1 Minella Times (age nine, weight 11st 10lb)
Carried his rider into the history books 12 months ago as a flawless, ground-saving ride by Rachael Blackmore kept him out of trouble and in the right place to strike for home two out. A similar no-nonsense performance in the saddle can be expected but he is 15lb higher in the ratings and it is nearly half a century since Red Rum became the last top weight to win. Repeat wins in the National are extremely rare for a reason – all the stars need to align just to win once –, never mind with more lead in the saddle. A gallant run into fifth or sixth is probably a more plausible outcome.
2 Delta Work 9yo, 11st 9lb
The party-pooper at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, when loud boos rang out from the grandstands after he denied the legendary Tiger Roll victory on his final start. He would be a very popular winner at Aintree, though. The adaptability required to win on his first start over the cross-country obstacles felt like the final piece of the puzzle before his Grand National debut, and he has been attracting plenty of support ever since. With five Grade One chase wins, he also has the class to go with his stamina, but this latest challenge comes 24 days after his huge effort at Cheltenham. With the juice squeezed out of his price, a couple of the fresher horses are marginally preferred.
3 School Boy Hours 9yo, 10st 5lb
Scraped in from second reserve a few minutes before the cut-off on Friday. Every National winner needs a bit of luck but Noel Meade’s gelding, who was pulled up after a bad mistake four out in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at Cheltenham last time, will need a whole lot more than that for his backers to get an each-way return.
4 Any Second Now 10yo, 11st 8lb
Every Grand National has a hard luck story or three, but few match this one’s tale of woe 12 months ago. Ted Walsh’s runner was travelling sweetly, not far off the lead, when he was stopped in his tracks by a faller at the 12th, losing at least a dozen lengths. Mark Walsh worked his way back into contention two out and was still disputing second at the Elbow, a remarkable effort in the circumstances. He is 7lb higher in the ratings this year, which is more than fair on his 2021 form, and has been freshened up since winning a Grade Three in February. With a bit more luck, he will be very tough to keep out of the frame.
5 Run Wild Fred 8yo, 11st 7lb
There are faint echoes of Rule The World, the 2016 Grand National winner, about this Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old, a second-season novice with high-class form over fences but only one chase win. Rule The World had not even managed that when he came home in front six years ago, and Run Wild Fred made it plain that stamina will not be an issue when he finished second in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last time. He did not look like a horse with an abundance of gears, however, and it will be a surprise if a few nippier types do not have the beating of him.
6 Lostintranslation 10yo, 11st 6lb
Looked likely to be a force in the very best races for years to come when he landed the Grade One Betfair Chase in November 2019, but has one win in 10 starts since. On the plus side, one of those defeats was a close third in the 2020 Gold Cup, and he ran well under a big weight at Cheltenham last month, finishing eighth in the Ultima Handicap Chase. That still gives him something to find under another hefty burden here, however, and the top 10 is probably as good as it is likely to get.
7 Brahma Bull 11yo, 11st 6lb
Some National runners tick all the right boxes. This one ticks several of the wrong ones, in particular a habit of throwing in a sloppy jump or three in most races. It surfaced again in the Cross Country Chase last month – which looks like one of the key pieces of form for this year’s race – as he unseated his jockey. The Aintree fences are not quite what they were, but clouting one or more can still be enough to cost you any chance of a win and this one is likely to be back among the also-rans.
8 Burrows Saint 9yo, 11st 5lb
Going as well as the winner three from home last year but failed to see it out, finishing 27 lengths behind Minella Times. His finishing effort was also disappointing in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February, form which gives him little chance of beating either Any Second Now or Escaria Ten. While Willie Mullins sees him as his No 1 contender, that probably says more about the relative weakness of his team this year.
9 Mount Ida 8yo, 11st 5lb
Another member of Elliott’s eight-strong stable , but one of the least convincing candidates to give her trainer a record-equalling fourth success. Stamina is unlikely to be an issue – she has looked to be crying out for a test like this for much of her career – but her jumping is generally so-so at best and comes with a tendency to veer sharply right. On a left-handed track like Aintree, that could cost her many lengths, and her latest run in the new Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham was a let down. Easily overlooked.
