It’s almost here! The 2017 Aintree Grand National. Dean Ryan has a runner by runner guide to the great race but can he find sift the big contenders out from the “no hopers”?
Everybody loves this race, it’s full of fairy-tales and hard luck stories, huge moments and close calls and if you’ve managed to find the winner it’s nigh on always at a rewarding price.
There will be forty hopefuls lining up late on Saturday afternoon but only one can win and only a few more can finish in the places so let’s spin through in race card order!
1. The Last Samuri / Odds 16/1
Second last year carrying 10st 8lbs and a third over the big ones in December behind Vieux Lion Rouge tells you all you need to know about his credentials for this unique test. However 11st 10lb to lump around this year is a huge ask and one that will eventually tell over 4m2f and 74 yards. It may only be in the final 74 yards but a gallant effort and a place at best is all supporters can hope for. Place Chance.
2. More Of That / Odds 12/1
Not many will ever hope to give 7lbs to Annie Power and beat her but that is on this fella’s CV so class is not a question you can pose about Jonjo O’Neill’s former Stayers Hurdle winner. You’d suspect over hurdles he would be a short price favourite but a chasing record that is speckled with question marks has to be a concern. He could put it all together and win this, he is more likely to find a fence or the day just too much for him. Barry Geraghty could ride him and that would naturally be a plus. Outside Place Chance.
3. Shantou Flyer / Odds 66/1
Was very good at Cheltenham on New Years Day and has proved a decent recruit to the Curtis yard for connections. At seven years old it’s a bit too soon for Grand National glory but not disgraced behind Cue Card in final run at Ascot and if taking to the fences should give a good account. 11st 5lb looks a steep enough assignment though and will struggle to make the frame in such a strong race this year. Midfield.
4. Perfect Candidate / Odds 50/1
Fergal O’Brien has had some serious joy with this 10yo over the past couple of seasons, he seems to run at every Cheltenham meeting on offer and always with credit to all concerned. Another who could get round and will last home but is burdened with plenty of weight to be a strong contender for the win. Place Chance.
5. Saphir Du Rheu / Odds 22/1
A classier type than most for the race and caught the eye in the Gold Cup when running probably better than even connections had hoped. Has to be considered well treated now and if taking to the fences then the trip and decent ground underfoot may just bring even more from the talented grey. Always held in the highest of regard and although 8 years old might be a year too soon will probably not get a similar chance to run in the race off a fighting weight. At double figures he should be high on the list. Winner.
6. Roi Des Francs / Odds 50/1
Will be ridden by the new star jockey Jack Kennedy for Gordon Elliott and is perhaps better than we have seen this season although comes into the race off the back of a win. Has a fair weight but enough questions remain over the hustle and bustle of a race like this and his jumping could be better. If getting round could hit the places. Outside Place Chance.
7. Wounded Warrior / Odds 66/1
Has a verdict over last years winner Rule The World amongst the pick of his form but is a very in and out horse. On his best efforts from over a year ago he would be high on the list so remains a lurker that could surprise but recent form is not inspiring and is readily passed over. Midfield.
8. Wonderful Charm / Odds 33/1
Katie Walsh rides and she has done well around here before so wont lack for skill in the plate. Ran a huge race and perhaps unlucky at Cheltenham not to get the better of stable mate Pacha Du Polder. Has one pound less than when pulling up in the race last year and should do better than that this time. It’s a concern though and might just not be one for these fences and the occasion. Midfield.
9. Tenor Nivernais / Odds 40/1
Put in one of the best performances from a potential winner of this when pulverizing a field at Ascot. Not at that level the next time but hard to write off this front running type for a trainer and jockey combination that took the race with 100/1 shot Mon Mome a few years ago. One of the better options for big price punters this year. In The Money.
10. Blaklion / Odds 14/1
Like Saphir Du Rheu this is one of the classier options in the race who looks to have been given a chance to win. An RSA winner, in good form and has Noel Fehily booked for Nigel Twiston-Davies. Has a bit of ground to make up with Vieux Lion Rouge from Haydock and Definitly Red from Wetherby this term but is better treated this time. Big chance of reversing that and therefore has to be high on the list. In The Money.
11. Drop Out Joe / Odds 50/1
Hasn’t run since June of last year when winning at Uttoxeter. Best efforts would make for a lively outsider but this would be a remarkable training feat to land the Grand National off such a preparation and it makes sense to look elsewhere despite big prices on offer. Midfield.
