Guide to the runners for Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National at Aintree

Saturday sees what, for many, is the highlight of the National Hunt season, the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.

As with every edition, there is no shortage of interesting stories among the 40 runners going to post for the race, which is run over the stamina-sapping four-and-a-quarter miles of the National Course and includes 30 iconic fences.

Sadly, injury has denied 2017 hero One For Arthur the chance to defend his crown, but plenty of his vanquished rivals will run on Saturday and there are a few new kids on the block for serious and once-a-year punters to take their pick of.

So, without further ado, here is our guide to each and every runner in the Grand National field.

1 THUNDER AND ROSES – Form P84PFF
Jockey: JJ Slevin. Trainer: Mouse Morris

Late addition to field after Minella Rocco was withdrawn because of the ground. Won the Irish National in 2015 but that was his last victory and he has failed to finish his last three runs. Rating: 1/10

2 BLAKLION – Form: 24-212
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies. Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Very impressive winner of the Becher Chase in November on heavy ground, having finished fourth in last year’s National when he jumped into the lead before four out and appeared to be heading for victory. That could easily be the case again 12 months on as there remain doubts over his stamina after he finished almost legless at Haydock on his most recent outing. Rating: 6/10

3 ANIBALE FLY – Form: -591F3
Jockey: Barry Geraghty. Trainer: Tony Martin

This Irish raider has really restored his reputation since Christmas, first running out an easy winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown, where he coped well with the rigours of a big field. Was also running well in the Irish Gold Cup when falling at the second last and he improved again when a strong-finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Trip should be fine and lack of Aintree experience the sole concern. Rating: 10/10

4 THE LAST SAMURI – Form: 0-2243
Jockey: David Bass. Trainer: Kim Bailey

Ran a fine second behind Blaklion in the Becher Chase, when he stayed on strongly but was still well held by a most impressive winner. This somewhat better ground will suit him, but it was noticeable how tired he finished in last year’s National and his stamina has to be a major question mark after also being well beaten by Tiger Roll at the Cheltenham Festival over a half-mile shorter. Rating: 5/10

5 VALSEUR LIDO – Form: 4-5553
Jockey: Keith Donoghue. Trainer: Henry De Bromhead

Hasn’t appeared to be the same horse this season, with four middling to poor runs in Ireland. Not sure this kind of stamina test is what he wants either, so we’ll pass. Rating: 2/10

6 TOTAL RECALL – Form: 5-111F
Jockey: Paul Townend. Trainer: Willie Mullins

Game winner of the Hennessy in December before taking advantage of a lowly hurdles mark to win a supposedly competitive Leopardstown handicap hurdle. Hard to say where he would have finished in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he fell three out, but he’s clearly progressing through the chasing ranks and his inflated handicap mark shows that. Rating: 7/10

7 ALPHA DES OBEAUX – Form: 414646
Jockey: Rachael Blackmore. Trainer: Mouse Morris

Has run well enough on a couple of occasions this season, but not in the kind of form needed to win what looks, on paper at least, to be a very tough and deep Grand National. Rating: 3/10

8 PERFECT CANDIDATE – Form: P-0105
Jockey: Alain Cawley. Trainer: Fergal O’Brien

One of the season’s bravest winners at Cheltenham in November, but his other three runs have been well below that form and he failed to see out the trip in last year’s National after being prominent for three miles. Rating: 2/10

9 SHANTOU FLYER – Form: PP2222
Jockey: James Bowen. Trainer: Richard Hobson

Has run three excellent races in defeat this season, all at Cheltenham on heavy ground, and conditions should suit this consistent type again. Dropped out quickly in last year’s race but he was badly hampered before that and would have to be on the long list for this season’s young jockey to follow. Rating: 6/10

10 TENOR NIVERNAIS – Form: 120-P6
Jockey: Tom O’Brien. Trainer: Venetia Williams

Well-beaten 17th in last year’s National when he went into the race in good form. This year he’s barely looked like beating a rival and is readily passed over even though his stable is showing signs of a revival. Rating: 1/10

11 CARLINGFORD LOUGH – Form: 4-7U5P
Jockey: Mark Walsh. Trainer: John Kiely

Definitely on the downgrade now at the age of 12, but I’ve always wanted to see how he would get on around Aintree, given the way he runs and the way the race is run. He’ll almost certainly sit out the back early on and should just be warming up as the business end comes. Definite place chances at a huge price. Rating: 7/10

12 DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR – Form: 331353
Jockey: TBC. Trainer: Sue Smith

Consistent type but in lower grade races than this. Has finished third in one of the numerous regional ‘Nationals’ but this looks too tough for him. Rating: 1/10

13 TIGER ROLL – Form: P-2P51
Jockey: Davy Russell. Trainer: Gordon Elliott

In all honesty, I would be all over Tiger Roll if I could safely predict him being able to jump around the National course. He’s got class in abundance, having won three times at the Cheltenham Festival at up to four miles, but his jumping of similar fences in the Cross Country races he has competed in has been less than perfect and that is a big enough concern to leave him out of the equation here with 30 of those fences to get over. Rating: 5/10

