Fans of vintage TV are fond of You Can’t Do That On Television’s “opposite” sketches, in which parents yelled at kids for doing homework, encouraged them to eat unhealthy food, and argued for longer school breaks and recesses. The edgy Canadian kids’ show helped pave the way for the success of films like A Christmas Story in America, framing the childhood experience “through the pages of Mad magazine” as the late Roger Ebert once put it.
It’s time for the LegitGamblingSites.com sports blog to post an “opposite sketch” of its own.
We typically put favorites and sleepers for upcoming horse racing events in order of short-to-long odds. This gives the reader a sense of which animals the betting public and famous handicappers are touting as having the best chance to win a Kentucky Derby or Grand National. If we agree with the pundits’ analysis, then a pick on a favorite at short odds could make sense. If we find that the common opinion on an upcoming race lacks in logic, then a sleeper is often the right choice.
But that’s putting the sport of Thoroughbred racing first…not putting the bettors first.
Casual gamblers (the kind who usually lose) are interested in winning and bragging about it. Serious horse racing bettors are in it for a payoff – a big, fat, handsome payoff if at all possible.
The Thoroughbreds at the longest odds offer the biggest payoffs on a winning bet slip. Maybe we should look at those bets first and foremost for a change.
So here are 10 sleeper-pick candidates for the 2019 Grand National on April 6th, courtesy of the futures betting markets at Bovada Sportsbook. But you’ll notice something funny about the order – I’m reviewing the horses from least-wagered on to most-wagered on.
The opposite of the usual. Sketchy? Nah.
First, though, I need to stop for a drink of water.
10 Long-Shot Bets for the 2019 Grand National at Aintree
Bless the Wings ((+6600 Odds-to-Win at Bovada Sportsbook)
Defending-champ trainer Gordon Elliott’s 14-year-old Bay Gelding turned heads with a surprising show finish in last year’s Grand National. Elliott’s other horse Tiger Roll won the event despite skepticism surrounding the Thoroughbred’s tender age.
It would be even cooler to see a wise “greybeard” animal step up and win the race in 2019.
Like many aging horses, Bless the Wings has struggled to find any consistency heading into the race at Aintree. A last-place finish at the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle and a PU (Pullout) at the Glenfarclas Chase don’t necessarily auger well for his chances. Bettors can speculate that Elliott is treating the Thoroughbred cautiously and hoping for one big burst of speed, agility, and stamina in April.
A bevy of jockeys have ridden Bless the Wings in the past year, with the most recent being Davy Russell – the rider who guided Tiger Roll to its 2018 Grand National win.
Russell, for all his obvious talent, still bears the shame of having taken a harsh swing at the ear of a disobedient Kings Dolly in 2017.
The Last Samuri (+5000)
There seems to be a deal with misspelling common words when naming racehorses. I’ve already lampooned “Definitly Red” and its famous trainer’s lack of a respectable soft-rock record collection in our review of early Grand National favorites in 2019.
As for naming a Thoroughbred “Samuri” instead of “Samurai,” I can only guess that so many other English animals have been called “Samurai” that The Last Samuri’s original handlers chose to distinguish their talented colt from the pack, so to speak.
The 11-year-old Chestnut Gelding has notched a steady 1st-place percentage of 29.63% in 27 runs, but ascending to victory (that’s not entirely figurative language when it comes to National Hunt “jump” races in the United Kingdom) has been a challenge in recent steeplechases.
The last victory for the Gelding came at the BetBright Grimthorpe Chase way back in 2016. The Last Samuri did not complete last year’s race at Aintree.
Harry Fry recently took over the training duties of The Last Samuri following a stint under trainer K.C. Bailey. 2-time Champion Hurdle winning jockey Noel Fehily has ridden the Gelding in 2 of the last 3 outings under Fry’s watch.
This 12-year-old Bay Gelding posted a solid 5th-place performance at last year’s Grand National. The last victory for the veteran horse came well over a year ago, however, at the Betfred Classic Handicap Chase.
Consistency has been hard to come by for Milansbar as well. The Gelding’s last 3 runs have not produced a win, place or show.
Trainer Neil King has led Milansbar to 6 career victories.
Baie Des Iles (+5000)
An 8-year-old Grey Mare, Baie Des Iles finished 12th in last year’s Grand National and could draw on the experience for a better result in ‘19. The Mare posted a quality win at the Des Drags Grade 2 Chase in June 2018, and placed in February’s BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase.
