Grand National 2018: Pinstickers’ guide to Aintree runners & riders

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    Randox Health Grand National 2018
    Venue: Aintree Date: Saturday, 14 April, 17:15 BST
    BBC coverage: Commentary and updates on Radio 5 live; live text commentary on BBC Sport website. (Full coverage details)

    Runners, riders, trainers and form – all the key details you need to know for Saturday’s big race at Aintree.

    (Racecard number, horse, trainer, jockey, recent form, age, weight carried ie 11st 10lb is top weight. Form: F – Fell, P- Pulled up, U -Unseated rider. Some colours to be confirmed.)

    Verdict: “The unpredictable weather could play a part this year but Seeyouatmidnight should be able to cope with the conditions, while Tiger Roll is talented and versatile.”

    1 Seeyouatmidnight 2 Tiger Roll 3 I Just Know 4 Houblon Des Obeaux

    1 MINELLA ROCCO

    Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill Jockey: Noel Fehily

    Form: U2-4P4F Age: 8 Weight: 11-10

    Runner-up in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and trainer says he has “a great chance” but only if the ground dries out. He believes Minella Rocco is a classier horse than his 2010 winner Don’t Push It but no top weight has won the National since the legendary Red Rum in the 1970s.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 16-1

    2 BLAKLION

    Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

    Form: 324-212 Age: 9 Weight: 11-09

    Won Becher Chase over National fences in December, having finished fourth in the big race last April. Likely to be ridden more patiently this time. Boasts big claim if back on track after tough race when second at Haydock last time. Trainer has won before with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 10-1

    3 ANIBALE FLY

    Trainer: Tony Martin IRE Jockey: Barry Geraghty

    Form: 2-5F193 Age: 8 Weight: 11-07

    Is the horse most ‘well in’ for the race based on last month’s third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, according to the official handicapper, Phil Smith – who allocated the weights in February. Rough Quest (1996) was the last placed Gold Cup horse to win the National. Another representative for wealthy owner JP McManus, who triumphed with Don’t Push It, ridden by AP McCoy, in 2010.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 16-1

    4 THE LAST SAMURI

    Trainer: Kim Bailey Jockey: David Bass

    Form: 20-2243 Age: 10 Weight: 11-07

    Runner-up to Rule The World in 2016 but a distant 16th last year when saddled with more weight. Trainer is one of few to have claimed jump racing’s big three contests – the Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham Gold Cup and National. He won the Aintree race in 1990 with Mr Frisk, though suspicion is The Last Samuri’s best chance was two years ago.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 16-1

    5 VALSEUR LIDO

    Trainer: Henry de Bromhead IRE Jockey: Keith Donoghue

    Form: 2/14-555 Age: 9 Weight: 11-06

    Boasted good form earlier in career and was considered a Cheltenham Gold Cup prospect. Last win came in November 2016, albeit in a Grade One chase at Down Royal. Runs for the Gigginstown House Stud, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, though has not been flying high this season after returning from injury.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    6 TOTAL RECALL

    Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE Jockey: Paul Townend

    Form: 05-111F Age: 9 Weight: 11-04

    Marked out as a high-quality steeplechaser with victories this season in the Munster National and Ladbrokes Trophy for respected trainer who won the Grand National in 2005 with Hedgehunter. Fell when making steady progress in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month and has a big shout if recovered from that.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 10-1

    7 ALPHA DES OBEAUX

    Trainer: Mouse Morris IRE Jockey: Rachael Blackmore

    Form: 414646 Age: 8 Weight: 11-03

    Beat some decent rivals when winning Clonmel Oil Chase earlier in season before finishing out of the places in four subsequent runs. Talented rider one of three female jockeys in the race. Popular trainer scored a poignant success when winning the 2016 National with Rule The World just months after his son had died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Argentina.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    8 PERFECT CANDIDATE

    Trainer: Fergal O’Brien Jockey: Alain Cawley

    Form: 1P-0105 Age: 11 Weight: 11-02

    Win would spark lively celebrations for colourful trainer, who enjoys cake and witty social media posts. Pulled up in last year’s race, then edged out the useful Vicente when winning at Cheltenham in November. Well-beaten fifth back at the track two months later suggests he might not be quite the perfect candidate. Lives in stable next to ‘best pal’ Alvarado, who was fourth in the 2014 and 2015 Grand Nationals.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 66-1

    9 SHANTOU FLYER

    Trainer: Richard Hobson Jockey: James Bowen

    Form: PP-2222 Age: 8 Weight: 11-01

    Second in all four starts this season – three of them at Cheltenham. Jockey, who turned 17 last month, looking to become the youngest rider to win the race having already triumphed in the Welsh National on Raz De Maree. Owner Carl Hinchy is a solicitor who grew up in Birkdale, just down the road from where the legendary triple National winner Red Rum was trained.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 40-1

    10 TENOR NIVERNAIS

    Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Town O’Brien

    Form: 3120-P6 Age: 11 Weight: 11-00

    “How can you ever expect that in a race like this?” – that was the trainer’s reaction after winning the 2009 National with 100-1 shot Mon Mome. Could lightning strike twice for her? Stable has hit form recently, and supporters will be doing a rain dance as chances could be improved by soft conditions. Got round last year, but back in 17th.

