Anybody following the ante-post odds for the 2018 Grand National will have noticed that Anibale Fly has been instated as joint favourite with a number of the bookies, alongside Blaklion and the Willie Mullins trained Total Recall.
So what prompted the sudden drop in odds? Trainer Tony Martin and connections knew that they were aiming him at a Grand National but up to last week still hadn’t decided whether that would be Fairyhouse or Aintree. Once he was withdrawn from today’s Irish Grand National, it became clear that plans to head to Liverpool had been given the green light.
Fresh off the back of a third place finish in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in tricky conditions, punters started to see some real Grand National potential in the eight year old and quickly started to back him at ante-post odds of around 20/1 which in turn led to a drop in his starting price which is now a general 12/1.
And while there is certainly a lot to like about Anibale Fly, there are also other factors to consider. He will carry the third highest weight of 11-07, behind Blaklion and Minella Rocco which will make it a challenge to get around more than 4m of the Aintree course. That said, he is more than accustomed to the heavier weights and as recently as December carried 12 stone at Fairyhouse.
He also performs much better on softer ground and while we have been inundated with never-ending rain over the last few months, if the weather does pick up and the ground dries out that could also make it tricky.
But it’s easy to pick out potential pitfalls and there is a lot in his favour. He is a classy chaser who has notched up nearly £300K in career earnings and most probably will have Barry Geraghty riding him for the 11th time so it’s a more than familiar partnership.
He also won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December and as we know, finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
JP McManus’s racing manager, Frank Berry said “He’ll go to Aintree. Tony is very happy with him and all going well that’s where he’ll go.
“Fairyhouse is coming quick enough. Aintree is later which is a big help after his good run at Cheltenham,” he added.
He also took the opportunity to confirm the other McManus Grand National runners saying “Minella Rocco will go.
“So will Carlingford Lough and Regal Encore too. He ran well in the race last year and won nicely at Ascot on his last start.