Arbor set to reign supreme in National

AFTER years of trying, Tony McCoy finally earned the Grand National victory he so desperately sought when he and Don't Push It emerged victorious in 2010.

But fourteen previous attempts, littered with near misses and hard luck stories, may have taught McCoy that Grand National victories are about more than just picking the right horse. Therefore, it's unsurprising that he's decided to stick with Don't Push It, despite the knowledge that very few horses (or jockeys) are blessed to win this race more than once.

Last year's winning owner, JP McManus, has strengthened his hand by purchasing last season's Irish Grand National winner, Bluesea Cracker. The James Motherway-trained mare lacks nothing in class but no mare since Nickel Coin in 1951 has won the race.

In truth, the fairer sex is not always represented and those that make the line up seldom possess this lady’s ability. If you believe she is the one, I suggest you ignore both history and Tony McCoy's decision to stick with Don't Push It.

Some time in the sauna might have been required had McCoy plumped for Arbor Supreme. Such a minor inconvenience would never become a barrier to McCoy's ambition but, despite being neglected, this one could represent the best value amongst McManus' quintet.

He unseated his rider at the 15th fence in 2010 but that tells only part of the story. He was jumping really well up to that point and may have been partially unsighted when hitting the top of the fence and decanting Paul Townend.

Being unplaced the previous year is no barrier to success and the experience of that run should stand him in good stead. History dictates that he was too young to win in 2010 and, now the right age and boasting the right profile, he should go very close indeed.

His trainer, Willie Mullins, holds a very strong hand and The Midnight Club has undeniable claims. Jockey Ruby Walsh is very keen on this one's chances (see page 3) and it's easy to understand why.

Gordon Elliott, who won this race with Silver Birch in 2007, relies on Backstage.

Still travelling well when brought down at the 20th fence in 2010, he’s been using the point to point fields as his preferred place of preparation. The fast ground will be ideal and connections are confident of a bold showing.

Noel Glynn's imposing Becauseicouldntsee appeals as the type to take to Aintree but he may need more time.

Martin Lynch's Oscar Time, who represents the Gold Cup winning Waley-Cohen family, can compose a compelling case. Second in last season's Irish National, he won the Paddy Power Chase just a few months earlier and has been sparingly campaigned with this race in mind.

Between Tommy Carberry's victory aboard L'Escargot in 1971 and his training success with Bobbyjo 28 years later, Irish raiders drew a blank. In the golden period that followed, we enjoyed five successes in eight years.

By that gauge, the last three years may be considered a disappointment but today should be the day when the famous trophy makes its way back across the Irish Sea. The Midnight Club is deserving of his place at the head of the market but he might find his stable-companion Arbor Supreme the toughest nut to crack.

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