After all the build up and the fact that the Grand National has sold out for the first time since the Jockey Club acquired Aintree in 1984 the race is finally upon us.
Who better then than some of those that will either be big winners or losers come Saturday: the bookmakers. We asked a number of spokespeople some questions, and the results were as follows:
Business-wise, who don’t you want to see win?
Garry McGibbon (StanJames) (GM): “Our big losers are currently Big Fella Thanks and Ballabriggs and out traders have decided to take them on. Plenty could happen between now and the race though.”
George Primarolo (totesport) (GP): “The Midnight Club and Don’t Push It will be the most popular choice.”
Charlie McCann (Victor Chandler) (CM): “What A Friend is by far our biggest loser in the race at the moment.”
Kate Miller (William Hill) (KM): “A repeat for Don’t Push It would be a very poor result on the day – All those once a year punters who backed him last year plus all those who saw Tony Mccoy win Sports Personality will be queuing up again; a win for Alex Ferguson’s What A Friend could also be poor. But for every Man Utd fan there are 10 who hate them, so maybe not!”
Sharon McHugh (Paddy Power) (SM): “It would be a bad result for us if the favourite (with Ruby on board) won. Also, Don’t Push It with AP McCoy on board would be a bad result. If either of these horses win we could be looking at a loss of more than €1million.”
Mark Pearson (Betfred) (MP): “What A Friend, The Midnight Club and Backstage. What A Friend has been backed at some fancy prices and it won’t be the first time Sir Alex has cost us plenty of dough. The Midnight Club has been backed since the weights were announced while the money for Backstage has been in the last 72 hours.”
Who do you personally want to see win?
Tony Calvin (Betfair) (TC): “I think Willie Mullins could win the race, but not with the current favourite The Midnight Club. His Arbor Supreme has excellent claims at 25-1 and I have backed him accordingly. In fact, he was beaten a length by The Midnight Club last time but can carry 10lb less than his stable mate today.”
SM: “I personally would love to see What A Friend win at 12/1. I’m a Man Utd supporter and he’s owned by Sir Alex. He finished a fast fourth in the Gold Cup and definitely has what’s required to run well.”
GM: “My long term fancy for the Grand National, Ballfitz, is unlikely to run, so I’ll probably end up having a flutter on Tidal Bay. He’s a bit of an old rogue, but I’ve always had a soft spot for him. I can see him staying on at the finish and paying for my Saturday night out!”
GP: “Skippers Brig – for financial and sentimental reasons!”
MP: “Personally,I would like Backstage to win. Gordon Elliott is a trainer on the up and he knows how to win this race after winning in 2007 with Silver Birch.”
KM: “Ballabriggs. Would be good to see the McCain name perpetuated, and as his dad would readily admit Donald Jnr will be a better trainer than he ever was and it will give him the same profile as Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson going forward.”
CM: “After a modest Cheltenham we could do with a result but I backed The Midnight Club, State Of Play and Oscar Time when the weights came out in February and I have also had a bit on Arbor Supreme after he sneaked into the race. I hope Oscar Time is the story of the 2011 Grand National.”
It’s fair to say that Sir Alex’s horse could be the one to beat come Saturday afternoon but never count out Ruby or AP McCoy. Two in a row would be quite the ask for the reigning BBC Sports Personality of the Year though.