Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson with his guide to the runners and riders in the 2018 Grand National at Aintree

The Northern Echo: Grand National

Scott Wilson's Prediction

1 Seeyouatmidnight 16-1
2 Tiger Roll 12-1
3 Raz de Maree 33-1
4 Pleasant Company 33-1

JJ Slevin
Came into the field on Friday morning when Minella Rocco pulled out, and is the lowest-weighted horse in the race despite wearing number one. Won the Irish National in 2015, beating subsequent Aintree winner Rule The World, but is starting to get a bit long in the teeth. Has fallen on his last two outings, which would have to be a huge concern.
2 BLAKLION 11-1 ***
Sam Twiston-Davies
Looked certain to win when he turned for home in last year’s race, but paid the price for doing too much in front as he faded into fourth. Has won a Becher Chase, so clearly relishes the Aintree fences, but his stamina will be severely tested on the predicted soft ground. Had an especially gruelling run last time out, when he crawled home on bottomless ground at Haydock.
3 ANIBALE FLY 11-1 ****
Barry Geraghty
Irish raider that was flying home as he finished third in last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. That was an excellent run, and he’d be carrying more weight at Aintree if the handicapper was able to reassess the form. Should be suited by any cut in the ground, and boasts some excellent Irish form. A slight worry that he fell in the Irish Gold Cup in February though.
4 THE LAST SAMURI 16-1 ***
David Bass
Finished second behind Rule The World in the 2016 National, but could only trail in 16th in last year’s renewal and it’s hard not to wonder if his best chance of glory has gone. That said, though, he’s 3lbs lower in the weights this time around and proved his wellbeing as he finished a decent third in the Cross-Country at Cheltenham last month. Not without a chance.
5 VALSEUR LIDO 50-1 **
Keith Donoghue
A former Grade One winner who has also finished second in a Ryanair Chase, so does not look badly treated on his best form. Has been badly out of sorts this season though, and has never previously run beyond three miles. It’s hard to see this marathon trip suiting, although it’s interesting that the powerful Gigginstown operation have targeted this race.
6 TOTAL RECALL 10-1 *****
Paul Townend
Emerged as a leading National contender when he ran away with what used to be known as the Hennessy at Newbury in December. Has shot up in the weights since then, but was going extremely well in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham before he fell three out. Willie Mullins has long considered him a natural for this race, and has every chance of being involved in the finish.
Rachael Blackmore
Something of a forgotten horse, who could well outrun his odds. Once beat Thistlecrack as a hurdler, and finished fourth behind Might Bite in the 2016 RSA Chase. His form has tailed off since then, but he’d be a contender if he rediscovered his spark and saw out the marathon trip. One of three horses to be ridden by a female jockey in this year’s race.
Alain Cawley
Raced prominently last year until he was pulled up on the second circuit, and is unlikely to fare much better this time around. Looks thoroughly exposed at the age of 11, and has spent most of the season running in veterans’ chases. One of the safer jumpers in the field, but it would be a major surprise if he was not to find this too much for him.
9 SHANTOU FLYER 33-1 ***
James Bowen
Was pulled up in last year’s race when his stamina gave way on the final circuit, but was only seven then, so might well have improved. Has had a hard season – this will be his eighth race – which is a worry, but has turned in some useful performances, most notably when finishing second in the Ultima Chase at Cheltenham last month. Wouldn’t want the ground to be too soft.
Tom O'Brien
Got round last year, but finished a distant 17th and is unlikely to have too much room for improvement given he is now 11. His two runs this season resulted in him being pulled up and finishing sixth out of six, so is hardly carrying any sort of form into the race. Will probably get round again, but is likely to be out with the washing.
Mark Walsh
One of the more interesting outsiders on the pick of his previous form, although he’ll have to improve markedly on his more recent efforts to threaten. Has won the Irish Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup in the past, but has beaten just one horse home in his four appearances this season. The handicapper has given him a chance, but his best days might well have been and gone.
Henry Brooke
Came into the race yesterday when Vicente withdrew, but shouldn’t be good enough to be a factor. Trained in North Yorkshire by Sue Smith, who has a fine record in the race, but his only win in more than a year came in a Class Three contest at Catterick. A safe enough jumper though, so might well be plugging on at the end at the rear of the field.
13 TIGER ROLL 12-1 *****
Davy Russell
Doesn’t have the profile of a typical Grand National winner, having previously won a Triumph Hurdle, but proved his liking for a marathon trip when he won the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in 2016, and claimed another Festival win in this year’s Cross-Country. Jumps for fun, goes on any ground and has to feature on any shortlist.