14 REGAL ENCORE – Form: 8-03P1
Jockey: Richie McLernon. Trainer: Anthony Honeyball

One word sums this horse up. Enigma. Hasn’t run successive good races in more than three years and, although he stayed on nicely to finish eighth last year, it would be no surprise to see him follow up his Ascot win with an absolute stinker on Saturday. Rating: 3/10

15 VIEUX LION ROUGE – Form: 16-474
Jockey: Tom Scudamore. Trainer: David Pipe

Sixth last year when fading in the final half-mile. He was in much better form 12 months ago than he is now and although he jumps these fences well, his chance this year looks much less obvious. Rating: 4/10

16 CHASE THE SPUD – Form: 51-1PP
Jockey: Paddy Brennan. Trainer: Fergal O’Brien

Midlands National winner just about 12 months ago, but looks weighted to the hilt more than a stone higher than that day at Uttoxeter. Failed to finish his last two races and not one I’d be putting my mortgage, or even a sack of King Edwards, on. Rating: 2/10

17 WARRIORS TALE – Form: 15-U22
Jockey: Sean Bowen. Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Comes into the race in decent form, but has never been in a race as strong as this and his only win over three miles came in a really poor Perth novice on fast ground. Not absolutely convinced this is the race for him. Rating: 2/10

18 SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT – Form: /1P2-3
Jockey: Brian Hughes. Trainer: Sandy Thomson

Strongly fancied for a second successive Scottish win in the Grand National, and is very feasibly weighted on the best of his form, but he has been very fragile with only two runs in the last 18 months. Had wind surgery before his third at Newbury last month but I find it tough to make a winning case for him with so many question marks against his name. Rating: 5/10

19 GAS LINE BOY – Form: 45-F13
Jockey: Robert Dunne. Trainer: Ian Williams

Absolutely loves it round the National fences, finishing an excellent fifth in last season’s spectacular and following that up by winning the Grand Sefton in December. Any improvement in the ground will definitely help his stamina, with his age (12) being one of very few concerns. If he stays, it looks very tough to keep him out of the frame again. Rating: 9/10

20 THE DUTCHMAN – Form: 7-261P
Jockey: Harry Cobden. Trainer: Colin Tizzard

Ploughed through the Haydock mud to win the Peter Marsh Chase in January, but was then found to be amiss after dropping out quickly at the same venue in their National trial three weeks later and this will be his first run since. Looks a bit high in the weights even on the best of his form. Rating: 4/10

21 PLEASANT COMPANY – Form: 419-0P
Jockey: David Mullins. Trainer: Willie Mullins

Ninth in last year’s race but that does not tell the whole story as he was travelling really kindly when stumbling five fences from the finish, just as the race was heating up. Finished way behind Anibale Fly in the Paddy Power Chase but did make some late headway and could well improve on his 2017 finish. Rating: 6/10

22 UCELLO CONTI – Form: 24U-2P
Jockey: Daryl Jacob. Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Chased home Anibale Fly (at a respectable distance) in the Paddy Power over Christmas, and would have a chance on that form. Impossible to say where he would have finished 12 months ago, having unseated midway around the second circuit, but he’s not won a race of any kind since 2014. Rating: 4/10

23 SAINT ARE – Form: F23-PP
Jockey: Adrian Heskin. Trainer: Tom George

Another member of this year’s 12-year-old brigade at Aintree. He stayed on as strongly as anything last year when coming home third behind One For Arthur but there has been very little encouragement from his two prep runs this season and it’s possible his best days are now behind him. Rating: 4/10

24 WALK IN THE MILL – Form: 7-513P
Jockey: Sam Waley-Cohen. Trainer: Robert Walford

Ran well a couple of times at Ascot earlier in the season but looks up against it on ground that is not absolutely certain to suit. Rating; 2/10

25 RAZ DE MAREE – Form: 0-F221
Jockey: Robbie Power. Trainer: Gavin Cromwell

Just turned 13 years old when winning the rescheduled Welsh National in early January, and has been kept fresh for this race since. Finished eighth in his first go at the Aintree fences in 2014 and was unlucky last year, when unseating early as he tried to avoid a fallen runner. Not one for the trends punter as the last 13-year-old to win the National was almost a century ago in 1923. Rating: 5/10

26 I JUST KNOW – Form: 3-3412
Jockey: Danny Cook. Trainer: Sue Smith

Won the North Yorkshire National at Catterick in January and has been one of the better-backed runners for this race in recent weeks, but that form looks some way short of what is needed even though his trainer won the race in 2013 with 66/1 shot Aurora’s Encore who was in much worse form before his victory. Rating: 5/10

27 VIRGILIO – Form: 23-18P
Jockey: Harry Skelton. Trainer: Dan Skelton

A few shrewdies have put up this long-shot heading into the National meeting, but I just can’t see it so maybe I lack shrewdness. Did win well over the Mildmay fences at Aintree nearly 12 months ago but hasn’t run over the National fences before and not convinced the trip will suit either. Rating: 2/10

