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13th April 2012, 12:04am

Aintree Betting: Junior fancied to beat Ballabriggs and Sunnyhillboy for Grand National victory

Aintree Betting: Junior fancied to beat Ballabriggs and Sunnyhillboy for Grand National victory

Aintree 4.15pm – Grand National – 4m4f – Grade 3 Chase

Synchronised is the current 10-1 favourite with William Hill for this historic race after winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup but is not one I fancy backing at that price. I am already on Junior and Ballabriggs as ante post bets and feel they both have a great chance today. Betvictor are going an impressive 6 places for this race.

Ballabriggs may be carrying more weight but it can also say it has been there, done it. Horses that run well here often come back and run well again the season after, look at State Of Play, Comply Or Die and Hedgehunter as recent examples. It has been given a light preparation with the run at Kelso looking quite flat but then you wouldn’t want to see it overcooked when this race has been the plan since winning it last year.

Jason Maguire knows where to place his horse towards the front of the field and can avoid fallers and let Ballabriggs see the fences clearly from that position. History and trends may be against the horse but how many can say they have run over this type of distance and won? It may carry 9lb more than last year but the horse has a huge frame made for carrying weight and I think it has an excellent chance at decent odds of around 14-1.

Junior is one I made a note of after it won the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last year. Ballabriggs won that same race before heading here last year but that one fell over the line, worn out. Junior won the same race with ease by 24 lengths. Both horses beat Faasel in the Kim Muir but the times are interesting. Ballabriggs won the Kim Muir in 6m36s on good ground.

Junior won the Kim Muir in 6m20s on good ground. That is a whopping 16 seconds faster than Ballabriggs. Junior carries just over 11 stone (11-2) and ran well last time out when 2nd to Ikorodu Road, just beaten a short head at Doncaster. Ikorodu Road went out and won again, over 27f to really frank that Doncaster form. It is only 9 years old and will go down as one of the most versatile horses ever seen if winning, having won at Cheltenham and Royal Ascot previously.

Another one at the top of the weights that I can see running a fine race is Calgary Bay. It is a plodder and does nothing extravagantly but it stays and has won its last 2 races. It beat todays rival Shakalakaboomboom at Doncaster last time out over 3m and is a 40-1 chance to win this race. It may be some each way value at this price and it is hard to say how it would have fared here last year as it fell early but that is the only fall in its career, it is not usually a dodgy jumper.

I like Black Apalachi at a nice price but it looks old and vulnerable at 13 years old. Seabass has probably had too much racing this season but carries just less than 11 stones and is 9 years old, a similar profile to previous winners. Katie Walsh takes the ride and would be a very famous winning female jockey if she were to guide this home in first place. It has had a 48 day break but this may be a race too far.

Always Right is an interesting contender and the last race when it was pulled up looked rather dodgy. The horse was travelling fine until close home and after a slight blunder the jockey decided to pull it up immediately and I couldn’t help but feel he had stopped it prematurely. It was also pulled up at Wetherby back in December. This horse has managed a 3rd place over 33f in last years Scottish Grand National so it clearly stays and is a lightly raced 10 year old that has 5 wins over staying trips from 11 races. 28-1 looks too big.

Cappa Bleu is also a very lightly raced 10 year old and Paul Moloney has opted for this over Aintree specialist State Of Play. It was 3rd in the Welsh National and was 4 from 6 in point to point races. It might need a drop of rain to be seen to best effect.Killyglen was running a big race in last year’s National until it fell. It has had 5 races this season and won last time out over 26f in an ordinary race at Down Royal. It ran off 146 last year and races off 141 today.

One that I noticed earlier at 25-1 was Sunnyhillboy. It has already seen money and is now as short as 16-1 with most bookies. It was kept off the track until February and then ran 9th of 19 in a handicap hurdles race. It went to Cheltenham off a rating of 142 and won the Kim Muir quite well by 4 ½ lengths.

As already mentioned with Ballabriggs and Junior I like this race as a Grand National trial and Sunnyhillboy is now rated 152 but races off 142, effectively 10lb well in based on what it will run off in future. The winning time to compare to the other 2 mentioned was 6m 35s, a second quicker than Ballabriggs. It is only 9 years old and only has to carry 10-5 in comparison to the 11-0 that Ballabriggs carried last year. It was also 3rd in last year’s Irish National.

BetVictor are slightly shorter on a number of horses but are paying out to 6 places while a host of other bookmakers offer the first 5 home.

My idea of the first 5 and their respective prices:

  1. Junior 14-1 Bet Victor (6 places)
  2. Ballabriggs 14-1 Bet365 (5 places)
  3. Sunnyhillboy 16-1 Bet365 (5 places)
  4. Always Right 28-1 BetVictor (6 places)
  5. Calgary Bay 40-1 Bet365 (5 places)

I would advise backing any or all of these each way with preference for Junior and Ballabriggs.

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