Before we get into our own 2021 Grand National shortlist, we should mention Cloth Cap. At 4/1 (and shorter) he is incredibly skinny in the market. He is officially 14lbs well-in and in any other race he’d be even shorter than this, so we’re not complaining too much.
However, this is 4¼ miles is an unknown trip, he has to tackle 30 fences and faces 39 rivals which means anything can happen.
The odds in this race are now being strangled by the bookmakers. After Tiger Roll in 2019, it’s rather coincidental that we have another 4/1 favourite, almost as if such short-priced market leaders are being normalised in this race and we should resist that.
Cloth Cap may well win, but he represents no value whatsoever. There are fewer variables to use to whittle down the Grand National field these days as the better-quality horses can win it off bigger weights, but all things considered these are the six we take against the field.
Any Second Now
We had to mention JP McManus’ runner as he has been laid out for this race and has been given a big shout in many well-respected quarters.
He’s going the right way overall, however his record over 3 miles+ reads 51FUP, and when winning over two miles last time his trainer explained the upturn in form by remarking that Any Second Now was happier in a small field, something he does not get in this race by a long chalk.
Not the most experienced, but one who looks a definite stayer. He’s been third and fifth at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, and while that is very strong form it also tells us that these extreme conditions may need to pull some improvement out from somewhere in handicap conditions.
Another for JP, we actually liked Kimberlite Candy for last year’s National before it was cancelled and this has very much been his long-term career target.
Fifth of 16 in an Eider Chase and a winner when streaking away over 3m5f Classic Chase at Warwick two runs ago, staying is clearly his game so we have no worries there.
Kimberlite Candy has also run second in each of the last two Becher Chases over the Grand National fences, so there are no lingering worries there, while he has peaked at this time of year before and has very much been trained to the minute for this event.
He has a huge chance if not receiving any bad luck, with trainer Tom Lacey and jockey Richie McLernon more than capable of bringing this home.
Lord Du Mesnil
Another proper stayer, Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil has plenty in his profile to recommend him for this race.
His three peak runs over the last two seasons have been a win and a second in the Grand National Trial at Haydock over three-and-a-half miles, as well as a fine second in the 3¾-mile National Hunt Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Standing back and looking at Lord Du Mesnil’s 21 chase races to date objectively suggests, even now, a horse who is improving overall and so with a clean round in ideal conditions we should see a career highlight when it counts most.
Yet another big contender for JP McManus, Minella Times is trained by the bang in-form Henry De Bromhead and comes here on the back of a solid second of 22 at Leopardstown.
He has been runner-up over three miles a couple of times now and should stay well enough, though for what he has achieved he seems a little skinny in the market.
Mister Malarky has an ideal profile, as long as we don’t take his five runs this season as a sign that he may be over the top.
A fine stayer and a Silver Cup winner at Ascot, Colin Tizzard’s runner had breathing surgery in February and then returned to the track in fine form when running third at 33/1 in this grade at Kempton.
He should be fitter and better now and if so, has a huge chance off a mark of 155 which arguably doesn’t represent his true current ability.
Given the nature of this race, we always advise more than one bet. Remember to keep the stakes fairly small and split them between three good value runners, each-way if you want to, namely:
13. MISTER MALARKY
14. KIMBERLITE CANDY
22. LORD DU MESNIL