14 REGAL ENCORE 33-1 ***
Richie McLernon
Not the most consistent of performers, but finished eighth in last year’s race and posted a career-best performance when he won over three miles at Ascot in February. Finished third behind Total Recall in December, and is now 9lbs better off with that rival for a nine-length defeat. Throws in the occasional shocker, but would have a chance on one of his better days.
15 VIEUX LION ROUGE 28-1 ***
Tom Scudamore
Has finished sixth and seventh in his two previous efforts in the race, and travelled nicely on both occasions without really finding much at the finish. No real reason why he should be markedly better this time around, although he has had a much lighter campaign. Should jump round safely again, and could challenge for an each-way place. An unlikely winner though.
16 CHASE THE SPUD 66-1 **
Paddy Brennan
Won the Midlands Grand National in 2017, and will want the ground as soft as possible. Is proven beyond four miles, so won’t be wanting for stamina, but has been pulled up on his last two outings when conditions should really have suited. Could be a factor if it’s a war of attrition, but is almost certain to find a few of his rivals a bit too good.
17 WARRIORS TALE 50-1 **
Sean Bowen
Finished second in a couple of decent races this winter, chasing home Gold Present and Wakanda,  but is completely unproven beyond three miles and might well find this a bit too much. Paul Nicholls thinks a lot of him, and his career trajectory is on an upward curve. This would be a major leap forward though, and others have much stronger claims.
Brian Hughes
Looking to give Scotland back-to-back Grand National wins, and ticks all of the boxes needed for success. A proven stayer who has finished second in a Scottish Grand National, this has been his target all season. Lightly raced for a ten-year-old, he is a reliable jumper who seems to go on all types of ground. Should have a really strong chance of being there at the finish.
19 GAS LINE BOY 33-1 ***
Robert Dunne
Finished fifth in last year’s renewal, and proved his liking for the Aintree fences when he romped home in the Grand Sefton Chase in December. That was only over 2m 6f, and his stamina would be stretched if the ground was to be really soft, but he’s safe over his fences and should give his backers a decent run for their money. At 12, this will almost be certainly be his last chance of glory.
20 THE DUTCHMAN 28-1 ***
Harry Cobden
Joined Colin Tizzard’s yard at the start of the season, and immediately took a major step forward as he triumphed in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock. Flopped on his most recent run, when he was pulled up on some bottomless ground, and wouldn’t want things too soft. Still has a bit to prove in terms of stamina, but isn’t without a shout given his low weight.
David Mullins
Might well have gone close in last year’s race had a shuddering mistake at Valentine’s on the second circuit not checked his momentum and eventually led to him finishing ninth. Has run poorly this season, but there’s every chance this has been the target all along and as former Bobbyjo Chase winner in Ireland, he looks like one of the more dangerous outsiders.
22 UCELLO CONTI 20-1 ****
Daryl Jacob
Has been well supported in the last two Nationals, but finished sixth in 2016 and came to grief at Becher’s on the second circuit last year when he looked to be going well. It’s hard not to wonder if his chance has been and gone, but Gordon Elliott has been keen to talk him up and it’s still more than possible he’s capable of winning a big one.
23 SAINT ARE 66-1 ***
Adrian Heskin
Finished third in last year’s National, having been runner-up behind Many Clouds in 2015. Clearly enjoys the challenge of the race, but isn’t getting any younger at the age of 12 and has looked a pale shadow of his former self as he has been pulled up in his two outings this season. A return to Aintree might spark a revival, but he’d be much more dangerous on good ground.
24 WALK IN THE MILL 100-1 *
Sam Waley-Cohen
Another reserve that stepped into the field yesterday when Beeves was withdrawn. Will be carrying a featherweight, but has never finished in a race beyond three miles so stamina is completely unproven. Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen is one of the best riders of the National course, but it would be a huge shock if he can be a factor at the finish.
25 RAZ DE MAREE 33-1 ****
Robbie Power
The stats will tell you that a 13-year-old can’t win the National – Sergeant Murphy was the last teenage winner in 1923 – but age might not be a barrier to this veteran going well. Produced a career-best performance when he won the Welsh Grand National in January, and relishes a slog through the mud. If the rain descends later today, he’ll have a big chance.
26 I JUST KNOW 25-1 ***
Danny Cook
The North Yorkshire National at Catterick might be a step or two down from the big one at Aintree, but it was hard not to be impressed by this horse’s 15-length demolition job at the start of the year. Trained by North Yorkshire’s Sue Smith, who won the race with Aurora’s Encore in 2013, and will almost certainly be blazing away at the head of the field.
