Sports

Scott Wilson’s horse by horse guide to the Grand National

It’s the biggest racing day of the year on Saturday as Aintree plays host to the Grand National. The big race starts at 5.15pm and Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson casts an eye over the 40 runners to help you try to come up with this year’s winner…

A three-time Betfair Chase winner who proved his ability remains when claiming the third of those successes at Haydock in November. Has to carry top weight though, and would much prefer to be running on softer ground. Red Rum was the last top-weight to win the National back in 1974 so the history books are against him. 25-1

2 CHRIS’S DREAM **

Irish raider who boasts some decent form, most notably when he finished a neck behind The Storyteller at Down Royal in October. Was pulled-up when last seen in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, which has to be a concern, and is unproven at this kind of trip on this kind of ground. 40-1

3 YALA ENKI **

A proven stayer who has finished in the first three in three different Welsh Grand Nationals. His stamina is his key asset, but he is at his best when the mud is flying and today’s ground will almost certainly be too fast for him. Fell when trying to negotiate the National fences in December’s Becher Chase. 33-1

4 BALLYOPTIC *

A classy performer in his prime, but his best chance of Grand National success probably came when he fell at fourth last when going well two years ago. His form since then has been patchy at best, and he was thrashed by Cloth Cap in November’s Ladbroke Trophy. Looks to be much too high in the weights for his current capabilities. 66-1

5 DEFINITLY RED **

A Yorkshire raider trained by Malton-based Brian Ellison, and has long been regarded as an ideal type for the National. Was one of the favourites in 2017, when he was badly hampered by a faller, but looks to have had his day at the age of 12. His three runs this season have been largely uninspiring. 40-1

6 LAKE VIEW LAD **

Started the season by beating Santini over the Mildmay course at Aintree, and has previously finished in the places in the Ultima at Cheltenham so boasts some back-class. Has only beaten one rival in his last two runs though, and is running off the same mark as when he was pulled up in the National two years ago. 40-1

7 BURROWS SAINT ****

Won the Irish Grand National two years ago, and has been laid out for this race ever since. A proven stayer, he also boasts the tactical needed to get a good position early on. Will appreciate the drying ground, and while he wasn’t at his very best on his most recent run at Fairyhouse, he deserves his place among the leading contenders. 8-1

8 MAGIC OF LIGHT ***

Finished as runner-up to Tiger Roll two years ago, when she clearly relished the demands of the National fences, and is bidding to become the first mare to win the race since 1951. Has looked as good as ever over fences and hurdles this season, but has shot up the weights as a result of her exploits in 2019. 18-1

9 ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS ****

Has contested plenty of the top Irish races, finishing third in an Irish Grand National, and beat Burrows Saint at Fairyhouse last time out. Enjoys a swing in the weights with that highly-regarded rival, and while the drying ground poses something of a question mark, looks more than capable of outrunning his odds. 33-1

10 TALKISCHEAP **

Looked a top-class stayer in the making when he romped home in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2019, but has regressed in the two years since. Injuries haven’t helped, but his three runs this season haven’t really hinted at a revival. Will like the ground, however, and stamina shouldn’t be a problem. 66-1

11 TOUT EST PERMIS **

Started the season reasonably strongly, finishing second to The Storyteller at Punchestown, but has struggled over both fences and hurdles since. Boasts snippets of form over marathon trips that would give him something of a chance, but looks high enough in the weights and would need to improve dramatically to figure. 80-1

12 ANIBALE FLY ***

Has finished fourth and fifth in the last two runnings of this race, and has also been placed in two Cheltenham Gold Cups so boasts plenty of class. His very best years are probably behind him at the age of 11, but is proven over both course and trip and has started to slip down the weights. Holds definite each-way chances. 28-1

13 MISTER MALARKY ***

Isn’t always the most consistent, but has produced some fine runs in the past that would put him in the frame. Beat The Conditional over three miles at Ascot in December, and while he is unproven over marathon trips, looks as though he could be well suited to this test. Will be Colin Tizzard’s final National runner ahead of his retirement. 28-1