Jockey Ruby Walsh has been brilliant at the Cheltenham Festival and is preparing for another shot at Aintree glory.
Warrior’s Tale (+4000)
This 10-year-old Bay Gelding may have pulled-up in last year’s Grand National, but he found success at Aintree with a victory at the Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase in December 2018.
Warriors Tale battles bravely to get the better of Brandon Hill and win the Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. Paul Nicholls' third success in the race! 👏 pic.twitter.com/au3QVbHyXG
— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) December 8, 2018
A slow start to 2019 has kept the Thoroughbred’s odds somewhat long.
Veteran trainer Paul Nicholls has fielded over 2,000 winners in his career, including a triumph with Neptune Collonges at the 2012 Grand National (when you name a horse like that, there’s no reason to fool around with the English…or the French).
Jockey Sean Bowen rode Warrior’s Tale for much of the last 2 years, but Noel Fehily was recently given the opportunity to ride the Gelding.
Joe Farrell (+4000)
Not your average Joe, this 10-year-old Gelding lacks experience compared to other horses competing in the 2019 Grand National, but its recent success provides hope for a championship bid in April. The Gelding has a 1st-place percentage of 31.25% in 18 runs and has scored victories in 2 of its last 3 races.
Jockey Adam Wedge rode Joe Farrell to victory in the Rosemary Appeal Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase and the Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase in 2018. 2 entries, 2 wins – not a bad recent calendar/record for a 40-to-1 long-shot.
Decorated trainer Rebecca Curtis has guided Joe Farrell since the 2016 race year.
So if 50 other racehorses have been called “Hopes and Dreams” or “Isle” of something, then the best way to create a unique brand is to putallthewordstogether and make a spelling-bee nightmare come to life.
The 12-year-old Bay Gelding has had a series of ups and downs, with a quartet of 2nd-place finishes and 4 PUs in the last 8 runs dating back to December 2017. The last victory came in February 2017 at the Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle.
The Gelding first raced under current trainer Willie Mullins’ in 2014. Mullins trained the 2005 Grand National winner and set a record at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival which was equaled by Elliott in 2018.
Folsom Blue (+4000)
Another Thoroughbred which has struggled to find consistency lately, Folsom Blue has been blue in post-parades since taking home a victory at the BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase in February 2018. The Gelding has failed to secure a top-3 finish in its most recent 5 runs.
Elliott took over the training duties for Folsom Blue in the middle of 2017, and has led the veteran horse to 2 victories. Rising jockey Jack Kennedy rode Folsom Blue in both victories, but other jockeys have taken turns in late 2018 and 2019.
What would you do for a Daklondike win?
The 7-year-old Bay Gelding does not enter the Grand National with a plethora of experience, posting only 15 career runs. If it was long-considered tough for an 8-year-old to win at Aintree, then how are we supposed to handicap such a green competitor at age 7?
After a string of victories to close out 2017, the animal’s races have been unpredictable – imagine that. The youngster even refused to race at the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase in February 2019.
Captain Redbeard (+4000)
This horse has maintained a 1st place percentage of 25.81%, but has only secured a single victory in the last 7 runs. However the triumph was recent, coming at the Malcolm Jefferson Memorial Chase in February 2019 in an insane race with only 2 recorded finishers.
Captain Redbeard is accompanied by the father-son trainer and jockey duo of Stuart and Sam Coltherd. Sam was unseated in last year’s running of the Grand National and hopes for better results in 2019.
2019 Grand National: Sleeper Picks and Recommendations
As with our U.S. Masters preview in golf, this blog post will not make a particular hard-and-fast pick but rather advise the racebook gambler to divide horses into categories – bad bets, shaky bets, and a pool of likely potential winners. Nobody wins every wager in horse racing – or close to it – but you can successfully play the numbers and put yourself in a position to win.
At the Grand National, that often goes hand-in-hand with “in position for the horse to finish.”
I’m loving Joe Farrell and Warrior’s Tale, each at 40-to-1 payoff odds. The latter Thoroughbred has won at Aintree very recently, and unlike Will Farrell with Holmes and Watson, all of Joe Farrell’s recent efforts have been pure winners.
Nearly every other pick on the above list of 10 can be crossed-off except for the 7-year-old and 14-year-old horses and other age and training anomalies. Can Daklondike double-down on Tiger Roll’s youthful triumph in 2018?
Sometimes, the handicapper has to say it – I just don’t know.