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Grand National 2018 Ante-Post Preview

We are now just a few days away from the biggest race of the year and the UK’s leading steeplechasers are gunning for glory. The Grand National is the richest race in Europe, replete with a £1 million prize purse, and around 600 million people across the globe will tune in to watch the drama unfold.

The National transcends the sport of horseracing and stands as one of the great sporting events in the entire calendar. People with zero interest in the National Hunt scene will enjoy a cheeky flutter and the nation is always abuzz with speculation on the big day.

It captures the imagination due to the epic nature of the trip, which is run over a gut-busting 4 miles and 514 yards, taking in 30 fences over two laps. These are not just any fences, they are fearsome, treacherous fences like Becher’s Brook, The Chair and Canal Turn, so gruelling they have names.

It always descends into a thrilling war of attrition. Last year Blaklion went off as the 8/1 favourite and he ran well, but could only finish fourth. One For Arthur landed glory, followed home by Cause of Causes and Saint Are.

Blaklion is right back in the mix in the Grand National betting market this time around, and Saint Are will also try again, and we have a typically broad and intriguing field to browse.

Who is the ante-post favourite for the Grand National?

Who is the ante-post favourite for the Grand National?

Blaklion once again leads the way in the betting and he is currently the 10/1 Grand National ante-post favourite with Sun Bets.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ nine-year-old put in an impressive performance in December to beat The Last Samurai and Highland Lodge to the Becher Handicap Chase over 3m 1f 188y. He was then second in a 3m 4f 97y Grand National Trial at Haydock in February.

Crucially, he has proved his staying power and completed the treacherous course, so many punters think he will improve this time and win it.

Three other horses – Tiger Roll, Total Recall and Anibale Fly – are clustered near the top of the betting and any of them could overtake Blaklion to become the favourite by the time the race starts.

What is the early weather forecast for Aintree?

Merseyside has not been as wet as other parts of the country in recent weeks and the course’s clerk hopes the Grand National will not be a total mudbath. There is plenty of rain forecast in the build-up to the race, but there is optimism among the organisers that it will not turn into a slog that only sees a handful of finishers.

It is early days yet, as the race takes place on Saturday at 5.15pm, but you can probably expect soft going, heavy around Canal Turn, but good to soft across the stands side. Keep an eye out for any sun over Aintree, as that would mop up the rain nicely ahead of the big race.

Who has shown the most promise this jumps season?

Tiger Roll delivered another gutsy performance to win the 3m 6f 37y Glenfarcas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival for a second year in a row. Gordon Elliott’s star chaser has great stamina and stands a great chance of glory on Saturday.

Since 1990, only one horse that won at the Festival went on to win the Grand National later that year, but Tiger Roll could buck the trend.

Total Recall won the Munster National and the Ladbrokes Trophy and he is the main hope for Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins. Anibale Fly was third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and now leads the JP McManus charge at the Grand National.

Which horses are tipped to go well?

Tiger Roll, Blaklion and Total Recall are all earning plenty of attention in the build-up to the race. Tiger Roll is only eight years of age, but he is just about in the right age range for this race and he has been raced heavily over the years, so he should be sturdy enough to cope with testing conditions.

Total Recall returned home unscathed after falling at the third from last hurdle in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he should enjoy the long trip.

Rathvinden at 25/1 has been tipped to go well after winning the Cheltenham National Hunt Challenge Chase on day one at the Festival in March. Vieux Lion Rouge (33/1) finished seventh in 2016 and sixth last year, and he is expected to be in the mix this time around.

Who looks the best bet for the Grand National?

Tiger Roll looks attractive right now, but if you are looking for each-way value you could try I Just Know at 33/1. He has won or placed in eight out of 10 chases and he showed he has plenty in the tank by recently winning over 3m 6f, while also showing strong jumping ability.