Aintree racecourse near Liverpool is known the world over as the home of the Grand National – one of the most watched horse racing events on the planet.
This year’s edition of the extended 4m 2f handicap steeplechase over two circuits and 30 fences covered in spruce takes place on Saturday, 6 April. Betting on the 2019 Grand National is already lively with movers and shakers, so which horses are prominent in the market?
Last year’s winner was Tiger Roll and only Red Rum in modern times has won back-to-back renewals. This plucky Irish raider is trained by Gordon Elliott and owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who also had Rule The World land a Grand National gamble in 2016.
Tiger Roll just prevailed by a head from Pleasant Company in the race 12 months ago and certainly comes alive during springtime. He is a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner and recently took the Boyne Hurdle at Navan as he prepared to defend his Cross Country Chase crown.
Bookmakers slashed the nine-year-old across the board for the Grand National following that hurdles victory. Tiger Roll is now the 10/1 favourite with Paddy Power, who already offer five places for each-way betting on the big race.
The leading British hope this year is Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape, who is still unexposed in endurance races. While seven-year-old horses have a poor recent record in the Aintree showpiece, trainer Colin Tizzard has saddled recent winners over those unique fences in dual Topham Chase hero Ultragold.
Elegant Escape has run a string of solid races this year and, despite being reasonably high in the Grand National weights, is 14/1 to follow up on his Chepstow success over Christmas. There is definitely more to come from this still improving chaser.
Tony Martin is a very shrewd trainer of racehorses. He once again proved that when he saddled Anibale Fly to places in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup (third) and Grand National (fourth) last season.
The JP McManus owned nine-year-old has one week less between those big races this year if he is to go in both again. Anibale Fly is another high in the weights for Aintree but coped with a welter burden 12 months ago and has to be respected at 16/1 given his connections.
Could a maiden over fences win the Grand National? There is market support for Pat Kelly’s Mall Dini – a stable companion of Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy and owned by the same man, Philip Reynolds.
Stranger things have happened. Mall Dini has been very unlucky in his chasing career at times and this would be the mother of all compensation for connections. Paddy Power is one bookie taking no chances with this nine-year-old at 20/1.
Irish champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins is likely to have a few runners in the Grand National. While Pleasant Company has already had a couple of tries at Aintree, Rathvinden won the four-mile National Hunt Novices’ Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
This highly experienced 11-year-old should return in the Bobbyjo Chase and come on for the run after nearly a year off. Rathvinden is another 20/1 chance but with far fewer questions to answer than Mall Dini.