28 BAIE DES ILES – Form: 13-663
Jockey: Katie Walsh. Trainer: Ross O’Sullivan

Young mare but one with plenty of experience of big fields and has been very well backed all week as punters put their money behind Katie Walsh becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National. All of the Irish raider’s best races have come when her stamina has been tested and her chances would be seriously improved if the mud continues to fly. Rating: 8/10

29 MAGGIO – Form: 04-443
Jockey: Brendan Powell Jr. Trainer: Patrick Griffin

Another 13-year-old looking to buck the trends. This one’s form is nothing like as good as Raz De Maree’s has been and made mistakes on his only race over the National fences back in 2015. Rating: 1/10

30 PENDRA – Form: 50/2-0
Jockey: Aidan Coleman. Trainer: Charlie Longdson

Didn’t show much of a spark on his return from a 364-day break at Cheltenham last month and his only run over the National fences saw him beaten out of sight in the 2016 race. Rating: 1/10

31 BUYWISE – Form: 4-8610
Jockey: Adam Wedge. Trainer: Evan Williams

Another veteran chaser in with a semblance of a chance, trained by a man who has regularly hit the frame in the National with the likes of Cappa Bleu and Alvarado. Won a big prize for veterans at Sandown earlier in the season but didn’t particularly sparkle on his only try around the National fences and might just have missed his chance now. Rating: 5/10

32 CHILDRENS LIST – Form: 951-2P
Jockey: Jonathan Burke. Trainer: Willie Mullins

Didn’t appear to enjoy the marathon trip on his return in February’s Irish National Trial, which is one of only two runs since the end of 2016. Gets a tick for his trainer, but that’s about all he has in his favour. Rating: 1/10

33 LORD WINDERMERE – Form: 2957-F
Jockey: Andrew Lynch. Trainer: Jim Culloty

Won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014 but has been on the downgrade since and would appear an unlikely winner here. Did run okay in seventh last year but fell in the Becher in December and has not been seen on the racecourse since. Rating: 2/10

34 CAPTAIN REDBEARD – Form: 36121
Jockey: Sam Coltherd. Trainer: Stuart Coltherd

Consistent type who has improved a little this season in his five runs, which have all been on heavy ground. But he was well behind Gas Line Boy in the Grand Sefton and didn’t appear to be particularly suited by the three-mile-plus trip of the Peter Marsh Chase, where he finished very tired behind The Dutchman. Rating: 4/10

35 HOUBLON DES OBEAUX – Form: 1663P3
Jockey: Charlie Deutsch. Trainer: Venetia Williams

Stayed on late in last year’s National but that was only good enough for 10th place and it might well be that his best days are now behind him. Rating: 1/10

36 BLESS THE WINGS – Form: -PP1FP
Jockey: Jack Kennedy. Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Adds to the team of 13-year-olds in this year’s National field but has proved to be feast or famine this season and not one likely to be on my shortlist despite coming from one of the sport’s shrewdest yards. Rating: 1/10

37 MILANSBAR – Form: 63U152
Jockey: Bryony Frost. Trainer: Neil King

Bryony Frost has been one of the stories of the National Hunt season and what a finale it would be if she could secure the season’s most spectacular race. Bolted up in the same race One For Arthur won before taking last year’s race and stamina is assured. Will give his young rider a great day but might be found out by speedier rivals. Rating: 5/10

38 FINAL NUDGE – Form: 6-2359
Jockey: Gavin Sheehan. Trainer: David Dennis

Could well have challenged Chase The Spud for Midlands National glory 12 months ago but for falling four out. However, his runs since have suggested stamina for these marathon trips is an issue, including when he bottomed out quickly in the Welsh National and faded into third. Rating: 3/10

39 DOUBLE ROSS – Form: -4UP84
Jockey: Tom Bellamy. Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Another old boy with some excellent previous form, including a fine run on his most recent outing when fourth at the Cheltenham Festival. Seemed to enjoy his second run over these fences in the 2016 National before his saddle slipped but this trip is a bit beyond ideal. Rating: 2/10

40 ROAD TO RICHES – Form: 5-090P
Jockey: Sean Flanagan. Trainer: Noel Meade

Secured the final place in the field on Thursday when Gold Present was withdrawn, but his best form over fences came the best part of two years ago and he’s been well beaten by Anibale Fly this season. Rating: 1/10

VERDICT:

Just as every year, there are plenty of horses you could easily make a case for in a wide-open 2018 Grand National. This year’s race features an intriguing mixture of improving chasers and those who have been there and seen it, and I’ll take one from the former category – ANIBALE FLY – to win it all. Tony Martin’s charge has always been highly thought of and his three runs in the last four months mark him out as a horse to have firmly on your side. Gas Line Boy has run superb races on his last two visits to Aintree and provides a little more each-way value, even at the venerable age of 12, while at the other end of the age scale, grey mare Baie Des Iles should give Katie Walsh a cracking ride over the National fences. Total Recall and outsider Carlingford Lough can also reward support with some bookmakers paying as many as six places to bring Buywise into calculations.

1 ANIBALE FLY
2 Gas Line Boy
3 Baie Des Iles
4 Total Recall
5 Carlingford Lough
6 Buywise

Source.