Saturday sees the 174th running of the Grand National at Aintree.
The Charlie Longsdon-trained Snow Leopardess heads the betting, but here, the PA news agency runs through the entire field.
1) MINELLA TIMES (Henry de Bromhead) Rating (out of 10) 6
Created history for Rachael Blackmore last year but he has only run twice since and has failed to get round. Difficult to see him pulling off a repeat.
2) DELTA WORK (Gordon Elliott) 8
Hailed as the new Tiger Roll by connections when beating the dual National hero at Cheltenham. A multiple Grade One winner at his best and with a new lease of life, could be a major player.
3) EASYSLAND (Jonjo O’Neill) 3
Looked set to be a major contender for this race when beating Tiger Roll at Cheltenham in 2020 when only six, but in three runs for Jonjo O’Neill this season he has shown precisely nothing. Hard to fancy.
4) ANY SECOND NOW (Ted Walsh) 9
For a smaller trainer Ted Walsh has a great record in the race and this one could have added to his success if he was not brought to a standstill 12 months ago. Higher in the weights now but looks sure to go well.
5) RUN WILD FRED (Gordon Elliott) 7
A second-season novice who won the ultra-competitive Troytown earlier in the season. Had his campaign built around the National Hunt Chase in which he was second and this might be an afterthought.
6) LOSTINTRANSLATION (Colin Tizzard) 4
Unfortunately has looked a shadow of his former self lately, despite winning at Ascot in November. Would be 7lb lower if the handicapper had another chance and also has stamina reservations.
7) BRAHMA BULL (Willie Mullins) 4
While writing off runners from this yard is risky, this 11-year-old would be a surprise winner. Was third in the Ladbrokes Trophy earlier in this season, though, so not a complete no-hoper.
8) BURROWS SAINT (Willie Mullins) 6
Fourth last year after travelling well for a long way but seemingly failing for stamina. Excellent trainer feels he can be ridden with more restraint this time but was beaten a long way last time out.
9) MOUNT IDA (Gordon Elliott) 7
A Cheltenham winner last year and she seemed to be building up nicely for a crack at this until running a fairly lifeless race at the Festival, admittedly over a trip short of her best. Needs to bounce back.
10) LONGHOUSE POET (Martin Brassil) 6
Hails from a shrewd yard who have won this before and looked a real player after winning the Thyestes when well backed. A beaten favourite over hurdles last time out and perhaps lacks the experience with only six runs over fences.
11) FIDDLERONTHEROOF (Colin Tizzard) 7
A high-class novice last season, finishing second in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham. Remained in good form this term, finishing second in the Ladbrokes Trophy and if he stays the trip should go well.
12) TWO FOR GOLD (Kim Bailey) 6
A real money-spinner for connections, winning a big pot at Lingfield and finishing second in a Grade One last time out. Has won over three miles but does not look one for this trip.
13) SANTINI (Polly Gundry) 6
Second in the Gold Cup for Nicky Henderson once upon a time. Not at that level now but stamina is his forte and he has been handicapped accordingly.
14) SAMCRO (Gordon Elliott) 4
Once hailed as the second coming by connections, unfortunately he is a shadow of his former self, as shown when running and being beaten at Down Royal during the Cheltenham Festival.
15) ESCARIA TEN (Gordon Elliott) 10
Third in the National Hunt Chase last season behind two Grade One winners and his whole campaign has been focused on this. Looked sure to win Bobbyjo Chase only to be caught by Any Second Now and holds excellent claims.
16) GOOD BOY BOBBY (Nigel Twiston-Davies) 7
Has been reinvented this season as a staying chaser having been a bit of a tearaway in his youth. Nevertheless, this is still 10 furlongs further than he has ever been which is likely to stretch him.
17) LORD DU MESNIL (Richard Hobson) 3
A high-class handicap chaser on his day, but his last couple of runs at Haydock do not inspire much confidence and he would probably need testing conditions to be seen at his best.
