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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Pick a National winner
By Chris Charles

Hedgehunter
Many punters Hedged their best last year

It's that time of year again, when seasoned gamblers are outfoxed by little old ladies choosing a horse because it happens to share a name with their bingo caller.

Yes, the Grand National is upon us and the formbook can be tossed out of the window, along with several million betting slips that aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

OK, Hedgehunter became only the third favourite to win the race since 1982 when it romped home last year - no doubt pleasing a few topiarists* into the bargain - but as a rule Lady Luck is the best friend you can have on the big day.

So take our advice, when choosing your nag apply the sort of illogical reasoning that would make Mr Spock's ears go flat. Here's a few pointers to send you on your way:

COLOUR CO-ORDINATION

Take a look at the runners and riders and pick a colour you like from the jockey's silks - Honest Frank's handy guide will help you.

For example, if you are a David Icke fan, you might like the turquoise stripe favoured by Haut de Gamme's jockey.

David Icke and friends
He's a bit partial to turquoise , you know

If you actually are David Icke, then of course you will already know exactly where it's going to finish.

Chelsea supremo Roman Abramovich could put his house on the all-blue strip of Native Upmanship - and if it doesn't come in, he's always got another 493 houses he can stay in.

One horse you can guarantee won't be on Trinny and Susannah's wish list is Shotgun Willy, with it's garish combination of blue, yellow, purple and orange. Sooo 1983.

NAME OF THE GAME

According to bookmakers Ladbrokes, 49% of Grand National punters choose their horse because it has a name they like.

Spokesman David Williams said: "We spend all year trying to get our prices right but on the big day, it's names and colours that matter most. Our odds-compilers feel terribly hurt!"

Keith Harris and Orville
Keith Harris and the bloke who works him

You can guarantee betting shops in the bottom corner of England will be taking a fortune on Cornish Rebel, while Geordies will no doubt plump for Tyneandthyneagain - even though it's unlikely to finish before Newcastle win their next trophy.

On the 'celebrity' front, Paul Daniels might have a few quid on Lord of Illusion - even if that particular illusion was shattered many years ago. And Keith Harris will surely be backing Le Duc.

DREAM DREAM DREAM

Go to bed, sleep, wake up and write down what you dreamt about. It worked for me in 1987 when I had a dream about a native New Zealander. Two days later Maori Venture romped home at 28/1.

This year, a colleague had a premonition that a horse wearing number six would win the National. So that's Le Roi Miguel, then. Or perhaps even more spookily, the Irish fancy Numbersixvalverde.

PINNING YOUR HOPES

Take your list of runners - our handy printable sweepstake kit is perfect for this - close your eyes and stick a pin in it. (If you are a child - or drunk - please do this under the supervision of a responsible adult).

We had a go and came out with Puntal, Sir OJ and Le Duc - not to mention bleeding fingers.

COINCIDENCE?

Party Politics cost the bookies a fortune when it flew home at 14/1 - the year of the General Election. So what are the omens to look out for this year?

Arsenal won through to the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday night - will Forest Gunner make it a double in the year that Highbury closes its doors forever?

The Queen
One likes the gee-gees you know

There's no bigger horse racing fan than the Queen, who turns 80 later this month. Fans of Her Maj are spoilt for choice, with Clan Royal, Iris Royal and Royal Auclair all in the field.

Dean Macey will find it hard to resist First Gold, following his success in the Commonwealth Games, while the baton-dropping GB relay team should be forced to go each way on Iznogoud.

Finally, the doomed Wembley Stadium project has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons this year. With that in mind, there's only one horse to back...It Takes Time.

Based on all that nonsense, the big race forecast is:
1. Numbersixvalverde
2. Le Duc
3. It Takes Time
4. Cornish Rebel

* (A topiarist, for the uninitiated, is one of those people who cut hedges into animal shapes. Just so you know).


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Johnny Vegas



SEE ALSO
Grand National runners and riders
06 Apr 06 |  Horse Racing


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