Something of a serious ante-post gamble appears to be developing on Irish hope Treacle who has been heavily backed in recent days to win the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 14, writes Elliot Slater.

As big as 40/1 in places prior to his eye-catching effort at Leopardstown on February 12 when a staying-on third behind the impressive Quel Esprit in the Grade 1 Irish Hennessy Gold Cup (beaten seven-lengths), Treacle’s odds have been steadily falling and just five days later the gelded son of Zaffaran is a top priced 20/1 for the Liverpool marathon, with the majority of firms offering only 16s in the 2012 online Grand National odds.

Sent off an unconsidered 33/1 shot for the Irish Hennessy on his first outing at the highest level, the 11-year-old was settled at the back of the seven-runner field by Paul Townend and whilst never looking likely to give the winner something to think about, did stay on in determined fashion inside the final half mile to pass China Rock, Bostons Angel, Follow The Plan and Magnanimity, raising the hopes of connections that this late-maturing sort might just make a name for himself on the big day at Aintree in the spring.

Trained by Tom Taaffe, Treacle is decent three-mile handicapper who handles soft ground well as he proved in October 2009 when landing the biggest win of his career in bagging the £66,000 first prize of the Ladbrokes .com Munster National at Limerick. His form has been somewhat ‘up and down’ since then, but he got his head back in front for the first time since his famous success when scoring at Gowran Park in October and prior to his performance behind Quel Esprit had run a cracker to be second of the 26-runner field to Cross Appeal in the valuable Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Aintree is definitely the plan for Treacle, with Taaffe declaring: “It has been since he was a three-year-old.”