5 Early Contenders For The 2018 Grand National

Finding The Winner

The thoughts of ante post punters have already turned to the 2018 Randox Health Grand National. There has already been significant movement with regards to next year's odds on the betting exchange for the Aintree showpiece.

If a long-term investment in the ante post Grand National betting appeals to you, then check out our five early contenders for the 2018 renewal of the 40-runner spectacular.

Blaklion

Nigel Twiston-Davies has had some rotten luck towards the end of 2016/17 season, seeing his horses shape well in the closing stages of valuable races only to be pipped in the run-in or at the post. Blaklion was a notable example when fourth to One For Arthur in the Grand National.

Noel Fehily produced him to take up the running four out, but it was a move that came too early as Blaklion was headed before the last and even lost third place in the final yards. All the horses that finished ahead of him were carrying less weight, though, so that told in the closing stages.

If connections pitch Blaklion at the Grand National again, a more conservative ride could easily see him improve on fourth, though. Whether the handicapper will be kinder to this horse, however, remains to be seen. Odds with some bookies about Blaklion are matched on the betting exchange.

Minella Rocco

Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco was at one stage favourite for this year's Grand National before connections withdrew him from contention.

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill and owner JP McManus were smart enough to know seven-year-old horses have a poor record in the world's most famous steeplechase. The last winner of the Aintee showpiece who was that age came way back in 1940!

O'Neill may now train Minella Rocco especially for a crack at the 2018 Grand National, as he will be eight then and two of the last three victors have been that old. He is also better value on the betting exchange than backing him with the bookies.

Minella Rocco definitely stays the marathon trip of the Randox Health Grand National, as he is a former winner of the 4m National Hunt Chase for novices at the Cheltenham Festival. If he achieved that as a six-year-old, then he must be a clear contender at Aintree next year if entered.

Our Duke

Irish Grand National winner Our Duke stepped up to 3m 5f to land the Fairyhouse feature race at the Easter Festival so well, that he should get the trip of the extended 4m 2f of the Aintree equivalent. Regular rider Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington boasted some hugely strong form at the business end of the 2016/17 National Hunt season too.

If they are able to jockey and coach a similar performance out of Our Duke come April 2018, then he will surely be prominent again. Running in eye-catching fashion on the outer at Fairyhouse, he took up the running approaching four out, asserted himself two flights from home and stayed on well for a comfortable 14-length victory over Bless The Wings – a horse five years his elder.

That rival was also a short-head runner-up in the Irish Grand National in 2016 and received 16lb from Our Duke, so that adds up to a most taking display. There is a massive difference in price on the betting exchange to the odds available through the bookies for this horse in the 2018 Randox Health Grand National.

Vicente

Dual Scottish Grand National victor Vicente fell at the first in the Aintree equivalent, but bounced back to to retain his crown at Ayr. Those two wins over 4m are to his huge credit and taking a tumble so early on Merseyside tells us precious little about his credentials.

Paul Nicholls has trained a Grand National winner before in Neptune Collognes, so he know what it takes. Vicente looks the type that would benefit from schooling over the unique fences or getting a run at Aintree over the National course in the Becher Chase this coming autumn.

Although there are other trials with merit, both the 2017 Grand National winner and sixth went in the Becher plus a number of other useful sorts who failed to complete. Vicente's recent purchase by new owner Trevor Hemmings will surely see him aimed at Aintree, and there's value on the betting exchange which reflects that.

Native River

Although finishing third behind Minella Rocco and Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was arguably a disappointing end to his 2016/17 campaign, Native River scooped a number of valuable prizes beforehand.

Those included the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. His most taking display came in the latter when he took up the running at the tenth fence and Native River made the rest. Colin Tizzard's charge was cruising, despite a 4lb penalty and carrying top-weight, and value for much more than the winning margin.

A mammoth distance is no problem for Native River, and it is perfect plausible that owners Brocade Racing could request he be trained with the 2018 Grand National in mind. Once again, a substantially better price can be found on the betting exchange for this horse.





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