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John Smith’s Grand National 2013


John Smiths Grand National 2013 Tips

Here you’ll find the good chaps at SBB Columns offering their tips for the Grand National, and maybe a 1-2-3-4 in there somewhere!

Tips will appear nearer race date

Darylrogerson: RARE BOB

Dessie Hughes’ Rare Bob was one I backed fairly substantially last year at generous odds and watching the race I was quietly confident as he travelled and jumped relatively well before being brought down at the 5th with a couple of others. Managed to get in on a mark 6lbs lighter this year and once more has been purposefully campaigned with this race as his objective. Last year he was given a couple of races before Christmas and then a trio in the lead up to the race. He isn’t at his best on heavy ground and it’s no surprise that Hughes didn’t bother with him on such ground this season although it could be they never intended to anyway.

His penultimate start this campaign was very encouraging in a Fairyhouse Grade 2 just less than 6 lengths behind winner Rio Du Mee with Prince De Beauchene & Seabass seperating them in 2nd & 3rd and 2011’s runner up Oscar Time a further 7 lengths back. Those three are positioned 12th, 2nd & 3rd in the market respectively at general prices of 25/1, 10/1 & 12/1 respectively. Rare Bob was patiently ridden but was doing all his best work at the end of the race closing in all the time. A similar story on his last race too and the objective clearly looks to have been to get him fit without over doing it with him at any point.

As I said earlier he gets in on a mark of 140 which is 6lbs lower than last year. More importantly for his form mentioned above he is 8 & 10lbs better off against that trio which seems an huge amount of leniency over such a distance.

I haven’t seen anything to change my mind from last year and if anything his runs this year have actually strengthened my resolve on this bet and I’m confident if he gets a clear round he should be in with a great chance. I did go straight in to the market after last year’s race and up until his races mentioned he was generally available at 66/1 (did most of my staking on betfair at even better odds). He’s been trimmed in now generally around 40/1 but 66/1 is still available at Stan James.

Zipster: AURORAS ENCORE (80/1), NINETIETH MINUTE (66/1) & RARE BOB (25/1)

I have gone through the card for the Grand National and I have made my usual three selections in an attempt to pick the winner for the third year on the bounce and they are all at tasty prices as you would expect for the GN which looks a very competitive race this year as per usual so anyone who manages to select the winner should give themselves a pat on the back.

RARE BOB was one that I tipped last year and again this year I shall be going with him as he was still left in when I came up with my shortlist of 5, the two which did not make it were Quinz and Roberto Goldback. Rare Bob did not really get a chance last year, he made it to the 5th fence where he was brought down so I have no idea of how he would have actually got on in the race, his statistics say that he should not win this race but there is just something about him and this is the GN where statistics are usually ignored! He is just 1-16 for runs in March/April, 0-15 on good to soft or better ground and 0-12 in fields of 18+ runners but he is a four time winner over fences, entered this year off a mark of 140 which is 6lbs lower than he was off last year and although he is 0-10 in handicaps in GB his mark for this race is a career low mark, he has won off 145 over in Ireland which makes his mark even more appealing. The positive statistics for him are that all four of his wins have come when returning to the track within 59 days and although 0-3 on good to soft ground he has placed in two of those, I am just hoping he can keep out of trouble this year and then we will see if he is good enough to win this race.

The second selection is NINETIETH MINUTE who like Rare Bob makes the trip over from Ireland, this runner was in the top 6 of the trends and then was the highest of those six on my system ratings, a process which gave my Neptune Collonges last year, this runner has only won once from 11 starts over fences but has been in the first three on 5 of those runs, he is comfortable on anything good to soft or softer, he is 2-5 on good to soft, 2-7 on soft and 2-13 on heavy and he has done well in big fields in the past, he has won 3 of his 7 starts in fields of 18 runners or more and he is 4-13 when returning to the track within 35 days. He has now gone 7 starts without recording a win and this will be only his second run outside of Ireland, his other being when he came over to the Cheltenham Festival back in 2009 to win the Coral Cup, handicap wise he is given a mark of 137 which is hard to get a grip on as he has never run over fences outside of Ireland but for me it looks low enough for him to make an impact here, he did go close off a mark of 135 over in Ireland. The ground is going to suit him and I believe he should see out this trip, my only slight concern is that he likes to be held up and those are the runners who usually get in trouble with avoiding fallers but I am willing to take a chance on him as I believe he has a chance at a big price.

The final of my three selections and despite being the largest priced of them all is actually the one that I feel most confidence about and that is AURORAS ENCORE from the Sue Smith yard. This runner is a 7 time winner over the jumps with 5 of those coming over fences, a winner over 3m2f and has placed over 4m, ground will be fine as long as the rain stays away and have no signs of heavy ground and he is a previous Aintree winner which is a course which suits him, 6 time winner round left handed tracks compared to 1 win round right handed tracks, he goes well this time of the year and has won 2-3 starts when carrying 10-7 or less. His handicap mark is 137 for this run, that is the same as when last seen in a handicap at Doncaster where he fell at the 2nd fence, his handicap wins over fences have come off marks of 129, 139 & 137 so this mark of 137 looks around about bang on considering that his win off 139 was over 3m on soft ground. He has gone 8 without a win but his mark has been in the 140s for 5 of those runs and once off 150 so it is good to see that he has dropped down just in time for the GN. He won at Haydock this time last year when beating Torphichen by seven lengths off 134 and those fences at Haydock are a tough ask which should translate into that he will jumps these fences well although his fall at Doncaster two starts ago would not suggest that. He looks to be coming into this race with a lot of factors right for him, the only negative is the form or that should be lack of form from the yard of late but I believe that Auroras Encore could run a cracker here at a big price.


