1 LORD WINDERMERE 40-1
Last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner boasts plenty of class, but he’s looked a shadow of his former self this season and was pulled up in last month’s Festival showpiece. He’ll be carrying 11st 10lbs as top weight, and no horse has carried more than 11st 6lbs to victory since Red Rum in 1974. Faces a tough task.
2 MANY CLOUDS 25-1
This season’s Hennessy Gold Cup winner failed to make an impression in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the drying ground is unlikely to be to his liking. He’s a bold jumper who will be up with the pace though, and boasts last year’s Grand National winning jockey, Leighton Aspell, in the saddle.
3 UNIONISTE 25-1
Paul Nicholls’ grey cruised to victory in what had looked like being a competitive chase at Sandown in January, but seven-year-olds have a poor National record and his inexperience could well count against him. Isn’t the tallest of horses, which could be a factor over the Aintree fences. Not the strongest of Nicholls’ string.
4 ROCKY CREEK 9-1
Looks to be the pick of Paul Nicholls’ entries, with his February win at Kempton representing some of the strongest form in the field. Finished fifth in last year’s race, when looking like the winner three out, and is likely to be ridden with more restraint in an attempt to make his stamina stretch. If he last out to the line, he’ll be hard to beat.
5 FIRST LIEUTENANT 33-1
Irish raider who was an extremely classy performer at his peak, but at the age of ten, perhaps his best days are behind him. Hasn’t won in his last 11 races and, while the drying ground will help, he’s unlikely to make Nina Carberry the first female rider to win a Grand National. Another negative is his position so high in the weights.
6 BALTHAZAR KING 10-1
Highly-fancied performer who has an awful lot in his favour. Was second in the race 12 months ago, and boasts a 5lb pull with Pineau De Re for the five lengths he was beaten. Has been campaigned much more lightly this term, with Philip Hobbs swerving the Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham to keep him at his peak.
7 SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR 7-1
Might well start as the shortest-priced Grand National favourite in living memory as he bids to give Tony McCoy an emotional triumph in his last ever ride in the race. Certainly boasts the form to go close, having won the Irish Grand National last spring, but would probably be the twice the price he is if McCoy wasn’t on board.
8 PINEAU DE RE 20-1
Was a ready winner of the race 12 months ago – when tipped on these pages – and is bidding to become the first horse since Red Rum to win successive Nationals. Has risen significantly in the weights though, and his form leading into the race is markedly inferior to last year’s. Would be a surprise winner second time around.
9 BALLYCASEY 33-1
Willie Mullins’ only runner in the race, but doesn’t look to have a lot in his favour. Has never won over three miles, let alone the almost four-and-a-half that he’ll be tackling today, and ran no kind of race when he was pulled up in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month. To compound matters, isn’t always the safest jumper.
11 REBEL REBELLION 40-1
Another Paul Nicholls runner, who has won decent handicaps at Ascot and Newbury already this year. Likes to be close to the head of affairs, but has never won at more than three miles so his stamina would have to be a major question. Nicely weighted, but doesn’t make a great deal of appeal.
12 DOLATULO 40-1
Won the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day, but didn’t look a natural over the National fences when he finished halfway down the field in the Grand Sefton Chase at the end of last year. Was well detached when running in a hurdle race at Cheltenham last month, and would like some rain to ease the going.
13 MON PARRAIN 50-1
Looked a potential National winner when he finished second in the Topham over the Aintree fences four years ago, but hasn’t progressed as planned. Won a class two chase at Cheltenham in January, but this looks a tough task. His jockey, 17-year-old Sean Bowen, only became eligible when he won at Haydock last weekend.
14 CARLITO BRIGANTE 66-1
A northern raider from Karen McLintock’s Northumberland yard, and has been laid out for today’s race from the start of the season. Warmed up in the same Kelso hurdle race that Ballabriggs and Auroras Encore claimed en route to Aintree glory, but looks unlikely to be emulating their feats.
