The Randox Grand National (5.15 Saturday) is now just four days away and anticipation is ramping up for the richest and most famous jumps race in the world. Here, we outline the chances of five runners bidding to write their names into the history books . . .
5.15 Aintree Saturday: Randox Grand National
By Keith Melrose, betting editor
Two of the best trials for this year’s Grand National were run in the 2021 renewal. Any Second Now is my first choice, but his case this time around hardly needs spelling out.
Punters should be advised not to forget about last year’s fifth, Farclas. Like Tiger Roll, he is a Triumph Hurdle winner and he finished last season on an upward curve, finishing second in the Paddy Power Plate at the Cheltenham Festival before Aintree.
He has not been seen since he was second in the Troytown, but he looked just short of peak fitness that day and a return to Aintree will always have been the long-term plan anyway.
It is not often you can back an unexposed chaser with course experience in the National, less still at around 25-1. Farclas is high on my National shortlist.
By Robbie Wilders, tipster
The National isn’t the stamina test it once was and in recent years several horses have hit the frame despite lacking form over marathon trips previously.
Minella Times, Balko Des Flos and Any Second Now filled the first three places last season despite boasting high-class form over two and a half miles. Fiddlerontheroof is a similar type and I think he can follow suit.
Campaigned sparingly in order to preserve a decent handicap mark of 155, Fiddlerontheroof appeals as one of the likeliest in the field to have half a stone in hand.
The Gold Cup was mentioned as a possible prep, but I like the fact he sidestepped that to remain fresh for the National. The Tizzards’ patient approach can pay dividends.
De Rasher Counter
By Owen Goulding, reporter
Emma Lavelle has been very bullish about the chances of De Rasher Counter and he is the horse who interests me most in this year’s National.
He has been very lightly raced since winning the 2019 Ladbrokes Trophy and was returning from a tendon injury when fourth in a Newbury Grade 2 in February.
His first start for 489 days, he ran well for a long way before the lack of a run told, suggesting the vast majority of his ability remains. He races off the same mark as he did when landing the Ladbrokes Trophy and provided he takes to the National fences, he has an excellent chance.
By James Stevens, reporter
As I was in December, I am still firmly in the Escaria Ten camp. The price may not be as juicy as it was when he missed the Becher Chase, and the plan to get here had to be altered, but he is the type of horse I love for the National.
Mostly because he has a record of being a pretty solid jumper and traveller in good quality races – you only need to go back to his National Hunt Chase third behind Galvin and Next Destination in 2021 to see that. They had too much speed for him in the crucial part of the race, as did Any Second Now in the Bobbyjo, but he looks one that will improve masses for the stamina test, and if he gets into his rhythm he could well be cruising after four miles.
Those two bits of form (and the fact he finished a fair way clear of Snow Leopardess at Cheltenham) are also solid evidence he could be well handicapped off 152 and a weight of 11st 1lb looks just fine. He has form on all ground and the season has been mapped out to have him right for this so everything is primed for a big run.
By Charlie Huggins, reporter
Kildisart ticks plenty of boxes for me in that he is versatile ground-wise, and has experience of running well in large-field handicaps including when winning an 18-runner affair on the Mildmay course in 2019 and finishing a neck second in the 2020 Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Ben Pauling-trained ten-year-old is able to compete off the same mark of 148 as he did when scoring at this meeting three years ago and should relish this step up in trip, having made a pleasing return from a 462-day absence from the track at Newbury last month.
The fact that Simon Munir and Isaac Souede’s retained rider Daryl Jacob was torn between Kildisart and his eventual mount Good Boy Bobby is a strong indication of the former’s realistic chances and Welsh National-winning jockey James Bowen is a more than capable deputy, especially given that he has already ridden a winner over the National fences this season – Mac Tottie in the Grand Sefton back in November.
Picture: Kildisart (green): a winner at the Grand National meeting in 2019 (Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)).