Owner detailsSunnyhillboy, Trainer: Jonjo ONeill-  Age 10 – Weight 11-4 – Off Rating 152 – 

As pointed out Sunnyhillboy falls outside of the 50 days since last run trend that is bandied about a lot, it will be 84 days by the time the race comes around. I have though stated that I am giving that stat a little swerve this season though and in this ones case, on two counts. Firstly, conditions this year have not been ideal at all junctures for all runners. That’s quite wide-ranging and can apply to any number of the entries for the National. Just look at the trend that Bob’s Worth busted for the Gold Cup in winning the race without a prep in the same calendar year,many thought it would be impossible to win the race without it but he proved the doubters wrong. And Secondly, in Sunnyhilboys case here, he has not run over fences again this season in a plain attempt to keep his mark as low as possible. He ran Neptune Collonges to a very close second last season (a nose), off a mark of 142, without an outing over fences this season he enters the race on 152,the mark he was given after last years event. He comes into the Grand National without a handicap chase outing at Cheltenham as he did last year with a Kim Muir run and this may work even in his favour. One quick note though before anyone goes rushing out to cash in endowments to throw at what looks a huge 20/1 price tag. Whilst he might still be considered well handicapped on last years performance, he will have a pound shy of a full stone extra to carry round the 4m 3f 110yds this time. He has been plainly not put over fences to protect that mark though.

Owner details Teaforthree, Trainer: Rebecca Curtis – Age 9 – Weight 11-3 – Off Rating 143 –

I have a real liking for this horse. I’m not usually one for becoming emotionally attached to horse because it has won for me in the past, I tend to move on very quickly and often don’t back them again, but when Teaforthree delivered for me in the 4 miler at the festival in 2012 after I had banged on long and hard that he was my bet of the festival that year, he has stuck with me. That said, I have not bet him since but may have to this time. We already know stamina will be no issue; he has had three wins over 3 mile+ trips and of course the 4 mile trip of the festival race. He is rated and weighted right in the bracket that looks prime in recent years and his runner-up spot to Monbeg Dude in the Welsh National at Chepstow is a great form-line for this. He would certainly have been too immature for a tilt at last years national but now nine years old he has had his obligatory ten chase starts all at three miles of more. My only slight concern would be that he hasn’t seen an Aintree fence before other than that his profile is just what I am looking for


My main preference is for the Hobbs runner who looks to be a front runner which is ideal for this race with danger lurking all over the course, won the cross country handicap chase in cheltenham last year breaking the irish dominance in the event and hasn’t done much wrong since beating galaxy rock and coming second to uncle junior both over cheltenham. Has a good record when going fresh and the good going conditions will suit to put in a bold performance

My second preference is at the high odds of 80/1 and comes from the Sue Smith yard runner who comes into this race proving he does have the stamina needed for this race. He ran a cracker in the scottish grand national when I had him backed just getting beaten by a head to meringo last year. He did fall in doncaster but ran a good enough race of hurdles in Warwick to protect is mark and is another who should like these conditions

My final choice is for the in form Gordon Elliot yard who have had success in this race before with Silver Birch. Chicago Grey ran a cracking prep race in navan on February beating foildubh and ruby light. Was a bit unfortunate in this race race last year when brought down but is 9 lb lower this time around. He can stay well and should be able to keep up with the relentless pace of the race

Gecko: CHICAGO GREY (win), Balthazar King (e/w), Swing Bill (e/w)

Can’t see any reason not to back Chicago Grey here – great warm-up race, should be quick enough and has the stamina, comes out well on the trends etc – really good shout for me if he can avoid trouble unlike last year – preferred to Tea For Three who is another in with a good chance, more so if ignoring poor run last time out – both have plenty of ticks in the right boxes which is a requisite when trying to pick the winner of this!

Each way shout for Balthazar King at about 20/1 (was a much more appealing prospect when at 33/1) due to being in really good form in the last year, and  Swing Bill at 66/1 who may just plod round and although not likely to win, could sneak into the places at a juicy price

These 4 for me > Chicago Grey / Teaforthree / Balthazar King / Swing Bill


on his own no doubt has talent but after narrowing down to 6, the price is restrictive in tempting me to back as I would have liked to have seen him run more than once. Some cause for encouragement around Rare Bob but even if as good was still 40/1 last year with less risk attached and is now 20/1 and others come with less questions despite all that he was unlucky here last year and should stay well. I did have some ante post on Ballabrigs but it was 2 years ago that I backed him here and he won and declie surely going set in to even expect repeat.
Leaves me with 3 for bets. Joing together excites me, last run can be ignored as really a bad luck story at start. Was a good 2nd at this course when staying on so signs are that he should be finding more on the bend if hes there. Runs on nay ground and jumping holds up for most part.
Soll is a big price for smaller yard hoping jockey has down his homework. Was fancied at cheltenahm last year but brought down in that, ran in good company this season so far but then won in build up over 3miles in mud, more on plate here but one of those that likely should be many pounds higher than his mark.
Balthazar King is a talented sort and showed level of his jumping by breaking irish hold on country chase at Cheltenham so should also take to the national fences. Good ground to his liking and races near front so no hard luck stories if he doesn’t get it done.



  1. Amazing amazing race….poured over all your tips and plumped for Auroras Encore…how some of you picked this out I will never know…great tips again.


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