David Ord's horse-by-horse guide to the final field for Saturday's Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
- Sky Bet are paying SIX places on the Randox Health Grand National
THUNDER AND ROSES: It's a brave man or woman who backs a horse who has fallen on his last two starts going into a Grand National. Also, unseated in this race last season so struggling for positives at this stage – for all Mouse Morris knows what it talks to win this.
BLAKLION: Went for home too early last year when finishing fourth to One For Arthur and again looked a natural over these fences when winning Becher Chase in December. However, finished legless in Haydock mud on final prep run and 11 poutnds higher than in last year’s race.
ANIBALE FLY: Produced a career best performance when third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and nine pounds well in here from his old rating. Promises to be suited by this extreme stamina test and has to be a huge player if the Prestbury Park exertions haven’t taken their toll.
THE LAST SAMURI: Placed three times in four starts over these big fences including when chasing home Blaklion in the Becher Chase. His know-how will come in handy and he’ll again run a big race for all he has no secrets from the handicapper and finds winning difficult these days as a result.
VALSEUR LIDO: Not the force of old this season with a series of tame finishing efforts to his name. Needs a big revival for all he’s used to competing at the elite level.
TOTAL RECALL: Deserves his place at the head of the market having landed the Munster National and Ladbrokes Trophy over fences this season, and a valuable handicap hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival. Was staying on when falling three out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup which clearly isn’t an ideal prep but one of the few in this race with the scope for improvement.
ALPHA DES OBEAUX): Very capable on his day and won the Clonmel Oil Chase in November but not scaled those heights since. Has broken blood vessels in the past and has a bit to prove.
PERFECT CANDIDATE: Beat Vicente at Cheltenham in November but nowhere near that level since and pulled up in this race last year.
SHANTOU FLYER: In the form of his life right now, chasing home the well handicapped Coo Coo Sivola at Cheltenham last time. Pulled up four out last year having seemed to take to the fences well and the worry is stamina. Has an alternative engagement in the Topham.
TENOR NIVERNAIS: Picked up valuable pot at Ascot last season but only 17th in this race and comes in this time around on the back of pulling up in the Sky Bet Chase and a last of six in the same race in Berkshire that he won 12 months ago. Hard to fancy.
CARLINGFORD LOUGH: Beat Djakadam in last year’s Punchestown Gold Cup but cut little ice in similar events since. Possible his whole season has been geared around this but you’d like to have seen a little more in the build up.
DELUSIONSOFGRANDEUR: Placed in Rowland Meyrick and at Haydock last time. Decent northern staying handicap chaser and a fine jumper but marks in the 140s make life tough for him at the moment.
TIGER ROLL: Won at his third successive Cheltenham Festival when landing the Cross-Country Chase in March and would be a player again if taking to these fences as well as he did that test. Not the most reliable as general rule.
REGAL ENCORE: About as difficult to predict as the lottery numbers but very much had a going day when winning at Ascot last month. You’ll need to ask him if he’s in the same mood here.
VIEUX LION ROUGE : Leading fancy for this last season and ran respectably to finish sixth. Signs of a revival when meeting with trouble running behind Regal Encore at Ascot last time. However, has looked to run out of petrol in the last two Nationals and difficult to see why he’ll last it out better this time around.
CHASE THE SPUD : Won at Haydock in November but pulled up both starts since (in the Welsh National and Eider). He stays well but hard to make much of a case for him based on recent evidence.
WARRIORS TALE : Travelled well for a long way before being touched off by Wakanda in the Sky Bet Chase and has plenty of talent. However, whether he wants a test as gruelling as this one remains to be seen.
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT Connections had a devil of a job getting him qualified but managed it with an encouraging return at Newbury last month. Needs to take a big leap forward from that which is conceivable and he’s handicapped to run well in a race that could well suit.
GAS LINE BOY: Fifth in this race last year and won the Grand Sefton over these fences in December. Good third in veterans' chase at Sandown last time and while handicap mark is creeping up a bigger worry is the trip as he looked to tire last season and the Topham is also under consideration.
THE DUTCHMAN: Broke a blood vessel when pulling up in desperate ground in the Haydock trial but looked a potential player here when winning the Peter Marsh there the time before. A leap of faith is required after the last run but in very good hands and potentially a lively outsider as he's unexposed in this sphere.
