Grand National: Pundits give their big-race Aintree verdict

JOHN SMITH'S GRAND NATIONAL

  • Venue: Aintree
  • Date: 12-14 April
  • Grand National: 1615 BST, Saturday
  • Live BBC TV and website (UK users): Thursday 1340-1630, Friday 1345-1630, Saturday 1300-1710 BST
  • BBC Radio 5 live coverage: Big-race commentaries. Preview Thursday 1930-2100 BST

The UK's most famous horse race, the Grand National, takes place on Saturday.

BBC Sport has asked a number of pundits and experts to predict who will triumph at Aintree.

Ian Bartlett, BBC television commentator

1 Chicago Grey 2 According to Pete 3 Cappa Bleu 4 West End Rocker

The top-class Irish combination of trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Paul Carberry are represented by Chicago Grey. In an ultra-competitive year, he should have enough to gain a narrow success.

Clare Balding, BBC television presenter

1 Shakalakaboomboom 2 According To Pete 3 On His Own 4 Black Apalachi

In an incredible season, trainer Nicky Henderson can win his first National with Shakalakaboomboom and secure the trainers' championship. A lot of people will back him for the name but his form gives him a decent chance. My big outsider is Black Apalachi, who always runs well here.

Mick Fitzgerald, winner of 1996 National on Rough Quest

1 On His Own 2 Synchronised 3 Seabass 4 Ballabriggs

I've been a huge fan of On His Own since he won the Thyestes Chase. I love the way he jumps. He races prominently, stays, and goes on most types of ground. I don't think there's a negative. Being top weight may tell on Synchronised.

Luke Harvey, BBC Radio 5 live pundit

1 Chicago Grey 2 Shakalakaboomboom 3 Ballabriggs 4 Synchronised

Trained specifically for this race, Chicago Grey has stamina in abundance, proved four miles wasn't an issue at Cheltenham last year and is versatile as far as ground is concerned. Stable confidence appears high and so is mine. Shakalakaboomboom also has things in his favour - although genuinely soft ground would put me off. He is much better on a sound surface.

Richard Hoiles, Aintree racecourse commentator

1 Always Right 2 Killyglen 3 State Of Play 4 Black Apalachi

I did the commentary when Always Right won at Kelso earlier in the season and marked my card with 'National contender'. He was placed in the Scottish National last year and has had a breathing operation since his last run when he stopped as though something was wrong.

Aintree racecourse

Aintree expects big crowds for the three days of the Grand National meeting

John Hunt, BBC Radio 5 live commentator

1 Always Right 2 Seabass 3 Neptune Collonges 4 Arbor Supreme

At Haydock last time when Giles Cross won, Always Right looked sure to triumph but stopped quickly. They found a problem with his breathing and he's had a small wind operation which could put him right for this challenge.

Paul Jones, author of Aintree and Punchestown Festivals Betting Guide

1 Cappa Bleu 2 Ballabriggs 3 Planet of Sound 4 Killyglen

Cappa Bleu has the ideal profile regards weight and age, and this former Foxhunters' winner is now in his prime. He arrives here off the back of three excellent efforts this season for a stable whose State Of Play has placed in the last three years, so they know how to prepare an Aintree horse. More cut would be ideal, but the longer trip can help offset that.

Frank Keogh, BBC Sport website

1 Treacle 2 West End Rocker 3 Cappa Bleu 4 Synchronised

This was the plan for Treacle a couple of years ago, but he didn't make the cut. Booked his place this time with a fine third in a valuable Irish race. The conditions should favour West End Rocker, while Cappa Bleu's trainer is bullish about his chances.

Cornelius Lysaght, BBC racing correspondent

1 Killyglen 2 Ballabriggs 3 Calgary Bay 4 Always Right

Killyglen was going well when coming down late on last year; he definitely enjoyed it and has showed his wellbeing with a recent success at home in Northern Ireland. Ballabriggs won nicely last year, and has extra weight compared to 2011, but he won't be far away.

Jim McGrath, BBC television commentator

1 West End Rocker 2 Cappa Bleu 3 Killyglen 4 Organisedconfusion

West End Rocker is proven over the fences, having won the Becher Chase late last year. He's a very good stayer who has enjoyed the perfect preparation, according to his trainer. He was brought down last year and wouldn't be the first to suffer a mishap on his first experience and go on to win the next year.

Gary O'Brien, BBC Radio 5 live commentator

1 On His Own 2 West End Rocker 3 Organisedconfusion 4 Alfa Beat

Jockey Ruby Walsh will be a big help with On His Own. He raced very prominently when winning the Thyestes Chase and similar tactics should keep him out of trouble. This is only his seventh run over fences and there could be a bit more to come from him.

Rishi Persad, BBC television presenter

1 Cappa Bleu 2 Chicago Grey 3 Seabass 4 Weird Al

Cappa Bleu is primarily in the line-up on the insistence of his trainer who had to work hard to convince the owners to let the 10-year-old take his chance. But Evan Williams' persuasive skills may pay off with a horse whose stamina will not be in question and his light season, which has been sprinkled with some smart performances, means he will be fresh for this test.

Richard Pitman, BBC television pundit

1 Killyglen 2 Ballabriggs 3 Cappa Bleu 4 Organisedconfusion

Killyglen was running a big race before he came down last year. The 2011 winner Ballabriggs didn't do too badly on his last run and has got to be in the mix again.