Grand National Runner-By-Runner Guide Part One – Our Definitive Rundown Of The Top 40
1. Minella Times
Brilliant winner of this last year under Rachael Blackmore, scoring by 6½ lengths. Two starts this season have gone waywardly, however, as he fell in the John Durkan before pulling up in handicap company. Is 15lb higher than a year ago and while this track could revitalise him, he has shown nowhere near the class away from Aintree as plenty of those he concedes weight to. Would be a surprise if he replicates Tiger Roll.
2. Delta Work
Denied stablemate Tiger Roll an emotional final victory by powering home in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham. His stamina lasted superbly and showed much of the ability that has seen him win multiple Grade 1s. If there is any issue it would be his jumping, for while he has only fallen or unseated once in his career, mistakes have blighted him over fences. Unlikely to be a comfortable watch for those backing him.
3. School Boy Hours
Only 3 on the racecard because he replaced the absent Easysland and is racing from the bottom of the weights. Pulled up when favourite for the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival, but was working his way into contention when making a clanger of a mistake four out. Had previously won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas for a first chase success after going close on numerous occasions against decent horses. 6lb worse off with the third for that run, but does still shape like a thorough stayer.
4. Any Second Now
Last year’s relatively luckless third is 7lb higher 12 months on. However, despite nearly being brought down, he made his way into contention sensationally well under Mark Walsh, only losing out in the final furlong. With better fortune in running he would have gone significantly closer and this season has been geared around his return. Won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse at the end of February, giving him a form edge over a few key rivals and looks the one they have to beat.
5. Run Wild Fred
Seeks to emulate Rule The World as a Gigginstown-owned novice to win the National. Certainly no forlorn hope based on his runaway Troytown Handicap Chase win at Navan last November, for all he has made a habit of finishing second. Indeed, he has been runner-up on six of his last seven starts, including last year’s Irish National and does have the tendency to throw in a howler at his fences. Quite possibly weighted to the hilt of his ability too.
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Absolutely thrown in on his Gold Cup third from 2020, but he has only shown form reminiscent of that day once in the interim. Uncompetitive last of five in the King George and effectively a no-show the next twice. Needs quite some turnaround even to be remotely involved and is racing off 7lb above his official rating here.
7. Brahma Bull
Has four wins from his 17 chase starts, including a handicap win at last term’s Punchestown Festival. Third, albeit distantly, in this season’s Ladbrokes Trophy too, but has been disappointing since. Pulled up in Gowran Park’s Thyestes handicap Chase, then unseated in the Cross Country and is another who, on recent efforts, may be best watched from behind the sofa.
8. Burrows Saint
Fourth in the race last year when travelling into contention menacingly. However, it looked as though he didn’t stay that day, for all he had won an Irish National as a six-year-old in 2019. Briefly threatened dual Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo at Tramore (in receipt of 7lb), but was very disappointing behind Any Second Now last time. Is off the same mark as last year, which could mean he closes the gap, but simply might not get home.
9. Mount Ida
Very likeable mare, who was a winner of the Kim Muir at Cheltenham in 2021. Listed and Grade 3 victories against her own sex followed this season, but she ran a shocker on her return to Cheltenham last month, jumping poorly. Habitually corrects to the right, which is not promising here and has a very tough mark to defy off a stone higher than her last handicap run.
10. Longhouse Poet
Trainer won this with a similar type in 2006, though this charge is two years younger and almost certainly more talented. Beat Run Wild Fred as a novice, but fact he has been lightly-raced since ensures he is now carrying less weight than that rival. Battling winner of the Thyestes Chase at Gowran in January for which he is penalised, but has huge potential going right up in trip, as even in his novice hurdling days, he has looked all about stamina. Faultless completion record and big chance.
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Outstanding record over fences having finished in the first three in all ten chase starts. Only two of those have been victories though and habitually finds one too good or stronger in a finish. Second in the Ladbrokes Trophy and 5lb higher than that day does not strike as especially unfair. Took ages to get going at Ascot last time, which would concern in this helter-skelter contest, but could stay and a very good jumper on the whole.
12. Two For Gold
Strike rate of six wins from 13 chase starts is excellent and has taken his form to an entirely new level this season. It is rare for the most “well-in” horse in the race (due to go up 5lb) to be so readily available at his prices, but his only effort beyond 3m saw him pulled up in the 2020 Ladbrokes Trophy. Also unseated when behind on his sole start over these fences, so while he will be rated 159 soon, his stamina may well give out even off this mark.
Former Gold Cup runner-up swiftly became outclassed at that level thereafter. Changed base from Nicky Henderson to Polly Gundry, but has shown some spark in most recent starts at Cheltenham, including when eighth back in the Gold Cup. Even on recent efforts, this mark is not overly harsh and while he has often been maligned for his lack of pace, he does keep galloping. This test may simply be absolutely ideal if he takes to the fences and he’s a very alluring price too.
Here’s a name you haven’t heard in a while. Looked destined for big things as a novice hurdler, but apart from one sunny day at Cheltenham in 2020, has never delivered over fences. Form has gone further backwards this season and stamina was never his strong suit anyway. Very little chance of a messianic revival.
15. Escaria Ten
Looks one of the more fairly treated Irish runners off just 1lb higher than his mark across the water. Third in Galvin’s National Hunt Chase in 2021 reads very well now and was only pinched on the line by Any Second Now in the Bobbyjo Chase last time. Is 1lb worse off with that rival now and cedes course experience to him, but this has clearly been the plan all season. Concerns remain though, as his two big-field handicap efforts, in the Irish National and Thyestes Chase, have been disappointing.
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16. Good Boy Bobby
Superb form in the autumn and winter, winning twice at Wetherby, including on his first attempt at 3m over fences in the Rowland Meyrick. That was a slow motion finish and jumping slightly let him down at Kempton last time. Now 1lb worse for his mark here for all he has been generally progressive, but even if he loves the experience, a win looks unlikely.
17. Romain De Senam
17 on the card due to Lord Du Meesnil’s absence. Easy winner of Musselburgh handicap for Dan Skelton last term, which saw him shoot up 10lb. Decent efforts off mark of 148 the next twice, but moved to David Pipe in November. New yard clearly have an eye on him as a stayer, but was pulled up miles from home after a long absence in the Midlands National and has the same mark here. Very little appeal.
18. Coko Beach
Gave weight to Run Wild Fred when winning the 2021 Thyestes Chase, but connections opted for the Irish National instead last season. Only seventh that day and not been in the same form this season. Fourth in the Grand National Trial at Punchestown was promising, but he faded late on which has to be a concern. Well beaten in the Bobbyjo Chase and point to prove even though he’s much better off at the weights here.
19. De Rasher Counter
Winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy in 2019, but endured 489 days off the track between October 2020 and February 2022. Has not cut it at Grade 2 level, though did have the layoff as an excuse at Newbury last time. Pulled up on only effort at marathon trip in 2020 Midlands National, but though he is back to his last winning mark, he does not strike as a very obvious contender.
Is officially 1lb wrong and on a three year losing streak, but 462 days were spent off the track between November 2020 and March 2022. Won only race on the Mildmay Course off this mark, so clearly does not mind his surroundings and stays 3m1f very well. Will probably get significantly further and there were encouraging signs on his comeback at Newbury. Jumping was very questionable as a novice, but appears sounder now and could run a big race if fully fit.