Bookies cutting Cappa Bleu, West End Rocker and Shakalakaboomboom

A lot of money is going to be placed on the Grand National this Saturday - about £250m apparently - which is ridiculous considering that most people just stick a pin in the list and say they’ll back the first thing they see. It’s nuts. And when people say ‘the Grand National is a lottery’ they’re talking rubbish. It’s not. We bang on and on about the trends paying off almost every year, and we’re sticking with the percentages, thank you.

The bookies are having to follow the traditional AP McCoy punt, which is all about Synchronised, the Gold Cup winner. I’ll give him this - Synchronised was a good Gold Cup winner. Not a great, and he mostly won because Kauto Star had to withdraw part way through the race, and Long Run has been on the slide ever since he won the Gold Cup a year ago. What’s more, Gold Cup winners don’t do the National.

It takes a certain preparation to win the Grand National - along with the right weight - and Synchronised hasn’t had it. National winners are usually fresh, and aimed straight at the race itself - not as an after-thought. So the bookies are looking at three horses, all movers this week in the betting. We told you about West End Rocker last week, and what with the pissing rain the NorthWest has had over the last few days - and the rain forecast to come - we’re looking at soft ground, good to soft at best.

Alan King has said that he wants rain, but only to hold up the other horses - West End Rocker can carve up this course in any ground short of firm. What’s so good about him? Well, he’s aimed at this race, he’s got the racing weight, he’s ten years old (perfect), he’s a course winner and was unlucky in last year’s race after going really well until Becher’s, and he’s got the win over 3m, which is essential for a National winner. No wonder the bookies are running scared - I got 18/1 (Betfair) but you’re only going to get 14/1 at the moment. Still - it’s not to be sniffed at, especially for an each-way bet.

Cappa Bleu might not like the ground if it keeps raining like it has been doing - but his odds are now down to 14/1. Paul Moloney has taken the ride on Cappa Bleu and fancies his chances. Having finished gamely in third in the Welsh National, connections have been talking up his chances at Aintree for some time - what he doesn’t have is proven experience over the National fences, but he comes here having recovered from several setbacks over the last few years. He’s from the same owners as State of Play - who has finished placed in each of the last three Nationals - so they know a thing or two about this race. I’m not putting the bank on Cappa Bleu, but like the bookies, I’m wary of a horse that has been tilted at the National, with form over distance.

Shakalakaboomboom is one for the pin-stickers. An 8-year-old who has seen the National fences (he ran the Topham last year) and has been constantly improving - sometimes surprisingly so - he’s more than just a silly name. It was a win at the Punchestown Festival that first brought him to peoples’ attention, and he carried that form into the December Cheltenham meeting. What we like most about him was that the Topham was too short! Brilliant, he sounds like our kind of horse. Chances are that the soft ground might prove too much for him, but it can be a leveller. He’s also a little experienced - another year of racing would make him a strong favourite in 2013, but he really cannot be discounted. It would be fantastic for Nicky Henderson, too, and would cap a brilliant season for him.

published: 10th April 2012 by Free Bet Bookmaker

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