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Grand National Horse by Horse Guide – Lewis takes a look at the runners and riders

tip for the grand national

So, its the big race today, the 2021 Grand National. There’s definitley a buzz around the country on Grand National Day, its something very unique and special and always special in the hearts of the British public.

So lets get to it!

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1.   Bristol De Mai                        10        11-10               J: Daryl Jacob       T: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Top class chaser who added to his fine Haydock record when winning a second Betfair Chase at the track in November. Another good effort when second in the Denman Chase at Newbury last time, and connections have opted to skip the Gold Cup this year for a clearer run at Aintree.

Though he’s looked a safer conveyance recently, his jumping had been an issue in the past, and he would probably need slower ground to help him defy top-weight.

2.   Chris’s Dream                       10        11-7                 J: Darragh O’Keeffe  T: Henry De Bromhead

Talented Grade 2 level performer in Ireland who also has form in major three-mile handicaps, having taken Navan’s Troytown Chase in November 2019. Touched off by The Storyteller in a Down Royal Grade 1 first time out this season, but has struggled against top class opposition over shorter trips on his other two starts.

Didn’t get home in last season’s Gold Cup, though, and stamina has to be the biggest worry even if back at his best back in a handicap.

3.   Yala Enki                                11        11-3                 J: Bryony Frost         T: Paul Nicholls

Ultra-likeable stayer with a fine record in long distance handicaps; twice finishing the first three of the Welsh National. Enjoyed a good campaign this time, going close at Cheltenham in November as well successfully defending his crown in a strong renewal of Taunton’s Portman Cup.

Will appreciate every inch of this trip and isn’t one to back down in a fight, but the handicapper knows all about him, and he might need slower ground to be at his best.

4.   Ballyoptic                               11        11-1                 J: Sam Twiston-Davies  T: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Came to within a nose of winning the Scottish National in 2018 and showed form in better company last season, defying a lofty mark of 157 to win a Listed handicap at Ascot as well as taking Wetherby’s Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase.

Has looked regressive this season, though, and he’s failed to get around in two attempts over the National fences, including in the 2019 renewal of this race. Looks to have a hard task on to defy a steep-looking mark.

5.    Definitley Red                          12        11-1                 J: Henry Brooke        T: Brian Ellison

Strongly fancied for the 2017 National, though pulled up early after his saddle slipped. Proved himself a competent performer in Graded company after, and now has four Grade 2 wins to his name. Less to shout about this season, and finished twelve lengths behind Cloth Cap in the Premier Chase- a race he won last year- on his most recent outing.

Should stay, but his mark isn’t overly lenient and he may now be vulnerable to younger, fresher legs.

6.      Lake View Lad                     11        11-0                 J: Brian Hughes        T: Nick Alexander

Won two major Northern handicaps in 2018/19 as well as finishing a fine third in the Ultima at Cheltenham, though never landed a blow when pulled up in the National on his final start that season. Gained his first Grade 2 victory this season, causing an upset to win an admittedly bizarre running of the Many Clouds Chase in December, though has looked outclassed at a similar level since.

Likely to stay, but will need a career best to defy this mark.

7.      Burrows Saint                     8          10-13               J: Mr Patrick Mullins T: Willie Mullins

Looked a very smart stayer when taking the Irish National as a novice in 2019 and has been acquitting himself well mixing hurdling and chasing since, clearly with this race always in mind. Good effort back over fences when second to stablemate Acapella Bourgeois in the Grade 3 Bobbyjo, traditionally Mullins’ preferred stepping stone to Aintree.

Still unexposed over marathon trips, so remains with potential in this sort of contest and has to be shortlisted.

8.      Magic Of Light                    10        10-13               J: Robbie Power    T: Jessica Harrington

66-1 when second in 2019, despite making a serious error at the Chair. Primarily campaigned against her own sex since, and made it back-to-back wins in an admittedly weak Listed Mares’ Chase at Newbury in December. Struggled in better company over 2m4f at the Cheltenham Festival last time out, but this trip will suit more.

Hard to assess the exact level of her recent form, but she can’t be ignored on the basis of previous Aintree showing.