10 Longhouse Poet 8yo, 11st 4lb
Martin Brassil hit the bullseye with Numbersixvalverde, his first Grand National runner, in 2006, saddled the same horse to finish sixth a year later and then sent Double Seven to finish third in 2014. This is his first National runner since and won the ultra-competitive Thyestes Chase – a race that Numbersixvalverde landed the season before his Aintree win – in January, with several of today’s opponents well beaten. As an eight-year-old making just his seventh chase start, he has more scope for improvement than most and at around 16-1 is an excellent bet to further improve Brassil’s excellent record in the world’s most famous steeplechase.
11 Fiddlerontheroof 8yo 11st 4lb
A live candidate to be the best of the British-trained runners, but even that would be no guarantee of an each-way return given the strength of the Irish challenge. The eight-year-old’s domestic form is rock-solid, however, and Colin Tizzard also resisted the urge to run him at Cheltenham, despite an excellent run in the Ladbrokes Trophy in November that could have persuaded him to aim at the Gold Cup. A sound jumper who goes on any ground, though his stamina is untested at a marathon trip and more dependable stayers can be backed at much the same price.
12 Two For Gold 9yo, 11st 3lb
Beaten less than two lengths in a Grade One race at Ascot last time, which is strong form for a horse getting weight from several of the major fancies. That was over two miles and five furlongs, however, and in addition to the question mark over his stamina, the fact he fell on his first attempt over these fences – in the Topham Trophy last season – is another concern. Kim Bailey, his trainer, knows what it takes to win this, having saddled Mr Frisk in 1990, but a price of around 40-1 looks fair.
13 Santini 10yo, 11st 2lb
A top-class chaser at his best, who went down by a neck in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March 2020. If he has been on the downslope of his career since, it has been a fairly gentle one. A change of scenery may have helped, having switched from Nicky Henderson to Polly Gundry over the summer, and he was up with the leaders for much of the way in last month’s renewal. One of several who could show up well for a long way if the fences fire him up, while unlikely to maintain his challenge beyond the second-last.
14 Samcro 10yo 11lb 1lb
Lauded as a potential all-time great when he ran up a sequence of wins as a novice hurdler in 2017/18, though Michael O’Leary, his owner, said at the time “he will never be as good as the hype will make out”. The 10-year-old has had his moments, including three Grade One wins and as Elliott points out, it “would be a Samcro thing to do” to “run a massive race”, but it would be a Samcro thing to finish 16th – as he did on his first start in a handicap chase – and that is the more credible scenario.
15 Escaria Ten 8yo 11st 1lb
Closely matched with Any Second Now on their form in the Bobbyjo Chase in February, when last year’s third gave 8lb to Elliott’s eight-year-old – 1lb more than he will on Saturday – and edged him by a nose. The time of that race was notably strong too, and a real step forward from Escaria Ten’s comeback run behind Longhouse Poet in the Thyestes Chase. He was probably feeling the effects of a big effort at Cheltenham when pulled up in last year’s Irish National and definitely makes the short list.
16 Good Boy Bobby 9yo, 10st 13lb
Owners Isaac Souede and Simon Munir have four runners and their No 1 rider, Daryl Jacob, has opted to ride this one, though he remains a 33-1 outsider to give them a first National success. Won in the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Christmas, while a change of tactics from his usual front-running may be to blame for a lesser run last time. Unproven beyond three miles, has a fair bit to find with the market leaders and no obvious reason why he should bridge the gap going up in trip.
17 Romain De Senam 10yo, 10st 5lb
The last horse into the race, a few minutes before the Friday deadline, but would probably have been better off taking his chance in the Topham Trophy over a much shorter trip. Looked like a non-stayer in the Midlands National last time and has even further to travel here. Didn’t seem to stay in the Midlands National last time and has even further to go here.
18 Coko Beach 7yo, 10st 13lb
There are several heavyweight contenders in Elliott’s National squad, but Coko Beach fits more snugly into the bantamweight division. Seven-year-olds simply don’t win the National these days and while a win in last season’s Thyestes Chase is a plus, he was well beaten off a higher mark in the same race this season. Appeared to be running on fumes in a three-and-a-half mile race at Punchestown in February – and the National is another six furlongs.
19 De Rasher Counter 10yo, 10st 12lb
Emma Lavelle’s 10-year-old gets the nod for Best Outsider at around 40-1. His win in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in 2019 is one of the best individual pieces of form on offer in this year’s field. He will race off the same handicap mark and arrives on the back of an eye-catching run in February’s Denman Chase – his first start for 489 days after a tendon injury. Lavelle’s stable is a match for any when it comes to getting a top-notch horse big-race ready and it would be no surprise to see him outrun his odds.
