Sport

Pinstickers' Guide to the Crabbie's Grand National

Jockey Leighton Aspell celebrates on board Many Clouds after victory in the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National Chase
PA reporters

Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood) Rating 10 (out of 10)
WON last year's race and this season has been built solely around a return. Running off a 5lb higher mark but only carrying 1lb more in his saddle, he looked better than ever when winning recently at Kelso. Definitely the one to beat.

 

Silviniaco Conti (Paul Nicholls) 7
BRINGS a touch of class to proceedings, having won seven Grade Ones, the most recent of which in February when it looked like he had lost his way. Stamina was found wanting in two Gold Cups, though, so that has to be a worry.

 

First Lieutenant (Mouse Morris) 5
DESPITE being 11, showed he was no busted flush when third in the Hennessy and being beaten narrowly in the Lexus Chase. However, while he was well handicapped before that last run the assessor has crucified him.

 

Wonderful Charm (Paul Nicholls) 5
TRAINED with this race in mind all season, but stamina might be the main problem, having never won over anything further than two miles, five furlongs.

 

Ballynagour (David Pipe) 6
THIS season began well, when third in the Charlie Hall, but his form tailed off. A bit more promise at Cheltenham but does not look well treated.

 

O'Faolains Boy (Rebecca Curtis) 7
SHOWED flashes of quality this term and ran very well for a long way in the Gold Cup. His trainer has always felt he'd be the perfect type for this and not without a chance.

 

Gilgamboa (Enda Bolger) 7
WENT close off a big weight at Leopardstown at Christmas but was disappointing in the Irish Gold Cup. More like his old self over an inadequate trip at Cheltenham and shapes like a stayer.

 

On His Own (Willie Mullins) 5
A FALLER when well fancied in 2012 and 2013, he is now 12 but still capable of running to a high level. Likes to dominate but will surely be unable to do that with 39 others.

 

The Druids Nephew (Neil Mulholland) 8
WAS surely the "what-might-have-been" story 12 months ago when he fell four from home. Only ran last year as an afterthought, having already won at Cheltenham, but his trainer has concentrated on Aintree this time. Promising run at Doncaster latest.

 

Triolo D'Alene (Nicky Henderson) 7
WON a Hennessy Gold Cup as a six-year-old yet is still only nine. Pulled up in this last year but has had a better prep this time.

 

Rocky Creek (Paul Nicholls) 3
WELL fancied for the last two years yet simply fails to see out the trip. Little to recommend him form-wise this season.

 

Sir Des Champs (Willie Mullins) 6
WON at two successive Cheltenham Festivals and was one of the leading staying chasers around. Not been the same horse since injury struck but well treated on his best form.

 

Holywell (Jonjo O'Neill) 8
CAME back to form just in time for Cheltenham, having been lifeless earlier in the season. Has the class and well handicapped, with the only doubt being whether or now he has the size and scope for these fences.

 

Shutthefrontdoor (Jonjo O'Neill) 7
TRAVELLED like the winner for much of the race before fading on the run-in. However, connections felt he may have suffered an injury and do not feel it was a stamina issue. Too bad to be true last time out but had a valid excuse. Not one to write off.

 

Soll (David Pipe) 6
SPENT most of this season in veterans' races but has been running better than ever. Seventh three years ago and ninth last year suggests he may struggle off an even higher handicap mark, though.

 

Buywise (Paul Moloney) 6
CERTAINLY not without talent, but his jumping has to be a massive question mark. He was, however, staying on when third in the Great Yorkshire Chase.

 

Boston Bob (Willie Mullins) 6
HAS come in for money in recent days and, at his best, he would look well handicapped. But he's now 11 and surely his best days are behind him.

 

Aachen (Venetia Williams) 5
EXPERTLY handled to reach a career-high mark at 12. Loves a slog in the mud but must now be in the handicapper's grip.

 

Morning Assembly (Pat Fahy) 9
ONE of the best staying novice chasers of his generation but forced to miss last season through injury. All his old ability remains, though, and ran a nice trial for this when fourth at Cheltenham. As long as his jumping holds up, sure to be on the premises.

 

Double Ross (Nigel Twiston-Davies) 4
A FUN horse, but this is not his time of year and he barely stays three miles. Has run well over these fences twice before but has another two miles to contend with.

 

Goonyella (Jim Dreaper) 6
STAMINA will certainly not be a concern for a horse who would stay six miles if needed, but did not seem to take to the fences in December. More rain the better for his chance.

 

Ucello Conti (Gordon Elliott) 7
HUGELY unexposed French import but whether he would have enough experience for this unique test would be a worry.

