The age trends are dead set against the high class Tidal Bay, who at 13-years-old also has to carry top weight yet is currently joint second favourite in the betting at 14/1.
The last time a 13-year-old won the big race was when Lenin was calling for the removal of Stalin in 1923, and the last horse to carry top weight to victory was Red Rum back in 1974.
However, the race has changed.
The fences have been made easier, leading to more high class horses entering, and of course the prize money is very tempting – this the purse is excess of £1m for the very first time thanks to new sponsors Crabbie’s, and I’ll drink to that!
Tidal Bay has held his form very well in his latter years – Paul Nicholls’ mount was third in the Welsh National and second in the Irish Gold Cup this season and won the Lexus Chase in 2012 – and has pocketed over £640,000 in an illustrious career.
A faller at the tenth in 2011 when 28/1, he’s actually been given a good chance by the handicapper despite having to shoulder 11st 10lb and there are plenty who fancy him to buck the trends this time around, including his jockey.
It should be remembered that not many
classy 13-year-olds have run in the race and indeed only nine horses of that
age or more have run in the big race in the last decade. In a very hot race the
horse has a decent chance of creating history.
Top trainer Nicky Henderson has a terrible record in the Grand National – he’s saddled 15 horses since 1998 and not one of them has been placed. However, the record has to be broken some time and there are those who believe that the classiest horse in the race – 2011 Gold Cup winner Long Run (14/1) – could be about to break that run. Henderson also has Triolo D’Alene (20/1), Burton Point (25/1), Shakalakaboomboom (33/1) and Hunt Ball (66/1). Triolo D’Alene is a horse I really like but at seven years old it should be said that the age trends (no winners from last 87 runners aged eight or younger in the last ten years) count against him. However, while Hunt Ball might not stay and the beautifully named Shakalakaboomboom may be past his best, Burton Point looks very well handicapped and ticks several boxes. I’d sooner take the 6/1 about any Henderson horse winning than back Long Run outright at 14s.
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