Grand National preview: David Ord horse-by-horse Pinstickers' Guide

Randox Health Grand National profiles
Randox Health Grand National profiles

David Ord profiles the likely runners in Saturday's Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.

ANIBALE FLY

He ran a screamer to finish third in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup before filling the same spot behind Tiger Roll at Aintree. Both were notable performances, particularly the latter, as he took such a wide course he looked like he was going to dart down the M57 for an afternoon session in Huyton at one stage during the first circuit.

Now he’s experienced the splendour of the far rail on the National course, a more conventional route could see him get closer to Tiger Roll this time around, especially after a strong-finishing second to Al Boum Photo in this year’s Magners-laded jamboree at Cheltenham.

Anibale Fly taking it easy at Cheltenham
Anibale Fly taking it easy at Cheltenham

VALTOR

Nicky Henderson needs snookers in the trainers' title raceheading to Liverpool - in fact he only has this hail mary left in his locker to try and catch Paul Nicholls. All hope isn't necessarily lost though. He pleased Grand National-winning jockey Daryl Jacob in a schooling session over "Aintree-style" fences last week. He looked an exciting recruit too when making a winning start in Britain at Ascot and while Gold Cup dreams died with a lack-lustre run in the Cotswold Chase - the Nash one is alive. And Nicky is very relieved at that fact.

TIGER ROLL

You shouldn’t need introducing to this fellow – he’s racing royalty. He may be a “little rat” to owner Michael O’Leary but he’s also a four-time Cheltenham Festival winner – and landed this prestigious pot last year. Career earnings of £867,000 carry him well past Roland and the rest of the rat pack in their own rich list – and there’s every chance he can bag another £500,000 here.

Just watch last year’s race. The way he jumped and travelled, it’s poetry, and if you press stop on the video at the elbow you have the complete National performance. What happened from there does ring the only alarm bell – he got tired, very tired, and the rallying Pleasant Company would have reeled him back in given another stride or three.

But he didn’t and Tiger Roll heads back to Liverpool in even better form than last season. He’s a testament to the skills of Gordon Elliott as a trainer, a flagbearer for the National Hunt game and just the sort of horse who could follow in the hoofprints of Red Rum.

And when it comes to Aintree, there's no higher praise than that.

OUTLANDER

He's getting on a bit now - and is getting a little moody in his advanced years. He probably has bushier brows and more ear hair too. Talented at his best but he'll decide how he runs here thank you very much. If you look him in the eye and think he's mentally ready, you can buy him at the Aintree sale this week.

DON POLI

Another one who goes under the hammer pre-Nash - but not sure even Dion Dublin would argue he'd be a wise investment though. Yes he has the ability to win a National, he was twice Grade One placed a couple of seasons ago, but he hasn't been in that form since. Some signs of life at Down Royal last time - in case you are ready to dust down the cheque book (kids, ask your dad).

Gold Cup hope Don Poli
Don Poli - could carry your colours on Saturday

GO CONQUER

No Bristol De Mai for Nigel Twiston-Davies but he does have the Sky Bet Chase winner who belied any stamina fears (while I said he didn't truly get three miles) by winning at Doncaster. I don't think he'll get home here either but I have been wrong before (many, many times).

MALA BEACH

According to Tripadvisor it's "one of the best kept secrets on the Riviera" and the equine version is a very smart chaser. He ran well behind Jury Duty last time too but as likeable as he is, you sense he's six or seven in the Gordon Elliott pecking order. And not many seventh strings have won a Nash - although I'm prepared to be proved wrong on that one by the stats men #statsmen.

MINELLA ROCCO

Would be wonderful to see Jonjo O'Neill win another Grand National but to be fair hopes are fast receding. This fellow was very good in his day - but the 2019 model has looked a pale imitation of that. We're relying on the Aintree fences reinvigorating the nine-year-old. And let's be fair that's a road well travelled - and one that rarely leads to glory.

Minella Rocco
Minella Rocco in his heyday

LAKE VIEW LAD

Trevor Hemmings owns (and he also formerly owned the Blackpool Tower, you know? You did? Ok). He loves the Nash and this fellow was placed in the Ultima at Cheltenham last time.

He was third to Beware The Bear at Prestbury Park, two lengths adrift of Vintage Clouds. He sported the distinctive green cap there – and will again at Aintree one presumes. But it goes well with the yellow and green quarters, white sleeves. In the old Channel 4 Racing days Gok Wan was in fashion residency at Liverpool. He'd have liked the green cap.

