It’s just over 100 days until the U.K.’s most famous horse race, the Randox Health Grand National, gets underway, and there have already been some positive and some disappointing indicators that are helping to shape the betting markets for Europe’s most valuable national hunt race. Of course, there is still a long time to wait until April 6; but with each passing day, the contenders and betting become a little clearer.
The top of the list of favorites in the latest Grand National odds at 888sport is the 2018 winner, Tiger Roll, who comes in at 20/1, double the odds of his starting price last April. Tiger Roll can be somewhat infuriating from a bettor’s perspective though: He’s capable of the sublime in one moment and the thoroughly mediocre in the next. The latter quality was on show when Tiger Roll was soundly beaten by Josie’s Orders in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November. While the performance raised a few eyebrows, everyone knows he is capable of better; so he still just about deserves the favorite tag.
One For Arthur’s return didn’t go to plan
There was also some bad luck for the 25-1 joint second-favorite in 888’s odds, the 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur. At the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on Saturday, the Lucinda Russel-trained 9-year-old had been making a long-awaited comeback – the first since the famous Grand National win 20 months previously – but only succeeded in unseating rider Tom Scudamore. Indeed, the eventual winner of the race, Definitly Red, is drawing some interest with odds of 33-1 for the 2019 Grand National.
While some of the bigger names have faltered at this (admittedly early) stage of the season, others have been making a name for themselves. Walk In The Mill, who won the Becher Chase at Aintree over the weekend, was one such candidate, and saw his Grand National odds cut to 33-1 after heading a race stuffed full of Grand National hopefuls like Blaklion and Vieux Lion Rouge. The 8-year-old might lack a little bit of experience – and has never faced the extreme pressure and distance of the Grand National before – but there was a lot to like about the performance.
Bellshill looks like a future National winner
Indeed, the horse whose stock has arguably risen the most over the early part of the national hunt season is one who hasn’t run at all – Bellshill. There is much to like about this Willie Mullins-trained horse, who has been given 25-1 odds for the Grand National by 888sport. A 53 percent win rate does not tell the full story of an excellent career: Bellshill’s last race was a thriller, holding off the highly-rated Djakadam to take the Punchestown Gold Cup. Some believe that Mullins, who is a dominant elsewhere in jumps racing, doesn’t always give his full attention to the Grand National, but Bellshill could be his best chance in over a decade.
In the end though, the picture above could change dramatically between now and race day. There is still plenty of racing between now and April, including the indicators sometimes found in the Welsh and Scottish Grand National. However, don’t be surprised to see some of those mentioned above as contenders on race day, and don’t be too shocked if one turns out to be the winner.