18) COKO BEACH (Gordon Elliott) 5
Won the Thyestes Chase and a Grade Two novice race last season, but has not been in the same form this term. Not completely dismissed but he needs to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Bobbyjo and is another who would prefer softer ground.
19) DE RASHER COUNTER (Emma Lavelle) 8
Interesting contender running from the same mark off which he won the 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy. Only run four times since and there was promise in his first start in 16 months in the Denman Chase in February. That should leave him spot-on for the big day and he could run well at a price if taking to the track.
20) KILDISART (Ben Pauling) 7
Beaten just a neck in the Ultima at the 2020 Festival but missed much of last term through injury. Caught the eye making late headway over an inadequate trip at Newbury on his return from 462 days off the track and another who may reward each-way support.
21) DISCORAMA (Paul Nolan) 6
Finished seventh 12 months ago and has only run twice since, most recently going down by a length in a conditions chase at Fairyhouse. A pound lower this year and every chance he could pick up some prize-money once again.
22) TOP VILLE BEN (Phil Kirby) 5
Fell on his first outing over the fences in December’s Becher Chase, but did look to be enjoying the experience up until that point. Could give a bold sight from the front for a long way, but may lack a gear on drying ground.
23) ENJOY D’ALLEN (Ciaran Murphy) 8
Has looked an ideal National candidate in finishing third in both the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse and the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in the last 12 months. Leading owner JP McManus has snapped him up since a creditable effort over hurdles at the Dublin Racing Festival and he is undoubtedly a leading contender.
24) ANIBALE FLY (Tony Martin) 6
Finished fourth in 2018 and fifth in 2019, having been placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his previous start on both occasions. However, he was pulled up in last year’s renewal and it would be quite a surprise if he manages to win it at the fourth attempt at the age of 12.
25) DINGO DOLLAR (Sandy Thomson) 5
A narrowly beaten favourite in last year’s Scottish Grand National and has been raced sparingly this term. A third-placed finish in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle offers hope, but he did not run as well at Kelso last time. Stamina assured though and may be plugging on once others have cried enough.
26) FREEWHEELIN DYLAN (Dermot McLoughlin) 4
Caused a huge shock in last year’s Irish Grand National when winning at 150-1. Went on to finish fourth at Punchestown, but has failed to complete on his last couple of starts. Perhaps a return to better ground and the National fences will rekindle the fire, but it requires a big leap of faith.
27) CLASS CONTI (Willie Mullins) 2
Last of 15 finishers last year and has done nothing since to suggest he can improve upon that effort as a 10-year-old.
28) NOBLE YEATS (Emmet Mullins) 5
Bought by Robert Waley-Cohen as a likely National contender after finishing second to leading novice Ahoy Senor in the Towton at Wetherby in February. Sam Waley-Cohen, the owner’s son, got a first spin on the seven-year-old in the Ultima at Cheltenham and he finished in midfield. Will need the fences to light him up to get involved.
29) MIGHTY THUNDER (Lucinda Russell) 5
Won the Scottish Grand National last year but has been pulled up the last twice. Handy racing weight if he can bounce back and takes to the fences, but hard to fancy on recent efforts.
30) CLOTH CAP (Jonjo O’Neill) 5
Pulled up when all the rage for last year’s renewal and it subsequently transpired he was suffering from a breathing problem. He underwent wind surgery during the off-season, but it does not appear to have had the desired effect thus far as he continues to finish races weakly, which is not what you want to see going into a Grand National.
31) SNOW LEOPARDESS (Charlie Longsdon) 8
A remarkable mare who has returned from giving birth to a foal seemingly better than ever. The 10-year-old is three from three this season, including a win over the National fences in a thrilling Becher Chase, and she has unsurprisingly been prominent in the market since.
32) AGUSTA GOLD (Willie Mullins) 4
A Grade Three winner in mares-only company last year, but has struggled since joining her current trainer having been tested in big handicap chases. Difficult to see her playing a prominent role.
