As of 21 March, 59 potential entrants remain for the 2012 Grand National. As participants can still be withdrawn before the 14 April event, this creates the possibility of a final field smaller than the traditional 40 runners. However, officials are confident that the eventual field will contain 40 runners, with some reserves to spare. Of course we can’t profile all of the possible entrants, but here is a rundown of the Grand National horses we find most intriguing.
Treacle is an eleven-year-old Irish gelding that has punters buzzing. Originally a 40-1 underdog, Treacle’s odds have shifted drastically to 16-1 after an impressive third place showing at February’s Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup. Of course, applying Grade 1 performance to steeplechase can be spurious, but bettors are curious if this wide shift in odds implies that Treacle is a smart gamble or if his performance caused bookmakers to overreact.
Treacle has shown himself to be a consistent runner and had an impressive fifteen-length win this season at Gowran Park. He’s currently in the best shape of his life and has been handicapped a manageable 10 st 8 lb. Perhaps most importantly for the Grand National, Treacle is adept at running well on any type of soil. This can prove crucial for a steeplechase event like the Grand National as horses that have been racing towards the front often tie up in the soft ground and Treacle’s versatility can keep him going strong.
The nine-year-old Irish horse has the dubious distinction of being allotted the highest handicap weight of 11 st 10 lb. Given his past performances, it’s no surprise the handicappers thought so highly of Synchronised and that bookmakers have given him 10-1 odds. He’s the winner of this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, as well as the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown and the 2010 Welsh Grand National.
Synchronised’s strength lies in his endurance, which will certainly come into play in what is renowned as one of horseracing’s most gruelling events. Synchronised does not have history on his side, however, as no horse has been able to win both the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year in the last 78 years. On the plus side, his trainer is Jonjo O’Neill, he is owned by JP McManus, and is generally ridden by A.P. McCoy. This is the winning triumvirate of the 2010 Grand National with Don’t Push It.
The 2011 Grand National winner is a top ante-post favourite for the 2012 event, even though few horses have been able to run a double in the modern era. The last successful double was performed by the legendary Red Rum, who we mentioned in our post on famed Grand National stories. Still, even with his 11 st 09 lb handicap, bookmakers are giving Ballabriggs a good possibility of winning with odds of 14-1. Of note is that Ballabriggs’ handicap has gone up 10 pounds, whereas previous winner Don’t Push It only had his raised by 7.
Ballabriggs is an overall strong horse with an elite stamina, ability to handle the course, and jumping skills. His biggest task in this year’s event will be to overcome his handicap.
Prince De Beauchene
The nine-year-old French horse is currently the ante-post favourite for the Grand National with odds generally in the range of 9-1. The buzz about Price De Beauchene’s Grand National possibilities has been floating around since his victory at the 2011 John Smith’s Handicap Chase, also held at Aintree. In his most recent race, Prince De Beauchene won handily at the Fairyhouse in the At the Race Bobbyjo Chase on 25 Feb, only reaffirming his status as the ante-post favourite.
Additionally, the handicapper has been relatively easy on the horse and added only 10 st 6 lb to Prince De Beauchene for the Grand National. With his relatively light handicap, the recent switch to famed trainer Willie Mullins, and exceptional form as of late, Prince De Beauchene will likely remain the short odds favourite at the time of running.
Interested in more Grand National related information? Check out the rest of our Grand National blog series. If you’ve got any insight on other horses you like, please comment below!
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- Brand Leveraging: The Grand National and You, Part 2