Grand National Preview Part 2: Runner Profiles

April 13, 2018 News

IT is the most famous horse race in the entire world, with 40 horses battling it out over the unique spruce fences over nearly four-and-a-half miles.
And it is also the race where everyone wants to find the winner. Some will pick colours, others their favourite name or jockey – and some will try and use their brains to find the winner.
Here we have a look at the runners and try to give a brief overview of their chances of victory.

Blaklion
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
‘Hooray’ went backers of last year’s Grand National favourite when he surged clear of his rivals on the run to the third last. That confidence quickly evaporated when we saw he was actually just running on fumes. That is the big worry again. Has had a wind operation.

Anibale Fly
Trainer: Tony Martin
Has a lovely profile coming into this with a win in a big handicap chase at Leopardstown at Christmas, a fall when challenging in the Irish Gold Cup and then a third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Barry Geraghty rides and is well worth considering in this contest.

The Last Samuri
Trainer: Kim Bailey
Wonderfully persistent or woefully deluded? Whichever one you agree with probably dictates how you feel this horse will get on. He has run plenty of good races at Aintree, and in the Grand National, but has never won at the track in four previous tries.

Valseur Lido
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
You cannot have a staying chase in Britain or Ireland these days without about a million Gigginstown House Stud runners. This horse forms part of the team for this race but Michael O’Leary would have much better chances with his other runners.

Total Recall
Trainer: Willie Mullins
This has always been the plan for this horse, although connections opted to take a detour to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup in between – as you do. Had a heavy fall at the notorious third-last fence at Cheltenham which rather tempers enthusiasm for this contest.

Alpha Des Obeaux
Trainer: Mouse Morris
His trainer is likely to be enveloped in a cloud of smoke during the race as he nervously frets about how his horse is getting on. Masterminded the victory of Rule The World two years ago and has the excellent Rachael Blackmore on board. An interesting outsider.

Perfect Candidate
Trainer: Fergal O’Brien
Noted for their love of cake and wild celebrations, the Fergal O’Brien team will certainly be the most vocal supporters at Aintree on Saturday. The main problem for this horse is the race is not taking place at his beloved Cheltenham.

Shantou Flyer
Trainer: Richard Hobson
Could jockey James Bowen become the youngest-ever winner of the Grand National this weekend? He’s only 17 and already made a huge impact this season on his way to the champion conditional title. Will need all his skill and guile to get home in front here.

Tenor Nivernais
Trainer: Venetia Williams
A troublesome runner. He has the obvious profile of an outsider having not shown much form recently, but he is trained by ‘soft-ground specialist’ Venetia Williams. That has to help his chances, as does the fact Williams excels with staying chasers (won this race in 2009). Would nevertheless be a surprise if he was good enough to be involved. Famous last words…

Carlingford Lough
Trainer: John Kiely
Another runner for owner JP McManus (all those different coloured caps are going to be most confusing) and would look to be making up the numbers really. Having said that, McManus’s top jockey in Ireland Mark Walsh will be riding.

Tiger Roll
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Surely he’s far too little to win the Grand National? Mind you, he was surely too little to win the 4m National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and the Cross Country Chase there too. Well fancied by connections, who aren’t often wrong, so has to have a seriously good chance.

Regal Encore
Trainer: Anthony Honeyball
Plenty of talent. Plenty of unfinished races. Do we really want to be putting our faith in a horse who hasn’t completed eight of his last 15 starts? Probably not.

Vieux Lion Rouge
Trainer: David Pipe
It was been a season to forget for the trainer, who won this race in 2008 with Comply Or Die. Likely to go well but seems to fall in a big hole in the closing stages. He would be unlikely to dodge that obstacle again.

Chase The Spud
Trainer: Fergal O’Brien
While all the sensible people are wishing no rain comes before Saturday, connections of this mudlover are doing everything they can to get the going even more testing. Probably does not have enough class, but will definitely stay the trip.

Warrior’s Tale
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Stays really well and his owner Trevor Hemmings, a three-time winner of the race, has a sneaking suspicion this horse could give him a fourth. Has some nice form with the likes of Gold Present and Wakanda this season. A possible dark horse for the race.

Seeyouatmidnight
Trainer: Sandy Thomson
Bad weather and bad luck have made this horse’s preparation less than ideal for this race. That aside, he has a tremendous amount in his favour. Will stay (third in the Coral Scottish Grand National), will handle whatever ground, has a lovely weight and a cracking rider in Brian Hughes. Big owners Cheveley Park Stud have bought him. Sure to go well.

Gas Line Boy
Trainer: Ian Williams
Some horses love Aintree – and some horses really, really love Aintree. This horse is the latter with victory in the Grand Sefton Chase this season after finishing fifth in the Grand National last year. A solid option but probably not going to be quite able to win this contest.

The Dutchman
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Switched from trainer Sandy Thomson (who will win the race with Seeyouatmidnight) to Colin Tizzard this season, and made good stride. Very good at Haydock two starts ago. Very bad at Haydock last time. Will stay.

