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Grand National: The case for the next big Jim Culloty victory

| 24.03.2015

We flagged up Jim Culloty’s Spring Heeled at 25/1 for the Grand National prior to the eight-year-old’s last run at Fairyhouse a month ago, and judging by the market for steeplechasing’s big day, finishing fourth of five runners didn’t do his chances an ounce of harm.

Spring Heeled is joint fifth favourite with Godsmejudge at 20/1 now, and last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer looks to have got his main Aintree hope in on a winnable mark.

The 2014 Cheltenham Festival winner is down to carry 10-12 at the moment, but with a number of challengers near the top of the weights likely to pull out, including high-class stablemate Lord Windermere, Spring Heeled will likely lug closer to 11-02 around the Merseyside track.

That would put the son of Old Vic bang within the weight range to take this, as the Grand National has been won off an average weight of 10-13 over the past six renewals, during which time four horses have carried at least 11-00 to victory.

It might also be argued that his Fairyhouse blowout, when finishing 18-and-a-half lengths behind winner Roi Du Mee, was the best thing that could have happened, as no horse has managed to take the Grand National after winning their previous race since Comply Or Die in 2008.

Indeed, Auroras Encore snapped an eight-race losing streak by winning the world’s greatest steeplechase in 2013.

Besides, Spring Heeled’s past three races over ground worse than good to soft have all been disappointments (it was soft at Fairyhouse).

His last two runs on good ground have seen Culloty’s charge win the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, one-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of this year’s Toby Balding National Hunt Chase victor Cause of Causes, and finish fourth of 22 in July’s Galway Plate.


Spring Heeled and Lord Windermere trainer Jim Culloty

With the ground likely to come up good to soft at Aintree, Spring Heeled has more than a hope at 20/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune