A power cut at the Bafta building on Piccadilly took some of the energy out of the unveiling of the Grand National weights on Tuesday night and it seemed at one point as if the ballyhoo might have to be summarily cancelled. But such events are only froth and bubble compared to the real electricity at Aintree in April and Total Recall is the name for punters to take away from this day, with that much bigger day in mind.
Odds of 16-1 may not seem spectacular when so many of the 105 entrants are available at 33-1 or bigger but Total Recall deserves to be a shorter price. So long as he stays healthy for the next two months, I expect him to keep shortening down to single-figures by the day. For me, he is a better favourite than Blaklion, who heads the market at a general 10-1.
Total Recall is no longer a blot on the handicap, as, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see he was in the Munster National. That was his first run after joining Willie Mullins from Sandra Hughes and he improved again to win the Ladbrokes Trophy (or the Hennessy as most of us still know it).
He barely got home in front that day, a neck ahead of Whisper but he finished so strongly to reel in that rival that one can be very hopeful of him seeing out the National’s four and a quarter miles. He is up another 9lb, which is only fair. In absolute terms, his weight of 11st 1lb is perfectly OK but I would not want it to rise above 11st 5lb.
That is not out of the question, as the topweights have already begun to fall by the wayside. Bristol De Mai was ruled out of the National as soon as the press conference began, his owners preferring Aintree’s Bowl.
Definitly Red, given top weight of 11st 10lb, is also doubtful for the National. “My gut feeling is the Bowl,” said his trainer, Brian Ellison. “But let’s get the Gold Cup out of the way first.”
Patrick Mullins, representing his father, said Total Recall has “an improving profile, which makes him very interesting. He looks a fantastic jumper, he handles big handicaps. He should stay. He’s surprised us.”
Phil Smith, framing the weights for the National for the final time, threw a parting present to connections of Scotland’s Seeyouatmidnight, who has been dropped 5lb for spending 10 months on the sidelines. Sandy Thomson reports the horse, third in the Scottish National of 2016, to be recovered from a ligament injury and hopes a wind operation might help him when he returns to the track next month.
For the most part, Smith’s list appeared to closely follow the published ratings. The top four entrants are ‘well in’, following his established policy of compressing the top of the weights. Definitly Red has been given a 2lb incentive to run, while Bristol De Mai, Edwulf and Outlander are 1lb well in.
Gordon Elliott named last year’s runner-up, Cause Of Causes, as his best chance this year and the last of the 33-1 about the horse disappeared during the day. Bryony Frost’s possible mount, Milansbar, is 69th in the list of entrants and needs 29 dropouts before he gets a place in the race.