2014 Grand National Preview

Rank outsiders have won the Grand National in both of the previous two years and while it would be unfair to call this race a lottery, it’s true to say that you can grab a high priced winner if you’re prepared to do plenty of research. Aurora’s Encore came in at 66/1 in 2013, following on from Neptune Collonges’ 33/1 triumph a year earlier and you only have to go back five years to find the last 100/1 winner – Mon Mome in 2009. Even if you don’t want to risk a win bet you can pick up some value with an Each Way punt but who are the best looking outsiders for 2014? 5. Soll Back in February you could have picked up this Jo Hughes trained horse at 50/1 but the 9-year old has now dropped to 33/1 with Betfair. The gelding has been backed down largely because of a promising run in 2013 when it finished in seventh place – the same position Soll achieved in a Grand National trial at Haydock this year. The horse’s record isn’t necessarily the best but its big frame is perfectly equipped for the testing fences at Aintree and that shift in the betting suggests that Soll is highly fancied to make it into the places in 2014. 4. Lion Na Bernai The Thomas Gibney trained Lion Na Bernai is 12 years old and it’s been ten years since a horse of a similar vintage won the Grand National. Age may therefore be against Gibney’s runner but he has a good pedigree and won the Irish Grand National in 2012. Winners in the Irish version of the event tend to have a good record at Aintree and a fourth place finish at Cheltenham suggests Lion Na Bernai is in good shape coming into the event. Gibney plans to race the veteran at the Curragh and a good performance there could shorten pre-National odds of 40/1. 3. Tidal Bay At 16/1, Tidal Bay is one of the shorter priced picks but there is definite value here for a horse with such a promising record. In his last two starts, Tidal Bay finished third in the Welsh Grand National before coming in second in a grade one race and he has the benefit of being favoured by the Grand National’s unique weight allocation. The horse will be carrying 7lb less than he would in a standard handicap and that will clearly work in Tidal Bay’s favour. Age however, is a problem, as you have to go back to 1923 to find the last 13-year old winner. Yet if any horse is likely to end that streak, the Paul Nicholls trained runner has the capability and pedigree to do so. 2. Colbert Station After Tony McCoy rode the highly fancied Colbert Station in the 2013 Grand National, he suggested that the occasion had got to the horse. McCoy’s assessment wasn’t exactly a glowing testament for this year’s 25/1 shot but don’t forget that the fall at the Chair 12 months ago was the first of his career. Form has drifted a little since that race but there has been a recent improvement that includes a third place finish in the Troytown Chase at Navan back in November. McCoy has a number of options for the 2014 Grand National but reports claim that he will return to his 2013 horse and together they may be set to learn from their experiences of 12 months ago. If they finish the course, the pair have a great chance of a place at the very least. 1. Swing Bill The David Pipe trained Swing Bill is among the rank outsiders at 66/1 but the horse has a respectable record that includes four wins over fences throughout his career. There is Aintree experience too, with Swing Bill having competed at the National in 2013 and this is another competent jumper who should complete the course. Swing Bill is also 13 and age combined with that overall record probably rules him out for the win but that experience of the most testing conditions makes this another good prospect for an each way bet.