PLEASANT COMPANY: Something we all strive to be and he ran well to be ninth in this last season despite a bad mistake at Valetine’s. Jumped well apart from that but has shown very little so far this term.
UCELLO CONTE: Hampered when unseating at Becher's last season and sixth the previous year so has experience on his side (fourth in 2016 Becher too). Didn’t seem to get home in this race two years ago though and that’s the worry as he's handicapped to run well again.
SAINT ARE: Placed in two of the last three runnings of this race and don’t read anything into his two laboured efforts at Chelteham this season. Would be a hugely popular winner – but a surprise one too at the age of 12.
WALK IN THE MILL: Only eight and won at Ascot in November but was caught out by the testing ground and stamina test in the Peter Marsh at Haydock and has questions to answer going up in trip again.
RAZ DE MAREE: Enjoyed his day in the sun (well drizzle) when winning the rearranged Welsh National in some style at Chepstow under a fine James Bowen ride. A credit to connections but now 13 and unseated in this last year (hampered at Becher’s) having been eighth in 2014.
I JUST KNOW: Stable know how to ready a Grand National horse and he was a wide-margin winner at Catterick in January. Stays well and handles all ground so could go well for the north for all he needs a career best to hit the frame.
VIRGILIO: Saves his best for the Mildmay track here where has a fantastic record and an interesting outsider heading in off the back of a wind op (explains below-par run at Doncaster in December). Handicapped to go well and makes plenty of each-way appeal in the hope he takes to these fences.
BAIE DES ILES: Katie Walsh rides and shaped well at Punchestown last time. Another who likes to go from the front and capable of running better than current price suggests.
MAGGIO: Didn’t really seem to take to these fences in the 2015 Topham and while he won a decent handicap chase over the conventional obstacles at Aintree the following year, he has a fair bit to prove on recent evidence and older than some of the racegoers.
PENDRA: Lightly raced in recent years and didn’t finish his race off on seasonal reappearance in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham (second in it last season). 13th behind Rule The World in the 2016 renewal of this race but didn’t stay and hard to believe it’s will play to his strengths this time around.
BUYWISE: Earned reputation for being a nearly horse but picked up valuable veterans’ chase at Sandown in January. Never a factor when 12th in this race back in 2016 when at the peak of his powers and he’s another over whom there have to be stamina questions.
CHILDRENS LIST: Beat Edwulf in maiden chase at Punchestown last term but didn’t seem to last home when pulled up in Grand National trial won by Folsom Blue at the same track. That was over three-and-a-half miles and has six furlongs further to cover here.
LORD WINDERMERE: Not the force of old and fell at the tenth in the Becher Chase here in December. Round safely in seventh in this race last season (pulled up in the 2015 National) but others surely have stronger claims.
CAPTAIN REDBEARD: Thriving this winter with wins at Ayr and Haydock either side of a second place in the Peter Marsh. Finished sixth in the Grand Sefton over these fences in December but wasn’t convincing with his jumping that day.
HOUBLON DES OBEAUX: Stayed on into tenth in this race last season but needs the current wet spell to extend into next week if he’s to improve on that. Win in veterans chase on reappearance at Sandown shows the fire still burns.
BLESS THE WINGS: Pulled up in the Irish National – fourth time in five starts this season he’s failed to complete. Far from certain to head here and readily opposed even if he does.
MILANSBAR: Classic Chase winner at Warwick and will feature heavily in the pre-race publicity with Byrony Frost in the saddle. She gets a good tune out of Neil King’s charge who was second in the Midlands National so trip won’t be an issue – and capable of a decent show if conditions are testing.
FINAL NUDGE: Ninth in the Kim Muir but shaped well there (lost shoe) and been in good form all season but again there have to be stamina concerns.
DOUBLE ROSS: Another on the veterans circuit now (won at Chepstow last season) but back to form when fourth behind Missed Approach in Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir. Has fifth place finishes over these fences in both the Topham and Grand Sefton on his CV but pulled up in last year’s Nash and has never appealed as the sort to thrive in such a stamina test.
ROAD TO RICHES: Very useful in his pomp but nothing like the force of old this term. Noel Meade’s team are in better form now which offers a glimmer of hope for a horse who was third to Vautour in the 2016 Ryanair Chase.