Lake View Lad sounds like a keen angler but is a seriously good and progressive staying chaser who could take another leap forward facing a marathon trip for the first time.

PLEASANT COMPANY

Something we all strive to be - and to enjoy - and he was a rallying stride away form landing the race last season. His efforts time around have been - let's be fair - satisfactory - but clearly all roads have led back here. If you draw him in the sweepstake make sure you keep the ticket safe.

BALLYOPTIC

Another for NTD and he beat Vintage Clouds at Wetherby last season. However he's been out-of-sorts this term including when running no race in the Haydock Trial last time. He stays well but isn't running well.

DOUNIKOS

Another for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown Stud, hope they're borrowing plenty of different coloured caps for the week, and he was impressive in a Punchestown handicap last time. That was something of a bolt from the blue following a series of uninspired efforts but at least it showed the fire still burns. He's around five in the Elliott pecking order.

RATHVINDEN

Here’s one for you. A massive player. At the time it looked like he’d won a controversial National Hunt Chase last season when Patrick Mullins picked up a six-day ban for excessive use of the whip in a pulsating battle with Ms Parfois. But as it turned out we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Then we didn’t see him at all this season – until the National weights were unveiled at a lavish event in the heart of Liverpool. The lamb and punchy Rioja were still settling when – with 10st 10lb in the bag – he returned to run his rivals ragged in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse.

There’s a race with a rich recent history of providing major Aintree players. So has trainer Willie Mullins. He could be ridden by Ruby Walsh. If Tiger Roll wasn’t running, he’d be favourite. He could win.

Rathvinden lands the National Hunt Chase
Rathvinden - potential major player

ONE FOR ARTHUR

Gave Scotland something to cheer when winning the race race two seasons ago but having been injured and off for 20 months, he's failed to complete in two starts back here in December and Haydock a month later. UU are hardly the sort of form figures a punter, or jockey, like to see on their National hope's dancecard heading out to the parade ring. Fair to say there's an another more plausible dual National winner in the field.

One For Arthur's finest hour

ROCK THE KASBAH

Richard Johnson has never won a Nash - but he hasn't ridden in it in the last couple of years. But he'll be there on Saturday for this fellow and he'll be be full of optimism. He's a player judged on his Cheltenham win in November, goes well fresh and should stay. There'll be echoes of Don't Push It if he's in there fighting going to last.

WARRIORS TALE

Paul Nicholls' sole representative but he didn't seem to get home in the race last season and while in decent form this time around, there have to be question marks over whether he's going to see it out even on better ground in 2019. He's in the right hands though.

REGAL ENCORE

Late defector last season and showed he retains his ability when third at Ascot in February. Seemed to take to the fences when staying on into eighth in the 2017 renewal but at 11 - and with as many off days as good ones nowadays - perhaps his chance has gone.

MAGIC OF LIGHT

Versatile mare who's won at Nebwury and Ascot this season (over hurdles) and finished seventh in the Ultima at Cheltenham (over fences). She's tough, she's hardy and she's very likeable. I hope she runs well.

Magic Of Light on her way to victory at Ascot
Magic Of Light - versatile mare

A TOI PHIL

Guess what...Elliott and Gigginstown. Wonder if, like the Queen at Ascot, bookmakers will bet on what colour hat he wears? It won't be maroon with a white star for all he did run well in the Pertemps Final over hurdles at Cheltenham last month. Not for me.

JURY DUTY

Guess what...Elliott and the Sideways Syndicate. Ooh that's different and here's a horse with a chance. He's won his last two and was impressive at Down Royal last time. He'd previously landed the American Grand National - which for me sits between the Midlands and the Durham - and I expect a massive bid to add the Randox Health jamboree to his haul.

NOBLE ENDEAVOR

Won a big pot at Leopardstown over Christmas in 2017 and after a long time off got a sighter of these fences in the Becher. He went well for a long way before tiring and stepped up on it in the Ultima at Cheltenham on his only subsequent start. Team Elliott have more unlikely ones running.

MONBEG NOTORIOUS

Elliott, Gigginstown, won't be wearing a maroon cap with a white star. Wears headgear, temperamental but stays well. And that wasn't a copy and paste job.

RAMSES DE TEILLEE

He's thriving this season and ran another good race to be second in the Haydock trial - looking all over the winner two out. He goes well through his races and stays well. Could be the most popular grey at Aintree since Dishy Des was in his pomp. He's on my shortlist. Stick him on yours.

