The Grand National is the world’s most famous steeplechase race and the centrepiece of three fantastic days of jumps horse racing at Aintree every April.
Year in and year out, this ultimate test of stamina provides thrills and spills, and it’s estimated that two-thirds of the UK’s adult population place at bet on this event.
Smart punters have potential Grand National contenders sighted well in advance, however, so here we take a look at four who could line-up on Merseyside in the 2019 renewal.
The obvious place to start is with 2018 Grand National hero Tiger Roll. Gordon Elliott’s Gigginstown House Stud owned eight-year-old is certainly young enough to win the race again, but history is against the triple Cheltenham Festival winner.
While Tiger Roll comes alive in the spring and has proven stamina after previously landing the 4m National Hunt Chase and 3m 6f Cross Country Chase, Red Rum was the last horse to win the Grand National more than once.
With a similar path to Aintree outlined for him this season, Tiger Roll is available at a best-price 25/1 with Betfair for back-to-back successes in the National.
Punchestown Gold Cup hero Bellshill has form over further, so is another Irish raider with claims if sent to Merseyside this season.
Trainer Willie Mullins and connections want to aim the eight-year-old at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so lining up in both that and the Grand National may be a big ask.
However, he was beaten just a length in the Irish equivalent over 3m 5f at Fairyhouse last Easter and, despite being relegated a place to fifth behind General Principle after hampering rivals jumping the last, Bellshill is a general 25/1 for take his chance at Aintree in 2019.
It’s not all about the Irish towards the head of the Grand National betting as Vintage Clouds is an improving sort at staying trips trained by Yorkshire handler Sue Smith.
This eight-year-old represents Trevor Hemmings – the joint most successful owner in National history – and has placed third in the official trial at Haydock, fourth in the Welsh National and third in the Scottish National earlier in the year.
Vintage Clouds is knocking on the door in similar races, then, and is definitely one to consider using an early Grand National free bet on at 25/1 with most bookmakers.
Walk In The Mill
Dorset trainer Robert Walford produced a surprise winner of the Becher Chase – a similar grade handicap over the National fences and a mile or so shorter distance – in December with Walk In The Mill.
In a classy field against types with plenty more course experience, this plucky eight-year-old made his light racing weight tell to score by 4 1/2 lengths and enter the Grand National picture.
The handicapper has done Walk In The Mill a favour by raising his official BHA rating just enough that he ought to sneak into the race, as a revised mark of 145 would’ve got him into the last five renewals. He is 33/1 with William Hill to follow-up in the Grand National.