As well as the ante-post market for the winner of this weekend’s John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree there appears more than a little interest in the market as to who will be sent off favourite for the gruelling marathon chase, with Gordon Elliott’s Backstage coming in for strong support at the start of ‘National’ week, writes Elliot Slater.

The Midnight Club remains a strong favourite to win the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’, generally on offer at 8/1, whilst Backstage is now no bigger than 12/1 joint-third favourite to gallop off with the coveted winner’s trophy. In the market for who will be sent off favourite Backstage has attracted a lot of interest and been shortened from as big as 14/1 on Monday morning with one firm, down to 6/1. Anyone with a Grand National free bet should give him some serious consideration.

Punters may well reckon that having sent out one recent Grand National winner in Silver Birch in 2007, Elliott has what it takes to do the trick again with a horse who has been given a somewhat unusual preparation for one of the roughest, toughest races on the globe. The Irishman has resisted the temptation to go for the acknowledged Grand National trials with his horse who was still travelling well when unseating his rider after being hampered at the 20th fence of last year’s big race.

This term Backstage has been restricted to just two outings, both of those having come in Irish point-to-points, winning the Men’s Open at Kirkistown by an easy 10-lengths in February before following up in even more impressive fashion in similar company at The Pigeons last month when easily accounting for Newbay Prop by seven-lengths, under Jamie Codd.

The anticipated decent ground should ideally suit Elliott’s charge who is set to be partnered by Paul Carberry for Saturday’s race which will be watched live around the world by more than 600 million viewers.

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