The Grand National is almost upon us. So we decided to get an expert opinion on the Aintree spectacular from one of our trading floor boffins.
Trader Matt Trounce has kindly taken time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on the Grand National.
And more importantly, he also lets us know which one of the favourites to avoid and who you should be keeping an eye on at a handy price.
Let’s get going…
Ladbrokes News: So Matt, first things first, what exactly should punters be looking out for when picking their Grand National horse?
Matt Trounce: The two most important things are stamina and jumping. Obviously, the fences are a lot smaller now than they used to be to make them safer, but they still take some jumping!
The horses doodle around a lot during the middle of the race but that final quarter of a mile takes some getting. Last year there were about 10 or 11 in the home straight but only three went clear. Blaklion, who runs again this year, didn’t stay and neither did Vieux Lion Rouge.
In total, you’ll probably only get around 40% of the field finishing the race.
LN: So looking at this year’s roll call, who do you like from the top of the pack?
MT: Tiger Roll looks pretty solid to me. We know it stays and it’s had quite a light season. It had fantastic prep by winning the Cross Country at Cheltenham last time out. Stablemate Cause of Causes won that last year before subsequently going close in the Grand National, which bodes well.
I’m not sure the other favourites have what it takes to stay.
LN: And if you had to pick one to avoid from the front-runners, who would it be?
MT: I’d probably steer clear of Blaklion. He had his chance last year and finished fourth. He goes off an 8lb higher mark this time, so I wouldn’t really want to be backing that at its current price.
LN: Everyone knows the National is a bit of a lottery, so what do you like at a bigger price?
MT: The one that we like on the trading floor is Baie Des Iles. She runs for Ross O’Sullivan and is likely to be ridden by Katie Walsh. She’s only a seven-year-old but she first ran in the Welsh Grand National as a five-year-old in 2016, finishing a creditable fifth.
Stamina won’t be an issue for her and connections say they’ve been aiming her towards a Grand National tilt all season.
She finished third in the Irish Grand National trial at Fairyhouse two months ago behind Folsom Blue and Isleofhopeanddreams, both of whom were narrowly chinned in the Irish National last month.
On that basis, her form looks very good indeed.
LN: One that we’ve noticed picking up a lot of interest is Milansbar, who won with Bryony Frost on board at Warwick in January. She’ll ride him again here, what are your thoughts on the pair?
MT: I think there are better handicapped horses in the field, to be quite honest. But if he takes to the fences and is pinging away out in front, then it’s got a chance.
LN: And what of the female jockeys in general? Could we be set for a first female Grand National success?
MT: They’ve all got a game chance at Aintree. Obviously there’s Bryony Frost on Milansbar and then the aforementioned Baie Des Iles who’ll be ridden by Katie Walsh.
Rachel Blackmore also looks set for a National debut on Alpha Des Obeaux, who could potentially creep under the radar after a couple of poor runs.
He’s clearly one with a touch of class and after missing the Cheltenham Festival, we think this may have been in the plan for a while for Gigginstown.
LN: Seeyouatmidnight is another runner who appears to be attracting support, what are your thoughts on him?
MT: He was always going to attract support because of the name!
He’s quite short now, though, especially since moving to the Cheveley Park Stud earlier in the week.
It’s got the right sort of profile after placing in the Scottish Grand National and being lightly raced this season, but I wouldn’t be rushing to back it at its current price, personally.
LN: Punters always like getting one over on the bookies, especially on National Day! What would be our worst result on Saturday?
MT: The biggest losers for us are usually anything that has a recognisable name or a colour or number in its title.
A lot of people just go on the names so a win for either Blaklion or Tiger Roll would be a pretty bad result for us.
Captain Redbeard would also be quite a big loser for us at the moment at its current price, although we don’t expect it to be the worst result on the day.
Take last year for example, we had to bring Cocktails At Dawn in from 100/1 to something like 20s because of the sheer numbers of mums betting on it!
LN: And finally, we couldn’t let you go without getting your own pick for the Grand National. Fire away…
MT: It’ll be Baie Des Iles. She’s young, unexposed and will love the soft ground and the extreme trip. The conditions are perfect for her.
And there you have it. Will you heed Matt’s advice or will you go your own way on the big day?
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All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication