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Monday 5 December 2016

The National is there for the taking for The Druids Nephew

Cheltenham winner is the pick to win a typically intriguing Grand National

Barry Geraghty celebrates winning the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase on The Druids Nephew, during Champion Day of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse
Barry Geraghty celebrates winning the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase on The Druids Nephew, during Champion Day of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse

AS is always the case for the Aintree Grand National, claims can be made for so many of the 40-runner field but it is the Neil Mulholland-trained The Druids Nephew that is the pick from these quarters.

It's a race that features a lot of class with a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner topping the weights in Lord Windermere and the likes of Hennessy winner Many Clouds, the classy Kim Muir winner Cause Of Causes, Grade One winner First Lieutenant and of course the Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor that is naturally going to be extremely well backed owing to the AP McCoy factor.

IMPRESSIVE

The Druids Nephew is a horse that was far from disgraced in the Hennessy earlier in the season and could hardly have been more impressive when winning at the Cheltenham Festival last month and looks to have the profile that could suit this race ideally.

Aidan Coleman hasn't had the best of luck in the Grand National in the past but this could be the year it all comes together for him as he comes in for he ride in the absence of Barry Geraghty who was the most likely rider for the eight-year-old before picking up his injury. It would be remarkable to see Shutthefrontdoor follow up his Irish Grand National triumph last season and set up AP McCoy's retirement there and then and while he is sure to run a fine race, it could well be just a step too far for him.

Cause Of Causes is another Cheltenham Festival winner that has been just touched off in classy races like the Galway Hurdle and the Paddy Power at Leopardstown so if he gets a clear round he could well run into the places for in-form trainer Gordon Elliott, who was of course the last Irish trainer to win this famous race with Silver Birch back in 2007.

Many Clouds is another that deserves to be on the shortlist despite having a lot of weight with 11st9lbs on his back but he has got loads of class and probably didn't have the hardest of races in the Gold Cup.

A horse who is certain to get the trip and love the trip around is last year's runner-up Balthazar King who has been performing to his usual high standards on the Cross Country race circuit this season but skipped Cheltenham in favour of coming to Aintree fresh and rated only 3lbs higher than he was when second to Pineau De Re last year, he is one that you'd have to feel will be in the first five providing he has any sort of luck in running.

Also at Aintree tomorrow, the Silver Cross Stayers Hurdle is the feature Grade One event and World Hurdle winner Cole Harden bids for a historic double but back Jetson each way with Ruby Walsh onboard as the horse has some previous good form around the track.

CRONIN'S NATIONAL CHOICE

1 The Druids Nephew

2 Balthazar King

3 Shutthefrontdoor

4 Cause Of Causes

5 Many Clouds

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