This Saturday is that one special day of the year when old fashioned betting offices are crowded out as everyone from pros to pin-stickers place their bets on the £1million Grand National.
A full field of 40 horses has of course been assembled for the 4m2½f, 30-fence spectacular and while a lot of old trends are increasingly being thrown out of the window, we’ve used all our cunning and knowledge to whittle this field down to 8 horses worth mentioning.
Gordon Elliott has planned a major assault on this race and incredibly is responsible for saddling 13 of the final field, including this 8yo gelding who won the Grand National Trial at Punchestown in February.
Having fallen once and pulled-up three times he has some weaknesses, but on current form and an apparent ability to last a trip he is right up there with rider Jack Kennedy thoroughly capable of guiding him round.
Connections were delighted when this 10yo was the last horse to sneak into the handicap and as the current Scottish Grand National champion you have to feel he has a major chance.
That win was on good ground last April but he has continued to improve this term over shorter trips on softer going and should find things very much to his liking here for trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Adam Wedge. Major chance.
Another of the Elliott runners and comes into this chasing a hat-trick, this versatile sort is in the form of his life right now but it’s just a slight worry that he’s won only over the bear three miles and not for as big a prize as many of the other contenders.
Lake View Lad
One For Arthur may not be able to repeat his Grand National win for Scotland given his current problems standing up, but it’s a question of time before another is trained north of the border and Nick Alexander may yet be responsible for it.
Owner Trevor Hemmings is a dab hand at getting horses to win this and Lake View Lad fits the profile beautifully, even if he is a tad high in the handicap to be considered ideal.
A stunning winner of the bet365 Gold Cup for this column last April, Step Back is showing all the right signs for a National horse with the only negatives being that he is a little inexperienced for a chaser coming into this and he’s had 84 days off the track, not usually a great sign as winners of this tend to need a recent prep.
About to go off the shortest priced favourite for this race ever, last year’s winner is looking to emulate Red Rum and his profile is second to none.
His handicap mark is high enough though and his round of jumping last year wasn’t completely flawless, so given that he won the 2018 running by the skin of his teeth he looks way too short to be interested in despite having seemingly improved. It would be a great story should he win, mind you.
Trevor Hemmings’ other contender is a belter in terms of profile; age, weight, handicap mark and form all being perfect in the context of this race and it would be tremendous to see Sue Smith and Danny Cook take this race.
Second in the Ultima at Cheltenham, Vintage Clouds hasn’t been wrapped in cotton wool but so often that is the best approach coming into the National and this horse ranks very highly indeed.
Walk In The Mill
Another winner for the column, this time over these very fences in the Becher Chase over the winter after which this was always the plan.
He’s had two easy spins over hurdles since then to protect him, his fitness therefore not being in question while his handicap mark is only 5lbs higher than when scoring in December. Big, big chance.
There is so much more we could say about at least a dozen contenders in this race, but what we really need to know of course is simply who to back!
We scored an each-way win with narrowly-beaten Pleasant Company at 25/1 last year and once again we advise each-way bets to small stakes on the following four against the field, all of whom should give a very good account of themselves given luck in running:
33. Vintage Clouds
36. Walk In The Mill
40. Joe Farrell