CRABBIE’S GRAND NATIONAL: A-Z pinsticker’s guide to all the runners
To help you find the winner of this Saturday’s Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree, here is an A-Z pinsticker’s guide to the runners from our resident racing expert, RICHARD SILVERWOOD.
Alongside each horse’s name is the weight he will be carrying in the race, plus the best odds available at the time of writing. The weather forecast suggests the race will be run on Good To Soft, or even Good, ground.
ACROSS THE BAY 10st 6lb 50/1
Owned by a syndicate based at a pub close to the Aintree track, this 11-year-old is having his third try in the race, having finished 14th in 2013 and 15th last year. Trained by the McCain stable, of Red Rum fame.
AL CO 10st 8lb 33/1
Smallish ten-year-old stayer who won the Scottish National last year, but jumped badly and was pulled up over the Aintree fences in December, since when he’s been given two low-key runs over hurdles. His regular jockey, Jamie Moore, misses the race after breaking his leg, while trainer Peter Bowen’s son, Sean, rides rival Mon Parrain.
ALVARADO 10st 3lb 20/1
Lightly-raced ten-year-old who ran on from nowhere to snatch fourth in last year’s race, boosting the remarkable record of his owners, William and Angela Rucker, who have had a horse placed in the last six Nationals, all ridden by Paul Moloney. Trainer Fergal O’Brien is also a shrewdie who knows the time of day.
BAILEYS CONCERTO 10st 2lb 100/1
Fragile but consistent stable star of the small Cumbrian yard of Dianne Sayer, and wildly overpriced on the strength of his encouraging first attempt at 3m in a good handicap chase at Doncaster in January. Live outsider capable of snatching a place if his stamina stretches to another mile or so.
BALLYCASEY 10st 13lb 40/1
Sole representative of Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, who took the Cheltenham Festival by storm last month. A massive price for a classy eight-year-old whose form includes victory in a Grade One and who will lap up the Good ground. However, he’s lost his way this season and is unlikely to stay the marathon trip.
BALTHAZAR KING 11st 12lb 12/1
Brave and resilient runner-up last year, having finished 15th in 2013. He’s made his name in recent campaigns in cross-country chases, winning twice at the Cheltenham Festival, and is aiming to break the National duck of the formidable trainer/jockey combination of Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson. Blessed with a willing attitude second to none.
BOB FORD 10st 4lb 66/1
Front-running mudlark who won an attritional renewal of the West Wales National on bottomless ground at Ffos Las in January. Trained by the very able Rebecca Curtis, he was pulled up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter on his last outing, however.
BROADWAY BUFFALO 10st 50/1
Hardy, consistent youngster suited by long distances. A fine runner-up in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival last month, but it’s 57 years since a novice won the National, and 75 years since a seven-year-old landed the prize. Furthermore, a woman has never ridden the winner, but this one’s jockey, Katie Walsh (sister of Ruby), bagged the Irish National on Easter Monday.
CARLITO BRIGANTE 10st 10lb 66/1
Won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and rated as high as 160 as a hurdler. Not so good over fences, but has been revitalised over long distances this season after a switch to the Newcastle-based training operation of Karen McLintock and Don Eddy, for whom he is a first runner in the race (off 147).
CAUSE OF CAUSES 10st 9lb 20/1
One-time crack 2m hurdler for Nicky Henderson. Now enjoying a new lease of life as a staying chaser for leading Irish handler Gordon Elliott, who saddled him to an impressive victory in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival last month.. He’s one of two strong fancies owned by JP McManus, but not since Mr What in 1958 has a novice won the Aintree National and not since Bogskar in 1940 has a seven-year-old triumphed.
CHANCE DU ROY 10st 4lb 40/1
With this being his seventh outing over the fences, no horse in the field has more experience of the unique Aintree spruce. Philip Hobbs’s 11-year-old won the Becher Chase at the track in 2012, was second in the 2012 Topham Chase, and finished a respectable sixth in last year’s National.
CORRIN WOOD 10st 7lb 66/1
Runner-up to last month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree on his hurdling debut in November 2012, Donald McCain’s eight-year-old grey developed into a bright and bouncy novice chaser last term. But he’s regressed since disappointing at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.