Ramses De Teillee - Haydock option
Ramses De Teillee - grey and big chance

TEA FOR TWO

He was very good in his day but that hasn't been this season. Parted company with Lizzie Kelly in the cross-country at Cheltenham and guess what...we're relying on the Aintree fences reinvigorating him.

MALL DINI

Had an unusual campaign for a Pat Kelly-trained chaser in that he's run over fences - three times in fact - without winning. Indeed he's yet to win over the larger obstacles but it would be very Pat, as we say in the trade, to break the duck in the £1m Nash.

Predictably outpaced over two miles at Limerick last time, expect the blinkers to return at Aintree and expect a Mall Dini revival. Don't expect Dishy Des Chamberlin to interview Pat, though.

STEP BACK

Impressive winner of bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last season and looks to have been brought slowly to the boil this time around. Could run well for the Bradstock team but a tendency to jump to the right won't help round here.

ULTRAGOLD

Loves these big fences having landed the last two runnings of the Topham so that's a big tick in the box - the fact this race is over four-and-a-half miles isn't. He might stay - but equally might not.

BLOW BY BLOW

Elliott, Gigginstown, won't be wearing a maroon cap with a white star. Wears headgear, temperamental but stays well. And that was a copy and paste job.

UP FOR REVIEW

Looked like winning the Ultima for a long way before finishing eighth behind Beware The Bear. A mistake three out there cost him dear. He went through the race so well, he looks well handicapped and represents a top team. Lot to like.

SINGLEFARMPAYMENT

Been called the odd rude name, well more than the odd one, but very capable performer. Didn't run well in the Ulitma last time but he's the sort who could hit the frame here at a huge price if taking to the place. He might not though. He's like that.

Singlefarmpayment: Loves Cheltenham
Singlefarmpayment: Loves Cheltenham - hope he likes Aintree

VIEUX LION ROUGE

Has been well fancied for this twice before but failed to last home and arrives here having pulled up the last twice. Third time lucky is a famous saying. It won't apply here.

VALSEUR LIDO

Elliott, Gigginstown, won't be wearing a maroon cap with a white star. Wears headgear, stays well. Not temperamental - but not as good as he was either.

VINTAGE CLOUDS

Trevor Hemmings owns (and he also formerly owned the Blackpool Tower, you know? You did? Ok). He loves the Nash and this fellow was placed in the Ultima at Cheltenham last time.

Hang on... no that’s right. He’s been placed in Welsh and Scottish Nationals, stays the trip, jumps well and - no that's it.

Beware The Bear leads Vintage Clouds over the last at Cheltenham
Beware The Bear leads Vintage Clouds over the last at Cheltenham

GENERAL PRINCIPLE

Elliott, Gigginstown, won't be wearing a maroon cap with a white star. Doesn't wear headgear, stays well. Won an Irish Grand National. Worth a second look.

LIVELOVELAUGH

Sounds like a Paul McKenna self-help book and didn't seem to stay when 12th in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. Has over a mile further to go here. Might need Paul's help.

WALK IN THE MILL

Won the Becher Chase here in December and ran well at both Chepstow and Exeter since (over hurdles to protect his chase mark). Needs rain though as he's much better on soft ground. John Kettley, over to you.

FOLSOM BLUE

Elliott-trained veteran who was a beaten favourite in the Midlands National last time. Wears headgear, stays well.

CAPTAIN REDBEARD

Great name and tough horse but he's had three previous looks at these fences and hasn't taken to them. If at first you don't succeed, as they say, but it's a leap of faith to think it's going to float his boat on Saturday.

BLESS THE WINGS

Elliott, not Gigginstown, won over the cross-country fences at Cheltenham last season. Stays well but not been in the best of form this term.

Bless The Wings scores under Davy Russell
Bless The Wings scores under Davy Russell

JOE FARRELL

Sounds like a Wigan back-rower but is a very useful staying handicap chaser who produced a career-best effort at Newbury last time. Landed last season's Scottish National and very interesting if sneaking in at the bottom here.

Reserves:

JUST A PAR

Leaving Paul Nicholls didn't stop Silver Birch from landing a National but this fellow has only had one start for the Jimmy Moffatt team and was beaten miles into seventh in the Becher Chase. He's 12 now and looks up against it.

THE YOUNG MASTER

Won his first two this season and ran a cracker at Cheltenham last month but fallen twice from three starts over these fences and that does temper any enthusiasm that may have been starting to bubble away.


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