9.      Acapella Bourgeois            11        10-12               J: Danny Mullins       T: Willie Mullins

Five-time Graded winner who clearly retains all of his ability, giving 6lbs and a beating to Burrows Saint to win his second consecutive Bobbyjo Chase on his most recent start. Has also shown his suitability for big field staying handicaps, having finished third to Burrows Saint in the 2019 Irish National two years ago.

Has been a chancy jumper in the past, but that aspect of his game has been better recently and he should not be underestimated.

10.   Talkischeap                         9          10-12               J:Tom Cannon          T: Alan King

Looked a stayer of some potential when bolting up in one of the season’s major staying handicaps, the Bet365 Gold Cup, on the final day of the 18/19 season. Gone backwards in three chase starts since then, though, with arguably the only positive signs he’s shown having come on the flat.

Well beaten at Kempton on his only run over fences this season, and he’s hard to recommend in his current form.

11.   Tout Est Permis                  8          10-12               J: Sean Flanagan      T: Noel Meade

Had a lot of racing for one his age but has some very smart form to his name, having taken the competitive Troytown Chase and the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae in the 18/19 season. Best effort of the season this time around when third in a Down Royal Grade 1 behind The Storyteller and Chris’s Dream, but has been poor on five starts since.

Sole effort over a marathon trip saw him finish eighth under top-weight in the 2019 Irish National.

12.   Anibale Fly                          11        10-12               J: Denis O’Regan      T: Tony Martin

Twice placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and has an equally admirable record in Grand Nationals, having finished fourth and fifth in the last two renewals of this race under big weights. Failed to beat a single rival home in four chase starts in the interim, albeit in good races, and now runs from a mark 13lb lower than on his last Aintree appearance.

A resurgence would see him dangerous, but he does require somewhat of a leap of faith.

13.   Mister Malarky                    8          10-12               J: Jonjo O’Neill Jnr   T: Colin Tizzard

Bred to run well in this race- his granddam, Dubacilla, was fourth in the 1995 National. Has notched wins in prestigious handicaps in both of the last two seasons, taking Kempton’s Grade 3 Betway Chase last February. as well as Ascot’s Silver Cup in December.

Creditable third at Kempton again last time, but he’s not the most consistent and can’t be relied upon to follow that up again here. Not sure he’s crying out for an extreme test of stamina, either.

14.   Kimberlite Candy                9          10-10               J: Richie McLernon  T: Tom Lacey

Improved performer over the past eighteen months, twice finishing second in the Becher Chase over the National fences as well as taking Warwick’s Grade 3 Classic Chase over 3m5f. Taken well to Aintree on his two previous visits here and he looks a likely candidate to stay the trip.

Now racing from a career-high mark, but there’s lots to like about him, even more so if the ground is slow.

15.   Any Second Now                9          10-9                 J: Mark Walsh            T: Ted Walsh

Looked a bit soft in his youth but has matured into a smart chaser, getting off the mark over fences when winning the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019. Showed another facet to his game when winning a Grade 3 over two miles on his final start last season and warmed up for this with another Grade 2 victory over the minimum trip.

This is more than twice as far, but he has a fine blend of speed and stamina, and lines up as a contender.

16.   Balko Des Flos                    10        10-9                 J: Aidan Coleman   T: Henry De Bromhead

Top class at his peak, good enough to win one of the Cheltenham Festival’s major Grade 1s, the Ryanair Chase, back in 2018. Winless since then, though, and is now clearly a horse on the downgrade. Unseated early at Cheltenham last time when attempting a marathon trip for the first time, and isn’t the most obvious stayer in the race.

This is his first start in a handicap since winning the illustrious Galway Plate in 2017, and it’s hard to see it being a winning one.

17.   Alpha Des Obeaux             11        10-9                 J: Jody McGarvey     T: Denise Foster

Solid Grade 2/3 performer across the past few seasons. Came down at the Chair in the 2018 National, but showed he was able to cope with the big fences when a fine third in the Becher last season. Looked regressive this time around, though, with his fourth in the Cross Country at Cheltenham last time being a clear best effort of his campaign.

He’d looked a shadow of his former self prior to that, and will probably find himself vulnerable in a race of this depth.

