Free Bet Bookmaker’s 2011 Grand National Preview

Welcome to our ultimate Grand National 2011 preview - our run down of the horses that we think could end up in the mix on Saturday at Aintree - as well as those that might not. This year looks like a fascinating renewal - so here's our preview, which we'll update throughout the week, as well as our best Grand National free bets.

Horse FBB Rating FBB Comments Bet with
Niche Market ***** Here at FBB, we had our eye on Niche Market in 2009 before the weights were announced, and he didn't quite make it. Shame, as he went on to win the Irish National at 33/1. A cracking third to Denman in the 2009 Hennessy took his official rating way too high - but he's had an operation to improve his stamina and he's back at Aintree with experience of the fences in the bag. Paul Nicholls has never won a National, so this would be a record-breaker, but then again, last year we said that Tony McCoy had never won a National. Odds of 14/1 are very reasonable - great chance. Bet With Paddy PowerPaddy
Big Fella Thanks ***** Another one who, back in 2009, we said "keep an eye on", and we were right - he finished 6th. He came fourth last year as the 10/1 favourite, but even then, it may have been a year too soon. The only question is stamina, but that should improve with age, and as a nine-year-old, he returns to the National fences he clearly loves with a huge claim. Definite chances, and odds of 16/1 are bound to tumble on the day. Risk-free bet with Bet Red Kings
Arbor Supreme *** Inconsistency plagues Arbor Supreme, whose stablemate The Midnight Club should logically be preferred to him. However, he's got bags of stamina, and despite disappointments in both this National and the Welsh national, he's got form on this ground and cannot be entirely discounted. 20/1 may turn out to be a reasonable assessment of his chances. Bet With Coral
West End Rocker *** Two wins from three this season, West End Rocker will go off fresh, and has clearly been aimed at this race. The main question would be suitability of the ground - he loves a quagmire, this one, and he won't get one. However, that's not to say that he doesn't have a chance of a place, especially given the rather kind mark he's running off. Odds of 33/1 are good value. Bet with Victor Chandler
Oscar Time ***** This would be a story and a half - Sam Waley-Cohen, who won the Gold Cup on Long Run, rides Oscar Time looking for a unique double. However, his record over Aintree fences is excellent, and he's got a cracker here. A good challenge in the Irish National on unfavourable ground makes him look like the perfect National horse. Not having seen the fences should not harm him - he's one of the favourites and deservedly so - 12/1 with most bookies. Risk-free bet with Betclic
Ballabriggs **** Donald McCain knows all about National winners, so Ballabriggs has every chance. Three good wins in 2010 stand him in good stead, although stamina may be the issue. That said, he has a Cheltenham win with top weight, which is no mean feat, and has been targeted for the National. A decent bet at 16/1 with most bookmakers. Bet with 188Bet
The Midnight Club **** The reason bookies and punters appear to be going for The Midnight Club appears mostly to be the relatively kind treatment from the handicapper. Shorter races appear to have been his undoing, and Willie Mullins has been prepping this horse for a while now with this race in mind. He'll last the distance, although he hasn't had ten chase races, which the last ten national winners have - so a key trend is against him. He has claims but they're on relatively shaky ground, and based on assumptions and hunches more than anything in my opinion. A good horse, a potential winner, but not an outright favourite. Bet with Paddy Power
Backstage **** Unlucky last year, Backstage is back for another stab at a race which should suit him. Last year he was brought down at the 20th fence by a loose horse, although there was general surprise that he had got that far. With wins on good ground, he's got decent claims, but form hasn't been incredible since Aintree last year. Bet with Coral
Bluesea Cracker ** Winner of the 2010 Irish National, Bluesea Cracker represents JP McManus, and has received plenty of support. That support, however, is based on wins on soft or heavy ground, and the lack of rain will be a worry for him. 20/1 is far too short for an each-way bet. Bet with 188Bet
Don't Push It **** Contrary to those who claimed in hindsight to have predicted Tony McCoy's first National win last year, there were many who were surprised at Don't Push It's win. In fact, surprised by the size of the win - it was one of the most convincing in recent years. That does not necessarily mean that the 11st10lb on his back will easily be shaken off - no winner since Red Rum has carried that much, so it would be a huge ask for a double. Bet with Boyle Sports
