Grey horses are always a popular selection in the Grand National and the 2012 race, which will get under way at 16:15 on Saturday April 14th, will be no exception. Whether it’s because they’re easy to follow in a congested 40 horse race, or whether it’s simply because they look pretty, they are a favorite with part time punters across the land. We take a look at the chances of the four grey horses lining up in the 2012 Grand National.

The Grand National may have been going since 1839, but only three times has the world’s most famous horse race been won by a grey horse – and two of those were the same horse!

In 1868, a grey horse called “The Lamb” won the Grand National, a feat which he repeated in the 1871 renewal. No grey managed to taste National success again until 1961, when Nicolaus Silver landed the prize.

So with half a century passed since the last grey horse was victorious in the Grand National, could 2012 be the year of the grey? There are four greys set to line up in this year’s race; let’s take a look at their chances.

Alfa Beat
Best Price: 51.00 – SportingBet

Alfa Beat was well fancied in the four mile race at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival off the back of a five race winning streak, but was only able to finish fourth that day. That performance still showed that the eight year old grey horse will cope with the Grand National trip okay, but the race was won by another Grey – Chicago Grey – who must surely have a superior chance in the 2012 Aintree showpiece event.

Since the 2011 Festival, Alfa Beat hasn’t had the best of times. His very next race was in the Topham Chase – his only attempt at Aintree’s huge Grand National fences to date – where he fell, and this season hasn’t gone too smoothly either, having pulled up in his Grand National prep race, having unseated Barry Geraghty at Leopardstown prior to that.

The John Joseph Hanlon trained grey is as short as 34.00 in places, but is available to back at a best price of 51.00.

Chicago Grey
Best Price: 17.00 – Stan James

We tipped Chicago Grey in our 2012 Grand National Preview a couple of weeks ago, and we’re just as sweet on the chances of Gordon Elliot’s charge now as we were then.

In 2007, Elliot saddled Silver Birch to win the Grand National, so he knows all about landing the big prize at Aintree. The horse’s stamina is assured, having won the big four mile race at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and jockey Paul Carberry is a top notch pilot, who rode Bobbyjo to victory for his father in 1999.

Now as short as 13.00 with some firms, Chicago Grey would probably prefer the rain to stay away before Saturday’s big race, but connections are speaking with real confidence about the horse’s chances in the 2012 Grand National and we should expect to see a big run. Of the four grey horses in this year’s field, this one is undoubtedly the grey with the biggest chance of success.

Neptune Collonges
Best Price: 41.00 – Blue Square

As short as 26.00 with SportingBet, Neptune Collonges is the only Paul Nicholls runner in the 2012 Grand National line up. A seasoned campaigner now at eleven years old, the grey has been doing the business at the very top of the sport for seven years, earning more than three quarters of a million pounds in his career.

Stamina is certainly not an issue for this grey horse and a sixth place finish in the 2011 Scottish National off the back of a tough race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup is encouraging. This year, Neptune Collonges hasn’t been campaigned as vigorously and could run a decent race at a big price, having finished second to the likeable Giles Cross in the Haydock Grand National trial in February.

Furthermore, Daryl Jacob is a capable jockey who has a good record when riding Paul Nicholls trained horses.

Swing Bill
Best Price: 101.00 – SportingBet

David Pipe’s eleven year old grey hasn’t achieved a huge amount in his racing career, but did finish an encouraging fifth in last year’s Topham Chase, suggesting he might enjoy it at Aintree over the big obstacles. However, his other trip to Aintree came earlier this season, where he was pulled up in the Becher Chase.

Swing Bill is owned by David Johnson, who employs former Grand National winning jockey Timmy Murphy, but somewhat tellingly, Murphy rides Wierd Al in the 2012 Grand National instead. This tells its own story and the best price of 100/1 about the David Pipe trained grey seems fair enough.