 

Unioniste (Paul Nicholls) 6
RETURNING to something like his best, but trainer stated he did not enjoy it last year when he fell. Lacks the size of some of his rivals and tends to gets intimidated.

 

Le Reve (Lucy Wadham) 6
PLENTY of stamina and a sound jumper, but his form on left-handed tracks like this leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Gallant Oscar (Tony Martin) 7
RAN well at Cheltenham last year behind The Druids Nephew but hit hard by the handicapper and has struggled since. Better ground would be a big plus.

 

Onenightinvienna (Philip Hobbs) 6
FACES a tough test as a novice, but looked progressive prior to stepping up in class last when he was taken on for the lead some way out and was well beaten.

 

The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey) 8
THROWN in on the handicap since his win at Doncaster and jumps and stays. His trained looked after Mr Frisk, who still holds the National course record, and has been earmarked for this for years. Big player.

 

Kruzhlinin (Philip Hobbs) 7
INTENTIONALLY trained for the race and a pleasing fifth at Cheltenham on his prep race. Tenth in the National two years ago but developed immeasurably since then. Worthy claims.

 

Rule The World (Mouse Morris) 4
A CONSISTENT chaser and nicely weighted, but has yet to win over fences and this is hardly an easy race to end that unwanted statistic.

 

Just A Par (Paul Nicholls) 3
WON the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last season but subsequent efforts hardly inspire a great deal of confidence.

 

Katenko (Venetia Williams) 3
NOT won since January 2013 and has struggled badly since his return from injury. Tough to see him playing a hand in the finish.

 

Vics Canvas (Dermot McLoughlin) 2
STAYED on for fifth in the Becher Chase in December but he is now a teenager and likely to find this all too much at his stage of life.

 

Black Thunder (Paul Nicholls) 2
ONE or two nice pieces of form in his novice days, though he cannot be one to trust implicitly in the jumping department.

 

Ballycasey (Willie Mullins) 7
UNLUCKILY brought down in the National last year and was a big eyecatcher at the Cheltenham Festival. Interesting.

 

Hadrian's Approach (Nicky Henderson) 4
A USEFUL operator on good ground, but even that might not be enough for a horse who has flattered to deceive since he won a big race at Sandown in April 2014.

 

Vieux Lion Rouge (David Pipe) 3
RATTLED off a hat-trick earlier in the season, but form has levelled off and did not look a straightforward horse at the Cheltenham Festival. Stamina questions need to be addressed.

 

Pendra (Charlie Longsdon) 6
ALWAYS viewed upon as a nice fit for the National and boasts some really good form. Can be a bit hit and miss, but would not be out of the equation if it came up heavy.

 

Saint Are (Tom George) 8
FINE runner-up last year and sneaks in off a 1lb lower mark than 12 months ago. Looked as good as ever in a veterans' handicap chase at Doncaster last month and has to make any shortlist.

 

Home Farm (Henry de Bromhead) 3
ALWAYS well regarded, but form is wayward. Once finished third in an Irish Grand National, though, so he might get round - but probably in his own time.

 

The Romford Pele (Rebecca Curtis) 6
HARDLY looks a textbook National horse, but made late progress in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and was not beaten far. Could feasibly outrun his odds but would not want much more rain.

 

RESERVES

Bishops Road (Kerry Lee) 7
WON the National Trial at Haydock for a first-season trainer who can do little wrong. Looks a perfect sort for this sort of challenge, though his best form has been in really heavy ground.

 

Knock House (Mick Channon) 7
NOT a huge horse but an efficient jumper. Enjoyed a decent season and was really unlucky in the four-miler at Cheltenham. Each-way claims off a low weight.

 

Perfect Candidate (Fergal O'Brien) 4
PLENTY of good efforts in staying handicaps at Cheltenham, especially when the mud is flying, but has yet to really convince that he could go the distance.

 

Maggio (Patrick Griffin) 2
STUFFED out of sight by Many Clouds at Kelso and a suspicion this may now have come a few years too late.

 

VERDICT: MANY CLOUDS has what it takes to become the first horse since the mighty Red Rum in 1974 to win back-back Grand Nationals. His preparation has gone perfectly and he has been trained to the minute by Oliver Sherwood. Morning Assembly looks the most unexposed horse in the field and can give his supporters a good run for his money. The Last Samuri, last year's runner-up Saint Are and The Druids Nephew look the pick of the rest.

1. MANY CLOUDS

2. Morning Assembly

3. The Last Samuri

4. Saint Are

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