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  Midnight planning to strike in next year’s Grand National  

More than the ability to stay four-and-a-half miles, the talent to jump 30 awesome fences, or the courage to battle on when the going gets tough, the most important factor in winning a John Smith’s Grand National is luck-in-running, something which patently deserted The Midnight Club in his bid for Aintree glory last April, writes Elliot Slater. Those looking forward to a Grand National free bets offer should remember this.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding had been the subject of a major popular gamble in the weeks prior to the world’s greatest steeplechase, a betting frenzy that continued on the day of the race and resulted in the son of Flemensfirth being sent off the 15/2 favourite. The Midnight Club had been meticulously prepared by Mullins for the Aintree marathon, (a race the Irish handler won back in 2005 with Hedgehunter), having finished a superb runner-up in the valuable Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January before landing the Grade 2 At The Races Bobbyjo Chase, an acknowledged major Grand National Trial, by a length from another big race contender Arbor Supreme.

Having won one of the key benchmark races in the weeks prior to the big race and being prepared by one of the best trainers in the business, it was no surprise to see the public latch on to the mount of the hugely popular Ruby Walsh. But on the big day luck deserted The Midnight Club as he made a bad mistake as early on as third fence and only just survived. Having worked his way back into contention and appearing to still be going well, he was then badly hampered at the fourth last by the fall of Killyglen, and despite recovering once more and staying-on well in the closing stages, the favourite could only manage sixth behind Donald McCain’s brave winner Ballabriggs. Fans of Grand National betting should bear this in mind.

Connections will hope that their ante-post 25/1 shot will have better luck in 2012 and he will once again be trained specifically with the Grand National as his sole big race target.

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