The Punter: Peter can guide Silver By Nature to Grand National glory
The Grand National attracts the public like no other sporting event when it comes to having a bet.
An insatiable desire, built up over the years on nothing more than tradition and one which goes a long way to filling the bookmakers' coffers.
Those who would never otherwise dream of having a bet are caught in the headlights of a event that captures the attention of a nation.
For most — and rightly so — stakes will be kept to a minimum but Saturday at Aintree will have the bookmakers licking their lips at the thought of an annual day of bulging coffers, simply because in a 40-runner field, there can be only one who takes the glory.
Whatever your fancy, back it as soon as possible as it's now ‘non-runner no bet' and take the price on offer as the SP is more likely to be a lot shorter on the day. That also applies to those waiting until the morning of the race. Search around for value and ask for the price at the time of placing the bet.
There will be fierce competition for customer business, so look out for special offers, notably those firms offering each-way the first five home, such as Paddy Power. Each-way means a doubling of stakes but with 1/4 the odds a place, it's the best way to go as there is always a good chance of a big-priced selection running into a place.
One who falls into that category is Hello Bud at 25-1, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies who won this race twice with Bindaree (2002) and Earth Summit (1998).
Hello Bud has age (13) against him but he has a low weight and carries 1lb less than when finishing fifth last year, while back in November, he won the Becher Chase over these fences and took the Scottish National two years ago. Experience over the obstacles is a big plus, although no 13-year-old has won the Aintree race since Sergeant Murphy in 1923. But then Pete Simple was 15 when triumphing in 1953!
But for the winner, let's go for a Highland fling and make it a grey day with Scotland's Silver By Nature. The only greys to have won are The Lamb (1868 and '71) and Nicolaus Silver (1961) while the last Scottish-trained horse to pass the post in front was Rubstic 32 years ago.
Lucinda Russell's yard, now with her partner and former champion jockey Peter Scudamore on board, has hit form at the right time and Silver will have the experienced Ulster-born Peter Buchanan (pictured) on board.
At nine-years-old, Silver By Nature (16-1) is the perfect age — 10 of the last 32 winners testify to that — while he has a handy weight of 10st 12 lbs when you consider that he has gone up 10lbs since that Haydock success which means if reassessed for the National, he would be carrying a hefty 11st 8lbs.
No horse at the top of the handicap has won since Red Rum in 1974 and he was the last to win in successive years which makes Tony McCoy's chances on Don't Push It difficult, although AP is confident of repeating his great success of 12 months ago.
Larne's Stuart Crawford has Killyglen in the line-up but leave it to Buchanan to make it an Ulster jockey success for the second year in a row.
Predicted result: 1: Silver By Nature; 2: Ballabriggs; 3: The Midnight Club; 4: Hello Bud; 5: What A Friend.
National betting: 9-1 The Midnight Club; 12-1 Backstage, Oscar Time, What A Friend; 14-1 Ballabrigg, Big Fella Thanks; 16-1 Silver By Nature, Don't Push It. 20-1 bar.