Grand National prediction: Latenightpass can write history for Gina Andrews

Latenightpass ridden by Gina Andrews - Grand National prediction: Latenightpass can write history for Gina Andrews
Latenightpass ridden by Gina Andrews on won the Randox Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase two years ago so knows its way round Aintree - PA/Tim Goode

Gina Andrews can make racing history and become the first female amateur jockey to win the Randox Grand National when she teams up with Latenightpass, the horse bred by her mother-in-law Pippa Ellis and a first runner as a professional trainer for her husband Tom Ellis, at Aintree on Saturday.

With 388 point-to-point winners, 92 under rules, the 32-year-old jockey is more experienced than many of her professional counterparts and, as the race moves with the times and, arguably further and further from its roots, both she and her 11-year-old partner can take it right back to subsoil level by winning it with, essentially, an over-achieving point-to-pointer.

Latenightpass has spent most of his life chasing pocket-money prizes of £150 at places only just known to their next door parish. The last horse to win it having done that was Grittar in 1982. On Saturday, he goes for the jackpot, jump racing’s only £1 million chase, and the race with a worldwide reach.

He has a lot going for him. Despite being one of the smallest runners he is already proven over the course having finished second, first and fourth over the course in the Foxhunters and while two and three quarter miles on decent ground may appear his optimum conditions, on form his best run was in the cross-country at Cheltenham, a race which has become a pre-eminent National trial, over three miles five on soft-heavy going on his penultimate start.

That day he had both Minella Indo and Galvin behind him and he completed the quickest last furlong of the meeting. That may say more about the early speed they went but he stayed on best up the hill and won going away.

The last 11-year-old was Pineau de Re 10 years ago but he was the third in succession and more seasoned legs may hold the advantage over youthfulness on Saturday.

Latenightpass would be the first 11-year-old to win since Pineau de Re 10 years ago
Latenightpass would be the first 11-year-old to win since Pineau de Re 10 years ago - Getty Images/Alan Crowhurst

I Am Maximus either wins or is nowhere

Meetingofthewaters makes most appeal of the Willie Mullins-trained octet and his price has crashed accordingly. His profile is not dissimilar to a previous JP McManus winner Minella Times (runner up in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas, Meetingofthewaters won that race in December) and his Ultima third put him and jockey Danny Mullins right in the mix.

I Am Maximus, last year’s Irish National winner and the most fancied of the eight with stable jockey Paul Townend on board, has his own way of doing things. For the first circuit of the Irish National he did not go a yard and, for me, either wins or is nowhere though he will love the ground. However, in heavy ground every 1lb over 11st is going to be like lumping an extra sandbag onboard and the conditions suggest the 176th National is one for the lightweights.

I also like the Mullins-trained Adamantly Chosen on the back of his most recent win over three-and-a-quarter miles at Down Royal for Sean O’Keeffe though he appears to be the forgotten horse when it comes to dispatches from Closutton.

Gary Moore’s runaway Welsh National winner Nassalam should like the conditions and is a great jumper but the handicapper appears to have taken that result too much at face value and he will, doubtless, be anchored by 11st 8lbs on Saturday.

His Scottish National winning counterpart Kitty’s Light has no weight on his back and, though Christian Williams says he handled the heavy at Cheltenham last time, that is because he is older and stronger. It may just be that it hinders his effort to become the first Welsh winner for over 100 years and provide the fairytale tonic for the Williams family as daughter Betsy, 6, is treated for leukaemia.

Don’t write off previous winners

Proven stamina and a liking for the course brings in the two previous winners, Noble Yeats and Corach Rambler, the later of which is once again a few pounds ahead of the handicapper after his fine Gold Cup third. Both have top-six potential.

Dual National winners do not tend to grow on trees and the handicapper usually makes sure that previous winners do not repeat the feat but Lucinda Russell’s 10-year-old perhaps earns the benefit of the doubt.

Corach Rambler was impressive last year and another Aintree triumph cannot be ruled out
Corach Rambler was impressive last year and another Aintree triumph cannot be ruled out - Getty Images/Michael Steele

Third Gold Cup-National winner?

The class act is Minella Indo who has a Gold Cup first and second on his curriculum vitae. He has been dropping down the weights. I am sure he will give Rachael Blackmore another great spin round the course but can he join Golden Miller and L’Escargot as Gold Cup-National winners?

Delta Work looks like the pick of Gordon Elliott’s octet of runners. Jack Kennedy has chosen him, though you wonder if his chance has not come and gone. I rode out The Goffer at Cheltenham and while he would fill me with confidence facing the first, the soft ground appeared to be his undoing in the Ultima and he might struggle on the ground come Saturday.

The third female jockey is Lucy Turner on Chambard, another course winner who is proven in the going, for Venetia Williams who won with 100-1 shot Mon Mome. Had the air ambulance been available that is how Turner would have left the racecourse on her first ever point-to-point ride and it says something about the resilience of jockeys that she now, a dozen years later, finds herself on a 14-1 shot for the National. The pair should not be discounted.

The last mare to win the race was Nickel Coin in 1952 and two, Galia Des Liteaux and Limerick Lace bid to redress that. Staying in the mud is Galia Des Liteaux’s strong point, but whether she has enough speed to match that stamina is questionable. She should, at least, however, come home. McManus’ homebred Limerick Lace, on the other hand, has the speed but may not have the stamina, though she is the choice of the owner’s stable jockey Mark Walsh.

With the field capped at 34 runners Lady Luck’s part appears to have been reduced to a cameo role but I am hoping she decides to ride pillion with Gina Andrews on Latenightpass.

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