Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Grand National: Irish punters banking on Tony McCoy and Double Seven

Big Shu is in the 'shape of his life'
Big Shu is in the 'shape of his life'

Martin Brassil's Double Seven remains the highest placed Irish-trained horse in the betting for the Crabbie's Grand National and AP McCoy's chosen mount certainly has solid credentials for the famous Liverpool spectacle.

 

The JP McManus-owned 14/1 fourth-favourite is potentially still progressive, despite having shot up the handicap by 37lb since initiating his winning spree at Kilbeggan last summer.

On the flip side, for all that he has a fair racing weight of 10st 11lb, there is also a chance that he has showed his hand by now, as he doesn't look especially well treated relative to many of the 39 other starters.

Peter Maher's dour cross-country specialist Big Shu might be similarly harshly treated, though he will enjoy the challenge. The Dessie Hughes-trained Raz De Maree is another established stayer that would be of interest off a light weight under Davy Condon if sufficient rain falls.

Ted Walsh's Colbert Station unseated McCoy at the Chair on just his sixth start over fences last year, and you could have little more faith in him getting round under Mark Walsh now after falling at Leopardstown last time. That said, over the past 12 months, the extent of how Aintree's once formidable course has been reduced to the point of parody by the modifications of recent years has become infuriatingly clear, a fact that will help wily old foxes like Tidal Bay and Long Run.

Neither of the two highest weighted runners have an especially fluent fencing technique, but they should have enough know-how to navigate their way through what are essentially brush fences now. Long Run has the added assistance of Sam Waley-Cohen, whose record here is exceptional.

Nicky Henderson's nine-year-old tops the page for the near four-and-a-half-mile cavalry charge, becoming the third Gold Cup winner to tackle the race in as many years after Synchronised and Imperial Commander.

In the Gold Cup, Knockara Beau ran above himself in seventh, just in front of Teaforthree, which now receives 11lbs from Long Run. A slight concern is that the National was there for him to win last year, only to tire into third.

Still, off a 2lb lower mark now, Teaforthree should be thereabouts. Of course, with four of the last five National winners carrying 11st or more since the artificial compaction of the handicap set in, it is no longer possible to draw a line through those above the old watermark.

Rocky Creek shoulders 11st 5lb under Noel Fehily, and his credentials also received a boost in the Gold Cup, as he was second to the narrow third The Giant Bolster in the Argento Chase in January. Second to Triolo D'Alene in the Hennessy previously, Rocky Creek is 5lb better off with him now, though he has the bare minimum in terms of experience.

And while Triolo D'Alene won the Topham over the National fences last year, he tired badly after getting bumped two-out in the Gold Cup, and was then reported to have a breathing problem.

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