Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has had 40 runners in the Grand National without winning. He trains the favourite, My Will, but you can also get 22-1 on his Big Fella Thanks, which makes him the each way value.
Two horses catch my eye, both at reasonable odds. Brooklyn Brownie was bred by John Kenny, Master of the Ormond Foxhounds, won his bumper in Ireland before being sold to north country trainer Malcolm Jefferson. Brooklyn Brownie will stay the distance, enjoy the expected good going, is in flying form and he ran very well over the National fences at Aintree last November. He should be backed each way at 28-1. Nicky Henderson is winning everything this year. His best hope is the French-bred Golden Flight which is worth a dabble at 66-1.
As a well-known Racing Editor has just emailed me, "The National is a nightmare." But only the brave and all that, so here goes. It's not a race for a single bet, but have quite a few and really enjoy losing your money. Even so, sticking your pin in a few times is every bit as good a way of finding a winner.
I would have a good bet on Rambling Minster, a vastly experienced 11-year-old trained by Keith Reveley and ridden by his son James. He is treated well in the weights, and, usefully for Aintree, has never fallen. A shortish price, 10-1, reflects a real chance. The Lloyd Webber's classy but crazy horse Darkness is a stone lower than he should be, and very good value at 25-1. The Nigel Twiston Davies trained Battlecry has Tom Scudamore up, and might be worth a few quid each way at 50s.
Two horses at enormous odds: the Philip Hobbs trained Zabenz has had a couple of good point to point wins and is fancied by a chum who has worked with him (125-1). And there was a brief murmur the other day for the Nicky Henderson trained Golden Flight. Then Barry Geraghty was booked to ride him and the price came in to 50-1. Finally, I have always liked State of Play: why? Because it was a damn fine TV series in which journalists were the heroes, and you can't say that very often.
Comply or Die fits the big-government temper of the times but, working on the presumption that repeat victories don't happen very often, I'd pick Rambling Minster, and trust that AP McCoy will have to wait another year to win his first National.
I'm going to have my shirt (a fiver each way) on Darkness (20-1). A moody horse, this one, apparently, but might do well given the right medication. Trained by my good friend, the legendary Mr CR Egerton.
I'm backing l'ami each way, a good-looking horse coming into its element. Great odds, and took a lot of canny early money.