After being backed at big prices earlier in the season Total Recall is now the market leader for the 2018 Grand National, but Mike Norman believes this improving chaser's lack of Aintree experience might just be his downfall...
"It's impossible to knock his chances, but given his lack of Aintree experience, if you're not on at the fancy prices he was earlier in the season then it's hard to recommend him with confidence now that he's so short."
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Willie Mullins picked up the 129-rated chaser Total Recall at the start of the season from the Sandra Hughes yard, and it was obvious that he'd transformed the horses when landing a huge gamble on his seasonal reappearance, turning a competitive handicap chase into a procession, prompting an 18lb rise in his official rating.
But the hike in weight didn't stop Total Recall as he landed the prestigious Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy) on his next outing, before justifying short odds in a valuable Leopardstown Handicap Hurdle.
His next outing was in the Cheltenham Gold Cup - perhaps an indication of just how well thought of he was, and how much he was improving - and going off a well-backed 14/1 shot he was making steady headway before falling four out. A place might have been the best he could have hoped for that day, but it's quite obvious that Total Recall, at just 9yo, is still improving under the leadership of Mullins.
Previous Aintree Form
This will be Total Recall's first trip to Liverpool, and only his second race in England, therefore he has no Aintree form to go on.
He may have lost his leading Cheltenham Festival trainer crown, and he may be trailing by half a million Euro in the Irish Trainers Championship, but now isn't the time to feel sorry for legendary Irish trainer Willie Mullins.
He enjoyed another hugely successful Cheltenham Festival with only Gordon Elliott sending out more than his seven winners, and he currently sits second in the trainers championship behind Elliott thanks to sending out just shy of 200 winners for the season.
Mullins in fact is rarely out of form, and in the last few weeks alone he's been operating at a strike rate of close to 20% with an average of around five/six winners per week, and as a former winner of the Grand National there is absolutely nothing to worry about if he's the trainer of your fancy this year.
Odds and Verdict
Having been matched at a high of [100.0] to win the Grand National on the Exchange, Total Recall has seemingly been a gamble in every race he's ran for Willie Mullins, indicating the belief the yard has in the 9yo's ability. At the time of writing he's currently the [12.0] favourite for the Aintree showpiece.
He never ran beyond three miles for Sandra Hughes, and the furthest he's been for Mullins is 3m2f around Newbury, but Hennessy winners tend to have a lot of stamina, and given he's a plunge horse every time he runs it's apparent there's still plenty in the locker for this improving chaser.
It's impossible to knock his chances, but given his lack of Aintree experience, if you're not on at the fancy prices he was earlier in the season then it's hard to recommend him with confidence now that he's so short.