15 NIGHT IN MILAN 25-1
Trained in Saltburn by Keith Reveley, and ridden by the trainer’s son, James, the nine-year-old has been the subject of strong each-way support in recent days. A bold and reliable jumper, who will appreciate the drying ground, he has been running consistently all season. Whether he is quite good enough to make the frame remains to be seen.
16 RUBI LIGHT 66-1
Has won on his last two outings in Ireland, but tellingly, both of those races were run over less than two-and-a-half miles. Hasn’t run over more than three miles for more than three years, and is unlikely to be producing his best work at the finish. Would also appreciate softer ground than he is likely to get today.
17 THE DRUIDS NEPHEW 12-1
Stormed to victory over 3m 1f on the opening day of last month’s Cheltenham Festival, and is therefore well in at the weights as a result. Boasts plenty of class and ability, but his regular jockey, Barry Geraghty, is injured and he can sometimes take a chance with his jumping. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him run well.
18 CAUSE OF CAUSES 18-1
An out-and-out stayer who won the amateur riders’ race over four miles at Cheltenham last month. That confirmed his relish for a challenge, and his trainer, Gordon Elliot, won the National with Silver Birch in 2007. Has to be on the shortlist, although there has to be a chance his Festival exertions have taken a lot out of him.
19 GODSMEJUDGE 20-1
Finished first and second in the last two Scottish Grand Nationals, and is a horse that seems to come alive on spring ground. His entire campaign has been centred around today’s race, and while his form hasn’t been sensational, he hasn’t been extended. The Aintree fences are an unknown, but he should have every chance.
20 AL CO 25-1
Beat Godsemjudge in last year’s Scottish Grand National, and is another horse that is a much better proposition in the spring. Failed to fire over the Aintree fences in December’s Becher Chase, although that was on soft, and is being ridden by Denis O’Regan for the first time. Even so, would have to have an each-way squeak.
21 MONBEG DUDE 33-1
Was 20 lengths away in seventh in last year’s race, and it’s hard not to think that might have been his best chance of a National success. Has run creditably in some decent races down the years, but is a ten-year-old now and ran poorly at Cheltenham last month. The quicker ground is also a hindrance rather than a help.
22 CORRIN WOOD 50-1
His trainer, Donald McCain, will forever be associated with the National thanks to his father, Ginger’s exploits with Red Rum, and his own success with Ballabriggs in 2011. Was highly regarded as a novice, but has run poorly in all three of his races this season and is unlikely to be adding to the McCain roll of honour.
23 THE RAINBOW HUNTER 66-1
Unseated at Valentine’s in last year’s National, and was pulled up on his only outing since, which came in a race won by Rocky Creek in February. Clearly, that’s a major worry, but had some decent form before that and is trained by Kim Bailey, who knows what it takes to win this after saddling Mr Frisk in 1990.
24 SAINT ARE 33-1
A dual Aintree chase winner who finished ninth behind Auroras Encore in the 2013 Grand National. Had to win at Catterick in February to rise high enough in the weights to get a race, but ran a creditable third behind Oscar Time in December’s Becher Chase. The better ground should suit, but would need a big career-best to feature.
25 ACROSS THE BAY 50-1
Another hopeful trained by Donald McCain, but didn’t have the best of preparations as he was brought down in the Kim Muir in Cheltenham last month. Locally owned on Merseyside, but was way off the pace in December’s Becher Chase over the National fences and was a well beaten 14th in last year’s race.
26 TRANQUIL SEA 80-1
A former Group One winner in Ireland, who proved he retains some of his old ability as he won a veterans’ chase at Doncaster in February. Takes a huge jump in class to run here though, and no 13-year-old has won since Sergeant Murphy triumphed in 1923. Hard to imagine him being involved in the finish.
27 OSCAR TIME 50-1
The oldest horse in the field, and would become the first ever 14-year-old winner of the National. Has twice finished in the top four, and proved plenty of ability remains as he romped to victory in December’s Becher Chase. Looks well weighted and boasts an Aintree specialist in the saddle. Definite each-way chances.