18.   Ok Corral                             11        10-8                 J: Mr Derek O’Connor  T: Nicky Henderson

A fragile sort, only making the track fourteen times so far, but one with a lot of natural talent, and he came close to winning a Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 as a novice hurdler in 2018. Smart, if inconsistent, chaser on his day as well, and gained his biggest win in Doncaster’s SkyBet Chase last year.

Finished lame at the Cheltenham Festival on his only start of this season. That’s not an ideal prep, and his hardiness for this sort of test has to be a worry.

19.   Takingrisks                         12        10-7                 J: Sean Quinlan        T:Nicky Richards

A regular on the northern handicap circuit, and a horse who has improved with age, having won three major handicaps in each of the last three campaigns, despite being into the veteran stage of his career.- the Scottish National in 18/19, the Rehearsal Chase in 19/20 and the SkyBet Chase this season.

In fine form this time again around, and though he lacks the pace and potential of some rivals here, he stays all day and will fight when asked to.

20.   Shattered Love                   10        10-7                 J: Kevin Sexton         T: Denise Foster

Dual Grade 1 winner as a novice chaser in the 17/18 season, including a victory in the Marsh at the Cheltenham Festival. Both wins since then have came against her own sex in winning back-to-back renewals of a Listed event at a Clonmel and was a good third in the championship Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time.

Stays three miles, but pulled up in the Irish National two years ago, and stamina over this trip looks a major issue.

21.   Jett                                       10        10-7                 J: Mr Sam Waley-Cohen   T: Jessica Harrington

Two-time Graded winner in Ireland, though he’s almost certainly operating below that level nowadays. No sign of any resurgence this campaign, though he did have a sighter over these fences when a well-beaten eighth in the Becher.

Was bought by current connections with the National in mind last year, and amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen has a fine record at Aintree, but nothing he’s done in the past twelve months would see him pose a threat.

22.   Lord Du Mesnil                   8          10-6                 J: Nick Scholfield    T: Richard Hobson

Resolute and hardy stayer with a brilliantly brave attitude. Performed consistently well in a series of tough stamina tests across his novice season last year. Arrives here in good form, having been typically game in victory when taking Haydock’s Grand National Trial last time and will have no issue getting the trip.

Seemed to take well enough to the National fences in December, and he’s as likeable as they come, though he will want as much rain as possible.

23.   Potters Corner                    11        10-6                 J: Jack Tudor            T: Christian Williams

Took the Midlands National on his final run of the 18/19 season and confirmed himself one of Britain’s best staying handicappers by winning last season’s Welsh National on his next chase start. Been quiet over hurdles in his last two outings, but showed ability remains over fences when a respectable third over Cheltenham’s cross country fences in November.

Stays well and Aintree should suit, so he’s shortlisted to give Wales a first National win since 1905.

24.   Class Conti                          9          10-6                 J: Brian Hayes           T: Willie Mullins

The third of his siblings to run in a Grand National. Has a solid record in top-level Irish handicaps, having placed in the previous two renewal’s of Gowran’s Thyestes Chase, undoubtedly one of the most important staying races in Ireland.

Another decent effort when fourth in the Leinster National last month, though stamina over a marathon trip isn’t assured and he doesn’t appear to have too much hidden from the handicapper.

25.   Milan Native                         8          10-6                 J: Mr Jamie Codd     T: Denise Foster

Won the Kim Muir at last season’s Cheltenham Festival- a race he can often produce future Grand National types- and began this season well when edging out Discorama in a minor event at Galway. Not much to shout about since, and he jumped poorly back at Cheltenham last time but he shouldn’t have an issue a trip this far and he remains with potential in this sort of contest. One to keep an eye on at a decent price if taking to Aintree.

26.   Discorama                           8          10-6                 J: Bryan Cooper       T: Paul Nolan

Hardy, staying sort who has been placed on three occasions at the Cheltenham Festival, including when narrow runner-up in the four-mile National Hunt Chase two years ago. Looked in good heart on his seasonal debut when a short-head behind Milan Native at Galway.