COURT BY SURPRISE 10st 3lb 50/1
One of the few in the field who would genuinely relish quick, drying ground. Emma Lavelle’s ten-year-old rarely wins but is consistent enough and although he’s not been seen since November, he goes best fresh and should stay. Richie McLernon, who was pipped at the post on Sunnyhillboy three years ago, takes the ride.
DOLATULO 10st 11lb 40/1
One of two challengers for up-and-coming trainer Warren Greatrex, this versatile eight-year-old made mistakes and finished tired when tackling the Aintree fences in December. However, he did bounce back to win a Grade Three chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
DUKE OF LUCCA 10st 2lb 66/1
Vastly experienced chaser who won a big handicap at this meeting on the Mildmay course last year. One of four probable runners for trainer Philip Hobbs, the ten-year-old has been plying his trade in cross-country races since -- and without much success.
ELY BROWN 10st 2lb 100/1
Owned by a Liverpool company, Charlie Longsdon’s ten-year-old would be an interesting contender on his form in staying hurdles, which included two wins at Aintree. But he’s run only five times over fences and only once, when pulled up, since sustaining an injury 14 months ago while progressing nicely as a novice.
FIRST LIEUTENANT 11st 3lb 33/1
The mount of Nina Carberry, the best female jumps jockey in the business, Mouse Morris’s ten-year-old was once a serious Cheltenham Gold Cup candidate rated as high as 170 at his best. After two regressive years without a win, he’s down to a mark of 154, but it is feasible that he will be re-invigorated by Aintree’s unique fences and by Good ground, which he much prefers to the midwinter mud he invariably faces in Ireland.
GAS LINE BOY 10st 4lb 100/1
When Mick Fitzgerald rode Rough Quest to victory in the 1996 National, he famously said it was “better than sex”. He now heads a racing club that owns this dogged nine-year-old, who is blessed with bucketloads of stamina but would probably render Fitzgerald speechless if he won!
GODSMEJUDGE 10st 8lb 20/1
Stamina is not a worry for Alan King’s nine-year-old, who won the Scottish National of 2013 and finished second in the same race last season -- form which leaves him looking well-handicapped. However, his current form must be a concern after three poor efforts this term
LORD WINDERMERE 11st 10lb 50/1
Not since the days of Red Rum in the 1970s has a horse carted a weight as hefty as 11-10 to victory in the National. And not since the same days of Rummy’s old rival, L’Escargot, has a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner triumphed at Aintree. That’s the size of the task facing Jim Culloty’s nine-year-old, who has failed to fire since his Gold Cup triumph in a sub-standard renewal 13 months ago, although he will relish the forecast Good ground at Aintree..
MANY CLOUDS 11st 9lb 25/1
Last year’s winning jockey Leighton Aspell switches to this eight-year-old, owned by Trevor Hemmings who celebrated National success in 2005 with Hedgehunter and 2011 with Ballabriggs. His progressive profile features victory in the Hennessy Gold Cup last November, but his limitations were exposed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month and he must shoulder a huge weight here on ground plenty lively enough for him.
MONBEG DUDE 10st 7lb 33/1
Trainer Michael Scudamore’s grandfather of the same name rode Oxo to victory in the Grand National of 1959. And it’s not out of the question that he could complete an amazing double if this talented ten-year-old can improve slightly on his seventh in last year’s race when he ran too free early on. The winner of the Welsh National in 2013, he is part-owned by ex-England rugby international Mike Tindall, husband of Zara Phillips, and will be ridden by Liam Treadwell who guided Mon Mome to 100/1 Liverpool glory in 2009.
MON PARRAIN 10st 11lb 50/1
A revelation when tackling the Aintree fences as a five-year-old in the Topham Chase of 2011, Paul Nicholls’s French-bred has not fulfilled expectations since. However, Ruby Walsh, who rode him that day, has always considered him a National type and, on the pick of his admittedly in-and-out form, he is enticingly handicapped for a marathon test that should suit. Saturday’s jockey, Sean Bowen, is the youngest in the race at only 17, but he’s tuned up with two trebles in the last week.