28 BOB FORD 66-1
A proven stayer, but is much better in the mud and the recent dry weather might well have scuppered his chances. Won on heavy ground at Ffos Las in January, but looked out of his depth before he was pulled up in the Midlands Grand National last month. Shouldn’t be good enough to make an impact.
29 SUPER DUTY 66-1
Was a talented novice, and finished second in the Kim Muir in Cheltenham in 2013, but things haven’t gone smoothly in the last couple of years. Has dropped down the weights as a result, but his last run in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster was a disappointment and it’s hard to imagine him suddenly sparking back into life.
30 WYCK HILL 50-1
Yet to be decided
A proven stayer, whose reliable jumping means he should definitely make the finish. The worry is that things will happen much too quickly for him as his preferred going is either soft or heavy. Won the Eider at Newcastle in 2013, but was already well beaten when he fell in the same race in February on good ground.
31 GAS LINE BOY 66-1
A sketchy jumper at the best of times, so it’s hard to see how the Aintree fences are going to play to his strengths. Recorded back-to-back wins at Exeter and Haydock in the autumn, but they were weak affairs and he’s aiming much higher here. Finished fourth in Haydock’s Grand National Trial in Feburary and is likely to be outclassed.
32 CHANCE DU ROY 40-1
Finished a decent sixth in last year’s race, having won over the Aintree fences in the Becher Chase in December 2013. Isn’t getting any younger, and probably wants softer ground, but is an ultra-reliable jumper who clearly likes the track. Has been campaigned lightly with this in mind and has to enter each-way equations.
33 PORTRAIT KING 66-1
Trained in Ireland, and showed ample reserves of stamina as he won the Eider Chase at Newcastle on good ground in 2012. Hasn’t done a lot since then though, and was halfway down the field when returned to Gosforth Park this spring. Looks like his best days are behind him, and is extremely hard to fancy here.
34 OWEGA STAR 66-1
Irish raider who is untried beyond three miles, so his stamina remains open to debate. Showed a lot of promise as a novice, but hasn’t really kicked on in the senior ranks. That said, his second in the Troytown at Navan last November represents decent form, and he’s one of the better candidates at a really big price.
35 RIVER CHOICE 100-1
Yet to be decided
French raider who has never run outside his homeland. All his wins have come on soft or heavy ground, and today’s race is likely to take him out of his comfort zone. His last victory came over an extended two miles, so how he copes with more than twice that distance remains to be seen. Deserves to be a huge outsider.
36 COURT BY SURPRISE 50-1
Hasn’t been seen since he was awarded the Badger Ales Trophy in November after finishing behind The Young Master, who was subsequently disqualified. Ran well enough that day, and has also won at Exeter this season, but is taking a huge step up in class. Jumps soundly and goes well fresh though, so isn’t devoid of hope.
37 ALVARADO 18-1
Yet to be decided
Took an age to get going in last year’s race, but finished as strongly as anything as he came through to claim fourth. Has been the subject of a fair bit of ante-post support, and gets a 9lb pull in the weights with Pineau De Re, but could find things happening too quickly early on once again. Should get round safely though.
38 SOLL 20-1
Improving type who looked better than ever when winning at Exeter and Newbury in February. Finished seventh in the 2013 Grand National, but has kicked on since joining David Pipe’s yard and has to enter each-way calculations. Has seen plenty of support since his place in the field was confirmed at the start of the week.
39 ELY BROWN 100-1
Yet to be decided
Has only had four runs over fences in his entire career, the most recent of which saw him finish fifth in the RSA Chase at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. Was pulled up in a hurdle race at Wetherby in January, and looks to be completely out of his depth in this field. His three-figure odds are completely justified.
40 ROYALE NIGHT 28-1
Trained by Dr Richard Newland, who saddled Pineau De Re to victory last year, and a live outsider who sneaks in at the very bottom of the weights. Won the Durham National at Sedgefield in October, and has been kept to hurdles since, mirroring the approach that paid dividends for the Newland yard 12 months ago.