Welcome to Grand National day on the Racing Post live blog. It may not be the greatest Racing Post live blog in the world but it is certainly the greatest race in the world. It’s going to be a good day.
First of all, here is the news.
There are only 39 runners in the Grand National, because O’Faolain’s Boy (no. 6) pulled out lame this morning and will not take part. Commiserations to connections and, particularly, to jockey Brian Hughes. Countless sweepstakers across the land have just had their day made much less interesting.
The going has eased after overnight rain and is currently Soft, Good to Soft in places on the National course.
The current favourite is last year’s hero Many Clouds, who trades at 8-1 generally, although there are bigger prices if you hunt. There has been support this morning for Shutthefrontdoor (down to 12-1), Gallant Oscar (14-1 in places) and Morning Assembly (16-1 here and there) but Silviniaco Conti and The Druids Nephew are on the drift.
Non-runners elsewhere at Aintree are 1:45 Eshtiaal (20), Rolling Maul (19), 2:25 Ghost River (3), 4:20 Warden Hill (9), 6:10 All Set To Go (19), Tempo Mac (8), War Singer (18)
There are other races and other horses to consider at Aintree today, notably the brilliant Thistlecrack (3.40) and the almost-as-brilliant Douvan (3.00), but we all know that today is basically all about one race. The race. The race that everyone, however flimsy their interest in racing, knows. The race that gets even haggard old cynics who think they’ve seen it all before as excited as they were when watching their first National. 1982, Grittar, Hard Outlook, Loving Words (vague recollections of earlier Nationals may apply).
To get you all in the mood, here are (some of) the thoughts of the peerless Lee Mottershead in today’s Racing Post, to whip you into a frothy frenzy of anticipation.
The sight of 40 horses charging towards that first green fence like a Liverpudlian light brigade delivers a thrill that is unique. The Grand National is embedded deep within our cultural DNA and this afternoon, in front of a worldwide audience of 600 million, the wonderful old race has the potential to write one of its most special stories.
You love the National, else you wouldn’t be here. What do you fancy? Where’s your money going? Will it be Nicholls? Will it be Mullins? Will it be Sherwood, Bailey or O’Neill? Will it be chips or jacket spuds? Will it be salad or frozen peas? We’ll have to wait and see. Until we do, get in touch and share your Aintree thoughts through the comment facility. You can’t tweet me because I’m not on Twitter, but don’t let that hold you back. Why don’t you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you don’t disappear into the darkest recesses of my spam folder I’ll broadcast your comments here. This blog needs you. Talk to me. Please.
If you haven’t decided where your money is going today, here follow some brilliant Racing Post video options to help you make up your mind. I quite fancy The Last Samuri and Le Reve, but don’t let that put you off.
“I am very chilled and relaxed. Everything has gone right since Kelso. On form he is certainly on a par with where he was last year and ticks all the boxes for Aintree. He stays, he has jumped the fences and he goes on the ground. There will be question marks about others. But you need so much luck in running. You need only to look at the Jockey Cam footage from last year’s race, when Leighton pulled out just at the right time. A horse can fall in front of you and the race is over. It’s not just your performance, it’s the 39 others. There is more expectancy this time, but I can do no more now. It comes down to luck, the horse and Leighton.”
“He’s in a good place with himself and I’m very happy with him. I’ve no problem with conditions at the moment, but we could do without rain. He’s very small, only 16 hands, but he stays, jumps and if he can keep out of trouble and jump the fences he has a very good chance, although that’s the same for everything in the race. Form-wise, he has every chance.”
“Holywell has a great chance if he takes to it, and it looks like he’s well handicapped, but I’m disappointed the ground has probably gone against him. Stamina is the problem for Shutthefrontdoor and the testing ground is going to make it even harder for him to stay. He’s a year older, which might give him more of a chance, but he doesn’t seem to be any different to me.”
“The ground is a concern, but there’s only one National and he’ll be ridden middle to outer on the fresher ground. His preparation has been perfect and when Denis [O'Regan] schooled him over National fences on Tuesday he jumped them like an old pro.”
“He’s come on a lot since Doncaster and has had a good preparation, we just need luck in running. He’ll go on softish ground so I’m not worried about that. He’s a stayer and you have to make use of his stamina.”
“Gallant Oscar ran quite well at Naas last time and should have come on for the run. The ground and the trip should be fine for him.”
“Kruzhlinin ran well at Cheltenham and but for a mistake in the last half-mile probably would have been placed. Onenightinvienna is a novice running in the National, which is a bit unusual, but he has always jumped very well and definitely stays, so we thought ‘why not have a go this year rather than wait for next year’?”
“Triolo D’Alene is in good form. He came back and won well at Kempton, I shouldn’t have run him at Ascot last time out. He’s won a Topham and he’s won a Hennessy, so he jumps round here and stays, but he does need good ground. Hadrian’s Approach is also in good form and I was pleased with his last run at Kempton. He’s won a bet365 Gold Cup as well. This has been the objective of both horses all along. A dry night would be very handy.”
“We couldn’t have him any fitter. He was a good novice a few seasons back and Ruby [Walsh] told me if I was ever going to have a National horse then this fellow was the one. I hope he’s right.”