April 8th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

As I have written and spoken about the Crabbie’s Grand National at some length I shall not go into great detail again here.

To me, the starting point has to be last year’s race and the close finish between MANY CLOUDS and SAINT ARE. Handicapper Phil Smith could give Many Clouds only a pound more to carry because that put him on 11st 10lb, the maximum weight allowed. Consequently, Oliver Sherwood’s horse must have a leading chance again while Saint Are, from Tom George’s in-form yard, is fully entitled to run him close because he is 2lb better off.

The worry is that it will rain again overnight. If it rides no worse than good to soft, Saint Are would be my choice ahead of Many Clouds, while my best outsider is BALLYCASEY, who is the right age at nine and figures on 10st 6lb, which has been a key weight in recent years. Also, after a year or two when she seemed to have a leading chance of being the first successful female rider, Katie Walsh has prospects again. In racing, it is surprising how often a ‘story’ resurrects itself when everyone is looking the other way. Ballycasey had just moved into mid-division when brought down last year and it is interesting that he was the choice of Ruby Walsh that day.

Elsewhere on this card, I shall back Jonjo O’Neill’s JOIN THE CLAN each-way in the opening three-mile handicap hurdle. He took it up in the Pertemps Final and even went a length or two ahead between the last two flights before being swallowed up. Patrick Cowley, a good 7lb claimer, gives way to Aidan Coleman – which must mean either that Jonjo wants a stronger rider or the youngster would not be able to reduce the weight by the full 7lb from 10st 7lb. It’s a very interesting booking.

I thought YORKHILL overcame one or two problems when winning at Cheltenham and I expect him to take the Grade 1 novices’ hurdle at 2.25. He will be a very short price but this is one of the relatively rare occasions where I may play at 4/5 (no shorter) if one or two layers are prepared to flirt with a price early in the day.

I shall leave the closing conditional jockeys and amateur riders’ handicap hurdle until my line in the morning.