    Rating: 4/10 Approximate odds: 100-1

    11 CARLINGFORD LOUGH

    Trainer: John Kiely IRE Jockey: Mark Walsh

    Form: 44-75UP Age: 12 Weight: 11-00

    Named after a beauty spot that straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Best form around 2016 when winner of the Irish Gold Cup for a second time and the Punchestown Gold Cup. Less convincing since and the last 12-year-old to claim the National was Amberleigh House in 2004.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    12 VICENTE

    Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Nick Scholfield

    Form: 9F1-2UP Age: 9 Weight: 10-13

    Likely to be well supported if the ground dries out. Won the Scottish National for a second year running, but only after falling at the first here. Owned by former Pontins holiday firm chief Trevor Hemmings, who has savoured victory before with three different horses. Ten-time champion trainer took the National in 2012 with Neptune Collonges.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 25-1

    13 TIGER ROLL

    Trainer: Gordon Elliott IRE Jockey: Davy Russell

    Form: 1P-2P51 Age: 8 Weight: 10-12

    Three-time Cheltenham Festival winner including last month’s Cross Country Chase. Same race was used as prep by trainer for 2007 National winner Silver Birch and last year’s runner-up Cause Of Causes. A son of Authorized, winner of flat racing’s 2007 Derby at Epsom, he looks capable of adding jump racing’s most famous race to his roll of honour.

    Rating: 8/10 Approximate odds: 10-1

    14 REGAL ENCORE

    Trainer: Anthony Honeyball Jockey: Richie McLernon

    Form: P8-03P1 Age: 10 Weight: 10-12

    Completed the course last year but could only finish eighth after making some late headway, and would need a big improvement to figure this time around. Showed well-being when winning at Ascot last time out. Another entry for the owner – once known as the Sundance Kid for his gambling exploits – whose colours mirror his local Limerick hurling club.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    15 VIEUX LION ROUGE

    Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Tom Scudamore

    Form: 116-474 Age: 10 Weight: 10-12

    Or the Old Red Lion, to you and me. Sure to be cheered on by patrons of pubs with the same name. Sixth last year when sent off a 12-1 chance, having finished seventh in 2016. May well get round again, without winning. Trainer won the race 10 years ago with Comply Or Die, while his father scored with Miinnehoma in 1994.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    16 CHASE THE SPUD

    Trainer: Fergal O’Brien Jockey: Paddy Brennan

    Form: 751-1PP Age: 10 Weight: 10-11

    Has only run on ground with soft or heavy in the going description. Won the 2017 Midlands National and scored at Haydock in November, but sank like a sack of spuds after briefly leading midway through the Welsh National. Also pulled up in Eider Chase at Newcastle, so recent form leaves a major question mark.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    17 WARRIORS TALE

    Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Sean Bowen

    Form: 115-U22 Age: 9 Weight: 10-11

    Described as a ‘lively outsider’ by trainer. Bought in February by Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings after finishing-runner-up in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster. He has seen his colours carried to Grand National success three times before – Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    18 SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT

    Trainer: Sandy Thomson Jockey: Brian Hughes

    Form: 73/1P2-3 Age: 10 Weight: 10-11

    Seeking a second straight win for Scotland after One For Arthur last year. Only qualified for race three weeks ago when racing after a year off. Third in 2016 Scottish National, and has the right sort of form-age-weight-combination. Trainer’s wife sold horse at start of week to Cheveley Park Stud – the owners bought Party Politics days before his 1992 win.

    Rating: 9/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    19 GAS LINE BOY

    Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Robbie Dunne

    Form: 445-F13 Age: 12 Weight: 10-10

    Fell at the first in 2015 but in contention going to the final fence last year before finishing fifth at odds of 50-1. Now at the veteran stage. Won Grand Sefton Chase over these fences in December for a partnership named after the ‘Three Graces’ – the striking buildings on Liverpool’s waterfront. Jockey has finished third and fifth in two National rides.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    20 THE DUTCHMAN

    Trainer: Colin Tizzard Jockey: Harry Cobden

    Form: 27-261P Age: 8 Weight: 10-10

    Won Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January on heavy ground but then broke a blood vessel when pulled up in the National Trial back at the same course a month later. Potential for improvement if recovered from that. Dairy farmer turned top trainer took Cheltenham Gold Cup for the first time last month with Native River.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    21 PLEASANT COMPANY

    Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE Jockey: David Mullins

    Form: 1419-0P Age: 8 Weight: 10-10

    One of the favourites for last year’s National, sent off at 11-1 under Ruby Walsh but finished ninth after a bad blunder at Valentine’s Brook second time around. Never fallen or unseated his rider but hasn’t impressed in two runs so far this season, so backers will be hoping leading Irish trainer can help spring a pleasant surprise on what is the horse’s 10th birthday.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    22 UCELLO CONTI

    Trainer: Gordon Elliott IRE Jockey: Daryl Jacob

    Form: 724U-2P Age: 8 Weight: 10-10

    Half-brother to classy Silviniaco Conti, who died earlier in the week. Sixth in the 2016 National and hampered when unseating rider at Becher’s Brook second time round last year. Has yet to win for respected current trainer since joining him in 2014, and might not have the stamina to prevail in this marathon contest. Jockey won by the shortest possible distance – a nose – on the grey Neptune Collonges in 2012.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    23 SAINT ARE

    Trainer: Tom George Jockey: Adrian Heskin

    Form: 3F23-PP Age: 12 Weight: 10-09

    Practically a Scouser, having raced at Aintree 12 times. A close runner-up in 2015 and third last year, this will be a fourth run in the National itself and has each-way claims if the ground dries though victory might now be out of reach. Pulled up on last two outings, but safe to say it’s this race which has been the main target all season.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    24 BEEVES

    Trainer: Jennie Candlish Jockey: Sean Quinlan

    Form: 511-197 Age: 11 Weight: 10-09

    Solid jumper who has never fallen in 25 races over fences. That experience should come in useful here. Racked up three consecutive wins last year, though this is much tougher. Tends to be a front-runner – whether he will still be in front after more than four miles is an altogether different matter.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 100-1

    25 RAZ DE MAREE

    Trainer: Gavin Cromwell IRE Jockey: Robbie Power

    Form: P0-F221 Age: 13 Weight: 10-08

    Became the oldest horse, at 13, in modern times to win the Welsh National when triumphing at Chepstow in January. Eighth in 2014 and pulled up last year, Raz De Maree is bidding to become the first equine teenager to win the Grand National since Sergeant Murphy in 1923. Jockey, nicknamed ‘Puppy Power’, won in 2007 on Silver Birch.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    26 I JUST KNOW

    Trainer: Sue Smith Jockey: Danny Cook

    Form: P3-3412: Age: 8 Weight: 10-07

    A big weekend for the horse – he was born 10 years ago on Sunday. Tremendous jumper and an intriguing contender. Part-owner Ray Scholey sadly died aged 88 the week after I Just Know won the North Yorkshire Grand National. Trainer, assisted by husband and former top showjumper Harvey Smith, won the race with 66-1 shot Aurora’s Encore in 2013.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    27 VIRGILIO

    Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton

    Form: 223-18P Age: 9 Weight: 10-07

    Appears to enjoy the Merseyside air, with three victories over the regular fences at Aintree. Pulled up on his last run at Doncaster but a breathing operation since could help spark a revival. Jockey rides for trainer brother – they are sons of Olympic gold medal-winning showjumper Nick Skelton and it isn’t the biggest leap to envisage a big run at a big price.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 100-1

    28 BAIE DES ILES

    Trainer: Ross O’Sullivan IRE Jockey: Ms Katie Walsh

    Form: 223-18P Age: 7 Weight: 10-07

    Backed down from odds of 50-1 last week, this would be some story – jockey bidding to become the first female rider to win the race, riding for her trainer husband. She was third in 2012 on Seabass but must defy the stats with her horse. No mare has won since Nickel Coin (1951), the last seven-year-old victor was in 1940 and only one grey has triumphed in more than 50 years.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 66-1

    29 MAGGIO

    Trainer: Patrick Griffin IRE Jockey: Brendan Powell

    Form: 504-443 Age: 13 Weight: 10-07

    Sprang a 50-1 shock when winning over the regular fences at Aintree just before the 2016 National, having missed the cut for the big race. Not completely discounted although nothing to shout about since and no 13-year-old has won for 95 years. Owners triumphed with Auroras Encore in 2013.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 66-1

    30 PENDRA

    Trainer: Charlie Longsdon IRE Jockey: Aidan Coleman

    Form: 5150/-20 Age: 10 Weight: 10-07

    Interested in astrology? Pendra is an Aries – born on 15 April 2008 – although all racehorses officially age one year for admin purposes on 1 January. Hoped to star last year but was late withdrawal with a leg injury. Finished 13th in 2016 after the rain-softened ground went against him.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    31 BUYWISE

