Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

Last Tuesday's announcement of the weights for the Grand National was the cue for an annual surge in ante-post betting. As soon as the handicapper's assessments are published, punters scour the lists for a likely winner at a lively price.

Of course, the ante-post market can be an elephant trap – your selection has to make it to the event, retaining fitness and form (ask early backers of Denman and Zaynar). And it becomes more problematic if the bet involves humans rather than horses, who don't go to nightclubs or send texts.

Some of our ante-post football bets, for example, are already binned, thanks to the failures of managers to inspire their teams – those on Liverpool, Ipswich and MK Dons for their respective titles, and on Arsenal, who cynically disregarded the FA Cup. But Bournemouth, picked at 16-1, now 10-1, could still win League Two, and Wayne Rooney, tipped at 12-1, now 4-11, should become the Premier League's top scorer. Here lies the logic of ante-post life – you need only be right once in six bets to make a profit.

On a first reading of the National list the eight-year-old Irish horse Backstage came out well: unexposed; nice weight; same sire as last year's winner Mon Mome; trained by Gordon Elliott, who won with Silver Birch in 2007.

But the Racing Post's Tom Segal – the Warren Buffett of tipsters – revealed the same thought and Backstage's price collapsed from 25-1 to 16-1. We go then with our two other choices – Jonjo O'Neill's Can't Buy Time (40-1, Bet 365) and Nigel Twiston-Davies' Beat The Boys (80-1, Sportingbet).

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