Grand National 2016: Resurgent Triolo a big price to land Aintree win for Henderson

Triolo D'Alene is Tony's top National bet following the release of the weights today
Triolo D'Alene is Tony's top National bet following the release of the weights today

Tony Calvin has scoured the Grand National weights for the best early value on the Betfair Exchange and has picked out a pair to follow at tempting odds...

"Triolo D'Alene's Kempton victory was packed full of positives, given the circumstances, even if you want to crab the merit and substance of the win. That was his first run for over a year since injuring himself; it came over a trip far short of his best; and he probably would have preferred better ground. And he had to make his own running, too."

Grand National Bets
Back Triolo D'Alene at 32.031/1
Back Ballynagour at 220.0219/1

Headed by the £150,000 Betfair Ascot Chase there is an excellent weekend of racing ahead - made even more fascinating by the fact that the Grand National weights were announced at 11.45am this morning, and several of the field have entries on Saturday.

So, now the weights are out and set in stone - there can be no increases, or penalties, after their publication - expect the handbrake to fully ease off a few of the 126 entries.


Kempton run suggests Henderson's Triolo is back to form


And I, for one, hope the winner of the Aintree showpiece on April 9 at least runs well in the big one at Ascot on Saturday, as Triolo D'Alene looks the stand-out Grand National bet to me at odds of 32.031/1.

Some may already think that Nicky Henderson inadvertently knocked the horse from stationary into gear at Kempton last month, as he unexpectedly won a three-runner race over an extended 2m4f at the track on his reappearance and paid for it with a 5lb rise up the handicap, the mark that he runs off here.

And while you could argue that the 5lb hike was harsh given the odds-on chance Ptit Zig wasn't jumping fluently before unseating 2 out, and that allowed him to come home 49 lengths clear of an out-of-form Wishfull Thinking, I'd be inclined to think it was fair enough, actually.

I don't think the strict, bare form of his defeat of Wishfull Thinking told you anything form-wise, as such. But he probably had the measure of the 162-rated Ptit Zig when he exited 2 out, albeit in receipt of 10lb, and that was no mean feat for a horse with seemingly so much against him on the day.

Sure, many will take the view that Ptit Zig was not in the same form that had seen him come out the best horse at the weights against Vautour at Ascot in November, and they are probably right. But he wasn't far off, and Triolo D'Alene was about to give him a proper spanking.

And the victory was packed full of positives, given the circumstances, even if you want to crab the merit and substance of the win.

That was his first run for over a year since injuring himself; it came over a trip far short of his best; and he probably would have preferred better ground. And he had to make his own running, too.

Connections genuinely weren't expecting the win - perhaps in more ways than one - but they must have been delighted with the verve of the performance, particularly as afterwards they were also keen to point out that he didn't make a noise after so many issues with, and operations on, his wind. Even if much tougher battles lie ahead to test those issues.

And this horse has a lot going for him besides that Kempton win.

He won over the Grand National fences in the Topham three year ago, has a Hennessy on his CV, and is still fairly handicapped on an 8lb higher mark than at Newbury.

And don't forget that he had a run an eye-catching National trial when third to Unioniste at Sandown in January last year before injury curtailed his season.

Well, I say, eye-catching but I watched that race in the Sandown press room and a few of the hacks were far stronger in their assessment, in conversation, if not in print!

He really does have a lot going for him at odds of 32.031/1 IF you believe that Kempton win was evidence that he is back with a bang. And hopefully he will build on that victory if he takes his chance in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday against the likes of Silviniaco Conti and Dynaste.

For the purpose of this tipping column I will stick to the Grand National though - I'm just off to the Weights lunch in London, so I will cover the weekend ante-post races on Wednesday if I return in one piece - and, elsewhere, you have to start with Many Clouds who heads the market at 12.011/1.


Handicapper gives last year's winner a big chance


The handicapper doesn't seem to have done a "Tidal Bay" this year and given any horse at the top of the weights an 8lb enticement to run, but he has certainly been kind enough to last year's winner, allowing him to race off a mark of 165, 1lb lower than his official current rating of 166.

So while he won off a mark of 160 last year - and it was something of an afterthought victory, too, having run in the Gold Cup under a month previously - he has subsequently run to at least a similar level of form this season.

For example, he was giving Don Poli 5lb when beaten 4 lengths by that horse at Aintree in December, and was reportedly short of A1 peak fitness when running an excellent second - he traded 1.330/100 in the run - to Smad Place at Cheltenham last time.

If he comes through his Kelso prep run smoothly, then it is not hard to see him trading at single figures on the day, even on the exchange. My guess is that he is likely to go off around the 8.07/1 Betfair SP favourite, and obviously shorter still at the industry SP.

I couldn't put anyone off him, especially as there is still some 12-1 kicking around in the marketplace.


Ballynagour the pick of the 100/1+ shots


Obviously you can make a case for a hatful of the 126 entries, not least last year's Gold Cup fourth Holywell off a tumbling mark, but the one that caught my eye at a massive price was Ballynagour at 220.0219/1.

Now, those odds suggest that he is a likely non-runner and, as I am writing this before the Aintree media interviews later on Tuesday afternoon, backing him now could easily be a dead bet soon afterwards.

But I cannot resist a nibble
.

On the face of it, he ran a pretty dismal race when pulled up in the Denman Chase on Saturday - and by the way, the runaway Newbury winner Houblon Des Obeaux has paid for the win with a 14lb hike in the National weights - and that was his third shocker in a row.

But I don't think he was given a particularly hard race at Newbury once his chance had gone after he seemed to be travelling well - he traded at evens in running - and he is set to race off a mark of 157 at Aintree.

That is 6lb lower than he started the season, and he is undeniably well-treated if the (hopefully) better spring ground sees him come back to his best.

And it must be some sort of positive that his two of his better efforts over fences have been at Aintree on decent ground in April, when third in the Melling Chase and a head second to Silviniaco Conti in the Betfred Bowl.

Like I said, we are probably on a non-runner, but I'll take my chances at 200-1+ thanks.

Grand National Bets
Back Triolo D'Alene at 32.031/1
Back Ballynagour at 220.0219/1

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