Channel 4 have gone all out with their coverage of today’s Grand National (sponsored, for the first time, by Crabbie’s). As well as the race itself, the channel boasts of having devoted 20 hours of related programming. This included Jockey School – an insight into the Northern Racing College in Doncaster, and what they describe as the ‘troubled teens’ aiming to be the next AP McCoy – and How to win the Grand National, an insight into the breeding and science of race horses. And for those who complain that the National is cruel, it’s worthwhile bearing in mind that it was presented by a vet, Mark Evans.

Peta have already been calling for an end to the race, recommending that instead of calling for people to eat horsemeat, Princess Anne ‘campaign for an end to events such as the Grand National’. But, as Robin Oakley points out, changes to the race have reshaped it; last year’s race saw what he describes as ‘only two actual fallers’.

Robin Oakley also wrote back in February that his ‘three for glory’ would be:

‘Triolo D’Alene, Rebecca Curtis’s Teaforthree, who led approaching the last fence last year, and Monbeg Dude… [who] like Tidal Bay, has a Welsh National under his belt already’.

Teaforthree is, of course, this year’s favourite; here are some other tips, just in case you’re still unsure:

Freddy Gray, who writes our Speculator column:

‘I’m going for Long Run. He’s let me down before, but I’m keeping the faith.’

Polly Portwin, racing editor at Horse and Hound:

‘My heart seems to be overruling my head at the moment and I would just love Hunt Ball or Tidal Bay to win. However, I’m going for Quito De La Roque!’

Alysen Miller, producer of CNN’s Winning Post:

‘Although Long Run is not the force he once was, swashbuckling amateur Sam Waley-Cohen has a great track record around the Grand National course and it could be a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. Monbeg Dude, part-owned by the Queen’s wayward grandson-in-law Mike Tindall, would be a popular winner.’

Personally, I wonder whether Zara’s magic touch has managed to sort out Monbeg Dude’s jumping. If so, it would certainly be fun to have a royal winner of sorts. Long Run hasn’t had any star turns recently, but with the last amateur winner being Marcus Armytage in 1990, that would certainly make for headlines as well. I’m going for Shakalakaboomboom, though; he’s run it before… so maybe this time he’ll do it.

Tags: Aintree, Grand National, Horse racing, Monbeg Dude, Teaforthree, Zara Phillips