Virtual Grand National - Aintree 5.00
First and foremost we hope that all Members are staying fit and well and getting through these unprecedented times as well as possible.
We have the Virtual Grand National today, the fact that it has been run for the past 3 years and proven a pretty fair reflection of the actual race indicates that it is a bit more scientific than an arcade game, and a valid and welcome attempt by ITV to both bring the Sport to a wider audience (although The Grand National is up there as probably the most iconic Sporting Event on the Calendar) but also giving everyone a glimmer of normality, in these difficult and challenging times.
We have an excellent record in the race, usually perming 4 or 5 against the field of 40 aiming for a nice net profit and have found the last 6 winners, and 7 or the last 9, and large number of big priced placed horses using these methods. The key elements that have paid off for us year after year are proven stamina at 3 1/2 miles plus, Course form at least over the National Fences, form on the Ground (the virtual Good to Soft would be accurate in reality) and probably something none of us can guarantee, be it real or virtual, luck in running!
So let's have a go and see what we can find today.
We did the usual first elimination and pretty much halved the field and then a second cull left us with around a dozen to really focus on and look deeply in to real form. We've also assessed the 3 actual virtual races so far held (on ITV as part of the build up to the actual race in 2017/18/19) and there are a few pointers there that pick up on certain age, weight and Trainer angles, all built in to the calculations.
THIS IS A FUN VIRTUAL RACE so the aim is to find the winner and have a bit of fun...it's NOT a big betting medium...so we'll have an actual quid each way at most on any of the 4 selections.
Who do we think we will win in the final analysis-:
Having narrowed the 40 down to 20 and then a short list of 13 we next discarded 7 more horses who we see as really live dangers.
Acapella Bourgeois comes from the Willie Mullins yard, ridden by son Danny, has proven stamina to about 3 1/2 miles so a bit to find there, likely to be well supported but one that in real and virtual life may need another year. Anibale Fly, has a proven record in the race, 4th in 2018, 5th in 2019, Tony Martin trains with Cheltenham hero Barry Geraghty in the saddle, has to be a huge danger, but I'm not convinced he is a horse as good now as last year or the year before. A big risk to leave out of the final 4 but one I'm happy to take. Definitely Red is a horse who has been quietly tipped for this race all winter, Brian Ellison is not a Trainer I have a particularly high regard of, that may cloud judgement sometimes but an 11 year old who has never won beyond 3 miles??, I can't see how a computer or reality can see that one winning this 4 mile plus race.
Elegant Escape comes from the Tizzard yard whose horses all seemed a bit under the weather at Cheltenham. Probably not the right time to mention the "virus word" but his horses were a few notches off top form. Whether that information has been fed in to the virtual computer, who knows, but if this were reality that fact would put me off an otherwise very good horse. Kildisart is an outsider I would give a fighting chance to, nice profile and one who could outrun big Odds. Talkischeap from the Alan King yard is one who intrigues me and would be no surprise if it ran a big race somewhat under the radar and Total Recall, another trained by Mullins is another who may have had better chances than any computer can spot. None of those would be surprise winners but have been discarded at the final cut stage.
So on to the final 6....TIGER ROLL winner in 2018 and 2019 and who some treat as a demi-god who is unbeatable. Was thrashed by an excellent Cross Country specialist at Cheltenham in the Cross Country race just over 3 weeks ago. Won this off handicap marks of 150 in 2018 and 159 in 2019, runs off a mark of 170 here. To the newcomer or uninitiated that roughly means that he carries 11 pounds in weight more this year compared to 2019 in relation to the other horses. As top weight every other horse is then rated against his mark. Weight over distance is a great leveler, at 5/1 he is no real value but you simply can't discount him, or the computer bias he will have on past form.
KIMBERLIGHT CANDY is in form, the trip is OK best on soft and OK on Good to Soft, ticks all the right boxes but just misses the top 4 for me today.
If we bet against Tiger Roll that leave me with a final 4 and that's where the quid each way will be going on each of these and with most Bookies paying out of the race and paying each way Odds to 5th place - we want a winner and some places from these 4...
BURROWS SAINT - Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by the outstanding Rachel Blackmore. Members and Horse Racing followers will know that this lady is as good as any man and superior to the vast majority. A natural horsewoman who can out-ride any man in a physically demanding finish given her fantastic balance and ability to settle her horse. Won the Irish National in 2019, has been laid out and aimed at this race ever since and hard to see it not bang in contention with luck in running.
POTTERS CORNER has won it's last 2 races and the virtual race does like to pick horses in form. Proven ability at the trip by winning the 2019 Midlands National at Uttoxeter, laid out for this and although most form is on heavier Going, it has won on Good to Soft and hard not to see it right in contention with that proven stamina.
WALK IN THE MILL who gets in off a light weight, a Course winner on Good to Soft Going, 4th in this last year of a mark of 144 was a perfect sighter and than will have learned a lot. A 10 year old now at his prime and a mark of 150 gives it a great weight and an excellent each way chance.