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6th April 2016
So, Cheltenham has been and gone and we now have a few days of spectacular sport, the Masters at Augusta, the Premier League continuing to excite and of course the brilliant three day Aintree festival culminating at the new time of 5-15 on Saturday with the amazing Grand National.

As a young lad, many moons ago, I adored watching this race seeing these gladiatorial heroes battling over the incredible fences to take the ultimate prize. Everyone knows about Red Rum’s achievements in the 1970s winning the race three times, and those witnessing it will never forget the incredible 100/1 unlikely victory of Foinavon in 1967.

The stories are legendary, the first winner in 1839 was the aptly named Lottery and the great Golden Miller won the National in 1934. The last 100/1 winner was Mon Mome back in 2009 and the spectacular victory of the grey Neptune Collonges for Paul Nichollscatching the gallant Sunnyhillboy in the last strides to win by a nose.

There are another couple of great stories brewing too. Could the favourite Many Clouds emulate last year’s awesome performance to win back to back victories, not achieved since the incredible Red Rum in 1974? A victory for Many Clouds would also mean a third straight win for jockey Leighton Aspell which has never happened before, don’t forget too that Many Clouds had us all worried last year as he “wobbled” after the race, apparently he does this regularly and is as right as rain later.

There is also another potential fairytale with another of the well fancied runners, The Last Samurai, a doughty stayer trained by Kim Bailey, a victory for this horse would bridge a 26 year gap since Kim Bailey’s previous winner back in 1990, Mr Frisk, who incidentally still holds the course record.

Another twist is the battle for the British jump trainers championship which is going to the wire with the Irish genius Willie Mullins throwing everything he can into the mix to try to beat Paul Nicholls.

Jockey Paul Moloney has been placed for the last seven years..................I could go on and on!

As ever, predicting the winner is so difficult, the race is much less of a lottery now and there are some seriously classy horses taking part including the first two from last year Many Clouds and Saint Are and the brilliant Silviniaco Conti.

Good luck with your selections or your picks in the office sweepstakes, I cannot decide between Many Clouds and The Last Samurai with O’Faolains Boy as a live outsider at 33/1. Sentiment plays a huge part too and I have always loved watching Soll jump, perhaps his best days are behind him but I’ll be having a couple of quid each way at 50/1 on the David Pipe trained runner.

Whatever happens, I’m sure there will be another story to relate next year!
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