Saturday is Grand National day at Aintree and Keith Melrose from the Racing Post puts up his main fancies for the world's most famous race.
Le Milos @ 14/1
Ain't That A Shame @ 8/1
1pt each-way (six places)
Fury Road @ 40/1
1pt each-way (six places)
Cape Gentleman @ 100/1
0.5pts each-way (six places)
My number one selection for the is pretty much the same as it has been since November. As soon as LE MILOS won the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, showing a doughty attitude to fend off subsequent winner Remastered, he looked a likely National type to me.
Nothing I have seen since has dissuaded me. He shaped really well at Kelso last time, given just too aggressive a ride on what would surely have been a prep run for him. It was no wonder he got tired, and furthermore it was a warning shot for Harry Skelton not to go too soon in the most demanding race of all.
I also like the way Le Milos jumps for a modern Grand National. Tiger Roll was similarly low and aggressive with the way he took fences and he won this race twice. The doubt for Le Milos is stamina, so with rain around he is a straight win bet even though there are enhanced each-way terms on the Grand National.
All of my other selections are each-way, starting with AIN'T THAT A SHAME who was so well backed on Friday. He is the mount of Rachael Blackmore, so was bound to be popular anyway, but he is also one of the form picks in the race.
On his first two runs of the season Ain't That A Shame placed in big Irish handicaps. In October's Munster National he would have beaten The Big Dog, who is now rated more than a stone higher, had he not made a meal of the last fence.
Jumping is not a big issue generally, he was fluent enough over 2m4f last time, but you feel that if Ain't That A Shame had been given two furlongs to recover from a last-fence hiccup, as he will get in the National, he would have won both races. If he goes off favourite, it is down to more than just who is riding him.
There is no question Fury Road is the better handicapped horse. He will get 5lb from Galvin, having always looked likely to beat him in the Savills over Christmas even before Galvin dropped away from the last.
In fact, I cannot imagine any horse in this race doing what Fury Road has in either the Savills (which was run in soft ground) or the Irish Gold Cup this season. Had he not missed the last, he would have been second to Galopin Des Champs in the latter race.
What Galvin does have is proven stamina. Fury Road has never run beyond 3m1f and in truth it's probably a toss-up as to whether he will get home in a Grand National, but he is 50/1 when with guaranteed stamina he would be 12s. The odds are therefore in his backers' favour.
Finally, no Grand National team would be complete without a huge swing for the fences and I have come down on CAPE GENTLEMAN as mine.
This horse was a smart novice hurdler, finished third in the Galway Hurdle and made a bright start to his career over fences. On the face of it, the wheels have come off and he has left the trainer who made him, Emmet Mullins. But Shark Hanlon knows how to win a big prize and this horse has been trained with Aintree in mind.
Hanlon has run Cape Gentleman only twice, and the second time was simply a means to get him qualified for this race by finishing fourth or better over a staying trip.
Before that he was coming with a head of steam to place in the Kerry National before falling at the last. He is better handicapped now and would not be 100/1 if he were still with his old trainer. He is worth a tiny outlay for potentially big returns.