20 Kildisart 10yo, 10st 11lb
One of the better staying novice chasers in 2018/19, when he also won a handicap on the National undercard, but was off the track for 462 days before returning to action at Newbury in March. Has always looked likely to improve over a marathon trip but this is a swift return to action after a long break and he was among the potential rides that Daryl Jacob turned down. James Bowen gets the call-up, but his third National ride looks no more likely to prevail than the first two.
21 Discorama 9yo, 10st 11lb
Showed up well for a long way as a 16-1 shot last year and briefly threatened to do even better than his eventual finish in seventh when he moved towards the lead with four to jump. In the end, though, his finishing effort was tame, and even the veteran Blaklion managed to breeze past him on the run-in. His light schedule this year has clearly been designed with a return to Aintree in mind and co-owner Andrew Gemmell, of Paisley Park fame, has a happy knack of getting involved with fairytale success stories, but 40-1 does not feel unduly generous.
22 Top Ville Ben 10yo, 10st 11lb
Philip Kirby’s gelding should at least get a mention or two from the commentator as a confirmed frontrunner, but shout-outs at the business end will be more a lot more difficult to achieve. His first experience over these fences ended with a heavy fall at the 12th fence in the Becher Chase in December and even if that experience has not left a mark, his exuberant running style is likely to see his elastic band fully unwound with a few fences still to jump.
23 Enjoy D’Allen 8yo, 10st 11lb
Few trainers have as much to gain on Saturday as Ciaran Murphy, whose small stable would jump through several leagues if Enjoy D’Allen comes home in front. Murphy has been on the staff at Charlestown Stud for 25 years, but took over the licence 15 months ago and has already seen his eight-year-old run third in last season’s Irish National. That form gives him a big chance on Saturday, so much so that JP McManus was persuaded to buy a share after a solid prep run. “I’ve been thinking about nothing else all year,” he said recently. “Winning would be off the Richter scale.” Murphy’s gelding is a fair 14-1 shot to record a groundbreaking success.
24 Anibale Fly 12yo, 10st 11lb
A top-class chaser in his day, who finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 and fifth – under top weight – behind Tiger Roll in the National a few weeks later. He also finished fourth on his first startin 2018, but was never going well when attempting to make it third time lucky last season. He has shown no more than occasional glimpses of worthwhile form since and while handicap runners from the Tony Martin yard have a reputation for dramatic improvement when the big day arrives, little short of a miracle is requiredfor him to make a mark this time.
25 Dingo Dollar 10yo, 10st 11lb
A change of surroundings made a world of difference to Sandy Thompson’s gelding, who seemed to have peaked as long ago as November 2018, when he was third in the Ladbrokes Trophy for Alan King, but has found a new lease of life in Scotland. Runner-up in the Scottish National last April, but yet to recapture that kind of form this year and he did not seem impressed by the Aintree experience in the 2020 Becher Chase. A worthy 66-1 shot.
26 Freewheelin Dylan 10yo, 10st 10lb
Already a history-maker having won the Irish National at 150-1 last year. Run Wild Fred and Enjoy D’Allen, who are at a much shorter price, finished second and third that day so a return to that level would – theoretically, at least – make him a player, but subsequent form suggests it was a flash-in-the-pan moment. Sheila Mangan, his owner, backed him at 50-1, 66-1 and then 150-1 – “ah, for feck sake, I have to have a bit of that as well” as she put it – and will presumably do so again now, but only optimists will follow her in.
27 Class Conti 10yo, 10st 10lb
Finished 129 lengths behind Minella Times 12 months ago, when he arrived at Aintree in something approaching fair form, having made the frame in the Thyestes Chase earlier in the campaign. Has not come anywhere close to that level this year and Sam Twiston-Davies’s mount is rightly bracketed with the no-hopers at around 150-1.
28 Noble Yeats 7yo, 10st 10lb
Snapped up by Robert Waley-Cohen in February as a National mount for his son, the leading amateur rider Sam. The Waley-Cohen colours have been carried to victory six times over the Grand National fences, but never, as yet, in the National. While Noble Yeats has bits of form to suggest he could be an Aintree horse one day, his debut is probably coming at least a year too soon.
