Horse Talk racing tips: Back Imperial Commander to win Grand National

The drying ground at Aintree for the three-day Grand National meeting starting today is likely to benefit the lightly-raced Imperial Commander in the feature race on Saturday.

Imperial Commander has raced only four times since winning the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup and was strongly fancied for this year’s cup after belying a lengthy absence to finish second in the Argento Chase in January.

But connections were left frustrated when he was forced to miss the Gold Cup as a lung infection was discovered just four days before his Cheltenham engagement – and part-owner Paul Costello is hoping for better luck this time.

“He’s in great shape and we schooled him over the National fences last week – we’re 100 per cent going for the National now,” said Costello, manager of the Our Friends In The North Syndicate that owns the 14-1 shot. “There was no need to make the decision to run too soon and hopefully he’ll do us proud.”

The biggest danger is likely to come from 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs (20-1), who was pulled up in this race last year, but has been the subject of positive reports from his jockey Jason Maguire.

“I’ll definitely be riding Ballabriggs,” Maguire said. “He’s in great form.”

Big Fella Thanks (40-1), On His Own (15-2) and The Rainbow Hunter (66-1) are fancied to fill the remainder of the first five placings.

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Simon Jackson is a freelance racing journalist based in north west London. He can be reached at for press and PR enquiries, or racing/betting related news stories and features.