Great racing at Keeneland, Aqueduct, and Santa Anita on Saturday will be proceeded, on my agenda at least, by an annual flutter on the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree in Liverpool, England, the 4 5/16-mile spectacle widely considered to be the most wagered-on horse race in the world. There are some interesting story lines heading into this year’s Grand National. #3 TIGER ROLL is expected to be the shortest-price favorite in more than four decades as he seeks to become the first since Red Rum in the 1970s to successfully defend a Grand National title. American racing fans might also find of interest the prospects of #20 JURY DUTY, who captured the American version at Far Hills, New Jersey, last fall by a widening margin of more than three lengths. Battleship is the only horse to win the Grand Nationals in both England and the U.S. As a betting proposition in the U.S. pools, be warned the 17 lowest-weighted horses are combined into a gigantic MUTUEL FIELD (#24). Seventeen for the price of one can be nice if, say, you can get 6-1 or higher. Keep in mind, though, that being low-weighted is a general reflection on those horses’ relative talents. In this space last year I wrote:

My general practice is to find four contenders among the 23 individual betting interests and back them in equal amounts. That worked for me in 2015 when Many Clouds prevailed at around 25-1 in the U.S. pools, and last year a four-horse box on my selections would have given readers a solid Exacta payoff as One For Arthur and Cause of Causes ran one-two at UK odds of 14-1 and 16-1, respectively.
One of the four I backed last year was #10 PLEASANT COMPANY (15-1). In a loss worthy of inclusion on TwinSpires.com’s Bad Luck Board, Pleasant Company just missed (he was 25-1 overseas) in his attempt to re-rally after looking hopelessly beaten into second a furlong or two from home. It remains painful to relive and will for the rest of my days. Despite shaky recent form (not much different going in to last year’s Grand National), I’ll be using PLEASANT COMPANY once again. Here are three others I’ll be using in my wagering plans: #9 LAKE VIEW LAD (12-1) is untested going this far or over this course, but admire his consistency over the past year and a half. You don’t have to be a fan of The Clash to dig the potential of #15 ROCK THE KASBAH (15-1), who enters fresh and with strong stamina claims. Jockey Richard Johnson has been one of the sport’s best in this area, though the National has eluded him over the past two decades. #23 RAMSES DE TEILLEE (20-1) seems to be a wise-guy selection, but for good reasons with excellent form since December and a relatively light impost of 149 pounds. Post time for the Grand National is 12:15 p.m. (EDT). Watch and wager at TwinSpires.com, and find FREE Brisnet Past Performances here. Be sure to opt in to TwinSpires.com’s Grand National Bonus. Place your first Win bet in the amount of how many horses you think will officially finish the race out of the projected field of 40 and split a $1,000 bonus if your bet amount matches the number of horses who finish the race. (Hint: The average number of finishers in the last five runnings of the Grand National has been 16.8).   (Photo from eventmasters.co.uk)