14 KIMBERLITE CANDY ****

Clearly enjoys the National fences, having finished second in back-to-back editions of the Becher Chase. His win in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January suggests the trip shouldn’t be a concern, and as a lightly-raced nine-year-old he should be at his peak. Would probably have preferred some cut in the ground, but should go close. 11-1

15 ANY SECOND NOW *****

Marked himself out as a future Grand National contender when he won the Kim Muir at Cheltenham in 2019, and his career since appears to have been building to this day. His trainer, Ted Walsh, knows how to win this race, and he proved his wellbeing when warming up for Aintree with a win over two miles at Navan last month. 10-1

16 BALKO DES FLOS **

Looked top-class when he won the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham in 2018, but has gone backwards at a rate of knots since. Hasn’t won a race since that day at the Festival, and unseated his rider in the Cross-Country on his last outing last month. Having his first run for new owners, and is unlikely to thrust them into the winners’ enclosure. 50-1

17 ALPHA DES OBEAUX ***

An Irish veteran who finished fourth in the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival back in 2017. Fell in the National in 2018, but fared better over the Aintree fences when finishing third in the Becher Chase a year-and-a-half later. Put in two poor runs at the start of the year, but showed signs of a revival when fourth in the Cross-Country at Cheltenham last month. 66-1

18 OK CORRAL **

The only runner for Nicky Henderson, he was well fancied ahead of last year’s cancelled race after winning the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January 2020. He has only run once since then though, and that resulted in him pulling up in the Ultima at Cheltenham last month. Needs a major revival, although given his trainer, that is not impossible. 66-1

19 TAKINGRISKS **

A proven performer over marathon trips, having won the Scottish Grand National in 2019. Sprung a major surprise when he won January’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster at odds of 40-1, a race that proved his wellbeing. Should like the ground, but would be one of the race’s oldest-ever winners at the age of 12. 33-1

20 SHATTERED LOVE **

A top-class mare at her best, having won a JLT at Cheltenham and been competitive in a Gold Cup. Ran well at the Festival last month, finishing third behind Colreevy in the Mares’ Chase, but that was over two-and-a-half miles and this marathon trip is a major unknown. A safe jumper who should get round, as long as her stamina holds out. 50-1

21 JETT *

Has lost his way somewhat since posting some decent performances in 2019, most notably when winning over three miles at Punchestown. Finished in mid-division in December’s Becher Chase which suggests he will handle the fences, but struggled on his last chase run in March and has plenty of questions to answer. 66-1

22 LORD DU MESNIL ***

Would have had a great chance on soft ground, but might struggle to keep up with the pace on the anticipated sounder surface. Stays all day, as proved by his second in 2020’s National Hunt Chase, and won over three-and-a-half miles at Haydock on his last outing. Whatever else happens, he should be staying on at the finish. 33-1

23 POTTERS CORNER ***

Holds a unique place in Grand National folklore as he was the ‘winner’ of last year’s virtual race screened on TV. Has won the Welsh Grand National in real life, so stamina won’t be a problem, but all his best form has been on soft or heavy ground so the firmer surface could well be an issue. Pulled up over hurdles last time out. 20-1

24 CLASS CONTI **

One of the least exposed runners in the field, so the fact master trainer Wille Mullins has decided to send him over from Ireland is interesting. Will have to improve on his fourth in last month’s Leinster National at Naas, but given that he boasts decent form on good ground from his early days in France, that couldn’t be ruled out. 40-1

25 MILAN NATIVE ***

Marked himself out as a possible Grand National contender when he won the Kim Muir over 3m 2f at Cheltenham in 2020. Started this season in good form, beating Discorama and finishing second to Minella Indo, but was slightly disappointing when only finishing ninth in the Ultima at the Festival last month. 28-1

26 DISCORAMA ****

Has finished in the places at three Cheltenham Festivals, with his peak performance seeing him finish second in the National Hunt Chase, which proved his liking for marathon trips. Has been campaigned this season with this race in mind, so should be coming in fresh, but would definitely have preferred a softer surface. 18-1

27. VIEUX LION ROUGE ***

Has run in four Grand Nationals and five Becher chases and has completed every time, so his jumping over these fences is rock solid. His best Grand National finish is seventh though, and while he can be relied on to get home, he isn’t getting any faster and his stamina tends to give way before the final furlong. 40-1

