Despite some disapproving interruptions, the blog’s resident Grand National expert AMB and I were able to run the once over the field the other afternoon.
Well, to be truthful, we only had time for the once over over two of the field (again). No matter, this is the summary of the insightful and professional discussion. Really, I am at a loss to understand why there were no cameras there…
Niche Market has weight yes, but mitigating this stat is the fact that the top of the handicap has become increasingly compressed over recent years – more and more horses are carrying the deal-breaking 11st 1lb+ stone. Our expert feels this could be the year we break the weight stat barrier. The remarkable Hedgehunter won with 11st 1lb in 2005, but you have to go digging to find Corbiere carrying 11st 4lb in 1983 – all of 27 years ago. Proving the bus rule, Grittar won the year before that with 11st 5lb. Of more concern is the horse’s entry at Cheltenham. Tut tut. The other thing the horse lacks, and can do nothing about until next year, is course experience.
On the other hand li’l ol’ State of Play has the Aintree factor and is green to go across the other criteria. I think the only thing he needs is some luck in running and ground no softer than last year’s good to soft.
That’s it. We moved swiftly on to the Wayne Bridge / John Terry non-handshake before the other house guests ears began to bleed.
P.S. Cover them house guests – after I wrote the above the Blog Expert forwarded this interesting link about the compressed handicap from the Official Handicapper. I swear those two are hand in glove.