Don't pass on the Port

  • By: Tom Peacock
  • Last Updated: April 4 2014, 16:28 BST

Tom Peacock provides us with his horse-by-horse overview to the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree.

Burton Port: Likely to have been primed for this engagement
Burton Port: Likely to have been primed for this engagement

TIDAL BAY

Top weight, but theoretically offered a chance of winning by the handicapper, this high-class chaser remains in tremendous form despite advancing years. Quirky hold-up style should ensure he appears towards the end, and stays well. (out of 10) 8

LONG RUN

Gold Cup and dual King George winner would be becoming the first to ever collect all three prizes if scoring at Aintree, but must be a big question mark of him completing as he is error-prone. Clear contender, but risky proposition. 6

HUNT BALL

Former progressive handicapper has run well on both starts since returning from a disastrous spell in America but must be a big doubt he will stay. 3

TRIOLO D'ALENE

Already successful over the big green fences in last year's Topham, he maintained his progress by landing November's Hennessy and likely to have needed comeback run in the Gold Cup. Plenty of weight, but given plenty of respect. 8

ROCKY CREEK

Has run solidly in both the Hennessy and Argento and takes in the National after Gold Cup bid was thwarted by a bout of ringworm. Might just be a little inexperienced this time around. 6

QUITO DE LA ROQUE

Would once have made great appeal on old form as a safe-jumping stayer with a touch of class, but unless he is hiding his light under a bushel, has not inspired much confidence this season. 4

COLBERT STATION

Worse off at the weights than when unseating Tony McCoy at The Chair 12 months ago and has had two more mishaps since then. Not one to rely upon, despite canny connections. 3

WALKON

One note of encouragement was his second place in last year's Topham but looks very unlikely to see out the distance. 3

BALTHAZAR KING

Outstanding cross-country performer gave his supporters a run for their money by leading for more than a circuit last year but hard to see him doing any better this time. 3

WAYWARD PRINCE

Has essentially started to go backwards after making a reasonable start for his trainer and makes very little appeal. 1

MR MOONSHINE

Pulled-up last year behind successful stablemate but in far better form now and is a more mature type than his tearaway former self. Finished third in the Becher and a lively outsider without being an obvious winner. 6

TEAFORTHREE

Gave connections the thrill of a lifetime when third last year and arrives in similar sort of shape but is short enough in the betting for what he is. 6

ACROSS THE BAY

Slightly unlucky to finish no higher than 14th last year and has completed the course again since but a below-par most recent outing tempers confidence. 4

DOUBLE SEVEN

Prolific winner during the early part of the season - including two regional nationals in Ireland - he appears to have long been earmarked for the race by knowledgeable trainer. Should be better than reappearance, and looks interesting. 9

BATTLE GROUP

Managed a terrific feat of winning over both hurdles and fences at the 2013 meeting but has become increasingly cantankerous and is better left alone. 1

BUCKERS BRIDGE

On the plus side ran his best race to date when third in the Bobbyjo but is not short of negatives including inexperience and stamina doubts. 4

LION NA BEARNAI

Only won one uncompetitive chase since his 33-1 success in the 2012 Irish National, is out of form and becoming a bit long in the tooth. 1.

PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE

Has missed the last two renewals due to setbacks. Commands respect due to his connections and a big run would be no surprise, but suspicion remains his time has passed. 7

MONBEG DUDE

Gallant stayer, who has earned his position at the top of the market due to fine performances at Cheltenham and Chepstow. However, he is a notably erratic jumper, which is not a good thing around here. 5

BIG SHU

The each-way selection of some good judges would appear to have been trained as much with the National in mind as the retention of Cheltenham cross-country title, in which he stayed on for third. Might lack a little speed, but a live one. 7

BURTON PORT

Placed in 2012 Gold Cup and Betfair Bowl for Nicky Henderson and just started to emerge from a long spell in the wilderness for his new trainer. Looked a new horse when second at Newbury last month, and with the promise of more to come, is very well treated at the weights. 10

OUR FATHER

Erratic, if sometimes capable, grey who has been very much more miss than hit of late. Head rules over heart, and must be discarded. 2

MOUNTAINOUS

Welsh National winner requires a mudbath to be seen at his best and must be a real danger things will happen too fast for him. 5

