Grand National Tip: Balthazar King tops Garlick’s list for Aintree win

Grand National action

Grand National action

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This is the one day when the betting shops are packed with people having their only bet of the year, all desperate to be able to say “I backed the winner of the Grand National”.

The Aintree race is run over four and a half miles and includes 30 unique fences and is watched by millions of people worldwide.

Changes to the fences have meant that a touch of class is required to win the race combined with bottomless stamina and athletic jumping.

So which horses fit this criteria? Balthazar King, trained by Phillip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson, is top of my list based on his second in the race last year. On that occasion he had run, and won, at Cheltenham just 24 days previously.

This year his connections have given the Festival a miss thus giving their horse the maximum opportunity to win the ‘big one’.

His best form is around the cross country course at Cheltenham but most of those races are four miles plus and very few of his rivals will have run over such extreme distances.

It’s always best to have two or three bets in the National and I will also be having a few quid on the Yorkshire trained Night In Milan.

Keith Reveley trains this nine-year-old from his yard just outside Redcar and son James is in the saddle.

He is a superb jumper who likes flat tracks so should be up in the lead and will give us a good run for our money.

The big doubt is the trip, but if he stays I can’t see him being out of the first four.

Last year’s winner, Pineau De Re completes my betting portfolio. He hasn’t done a lot since last year but don’t underestimate the trainer.

The undercard on National day contains a great Stayers hurdle where I hope that Zarkander can gain compensation for an unlucky run at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Grand National is the highlight of a great three-day Festival at Aintree and on Thursday I fancy Holywell to win the big chase on Thursday.

The Grand National fences are in use on Friday for the Topham Chase where I like the look of last year’s third, Eastlake. Earlier Malcolm Jefferson could run his exciting Cyrus Darius in the novice hurdle. He has two wide-margin wins to his credit and deserves a tilt at a race like this.

Grand National fever will hit the nation this Saturday.