’s always been a stayer. He’s by Dom Alco, like Neptune Collonges (2012 Grand National winner) and they’re all stayers,” Nicholls said of the 12-1 shot.
“Throughout his career in the Betfred Bowls, the King Georges we’ve always wanted to make plenty of use of him and make every post a winning post as stamina’s his forte.
“You need an awful lot of luck in the National but of course we’re excited by his chance,” the trainer told At The Races.
The 2015 winner, Many Clouds, has an undeniable chance of finishing in the money again after he was allotted just 1lb more than last year as he bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals for more than 40 years
The last horse to land successive Nationals was Red Rum who won the world’s greatest steeplechase in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and finished second in 1975 and 1976. But while Many Clouds should finish in the first five, his odds of 7-1 represent poor each way value.
A better bet for each way backers may be 20-1 chance Shutthefrontdoor who was fifth last year and has the services of owner JP McManus’ first jockey Barry Geraghty, who has opted to ride him ahead of his boss’ three other runners.
“Barry had first pick and he went for Shutthefrontdoor as he has the form round the course. He run well in it last year and hopefully he will go well again,” racing manager Frank Berry said.
The Druids Nephew (16-1) finished second to The Last Samuri (10-1) in a handicap chase at Doncaster in early March and are selected to fill the remaining places.
For those looking for bigger prices, the Grand National has been the key target this season for the Pat Fahy-trained Morning Assembly (25-1) who has run well in three starts since returning from a lengthy absence.
Simon Jackson’s Grand National tips: 1st Silviniaco Conti; 2nd Shutthefrontdoor; 3rd Many Clouds; 4th The Druids Nephew; 5th The Last Samuri. Best longshot: Morning Assembly
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