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2011 Grand National Main Contenders Part One


As the 2011 Grand National at Aintree draws nearer by the day, the prices of many of the top contenders are starting to see plenty of movement. The lukewarm favourite appears to be The Midnight Club who hovers around 8/1 as Ruby Walsh has publically-confirmed that he will take the mount on April 9. Both jockey and equine enter the race with plenty of momentum as Walsh had a stellar Cheltenham Festival after a lengthy lay-off due to injury. The Midnight Club himself, a ten year-old son of Flemensfirth, enters fresh off a Grade 2 score in the Bobbyjo Chase on his second outing of the year.

The Midnight Club achieved a career-high 145 rating for his Bobbyjo efforts.

A certain school of punter doubts the ability of sons of Oscar to successfully navigate the oversized obstacles on the National course at Aintree. However, this hasn’t stopped the interesting option Oscar Time from emerging as a strong contender for this year’s National. Most major bookies have him priced around 12/1 but the fact that he hasn’t scored since 2009 certainly counts as a stroke against him.

Only two wins out of ten on the chase circuit is a bit light and he was bested by The Midnight Club in the Bobbyjo, despite earning an official rating one point better. I doubt Oscar Time’s ability to win the race but his track record does indicate that he could very well be there or thereabouts come the finish as he has hit the board in some capacity 80% of the time over fences.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s What A Friend comes in as one of the higher-profile contenders for this one and you have to blame the Fergie-factor for that one. It appears as though a genuine gamble is underway for the classy eight year-old bay. He scored in the Grade 1 totesport Bowl at Aintree last year when he bested Carruthers, Calgary Bay, Nacarat and a falling Imperial Commander. He was also carrying 11st 7lb and he’ll only be carrying 11st 6lb this year – giving further credibility to his claims.