28 CLOTH CAP ****

Has been a short-priced favourite for this race ever since he bolted home in the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury in November. Was every bit as impressive when he followed up at Kelso last month, a win that means he is officially 14lbs well in on his handicap mark. Will enjoy the drying ground, and the only negative about him is his price. 9-2

29 CABARET QUEEN *

Has won the Munster and Kerry Nationals, but they’re a fair bit different to the real thing. Failed to get involved in the Thyestes Chase in January and was pulled up when tackling the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham last month. Comes from a top stable, but is extremely hard to fancy on anything she has shown recently. 80-1

30 MINELLACELEBRATION *

Won a veterans’ chase over Aintree’s Mildmay course in October, but unseated his rider over the National fences in the Becher Chase and also failed to finish at Sandown in January, so jumping has to be a worry. Having his first run after wind surgery, but that will have to bring about a huge improvement to be a factor. 80-1

31 CANELO **

Has won twice this season, including over Aintree’s Mildmay course in November. Hasn’t really been tried over marathon distances, but should be fine on the ground and is a reliable jumper. Finds himself on an attractive mark, so while he would be a surprise winner, a big run isn’t completely out of the question. 40-1

32 THE LONG MILE **

One of the least exposed runners in the field given that he is only seven, and boasts some useful form in Ireland, albeit over between two and two-and-a-half miles. The trip is a huge step into the unknown, but he ran reasonably to finish third in the Bobbyjo Chase in February and won’t have to carry much weight. 66-1

33 GIVE ME A COPPER **

Has been highly touted in the past, but hasn’t really lived up to expectations for all that he has won five races under rules. Started the season with a decent win at Wincanton, but was disappointing when he was pulled up at Doncaster last time out. Part-owned by former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. 33-1

34 FARCLAS ***

Is trying to emulate Tiger Roll by adding a Grand National success to a previous win in the Triumph Hurdle. Stamina could be an issue, although he ran well over three miles to finish third at Leopardstown over Christmas. Finished second over two-and-a-half miles at Cheltenham last month, and could be interesting if he stays. 20-1

35 MINELLA TIMES ****

Will be ridden by star of the moment Rachael Blackmore, and has been the best-backed horse for most of this week. Finished second in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, and while he lacks experience at this kind of level, he is an obvious danger from the bottom of the weights. Should go well. 9-1

36 SUB LIEUTENANT *

Was a classy performer under Henry de Bromhead, finishing second over the National fences in the Topham, but has changed hands and is unlikely to be improving at the age of 12. Has failed to make the places in his two runs this season and his chance of making his presence felt in the National appears to have gone. 80-1

37 HOGAN’S HEIGHT ***

Won the Grand Sefton over the National fences in December 2019, and warmed up for today’s race by finishing a never-nearer sixth in the Cross-Country at Cheltenham last month. That was the furthest he has ever run, but his obvious liking for the fences makes him one of the most interesting of the real outsiders. 66-1

38 DOUBLE SHUFFLE **

A talented campaigner who once finished second in the King George, but has never really looked an obvious candidate for this kind of test. Won over three miles at Kempton in January, but his most recent outing at the same track was a backward step. Should handle the drying ground, but it would be a surprise if this proved his forte. 80-1

39 AMI DESBOIS *

Has always shaped as a stayer, and has twice finished second over three miles since the turn of the year. Is right at the bottom of the weights, but would still have to show huge improvement to be a factor. Hasn’t won a race of any description since triumphing in a two-horse novice race at Wetherby in 2017. 100-1

40 BLAKLION **

Was fourth in the 2017 Grand National, and was sent off favourite for the following year’s renewal, when he was brought down at the first. His career has tailed off badly since, with two changes of trainer meaning he is now in the hands of Dan Skelton. Looks to be on the downgrade at the age of 12. 66-1

SCOTT WILSON’S TOP FOUR

1 Any Second Now 10-1

2 Acapella Bourgeois 33-1

3 Kimberlite Candy 11-1

4 Cloth Cap 9-2


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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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