Racing has been denied its biggest day of the year with the enforced cancellation of the Grand National – but punters still have the chance to back the ‘winner’, courtesy of the virtual version.
The latest CGI technology will be used in ITV’s broadcast on Saturday, with the big race due off at 5.15pm, replicating what would have been the start time of the real thing.
Most of the attention at Aintree – and with the public at large – would of course have surrounded Tiger Roll, who last year became the first back-to-back winner of the world’s greatest steeplechase since the one and only Red Rum.
bwin – who will give all profits from this weekend’s event to NHS charities with a maximum bet of £10 – make Gordon Elliott’s remarkable 10-year-old the 5-1 favourite to join ‘Rummy’ as a three-time ‘winner’.
No one is going to argue with that, but he did have a hard race at Cheltenham a few weeks ago and the computer – which has been shown previously to be pretty accurate in its assessments – will also factor in his delayed return to action, as a minor injury meant he only started cantering in January.
Ground conditions will be taken into account, although that is in his favour, as he would not have wanted lots of rain, and it is worth remembering he has bounced out of Cheltenham in great shape before, so that is not too much of a worry – there is no doubt about his toughness.
What is a nagging doubt is whether there is one lurking down the weights a bit, such as Burrows Saint, who gets a stone from the market leader.
Still largely unexposed over fences, the Willie Mullins-trained gelding won the Irish National last season and has a definite touch of class.
He has not run since a spin over hurdles at Punchestown in December, where he was allowed an easy lead under Rachael Blackmore and never looked back.
With bookmakers offering each-way terms on the first five home, there are plenty to have an interest in for those wanting something at a fancy price.
Ok Corral falls into that category at 25-1. Nicky Henderson had been really pleased with how his preparation was going and given the National is one of the few big races to have eluded him, the Seven Barrows maestro might think it is just his luck to win this.
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