Tradition tells you to find a horse between 8 and 12, winner over fences at 3m +, carrying less than 11st and trained, bred in Ireland. Snowy Morning looks a stand out for the race this year having been in good form over shorter distances, displaying a liking for the track and the trip with a third two years ago and a completion last year with too much weight. He has been given a chance this year at the weights, has David Casey on who I am a big fan of over these fences and is still fairly priced up. Without any horrors in running he should get round and has a racing weight that is competitive, it could be thrid time lucky of the horse who's campaign has been purely for today.
Willie Mullins also has a good chance with Arbor Supreme who looks a real chance off a perfect weight and has some top staying chase form from Ireland. He was run well at Fairyhouse winning a Porterstown chase ( with today's jockey on board ) and that course has a record of turning our National winners as the fences take a bit of jumping. He also won at Punchestown over a bit further and so the trip should be no problem. He is one of four JP McManus entries but not the selection of AP McCoy who has selected the ironically named Don't Push It who although talented will need a masterful, energetic and luck filled ride to get involved off 11st 6lb. The other two McManus horses look to have claims of some sort, their is a stamina doubt with Can't Buy Time and Kings John Castle needs to rediscover his form back at Aintree and has a master jockey in the saddle so not a bad e/w shout.
Big Fella Thanks is the favourite for Walsh and Nicholls and he looks a well treated horse who has age and weight to go well here. However at the prices I'm inclined to take him on adding my own feeling that he has always finished tired in good races over anything like three miles so I am not sure he will see out this marathon any better than last year when 6th.
The Twiston Davies team have their tails up following a day to remember at Cheltenham and the trainer has his sights set on a fantastic double of Gold Cup and National with a mulitple entry. Ballyfitz would not be a massive shock if going well but I am not sure his jumping will hold around here and of the rest I think Irish Raptor has solid claims. A super record around the course and a first crack at the National trip for a horse who has always been considered the type for this. A light campaign was always the plan, Paddy Brennan won the Topham on him last year and although you would have preferred a more recent outing he is in with a chance and the pick of the stables' runners.
A few outsiders catch my eye tomorrow too. Flintoff is a quirky character who will need to be on a going day but he has ability to pick up a race of this nature. Placed in a Midlands and Scottish National he would seem to have been given a live chance scraping in at number 39. The decision to pull him out on account of the ground at Fairyhouse was misleading as the entries for the National were confirmed just in time for a late decision and there is only one Aintree. I think he would like it softer but at the prices he still looks big! Royal Rosa is another interesting one and the stable tugged their other entry out to get him in at number 40. If you recall my blog after the Beecher in November when we collected a bit of e/w money I suggested they put the wraps on and come here for another crack over a proper distance. Well they are here, he will enjoy the ground and has that touch of class that is needed to win this. Troubled by dodgy legs you'd have to think this is the last chance for a big one and he again looks too big at the odds.
Some trends picks on my card that I am leaving out for one reason or another that would still not be a suprise winner include Ellerslie George, State of Play and Character Building so I wouldn't put you off these!
Best of Luck with your picks and get a bit of luck in running in what looks a very open renewal
GRAND NATIONAL PICKS - top 5.....
Snowy Morning Arbor Supreme Flintoff Royal Rosa Irish Raptor