THE RAINBOW HUNTER

Did not last long last time around, which is a concern, but looked a greatly improved horse this season in winning the Sky Bet Chase and ought to be in shortlists. 8

VINTAGE STAR

Trainer must not be underestimated but has done all his winning in small fields, and essentially does not look good enough. 3

CHANCE DU ROY

Goes particularly well over the fences, finishing second in a Topham and landing the Becher last December. Only slight doubt is about the extra trip, but has a light weight and likes better ground, so must be kept on side. 9

HAWKES POINT

Stays well for leading stable but shown nearly all his form on soft ground and only ever won once over fences. Bypassed, admitted with a touch of reluctance. 3

KRUZHLININ

Kelso specialist not used to this level of competition. 1

PINEAU DE RE

Stayed well when trained in Ireland but taken another step forward in Britain, laughing at his rivals at Exeter in January then looking slightly unlucky to be only third in the Pertemps Final. Interesting horse who must be taken seriously. 8

GOLAN WAY

Likeable front-runner who could make a bold show on the first circuit without being there at the end. 2

TWIRLING MAGNET

Rather in-and-out chaser who is still a novice and has a habit of making the odd mistake. Looks the least likely candidate for his stable. 3

VESPER BELL

Stays well, as finished a narrow second in a marathon event at the Punchestown Festival and could be better than shown so far this season, but a fall in the Becher Chase dampens optimism. 4

THE PACKAGE

Unseated in the race back in 2010, and the fragile gelding has only raced eight times since then. Caught the eye on comeback at Cheltenham and appears to have more than a tough of stable confidence. 8

RAZ DE MAREE

Foolish to completely ignore any runners from this stable but has shown very little form in more than a year and does not look the most obvious hero. 4

ROSE OF THE MOON

New trainer coaxed the gelding back to form with a clear victory at Wetherby and has a nice weight but must cut out jumping errors if he is to be involved. 5

SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM

Ninth in 2012 but not exactly set the pulses racing in three comeback runs, even though he is being trained for this. Bit too much to take on trust. 4

ALVARADO

Win at Cheltenham in November makes for good reading, but this tricky ride has not proved the most reliable during his career and is probably best left alone. 3

LAST TIME D'ALBAIN

Looked all over a future National contender when third in last year's Topham. Not exactly proved the omens correct in two hurdle outings and one chase, but lurks at the bottom of the weights and there are many worse long shots. 7

ONE IN A MILAN

His fourth place finish in the Welsh Grand National earlier this season gives him some sort of chance and he has had two readying runs over hurdles since. His trainer has had horses run well in this in the past, so not a completely forlorn hope. 5

SWING BILL

Not getting any younger, but was sixth a year ago and continued his love affair with the track when fifth in the Becher Chase earlier this season. Looks a solid bet to get round, but surely won't be winning. 3

RESERVES

GOONYELLA (Jim Dreaper)

Graduated from point-to-points to hunter chases to open company last season, winning at the Punchestown Festival. Has run well on each of his three starts this term and will stay all day. More rain the better for him. 4

SOLL (Jo Hughes)

The giant nine-year-old was quietly fancied 12 months ago and was not disgraced in finishing seventh. However, he has not been in the same form this season and is higher in the weights. 4

NIGHT IN MILAN (Keith Reveley)

A quirky individual but has plenty of talent, as he showed when winning Doncaster's Grimthorpe Chase. If he took to the Aintree fences, it is not beyond the realms of possibility he could run into a place. 5

MINELLA FOR VALUE (John Butler)

Won four races in Ireland last summer before switching yards and he made a decent debut for new connections when fourth in a Cheltenham novice chase in October. He has been kept fresh since and has no weight, but still a massive ask. 3

Verdict:

Trainers with a good Grand National record could hold the key to this year's renewal. Jonjo O'Neill, who won the 2010 event with Don't Push It, looks to have prepared BURTON PORT all season with Aintree as his priority. Nicely weighted and with more than a touch of class, this is a horse coming back into form and if he takes to the fences, he must have a fabulous chance. Sunnyhillboy's defection was a blow for JP McManus but he could yet have a stronger challenger in Double Seven, trained by another former National winner in Martin Brassil. Chance Du Roy, who loves the course, must be another capable of finishing in the frame.

1. BURTON PORT

2. Double Seven

3. Chance Du Roy

4. Tidal Bay