Guide to the 2012 Grand National:
1. Synchronised; The Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is yet to be confirmed a definite runner. Likely mount of AP McCoy and bidding to become the first horse since Golden Miller in 1934 to win the Gold Cup and National in the same year although L’Escargot also won the two races though not in the same year. A previous winner of the Midlands & Welsh Nationals and, despite top-weight, is actually the best handicapped horse in the race.
2. Ballabriggs: Last year’s winner and bidding to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to win the race in successive years. Trained by Donald McCain whose father Ginger saddled Red Rum to those wins and who sadly passed away last September.
3. Midnight Chase: Front-runner who was beaten over 30 lengths by Synchronised at Cheltenham and is only 2lb better off at the weights. Runs in the same colours as the 1997 hero Lord Gyllene the winner the only time the race was held on a Monday as a result of the bomb scare on the previous Saturday.
4. Weird Al: Went off the same price as Synchronised (8/1) in the Gold Cup but reported to have bled from the nose and ran no sort of race; also trained by Donald McCain but has a bit to prove now.
5. Burton Port; Ran a cracking trial in the Gold Cup when staying on into 4th; runs in the same colours as Ballabriggs (Trevor Hemmings) but he is not a certain starter with the Grade 1 Totesport Bowl also under consideration by connections.
6. Quel Esprit; Non runner states trainer
7. Calgary Bay: won his last couple but only got as far as the fourth in corresponding race last year when sent off 33/1. Five career wins have all come in December or January and stamina to prove, but career best effort at Doncaster last time.
8. Neptune Collonges; Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has yet to saddle the winner and no grey has won the race since Nicolaus Silver in 1961; that said this former Grade 1 winner is beginning to look well-handicapped although no 11-year old has won the race since Red Marauder back in 2001.
9. Alfa Beat: Fell in last year’s Topham over the National fences and didn’t appear a natural over these unique obstacles; won the Kerry National back in September for a second time but how will he cope back at Aintree?
10. Planet Of Sound: Runner up in the Hennessy and laid out for the National since; needs decent ground and has a touch of class but hasn’t won for a couple of years and another whose stamina has to be taken on trust.