It's Grand National day! Who will you be backing at Aintree this afternoon?(credit: Tim. Edwards
Six of the last 11 winners of the Grand National were trained in Ireland, while the second, third and fourth in last season's renewal were raiders from across the Irish Sea, so their runners this year merit the closest attention
Here's a rundown of their chances, along with their best current odds:
Black Apalachi (Trainer Dessie Hughes) - 16/1 Boylesports (use bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS for a free £20 bet on the National)
Well fancied for this race last year after winning the Becher Chase (by a distance) and was still travelling strongly when unseating his rider at Becher's Brook the second time around. Only 1lb higher this year and showed his well-being when finishing runner-up to his stablemate Vic Venturi in his prep race. Soft ground is ideal.
Arbor Supreme (Willie Mullins) - 16/1 bet365 (use bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS for a free £20 bet on the National)
Shown good form in staying chases for the last two seasons, winning two of three times he's raced beyond 3m4f, and has clearly been laid out for the race by his shrewd connections. Has won on soft but good ground is expected to suit him better.
Snowy Morning (Willie Mullins) -16/1 Boylesports (use bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS for a free £20 bet on the National)
Has been running well all winter without getting his head in front and has Aintree experience, having finished third in 2008 (off a 2lb lower mark) and ninth last year when carrying 11st 8lb. He's been dropped a few pounds this time and, providing the weights don't go up, he will carry what looks a handy weight of 10st 13lb. Likes his get his toe in so wouldn't want the ground to dry up too much.
Vic Venturi (Dessie Hughes) - 28/1 Sky Bet (use bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS for a free £10 bet on the National)
Comfortably beat his stablemate Black Apalachi in the Bobbyjo Chase, a recognised National trial, last time out, and has experience of the Aintree fences, having won the Becher Chase in November, albeit from just seven rivals.
Ballyholland (Colin McBratney) - 28/1 bet365 (use bonus code MAXIMUMBONUS for a free £200 bet on the National)
Finished behind Backstage at Perth, when he didn't seem to stay the 3m, but he didn't look to be stopping when winning the Galway Plate over 2m 6f last summer. Given a decent break since that triumph, he has been trained with this race in mind, not appearing until January when beating some decent novices in a 2m hurdle at Naas. Good ground is essential to conserve his stamina.
Verdict: Sky Bet go just 9/4 that there is an Irish-trained runner and the most obvious candidate from the above is ARBOR SUPREME, who looks nicely weighted on just 10st 8lb and makes plenty of appeal at 16/1 (bet365) to give owner JP McManus his first winner in the race.