27 VIRGILIO 100-1 *
Harry Skelton
Has had a wind operation since he disappointed at Doncaster in December, but his form should still be nowhere near good enough to win this. Showed glimpses of ability when he finished third to Might Bite in a novice chase at last year’s National meeting, but has shown nothing to suggest he can handle himself in this company. Stamina also suspect.
28 BAIE DES ILES 16-1 ****
Katie Walsh
One of the best-backed horses of the week, despite the last seven-year-old winner being Bogskar back in 1940. Swerved the Irish National to make sure he was primed for this, having finished third in an extremely hot Grand National trial at Punchestown in February. Will relish the rain-softened ground, and looks to have been handed a dangerously low weight.
29 MAGGIO 100-1 *
Brendan Powell
Irish teenager who hasn’t won for two years, and can be readily overlooked. Was tailed off in all three of his outings this season, beating just one horse home in his last two starts. Has never run beyond 3m 2f, so his stamina is unproven, and he’s never looked like threatening in this kind of race. Deserves to be a three-figure option.
30 PENDRA 66-1 **
Aidan Coleman
Finished a distant 13th in the 2016 National, and has only been seen on the track twice since. Showed some promise when he finished second in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham in 2017, but was down the field in the same race at this race’s Festival. Should jump around safely, but would prefer better ground and shouldn’t be capable of getting involved.
31 BUYWISE 50-1 **
Adam Wedge
A shuddering mistake ruined his chances in this race two years ago – he eventually finished 12th behind Rule The World – and his form since has been inconsistent. January’s win at Sandown proved he retains some ability, but he’s also thrown in some disappointing runs. Shouldn’t be good enough, although can’t be completely ruled out on a going day.
Jonathan Burke
The fact Willie Mullins has chosen to run him here means he can’t be completely discounted, but he looks one of the weaker Irish raiders. Pulled up on his most recent start, when it looked as though he didn’t stay, and while he beat Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf in his novice days, it would be a huge shock if he triumphed here.
Andrew Lynch
Won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014, but is a completely different proposition now his career is drawing towards its end. Finished seventh behind One For Arthur 12 months ago, but never looked like being a factor in the finish. Fell in December’s Becher Chase over these fences, and is unlikely to relish a gruelling slog in the mud.
Sam Coltherd
Would be a fairy-tale winner given that he is trained by Stuart Coltherd, a farmer from the Scottish borders who only looks after a handful of horses. Is unlikely to be good enough to triumph, but deserves to take his chance on the evidence of two impressive winter runs at Haydock. Finished sixth over the National fences in December’s Grand Sefton.
Charlie Deutsch
One of the few runners that would probably have wanted even more rain in the last week thanks to his fondness for bottomless ground. Not as good as he once was, but stays all day and boasts some decent form in major staying handicaps. Trained by the in-form Venetia Williams, who won the 2009 National with 100-1 shot Mon Mome, and not entirely out of it.
36 BLESS THE WINGS 50-1 **
Jack Kennedy
Is 13 now, and has failed to complete in four of his last five outings, which has to be a major concern. His other run in that sequence was a good one, as he won over the Cross-Country fences at Cheltenham in December, but even at his best he would have struggled in this, and those days look a fair way off now. Interesting that Gordon Elliott chooses to run him though.
37 MILANSBAR 33-1 ***
Bryony Frost
Will attract plenty of support thanks to the presence of Bryony Frost in the saddle, with the youngster having proved the riding find of the season. Would have claims whoever was on board though, having won the same National trial at Warwick that One For Arthur claimed before triumphing at Aintree 12 months ago. A reliable sort, but has had a hard season.
38 FINAL NUDGE 50-1 ***
Gavin Sheehan
Finished third in this season’s Welsh Grand National, and has always looked like this kind of marathon trip would suit. Has been handed next to no weight, but would have to improve on last month’s below-par run at Cheltenham to be a factor. Jumps well enough though, and is likely to be staying on strongly when others start dropping away.
39 DOUBLE ROSS 100-1 *
Jamie Bargary
Finished fourth in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last month, but has had an inconsistent season and is likely to be well out of his depth here. Pulled up in his previous attempt at the race in 2016, and it’s hard to see why he should be any better now he is two years older. Will carry next to no weight, but still makes little or no appeal.
40 ROAD TO RICHES 50-1 **
Sean Flanagan
Scraped into the field on Thursday when Gold Present pulled out, but will have to radically improve on his recent form to be a factor. Once finished third to Vautour in a Ryanair Chase, but was pulled up on his last outing and finished down the field at Leopardstown in December. Lightly raced over the last few years, but shouldn’t be good enough.