Beneficial – Cloth Fair (Old Vic)
Favourite Cloth Cap’s only previous start over an extreme trip resulted in his third place in the Scottish Grand National two years ago. That’s certainly encouraging for his Aintree prospects and so too is the presence of Old Vic in his pedigree as the sire of his dam. Old Vic’s record as a Grand National sire this century is second to none. Besides two winners, Comply Or Die and Don’t Push It, he is also responsible for runners-up Black Apalachi and Sunnyhillboy, the latter beaten just a nose by Neptune Collonges. Cloth Cap comes from the same family as the Irish Grand National winner Niche Market who ran twice in the Aintree version, putting in a fine round of jumping when fifth to Ballabriggs in 2011.
Saint des Saints – La Bombonera (Mansonnien)
Willie Mullins has trained several of the best jumpers by Saint des Saints, notably Djakadam who twice finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Burrows Saint’s owner Susannah Ricci. Not all of them are stayers by any means, but as a former Irish Grand National winner, Burrows Saint has a win over three miles five furlongs to his name. He’s no one-off, either, as Saint des Saints has another Grand National contender with a proven record in staying chases. Lord du Mesnil won the latest Grand National Trial at Haydock and was second in the same race, as well as the National Hunt Chase, last season.
Oscar – Pretty Neat (Topanoora)
Any Second Now’s win over two miles last time shouldn’t put anyone off backing him to go more than twice as far on Saturday as he won the Kim Muir over three and a quarter miles two years ago and has given the impression he will stay further still. While his sire Oscar hasn’t sired a Grand National winner, he had both the third and fourth, Teaforthree and Oscar Time, in 2013. Any Second Now is out of a half-sister to the fairly useful staying chaser Rate of Knots who finished third in the Kent National at Folkestone over nearly four miles.
Oscar – Triptoshan (Anshan)
Minella Times is another leading contender by Oscar for J. P. McManus though with a bit more to prove stamina-wise than Any Second Now having raced mainly at short of three miles. His dam was unraced but his grandam Triptodicks won 11 races over jumps in Ireland and was a fairly useful chaser at up three miles and a furlong.
Flemensfirth – Mandys Native (Be My Native)
Another for J. P. McManus, and as the winner of last season’s Classic Chase over three miles five furlongs he’s already confirmed over longer trips than Any Second Now and Minella Times. That’s very much in keeping with his pedigree as he’s a half-brother to two horses who were placed in ‘Nationals’; Hawkes Point, who also won the Classic Chase, was beaten a head in the Welsh Grand National, while Alfie Sherrin was third in the Irish version. Kimberlite Candy’s sire Flemensfirth has had the runner-up in two of the last four Grand Nationals with The Last Samuri and Magic of Light, with the latter in the field again this year.
Flemensfirth – Oscar’s Reprieve (Oscar)
With the Welsh Grand National winner Secret Reprieve potentially representing him as well, Flemensfirth looks to have the strongest hand of any sire in this year’s Grand National. The most famous name in Secret Reprieve’s family is One Man, winner of a Hennessy Gold Cup and two King Georges but who capitulated in two Gold Cups before dropping back to two miles to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase. A stouter stayer in the family was Bellshill, winner of the Irish and Punchestown Gold Cups and who also went close to winning the Irish Grand National in 2018.
Saddler Maker – Quentala (Lone Bid)
Discorama’s second place in a gruelling National Hunt Chase in 2019 when it was still ‘the four-miler’ says more about his Grand National chances than his French non-thoroughbred pedigree which isn’t very enlightening. None of his first three dams ever ran while his sire failed to win a race. But Apple’s Jade figures among Saddler Maker’s best jumpers and he is responsible for a couple more in Saturday’s race, Bristol de Mai and Alpha des Obeaux. The latter fell at The Chair in a previous Grand National attempt, while the stamina Discorama has shown is some encouragement for Bristol de Mai staying marathon distances too. French non-thoroughbreds Mon Mome, Neptune Collonges and Pineau de Re have all won the Grand National since 2009.
There are two others at longer odds whose pedigrees, if not their form, make them interesting contenders. Ok Corral was pulled up in the National Hunt Chase on his only previous try over a marathon trip but he comes from a family with some very good staying chasers. His dam Acoola, a winning pointer, was a sister to Tidal Bay who became a regular at the Grand National meeting where he made no fewer than eight appearances, finishing second in the Grade 2 bumper and winning both the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle and the Maghull Novices’ Chase. While he unseated in both his attempts in the Grand National itself, the quirky Tidal Bay showed he stayed well by winning the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown and finishing a close third in the Welsh National. Another family member, Beshabar (who shared his sire Flemensfirth with Tidal Bay), won the 2011 Scottish Grand National after finishing second in the National Hunt Chase.
Mister Malarky has a pedigree which ties him to the Grand National more than any other runner as it’s a race his grandam contested. Starting at just 9/1, Dubacilla made the final start of her career in the 1995 Grand National in which she finished fourth to Royal Athlete after making up a lot of ground over the final three fences. That followed her career-best effort when second to Master Oats in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, achieving a Timeform rating of 166 which few mares have bettered over fences. Dubacilla’s Grand National bid came just after her half-brother had gone closer still to winning. Just So was what Timeform used to call ‘a dyed-in-the-wool staying chaser’, though others, less charitably, called him ‘Just Slow’ given his need for plenty of driving and bottomless stamina. However, that was exactly what was required in the heavy-ground Grand National of 1994 when he plugged on from 22 lb out of the handicap to finish just over a length second to Miinnehoma.