Billed as ‘The Greatest Show, The Greatest Drama’ – this year’s renewal of the Crabbie’s Grand National will once again pit 40 horses against the 30 most demanding National Hunt fences in racing.
Watched by some 600 million people in over 140 countries around the world, this iconic handicap steeplechase is the ultimate test of a horses’ stamina and jumping prowess.
Over a marathon trip that covers some 35 and a half furlongs, recent winners have included Ballabriggs, Comply Or Die, Hedgehunter and Papillion to name but a few.
Last year’s winner – Auroras Encore perfectly encapsulated the traits needed for success. Alongside stamina and sound jumping ability; horses have to show resilience, courage and, above all else, a natural desire to gallop to the line.
The clear ante-post favourite is last year’s gallant third place finisher – Teaforthree at 10/1. Trained by Recebba Curtis, this horse has been campaigned with this race, and only this race, in mind. After a respectable performance in this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup (in contention until fading after three out) he looks primed to contest Europe’s most valuable jumps race.
Snapping at the favourite’s heels is the current top weight – Tidal Bay. This veteran of the racing game is aiming to become the first horse aged 13 to win this contest since Sergeant Murphy did so in 1923. A multiple graded winner, this horse is the model of consistency (placed in 32 of the 42 races he’s run under rules) and, at 16/1, is sure to put in another bold show.
In a field full of top quality horses, another particularly notable entrant is the 2011 Gold Cup winner – Long Run. Unfamiliar with the demands of Aintree, and the challenges of a big field handicap, many a racing punter will be taking the 20/1, in the hope that he can put his ability to good use over this longer trip.
Undoubtedly one of the most difficult and competitive races over both codes, the Grand National is a race unrivalled in its ability to inspire and entice the general public. The Aintree showpiece offers a perfect blend of excitement and danger open to all and should, once again, establish itself as one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year.
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