Pleasant Company
Trainer: Willie Mullins
If only it was last year! Last year Pleasant Company was doing great and finished a respectable ninth in this race. This year has not been very successful, mostly because of the soft ground – and that is what we are due again at the weekend. C’est la vie.

Ucello Conti
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Comes second a lot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to trying to find a horse to run well in the Grand National. We like winners though and he has not done that since 2014. A possible each-way play for a place.

Saint Are
Trainer: Tom George
Fondness for Aintree is similar to Gas Line Boy (see above if you’ve forgotten) and has finished second and third in this race. Was pulled up in the race two years ago when the ground was softish and that is going to be the problem for him again this time around.

Raz De Maree
Trainer: Gavin Cromwell
Coral Welsh Grand National winner, so he will definitely stay and he will definitely handle the ground at Aintree. James Bowen has jumped ship to Shantou Flyer, but Robbie Power is a more than able replacement. Well weighted and has a definite each-way chance in this.

I Just Know
Trainer: Sue Smith
Warmed up for this race by getting beaten in a novices’ hurdle – as you do – but had previously thumped his rivals in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick. A good jumper and trainer won this race in 2013. Might come a year or two too early for him.

Virgilio
Trainer: Dan Skelton
The good news: has had a wind operation, is trained by Dan Skelton, ridden by Harry Skelton and likes Aintree. The bad news: soft ground. Wouldn’t be the most unlikely to run into a place.

Baie Des Iles
Trainer: Ross O’Sullivan
Represents husband-and-wife team Ross O’Sullivan and Katie Walsh. One of the gambles of the week and, being a grey, sure to attract some added attention on the day. It has been a looooong time since a mare won this race (Nickel Coin 1951).

Maggio
Trainer: Patrick Griffin
Carries the colours of the 2013 winner Auroras Encore but doesn’t really look to have a great deal going for him. Not one to linger too long on.

Pendra
Trainer: Charlie Longsdon
Talented, frustrating, fragile and a known hater of soft ground. It looks like Pendra will have to wait until another day to get his moment in the sun.

Buywise
Trainer: Evan Williams
One of the best results of the season when he won the veterans’ chase final at Sandown in January (unless you backed another horse, in which case it was a terrible result). Will throw in a shocking jump at some point and he cannot afford to do that around here.

Childrens List
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Very inexperienced over fences with only four chase starts. Has produced some good performances in those few starts, but it would be a huge effort to win a race like this with such little exposure. Perhaps one to note for next year.

Lord Windermere
Trainer: Jim Culloty
A dual Cheltenham Festival winner, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup (ridiculous isn’t it?!). No win for over four years and record in this race nothing special. Easily passed over.

Captain Redbeard
Trainer: Stuart Coltherd
Well backed in the days leading up to this race after positive comments from connections about his prospects at Aintree. Would be a wonderful story for the father and son team of trainer Stuart and rider Sam Coltherd, but probably not quite good enough. Better to back The Dutchman if you fancy this fellow.

Houblon Des Obeaux
Trainer: Venetia Williams
Seems to have been around forever and did not run too bad a race in this last year. Has a bit of back class and trained by a handler who knows what to do in this race. Could be a lively outsider for a place if ridden with more confidence he’ll get the trip.

Bless The Wings
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Fell over in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham and then was pulled up in the Irish Grand National a few days ago, so doesn’t come into the race in tip-top form. He will be ridden by the excellent Jack Kennedy, which is good news, although ultimately he won’t be good enough.

Milansbar
Trainer: Neil King
She couldn’t do, could she? Bryony Frost, who has made such a huge impact this season, rides this dour stayer and the last time they teamed up the won the Classic Chase at Warwick. Last year’s winner One For Arthur captured the same race and it will all be about whether he can get into a rhythm.

Final Nudge
Trainer: David Dennis
Third in the Coral Welsh Grand National is a nice piece of form, as is his second in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton earlier this season. He doesn’t scream dour stayer though, so will likely come up short in that final run to the line.

Double Ross
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
A lovely old boy who has raced around here before without much success. Decent performance at the Cheltenham Festival last time but won’t be winning this race.

Road To Riches
Trainer: Noel Meade
Looked a really useful sort a couple of seasons ago but seems to have lost his way in recent seasons. Forms part of the powerful Gigginstown House Stud team, although they have several more with better chances.

Thunder And Roses
Trainer: Mouse Morris
Called off the substitutes’ bench for this race after Minella Rocco was taken out due to the ground. JJ Slevin, who won the Irish Grand National, takes the ride. Appears to have rather lost the plot lately.

Delusionofgrandeur
Trainer: Sue Smith
Another one called in at the last minute after Vicente decided he would rather try and win a third Coral Scottish Grand National. Will be one who does like the ground. Will be one who doesn’t win.

Walk In The Mill
Trainer: Robert Walford
The third, and final, reserve to get into the race after Beeves was pulled out at the last minute on Friday. Put up a couple of belting performances at Ascot and then a rubbish one last time on heavy ground. That is going to be a problem, but does have Aintree specialist Sam Waley-Cohen riding.

Grand National 1-2-3-4 selection:
1. Seeyouatmidnight
2. Tiger Roll
3. I Just Know
4. Gas Line Boy