12. Le Mercury / Odds 50/1
Another for Paul Nicholls in the field and a run behind the ill fated Many Clouds in December of last year would have you interested in the chances of the 7 year old but it’s the age and experience that would concern in a big field contest. Hard to have much confidence that it’s the right time for a crack at the National. No Chance.
13. The Young Master / Odds 20/1
No better man than Sam Waley-Cohen around these fences and he has another good spin in The Young Master. He would appear to be a perfect type for the race but a fall in December behind Vieux Lion Rouge would be a concern. If getting around the former Sandown Bet365 Cup Winner has to go well and he ran a fair race at Cheltenham in the run up to this years race. Place Chance.
14. Cause Of Causes / Odds 14/1
A remarkable horse for Gordon Elliott who won again at the Cheltenham Festival but in the Cross Country race which would have contained nothing like the class of field he faces here. Has one of the best riders in the business in Jamie Codd and also has a very fair weight. Will stay and this is a second attempt at the race after finishing down the field behind Many Clouds in 2015. A slight concern is this might be an afterthought following the Festival win but has solid credentials otherwise. Place Chance.
15. Regal Encore / Odds 66/1
Pulled up more than he has finished his races this season, when he does finish he is talented. Robbie Power rides and the former National winning jockey is on the crest of a wave after Cheltenham. Behind leading contender Pleasant Company at Punchestown last April and has the tools to run a big race, more likely he won’t get around though? Shock Contender or PU!
16. Vieux Lion Rouge / Odds 11/1
The Pipe charge has solid credentials and is rightly up near the top of the market. Been in great form winning his last two races including over these fences in December. Seventh last year and will need to run better than that but looks to have improved. A fair weight and clearly a leading player this time. Needs to improve again on revised terms with a couple but very solid. Place Chance.
17. Definitly Red / Odds 12/1
Like Vieux Lion Rouge comes in here with excellent form and the right profile to justify a prominent position at the top of the market. He is well in at the weights too but this test of a big field is a worry as he can also make the odd howler over a fence. If getting round will be in the mix. Place Chance.
18. Ucello Conti / Odds 20/1
Trained by Gordon Elliott and a regular in staying contests but just lacks the final gears to land one. Ran well enough in December over the fences and should get round. Will likely find a few ahead of him at the finish though and needs to put in a lifetime best on all known form. Midfield.
19. Double Shuffle / Odds 40/1
Looks up against it for Tom George and Adrian Heskin who have enjoyed a great season. This might come a year or two too soon and expect jumping to be put under pressure. No Chance.
20. Houblon Des Obeaux / Odds 50/1
Has some high class form especially when running fresh so a break of just a few weeks since running fourth over a marathon trip at Uttoxeter is a concern. Will stay and will probably be up the front end for a fair way in the race. Will give backers an honest run for their money but expect him to weaken on the final circuit after his excursions this season. Outside Place Chance.
21. Pleasant Company / Odds 12/1
Won the BobbyJo chase at Fairyhouse in taking style and is the pick of Ruby Walsh for Willie Mullins. Light on experience but the right age for that to be a muted concern and off a perfect weight will surely go off close to fav on the day when the once a year punters notice the jockey. In good form and prepared perfectly it’s hard to see him not going very close with a clear round of jumping. In The Money.
22. One For Arthur / Odds 16/1
Has been around the fences and his win in January at Warwick confirmed this 8yo as a proper Grand National contender. Kept for the race since and the break of 84 days is a slight concern as is the ground underfoot if it get’s a bit quick for him to show his best. Seems to be peaking and has everything in place for a big run. Place Chance.
23. Ballynagour / Odds 66/1
Has been pulled up in his last three outings this season which immediately sends out alarm bells and during last year’s Grand National he unseated Tom Scudamore. Probably one to avoid. No Chance.
24. O’Faolains Boy / Odds 66/1
Another horse which has a recent history of being pulled up – twice in its last two runs. Saying that, Rebecca Curtis is a very well respected trainer and with Willie Mullins only running Pleasant Company in the race, Paul Townend has opted to ride O’Faolains Boy, which will give any horse a boost. This former RSA winner would be a live contender if at his peak. Shock Contender or Pulled Up.
25. Highland Lodge / Odds 28/1
This eleven-year-old was second to Vieux Lion Rouge last time out. He goes very well at Aintree and although he is a relative outsider, you’d think twice about ruling him out with confidence. Perhaps lacks a touch of class to win but will give followers a fair run for their money. Outside Place Chance.
26. Bishops Road / Odds 50/1
Jamie Moore rides Bishops Road for a rising star in the training ranks Kerry Lee. The form of this horse probably justifies his current rag odds. He hasn’t won this term but connections may well have targeted this race only and the horse will be fresh – but that could be clutching at straws! A smaller field would suit. Midfield.