29 Mighty Thunder 9yo, 10st 10lb
Lucinda Russell was the last British trainer to win the National, with One For Arthur five years ago, and her runner this year put down an excellent marker with a doughty success in the 2021 Scottish National, when making his sixth start over fences. He has failed to build on that and was reported to have suffered a breathing problem in the Edinburgh National in February. Better the further he goes, so the Aintree trip will hold no fears, but an immense leap of faith is required to back him on this year’s form.
30 Cloth Cap 10yo, 10st 10lb
Set off as the much-fancied 11-2 favourite last year and was still chasing the leader five from home, but faded rapidly and was pulled up. A breathing problem was diagnosed and he had an operation to address it before returning to action this season, but the old Cloth Cap has yet to reappear. He looked like the best-handicapped horse in the field 12 months ago and is rated 1lb lower now at 25-1, but he found very little at the end of the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time.
31 Snow Leopardess 10yo, 10st 9lb
Charlie Longsdon’s mare has plenty of the attributes you look for in a winner, up to and including Hollywood blockbuster potential – she would be the first mum to win the race. Snow Leopardess gave birth to a filly foal during an 18-month absence from the track, but that is just one strand of a remarkable storyline involving her breeder, 80-year-old Marietta Fox-Pitt. “I wasn’t any different after I had children,” Fox-Pitt says when asked why she sent Snow Leopardess back into training, “so why should she be?” Recuperated with Marietta’s son, the event rider William Fox-Pitt and his wife, Alice Plunkett, part of the ITV Racing team, so her post-race interview has the potential to be teary TV gold. Odds of around 9-1 are short enough as she did not have a huge amount to spare at the end of the Becher Chase in December.
32 Agusta Gold 9yo, 10st 9lb
Like Snow Leopardess, attempting to become the first mare to win the National since Nickel Coin in 1951. Unlike Snow Leopardess, she has very little chance of doing so and could well be the weakest link even in Mullins’s sub-par squad for this race.
33 Commodore 10yo, 10st 5lb
A late arrival in the field on Friday, moving up from first reserve. Unraced since an easy front-running win at Cheltenham in December, when none of his rivals could land a blow, but he is 9lb higher in the weights, will struggle to dominate a much better field and has been a weak finisher in the past.
34 Deise Aba 9yo, 10st 8lb
Has scraped in towards the bottom of the list after narrowly missing out in 2021, but seems to show his best form on heavy ground and also at right-handed Sandown Park. Left behind from around a mile out in the Welsh National in December and highly unlikely to fare much better in the even more demanding surroundings of Aintree.
35 Blaklion 13yo, 10st 8lb
A former favourite for this race – running well to finish fourth– and Dan Skelton’s gelding has winning form over the National fences too, in the Becher Chase. That was all back in 2017, when Blaklion was a spry eight-year-old. It is 99 years since a teenager won the Grand National and it is more important than ever to have youth on your side these days. Easily overlooked.
36 Poker Party 10yo, 10st 8lb
Won the Kerry National two seasons ago but had a year off in 2020/21 and has shown nothing in three starts in the current campaign. Form figures of 00P sum up his chance succinctly.
37 Death Duty 11yo, 10st 7lb
Effectively “subbed” into the Elliott squad when the stable scratched Battleoverdoyen this week, creeping in at the foot of the weights. A dual Grade One winner and better the further he goes, so a fair chance of a top-10 finish if he rekindles his best form.
38 Domaine De L’Isle 9yo, 10st 7lb
Twenty-two lengths behind Snow Leopardess in the Becher Chase and little to no chance of reversing the form if his disappointing run in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time is any guide. If you draw him in the sweep, have another go.
39 Eclair Surf 8yo, 10st 6lb
The stress of the big race will be water off a duck’s back to connections after a nerve-shredding wait to see if their eight-year-old would get a run. It is a sign of how deeply competitive a modern National is that an easy winner of the Classic Chase at Warwick is struggling to make it in at the bottom of the weights. Now that he is confirmed as a runner, he will set off as one of the favourites. Followed up his Warwick success by running a cracker behind Win My Wings in the Eider and the winner there bolted up in last week’s Scottish National.
40 Fortescue 8yo, 10st 6lb
Simply making it into the final field is an achievement for Henry Daly’s gelding, who was 67th on the original list of weights in February. Returned to winning form at Ascot last time but the ground simply can’t be heavy enough for him – it would have needed to start raining on Monday to give him any chance.
Greg Wood’s top four 1) Longhouse Poet 2) Any Second Now 3) Enjoy D’Allen 4) Escaria Ten Best outsider De Rasher Counter