33) PHOENIX WAY (Harry Fry) 6
Ran well in two big handicap chases at Ascot during the winter, winning on the latter occasion, and was well fancied to follow up in Kempton’s Coral Trophy last time. Unfortunately he suffered a heavy fall at the third fence, but he is not out of it if that has not dented his confidence.
34) DEISE ABA (Philip Hobbs) 7
Deserves to win a race having finished second in three of his four outings this season – beaten a neck, a nose and a head respectively. Of some interest on his first attempt over the National fences.
35) BLAKLION (Dan Skelton) 4
It is five years since this admirable veteran finished fourth when favourite for the 2017 Grand National. He was brought down in 2018 and finished sixth 12 months ago. Made the most of his falling mark to win twice in the mud at Haydock earlier this season, but was pulled up in the Grand National Trial and likely to struggle at the age of 13.
36) POKER PARTY (Henry de Bromhead) 2
It is dangerous to rule out any horse from this yard, but he has shown nothing this season to suggest he is capable of getting involved at this level.
37) DEATH DUTY (Gordon Elliott) 5
Recorded a first victory in over four years when landing the Punchestown Grand National Trial in February and was well fancied for the Ultima at Cheltenham as a result. He was not disgraced in finishing sixth but clearly more is required.
38) DOMAINE DE L’ISLE (Sean Curran) 3
Finished fourth in the Becher Chase here in December, but it would be a major shock if he was to better that result on his return.
39) ECLAIR SURF (Emma Lavelle) 8
Successfully stepped up beyond three miles in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January and backed that up with a runner-up finish from a 10lb higher mark in the Eider at Newcastle – finding only subsequent Scottish National heroine Win My Wings too strong. Officially 4lb well-in and certainly not without place claims off a light weight.
40) FORTESCUE (Henry Daly) 7
Has made steady progress this season, culminating with a Listed success over Fiddlerontheroof at Ascot on his latest appearance. He appears a particularly sound jumper and is officially rated 4lb higher than his Grand National mark. Another who could outrun his odds.
41) COMMODORE (Venetia Williams) 5
Produced a spring-heeled display when last seen dominating from the front at Cheltenham in December. He is 9lb higher now though, and while he could show up well for a long way, several others are preferred.
42) SCHOOL BOY HOURS (Noel Meade) 5
Landed a big prize at Leopardstown over Christmas with several who are running in this well behind him. Pulled up at Cheltenham, however, after making a bad mistake and that is not an ideal preparation.
43) ROMAIN DE SENAM (DAVID PIPE) 1
Has been a good servant for various connections including Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton. Pulled up in the Midlands National last time out and barely stays three miles never mind four and a bit.
44) ROI MAGE (Patrick Griffin) 2
French recruit who won last time out, just his second start in Ireland, and while he looks a decent recruit, it would be far-fetched to expect him to win this.
A typically wide-open renewal of the world’s most famous steeplechase and it could once again pay to stick with the Irish, who have landed four of the last five runnings. Gordon Elliott, who of course saddled the great Tiger Roll to win back-to-back Grand Nationals in 2018 and 2019, once again possesses a formidable hand, the pick of which could be ESCARIA TEN. A very smart novice chaser last season he was sent off favourite for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival where he jumped the last in front only to fade into third behind Galvin and Next Destination. Trained specifically with this race in mind, he looked like winning the Bobbyjo Chase only to be collared on the line. That looks like the best trial for this as Any Second Now was third last year and must go close again but preference is for the younger rival. Discorama seems to have been around a while but has experience of the fences and a touch of class that can help see him involved. Picking who might finish fourth is a tough task, but 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy scorer De Rasher Counter is of definite interest and may prove best of the British. Delta Work, Enjoy D’allen and Snow Leopardess are also of interest, but could just miss out on the placings.
1. ESCARIA TEN (NAP). 2. Any Second Now. 3. Discorama. 4. De Rasher Counter.
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