State of Play *** A horse that best runs fresh - and he certainly is fresh, as this is his first run of the season. Having finished the National twice, there's no doubts about his jumping, although stamina was his undoing in 2009, when he was challenging at the last, but ended up eighteen lengths behind Mon Mome. In a wide-open field with good ground, this race is open to a horse like State of Play who knows his way round and has been prepped with this race in mind. Bet with Paddy Power
Hello Bud ** Only three horses aged 13 or over have ever won the Grand National, so time has probably crept up on Hello Bud. That said, if there were a fourth horse to crack this record, then it could be Hello Bud. Fifth in last year's National, he's got stamina in reserve, but likelihood is that his best years are now behind him and this would be a place bet at best. Bet with Ladbrokes
What a Friend *** There's hype galore about What a Friend, but we tend to avoid Cheltenham horses in the National - the basic rule is that you either go for Cheltenham OR the National - not both. So he's not fresh - he's got 11st 6lb on his back, which is going to really weigh him down on the good to soft ground, and he's never gone this sort of distance before. Doesn't look good, and 12/1 is way, way too short given everything we've just mentioned. Bet with 188Bet
Silver by Nature *** Here's one who's hoping for rain - and he ain't going to get it. So those backing Silver by Nature will have to go on faith. He's won a couple of trials here and there, though, both in great style, but his jumping is a worry. I don't think Silver by Nature has a great chance in this National, unless it starts to pish it down. Bet with Coral
Quinz ** We've always said that you should watch 7-year-olds and back them when they're 8 or 9. That's what we're doing with Big Fella Thanks, and that's what we'll do with Quinz, thank you. Sit back and watch this year - he's a novice chaser who appears to have issues over fences. Chances are that he won't even finish, but he's well in the handicap and that's why his odds are so short. If he stays on his feet, he may finish. Bet with Paddy Power
Becauseicouldntsee ** A little inexperienced, with only seven chases - and all of the last ten winners have had at least ten. However, don't entirely discount him - he's got some good form over distance, and has experienced all types of going, so he can't be entirely discounted just because of a trend. It probably won't happen this year, but with some better form and greater experience behind him, he could improve. Bet with Bet Red Kings
Character Building *** Nina Carberry is in the saddle, which is a negative for Character Building - that said, she did get him round last year. The 2009 Kim Muir winner needs pushing, but has good form over distance and would have benefited from a more experienced jockey. Bet with Coral
Majestic Concorde ** This winner of the Paddy Power Chase beat Becauseicouldntsee by two and a half lengths, and has his best form over good ground. He'll enjoy the ground on Saturday, and cannot be discounted for a place. Bet with Ladbrokes
Calgary Bay * I'm not at all sure this horse will last the distance, having been comprehensively beaten almost every time he's raced more than three miles. At shorter distances, he has proved quite handy, but has been beaten even at lower levels than this, and won't enjoy his National debut. Bet with Paddy Power
Tidal Bay ** A former Arkle winner, he's well and truly out of sorts. Connections have their doubts about him - we have our doubts about him - and 11st9lb is far too heavy for a National winner. He doesn't stand a chance. Bet with Bet Red Kings
Chief Dan George ** There are doubts galore about Chief Dan George, especially given his jumping. He's fine over the little fences, but over the monsters they've got at Aintree - he'll struggle. He's out of sorts, recently suffered a fall, and is available here at 33/1, which is short, and probably only that short because he's a former Grand One hurdle winner. Not going to compete. Bet with Coral
Skippers Brig ** A handy win over Ballabriggs on good to soft ground would stand Skippers Brig in good stead, but he lacks the experience of Ballabriggs or the others up at the top of this list. He is, in fact, one of the most lightly raced ten year olds in the race, and the main doubt I would have is the ground. He'll struggle. Bet with Betfred

published: 5th April 2011 by Free Bet Bookmaker


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