27. Lord Windermere / Odds 50/1
Leighton Aspell rides Lord Windermere here, who is the only jockey in recent times to have won back-to-back Grand Nationals, which adds hope to those that fancy the former RSA and Gold Cup winner to previal at the age of 11. His form this season would lead you to look elsewhere for a winner, but he has all the class in the world and a first time tongue tie! Outside Place Chance.
28. Saint Are / Odds 40/1
Very well fancied ahead of last year’s Grand National following a runners up spot the year before. He was eventually pulled up after running a decent race until calling it a day. Davy Russell will be on top and at a price of 33/1 or so isn’t the worst looking outside chance in the field. Punters could be tempted to think he’ll get another bite of the cherry at the age of 11. Outside Place Chance.
29. Vincente / Odds 22/1
Another for the Paul Nicholls squad, he has run four times this season without a win. His record over longer distances suggests that if he stays on his feet, then he’ll appreciate every yard but it’s his first time at Aintree and that’s an unknown of course. Probably lower in the pecking order of Nicholls’ horses for the race than most but Brian Hughes will be aiming to nick some prize money. Place Chance.
30. Just A Par / Odds 40/1
Just A Par is another one for Nicholls and is a horse who ran in last year’s race, finishing in fifteenth place – not the worst result but a good bit off what will be needed this time. Won on his last start at Newbury in March and fits most of the trends needed to win the race. At big odds he looks a decent runner for rag odds. Place Chance.
31. Measureofmydreams / Odds 40/1
Trained by Noel Meade, Measureofmydreams hasn’t had the best of seasons so far, and is way down the pecking order of the Gigginstown battalion, which would suggest this one doesn’t have too much in favour. He would love some rain to fall to match his very best efforts but has gone well at extreme trips. A good young jockey Donagh Meyler in the saddle. Midfield.
32. Raz De Maree / Odds 33/1
An old stager for a very good trainer Gavin Cromwell. Second on his last two outings, one of which was behind Native River, by just a length and three quarters, so he can certainly mix it with some of the best, if he can find reserves for one more big effort and negotiates the fences then should do better than most of the outsiders. Outside Place Chance.
33. Stellar Notion / Odds 50/1
David Mullins bids for a famous double aboard this one for Henry De Bromhead. The trip is a major concern despite running behind Tiger Roll over 3m at Limerick in October. Probably wont make it all the way home in the mixer. No Chance
34. Rogue Angel / Odds 22/1
Trained by Mouse Morris who saddled last years winner and this former Irish National winner has been out of form since that victory. The choice of Bryan Cooper catches the eye but needs to rediscover his best. Outside Place Chance.
35. Cocktails At Dawn / Odds 80/1
No doubting this runner is well handicapped but doesn’t finish his races very often to put that mark to good use. A doubtful stayer too and despite having rock solid connections in Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville will likely struggle to make an impact. No Chance.
36. Thunder And Roses / Odds 33/1
Another Mouse Morris runner and another former Irish Grand National winner so ticks plenty of the usual boxes. Ran well behind Pleasant Company in the BobbyJo chase and can’t be ruled out. Can throw in a stinker now and again but on a going day is a lively runner at a decent price. Outside Place Chance
37. Gas Line Boy / Odds 66/1
11 years old now but still retains zest for racing. Plenty of placed form in good staying handicaps and will likely race prominent for a long way. That said will also find one or seven in front of him at the finish. Experienced enough to get round and handle the hustle and bustle. Midfield.
38. Goodtoknow / Odds 80/1
Kerry Lee charge who ran in behind One For Arthur at Warwick and then won well at Hereford. Lacks a little bit of class but is admirable and responds well to headgear so the blinkers are on. Could take to the place and run better than 80/1 or so suggests. Outside Place Chance.
39. La Vaticane / Odds 100/1
Quirky runner for David Pipe who is likely to struggle. Pieces of form suggest he has ability beyond what has been shown but that is unlikely to happen in this. No Chance.
40. Doctor Harper / Odds 50/1
David Pipe again with this 9 year old who would probably need to be on best behavior to figure here. Has been well backed for big races in the past and is becoming a specialist in failure. Good pilot in Conor O’Farrell will hope for a clear round. Midfield.
The Final Verdict…
As BetBright are paying 5 places 1/4 odds let’s narrow it down to that!
1. Saphir Du Rheu 22/1
2. Pleasant Company 12/1
3. Blaklion 14/1
4. Tenor Nivernais 40/1
5. Cause of Causes 12/1
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.