Inexplicably disappointing at his beloved Cheltenham next time, but he’s very much a typical National type and it would not be a surprise to see bounce back and go well here.

27.   Vieux Lion Rouge               12        10-5                 J: Conor O’Farrell     T: David Pipe

Modern Aintree legend who has never fallen in nine spins over the big fences.

Won his second Becher Chase here in December, but hasn’t managed to get any closer than sixth in his four previous attempts at the National. He loves it here, and if he gets around again, he’ll break the record for most National fences jumped, but has tended to want for the final half mile’s worth of stamina in Nationals and is likelier to finish midfield than in the frame.

28.   Cloth Cap                             9          10-5                 J: Tom Scudamore   T: Jonjo O’Neill

Showed promise when third in the Scottish National on only his fourth chase start in 2019 and has really blossomed this season, producing a spectacular round of jumping to take the prestigious Ladbrokes Trophy in November.

Even better form up in grade when demolishing Lake View Lad and Definitly Red at Kelso last time, a performance that now leaves him 14lbs well-in at the weights. Won’t want rain, but he stays, jumps and is deservedly clear favourite.

29.   Cabaret Queen                    9          10-5                 J: Sean O’Keeffe       T: Willie Mullins

Won the Munster National last season and added to her fine record in big-field Irish staying chases by taking the Kerry National in September, having also ran a good race to be third in the Galway Plate on the start prior. Hasn’t built on that form as the season has progressed, though, and was outclassed over a trip short of best at Cheltenham last time.

Others look better handicapped at present, and she’s not certain to appreciate the extreme trip here.

30.   Minellacelebration              11        10-5                 J: Ben Poste              T: Katy Price

The star of Katy Price’s yard earned his place in this lineup with a brace of early-season victories, battling bravely to win Uttoxeter’s Summer Cup and producing a career-best to romp home in a veteran’s chase on the Aintree Mildmay course in October. No luck when his jockey lost an iron in the Becher and didn’t fire at Kempton last time.

His place in this line-up is well earned, but this test is far tougher than what he’s used to and he’ll need to improve.

31.   Canelo                                  8          10-4                 J: Tom Bellamy         T: Alan King

Enjoyed a fine campaign in his second season as a chaser, winning on the Mildmay course in November before he proving could mix it in good three-mile handicaps by taking Wetherby’s Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day.

Adequate effort in Doncaster’s Grimthorpe last month, but he doesn’t shape like he’s crying out for such a stamina test, and he’ll need to find more to defy this career-high mark against this level of opposition here.

32.   The Long Mile                     7          10-4                 J: Luke Dempsey      T: Philip Dempsey

Improved 41lbs in the ratings across the last season and half, gaining the biggest success of his career when winning a highly-competitive handicap over 2m3f at Limerick in December.

Respectable effort up in trip when third behind Acapella Bourgeois and Burrows Saint in the Bobbyjo last time out, but this is deeper again. No seven-year-old has won this race since Bogskar in 1940 and most of his form comes in races almost half of the National distance.

33.   Give Me A Copper              11        10-4                 J: Harry Cobden        T: Paul Nicholls

Likely frustrating for owner Sir Alex Ferguson, as injuries have restricted him to only thirteen career runs.

The biggest win on his CV came when taking Wincanton’s Listed Badger Beers Trophy in November 2019 and was a narrow-up at Doncaster on his reappearance this season. Pulled-up next time, though, and he’s beginning to look a little bit in-and-out when he is able to make it to the track.

Should stay this far, but others have less to prove.

34.   Farclas                                 7          10-3                 J: Jack Kennedy       T: Denise Foster

Began his career as a two-year-old on the flat in and made up into a smart performer as juvenile hurdler, good enough to win that division’s championship event at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018. Smart over fences as well, and has held his form really well in a series of competitive handicaps this season, unlucky not to win again at the Festival last time out.

Best form over two-and-a-half miles though, and doesn’t appeal as a thorough stayer.

35.   Minella Times                      8          10-3                 J: Rachael Blackmore T: Henry De Bromhead

Heavily gambled upon after the Cheltenham Festival due to the success of jockey Rachael Blackmore. Improved this season, winning at Limerick on his comeback before fine seconds in two of Ireland’s top handicaps, and the career-high mark that sees him get into this race is justified.