OSCAR TIME 10st 5lb 50/1
No horse as old as 14 has ever won, but no horse in the field has a better record over the Aintree obstacles than this gelding, owned and trained by the chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, Robert Waley-Cohen. He’s been placed twice in the National and won the Becher Chase in December. What’s more, his pilot, Waley-Cohen’s son, Sam, boasts an even more prolific record over Becher’s Brook et al, recording five wins.
OWEGA STAR 10st 3lb 66/1
A dark horse from the Irish stable of Peter Fahey, this eight-year-old is a solid, reliable handicapper over hurdles and fences. He jumps well too and is capable of running well if he can prove his stamina for such a marathon trip. In the plate will be Robbie Power, who steered home Silver Birch in the 2007 National.
PINEAU DE RE 11st 25/1
Overcame a mixed round of jumping to land last year’s National as the first runner in the race for Worcestershire trainer Dr Richard Newland. Curiously, he has not been pitted over fences since, with four undistinguished displays over hurdles offering little hope of a repeat success, especially off 8lb higher in the weights. No horse has won back-to-back Nationals since the mighty Red Rum in the 1970s, and last year’s winning jockey, Leighton Aspell, has jumped ship, although connections have booked a top-class repleacement in Daryl Jacob.
PORTRAIT KING 10st 3lb 66/1
Irish handler Maurice Phelan has earmarked the Aintree spectacular for his ten-year-old ever since the gelding proved his copper-bottomed stamina by winning the 4m1f Eider Chase at Newcastle in 2012. The grey has won only once since, but boasts respectable form.
RAZ DE MAREE 10st 1lb 66/1
Would be an emotional winner, given that he’s in the care of Sandra Hughes, daughter of trainer Dessie, who died late last year. He plugged on from way back to finish eighth in 2014 and underlined his stamina and jumping credentials (has never fallen) by finishing second in the Midlands National last month.
REBEL REBELLION 10st 12lb 40/1
Bang-in-form chaser from the yard of champion trainer Paul Nicholls. However, he’s never strayed beyond 3m and although he won over the Aintree fences back in December 2013, the ten-year-old didn’t enjoy a repeat bid in the Topham Chase at this meeting last term.
ROCKY CREEK 11st 3lb 10/1
A class act who ran a blinder under a big weight for one so inexperienced when fifth in last season’s National. Given that he faded from the second last, stamina poses a question mark, but trainer Paul Nicholls is convinced that a breathing operation and a more patient ride will help him get home this time. He won so easily at Kempton seven weeks ago, defying a lengthy absence, that he wouldn’t have been out of place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
RIVER CHOICE 10st 3lb 150/1
Millionaire buy-to-let landlord Fergus Wilson teams up with French trainer Richard Chotard to supply one of the biggest outsiders in the field. Aged 12, the gelding is also one of the oldest in the field and has rarely ventured from Auteuil in his jumping career.
ROYALE KNIGHT 10st 2lb 33/1
A second string to the bow of last year’s winning trainer, Dr Richard Newland. And as a stout, consistent staying chaser, suited by extreme distances and decent ground, the nine-year-old is no mug. Mind you, he is much higher in the weights than when winning the Borders National at Kelso and the Durham National at Sedgefield.
RUBI LIGHT 10st 9lb 66/1
So good was Robbie Hennessy’s chaser at his peak that he finished a fine second in a top-class contest to Synchronised, four months before Jonjo O’Neill’s ill-fated charge landed the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He has been in decline since and although a couple of wins since Christmas suggest a new lease of life, this trip may well take him way out of his comfort zone.
SAINT ARE 10st 6lb 33/1
A move to the yard of Tom George and the fitting of a tongue-strap appear to have revitalised a stayer, who has twice won at this meeting before, including in a Grade One novices’ hurdle, and who has twice shaped well over the Aintree fences before, including as a young seven-year-old in the National of 2013. His pilot, Paddy Brennan, has more knowhow than most.
SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR 11st 2lb 7/1
The favourite that punters will be pinning their faith in to provide a fairytale finale to the remarkable career of 19-times champion jockey Tony ‘AP’ McCoy. Has always been regarded as a top-class horse in the making since reeling off a hat-trick of wins in Bumpers in his younger days. As a novice chaser last season, he ground out a gritty success in the Irish National and was even being earmarked for a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup this term before injury intervened. The eight-year-old has been absent since his seasonal re-appearance in November, but trainer Jonjo O’Neill insists he won’t lack for fitness. He might lack for experience, though, after only six runs over fences.
SOLL 10st 2lb 25/1
Big, strong, lengthy chaser who finished a respectable seventh in the 2013 National and who returns for a second crack after two wins this season for his new trainer, David Pipe, who sent out Comply Or Die to land the 2008 Aintree renewal. He prefers plenty of give in the ground, but does appear to have improved for the fitting of a tongue-tie, and stable jockey Tom Scudamore is staying loyal to him, even though his brother saddles Monbeg Dude.
SPRING HEELED 10st 12lb 20/1
Had Grand National written all over him when making most to win one of the staying handicap chases at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Although the eight-year-old has pulled up few trees since, his light preparation has revolved around a crack at Aintree and he will relish the likely Good ground, A major worry is the poor form of his handler, Jim Culloty, who is aiming to become only the sixth person in history to train and ride a National winner. Culloty, who was Best Mate’s jockey and who steered Bindaree to Aintree glory in 2002, hasn’t saddled a single winner for more than a year.
SUPER DUTY 10st 4lb 66/1
As a smart novice hurdler and novice chaser with Donald McCain, this nine-year-old looked like maturing into an ideal National type, especially when a gallant runner-up at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival. But he’s lost his way in the last two years and is now with a new trainer in Ian Williams.
THE DRUIDS NEPHEW 10st 9lb 14/1
Entered many a National notebook after a terrific, career-best triumph in a cracking, competitive handicap at the Cheltenham Festival last month when he jumped for fun. And rightly so, given that he runs off the same handicap rating here. However, it’s a scary stat that of the last 53 Festival winners to try their hand in the National, 52 have failed. The eight-year-old, who isn’t that big, has also lost the services of jockey Barry Geraghty, who is injured, although his handler, Neil Mulholland, one of the best young trainers in the country, dismisses additional fears about his stamina.
THE PACKAGE 10st 33/1
Admirable veteran, who bounced back to his best form in first-time blinkers at the Cheltenham Festival last month, destroying his rivals with the smoothest of textbook performances. For a 12-year-old, he has relatively few miles on the clock and off a featherweight, David Pipe’s gelding could easily be fancied but for two previous tilts at the National that have ended in failure. Last year, he travelled beautifully only to tire as they crossed the Melling Road on the run to the second last.
THE RAINBOW HUNTER 10st 7lb 66/1
Trained by Kim Bailey, who sent out Mr Frisk to win the National 24 years ago in record time, and part-owned by Racing UK presenter Oli Bell. Unlikely to make a name for himself, though, after unseating his rider in each of the last two Nationals and pulling up on his only outing this term.
TRANQUIL SEA 10st 5lb 100/1
One-time classy chaser who won the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham for Irish handler Edward O’Grady. Now a 13-year-old veteran, he has been given a light preparation for the race by his current trainer, Warren Greatrex, but is most unlikely to see out this 4m-plus trip.
UNIONISTE 11st 6lb 25/1
Trainer Paul Nicholls and owner John Hales teamed up with a grey, Neptune Collonges, to take the 2012 National, so the omens speak highly of a repeat with this talented animal, especially as his half-brother was third in the 2009 renewal. He has never fallen and looks certain to appreciate the demands of the Aintree marathon. The massive snag is that no horse as young as seven has landed the prize since 1940, although this gelding did win a big chase at Cheltenham when he was only four.
WYCK HILL 10st 4lb 50/1
The least fancied of a trio of runners for legendary Irish owner JP McManus, this 11-year-old proved his liking for long distances when taking the 4m1f Eider Chase at Newcastle last year -- four months after gaining experience of the National fences at Aintree. Trainer David Bridgwater has prepared him specially for this race, but a fall on his return to Newcastle in January hardly inspires confidence.