    Trainer: Evan Williams Jockey: Adam Wedge

    Form: 04-8610 Age: 11 Weight: 10-07

    Bidding to be the first Welsh-trained winner of the National since 1905. Tends to be held up with the intention of making ground late on. Ran well several times in defeat before ending a three-year losing run when winning veterans’ chase at Sandown in January. Finished 12th in the Grand National two years ago. Trainer had five consecutive placed horses from 2009 to 2013.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    32 CHILDRENS LIST

    Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE Jockey:

    Form: 0/951-2P Age: 8 Weight: 10-07

    Lightly-raced, this will be only his fifth run over fences and inexperience means he is not on my shortlist. Claimed good win last season at Punchestown when beating Edwulf, who went on to take the Irish Gold Cup this year. Breeding suggests good ground would be a bonus for trainer who has overseen jump racing stars such as Florida Pearl and Hurricane Fly.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    33 LORD WINDERMERE

    Trainer: Jim Culloty IRE Jockey: Andrew Lynch

    Form: P/2957-F Age: 12 Weight: 10-06

    Has not been first past the post in 10 races since winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014. Sixth in the National two years later and unseated rider at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit last time. Trainer won the big race as a jockey on Bindaree in 2002, and claimed the Gold Cup three times with Best Mate.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    34 CAPTAIN REDBEARD

    Trainer: Stuart Coltherd Jockey: Sam Coltherd

    Form: 2-36121 Age: 9 Weight: 10-06

    Son, 19, rides for trainer/farmer/father who enjoyed 100-1 winner over the National fences with Tartan Snow in 2013 Foxhunters’ Chase. He also has 1,100 ewes and 70 cattle. Horse nicknamed ‘Spot’ because of a mark on his ribs, won the Tommy Whittle Chase before a second to The Dutchman at Haydock. Jumping wasn’t perfect when sixth over National obstacles in Grand Sefton Chase four months ago.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    35 HOUBLON DES OBEAUX

    Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch

    Form: 0-1663P Age: 11 Weight: 10-06

    Made late progress to finish 10th last year, but was still 42 lengths behind the winner. That’s roughly 100 metres. Less weight to carry this time and decent form earlier in career, including runner-up to Many Clouds in 2014 Hennessy Gold Cup. One to consider as an outsider if it gets very muddy. Trainer’s Mon Mome was 10th the year before winning.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 100-1

    36 BLESS THE WINGS

    Trainer: Gordon Elliott Jockey: Jack Kennedy

    Form: 6-PP1FP Age: 13 Weight: 10-05

    Missed out when first reserve for last year’s National, before finishing runner-up in the Irish version. Jockey, 18, had four winners at last month’s Cheltenham Festival. He is only five years older than the horse, who scored at Cheltenham in December but has failed to finish in five of his last six starts – including the recent Irish National – although the heavy ground may not have helped.

    Rating: 5/10 Approximate odds: 50-1

    37 MILANSBAR

    Trainer: Neil King Jockey: Bryony Frost

    Form: 6-3U152 Age: 11 Weight: 10-05

    First National ride for bubbly Bryony Frost, who calls her rising profile ‘absolutely ‘bonkers’. Rode the horse to win Warwick’s Classic Chase, a race landed last year by One For Arthur, before Aintree glory. Her father Jimmy won the National on Little Polveir. Bryony was born six years later – on 13 April, 1995. Milansbar owner Robert Bothway has been around a bit longer – the semi-retired Norfolk farmer is 80.

    Rating: 7/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    38 FINAL NUDGE

    Trainer: David Dennis Jockey: Gavin Sheehan

    Form: F6-2359 Age: 9 Weight: 10-05

    Jumping has improved this season and finished third behind winner Raz De Maree in the Welsh National, which can prove a pointer to this race. Lost a shoe when ninth in the Kim Muir Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Looks as though the trip of more than four miles could suit, and handy weight is another positive. That might not be enough against classier rivals.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 33-1

    39 DOUBLE ROSS

    Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies Jockey: Jamie Bargary

    Form: 3-4UP84 Age: 12 Weight: 10-05

    With the leaders midway through the second circuit of the National two years ago before being pulled up after saddle slipped. Finished third in the Hennessy Gold Cup won by Native River, who went on to claim this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup. Fifth over these fences in both the Topham and Grand Sefton Chases, and others seem more likely winners.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 66-1

    40 ROAD TO RICHES

    Trainer: Noel Meade IRE Jockey: Sean Flanagan

    Form: 85-090P Age: 11 Weight: 10-04

    Could be a route to riches if returning to best form. That’s a big ‘if’ as his best form was three seasons ago when third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after two Grade One victories. Pulled up at Punchestown in February, and beaten a combined total of more than 165 lengths in his previous five races.

    Rating: 6/10 Approximate odds: 66-1

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/43607619

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/43607619

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