Does stay three miles, but he has primarily been campaigned as a two-and-a-half miler, and stamina has to be the worry for this marathon contest.

36.   Sub Lieutenant                   12        10-3                 J: Tabitha Worsley   T: Georgie Howell

Top class over two-and-half miles at his best and was probably unlucky not to win a Grade 1 in his prime for Henry De Bromhead.

Took well to the big fences when second in the Topham in 2019 and has shown sparks this season to suggest he’s not a completely spent force.

Definitely on the downgrade, though and is a doubtful stayer over this trip. New owner/trainer Georgie Howell is yet to have a winner, and she’s highly unlikely to break her duck in this.

37.   Hogan’s Height                   10        10-3                 J: Gavin Sheehan     T: Jamie Snowden

Took very well to the National fences when running away with the Grand Sefton over 2m5f here back in December 2019.

No form in two hurdles starts since, or when pitched back over fences for Cheltenham’s Cross Country Chase last time out.

None of those races will have been the be all and end all for him, but he’s 12lb higher in the weights here, doesn’t look a guaranteed stayer and should be easy enough to rule out against this opposition.

38.   Double Shuffle                    11        10-2                 J: Jonathan Burke    T: Tom George

Pulled-up in the 2017 renewal of the National when only seven but developed into a borderline Graded level performer after that. Regressing nowadays, though he was able to earn his place in the National line-up by winning at his beloved Kempton in January.

Looked too high in the weights when unable to follow up from this mark at that venue again in February, and was a non-stayer in his previous National attempt. Easy enough to rule out.

39.  Ami Desbois                          11        10-2                 J: Kielan Woods     T: Graeme McPherson

Solid and dependable handicapper who has now climbed to the highest rating of his career, having finished second on six occasions across the past two seasons, including on his most recent outings at Kempton and Doncaster.

His place in this lineup has been well earned and he should run his usual honest race, but this is by far the toughest test of his career and on all known form several should be too good for him.

40. Blaklion                                  12        10-2                 J: Harry Skelton     T: Dan Skelton
Cheltenham Festival Grade 1 winner as a novice chaser in 2016 and went off favourite for the National the following year, coming home in a creditable fourth after arguably being sent for home too soon. Won the Becher in the 17/18 season, but was brought down at the first in that season’s National.

Returned for his new yard after almost two years this campaign, and has looked well past has best.

His Aintree form is a positive, but it looks like the only one.


Secret Reprieve                    7          10-1                 J: James Bowen       T: Evan Williams

Second-season novice chaser who got off the mark over fences when winning tidily at Chepstow in December. Followed up again at that venue a month with a taking performance in the Welsh National, winning with more in hand than the three-length margin suggests. No seven-year-old has won the National since Bogskar in 1940, but he relished the stamina test last time out and he should be capable of improving past the 8lb rise he now races from.

Some Neck                            10        10-1                 J: Simon Torrens      T: John McConnell

Joined John McConnell at the start of this season after spending the bulk of his career with Willie Mullins. Jumping had been a major issue when with the Irish champion, but that hasn’t held him back in cross-country races this season, winning at Cheltenham in December before finishing a creditable third in that discipline’s premier event at the Festival last month.

Will stay and is in good heart, though the opposition here is a level above his usual rivals.

Grand National VERDICT

Cloth Cap’s position is clear market leader is justified following his destructive victory at Kelso.

The nine-year-old is a confirmed stayer and his jumping is has more often been strength than a weakness, so racing from a mark 14lbs lower than his current rating, he should take all the beating.

That being said, his current odds are ridiculously skinny in a race as manic as the Grand National, so at a bigger-price, Acapella Bourgeois appeals as an attractive proposition.

Willie Mullins’ eleven-year-old defended his Bobbyjo crown last time, giving weight and a beating to his better-fancied stablemate Burrows Saint, and has proven his capabilities in marathon handicaps with his third-placed effort in the Irish National.

Burrows Saint remains unexposed himself, and should be going close in this, whilst Kimberlite Candy and Potters Corner are the picks to complete the first five.

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