It’s that time of year when we get our first taste of the possible field of runners that will start the Aintree Grand National as the weights are announced.
Outlander (33/1 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National meeting), winner of the Grade One Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, heads the weights on 11st 10lb for the £1-million Randox Health Grand National.
The world’s greatest chase, by far the richest Jump race anywhere outside of Japan, is the feature at Aintree on the third and final day of the Randox Health Grand National Festival on Saturday, April 8.
The nine-year-old is one of three chasers in the top four of the weights trained by Gordon Elliott and owned, like last year’s winner Rule The World, by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud.
The other two are 10-year-old Empire Of Dirt (11st 8lb, 20/1), narrowly beaten in Sunday’s Grade One Irish Gold Cup, and eight-year-old Don Poli (11st 7lb, 16/1 joint-favourite), a three-time Grade One winner and third in the Irish Gold Cup.
In fact, Irish-trained horses dominate the top of the weights in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National by occupying the top five slots – an unprecedented situation.
Impressive Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase winner Champagne West (33/1), trained by Henry de Bromhead, is second in the weights with 11st 9lb, while the J P McManus-owned and John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough (25/1), fourth in the Irish Gold Cup, has the fifth-highest weight, 11st 6lb.
Elliott, successful in the Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007, has 14 entries in all, while Gigginstown House Stud tops that with 16, the most of any owner They also combine together with Lord Scoundrel (11st, 50/1), Clarcam (10st 12lb, 50/1), Roi Des Francs (10st 12lb, 50/1), Tiger Roll (10st 10lb, 66/1), A Toi Phil (10st 9lb, 40/1), The Game Changer (10st 9lb, 66/1), and bottom-weight Killer Crow (9st, 66/1).
Meanwhile, the other Gigginstown House Stud horses are Devils Bride (11st 1lb, trained by Henry de Bromhead IRE, 50/1), Road To Riches (10st 13lb, Noel Meade IRE, 50/1), Wounded Warrior (10st 11lb, Noel Meade IRE, 50/1) and Measureofmydreams (10st 4lb, Noel Meade IRE, 40/1), plus Irish Grand National victor Rogue Angel (10st 3lb, 33/1) and Thunder And Roses (10st 2lb, 66/1), who are both from the Co Tipperary yard of last year’s winning handler Mouse Morris.
There are 73 horses in the handicap proper (from 11st 10lb down to the minimum weight of 10st) and Elliott is responsible for three more – the J P McManus-owned Cause Of Causes (10st 8lb, 40/1), last year’s sixth Ucello Conti (10st 7lb, 33/1), owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and Bless The Wings (10st, 100/1).
The 2017 Randox Health Grand National entry is officially the highest-class one ever, with 88 per cent of the remaining 109 entries rated 135 or above – the previous highest percentage was 85 per cent.
Also the median rating of the horses entered in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National comes out at 146, again the highest figure seen – the best median before this year was 144.
A maximum of 40 horses can line up for the Randox Health Grand National, over 30 fences and an extended four miles and two furlongs, at 5.15pm on April 8.
Last year’s Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri (16/1 joint-favourite), owned by Paul and Clare Rooney and trained by Kim Bailey (successful with Mr Frisk in 1990), has 11st 5lb this time as against 10st 8lb in 2016.
The 2016 third Vics Canvas (Dermot McLoughlin IRE, 66/1) is now 14 and has 10st 5lb rather than the 10st 6lb he carried a year ago when surviving a bad blunder at Becher’s first time around to become the first horse as old as 13 to be placed in a Grand National since 1969.
The Scottish-based One For Arthur (10st 6lb, 20/1), owned by the Golf Widows and trained by Lucinda Russell, is just outside the top 40 in the weights but should get a run after winning the Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick in January.
Vieux Lion Rouge (10st 7lb, David Pipe – who sent out the 2008 Grand National winner Comply Or Die, 20/1) beat Highland Lodge (10st 6lb Jimmy Moffatt, 40/1) a short-head in a very tight finish to the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National course at Aintree in December, with The Last Samuri in third, Ucello Conti fourth and One For Arthur fifth.
The Young Master (10st 8lb, Neil Mulholland, 25/1) fell in the same race but won the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April, while Vicente (10st 5lb, Paul Nicholls – responsible for the 2012 Grand National victor Neptune Collonges, 33/1) captured the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April but has yet to strike form in three outings so far this season.
Nigel Twiston-Davies gained Grand National glory with Earth Summit in 1998 and again with Bindaree in 2002, making him the only current trainer to have enjoyed more than one success in the great race. The in-form handler has last season’s G1 RSA Chase victor Blaklion (10st 10lb, 33/1) and Benbens (9st 11lb, 100/1).
McManus, who combined with trainer Jonjo O’Neill and legendary jockey Sir A P McCoy, to win the Grand National with Don’t Push It in 2010, has eight entries in all including 2016 National Hunt Chase scorer Minella Rocco (11st 2lb, Jonjo O’Neill, 33/1), Gallant Oscar (10st 1lb, Tony Martin IRE, 33/1), who fell when going well last year, and More Of That (11st 1lb, Jonjo O’Neill, 33/1).
Maggio (10st 8lb, Patrick Griffin IRE, 50/1) was a shock 50/1 winner of the Listed Betfred Handicap Chase over the Mildmay Course on Grand National Day last year, scooting clear in the closing stages to win by 12 lengths under James Reveley.
The contest over three miles and a furlong has proved a good pointer to running well in the Randox Health Grand National, with State Of Play, placed three times, Don’t Push It and 2015 runner-up Saint Are (10st 5lb, Tom George, 40/1) all successful in recent years.
Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, has five entries – Alelchi Inois (11st 3lb, 33/1), Pleasant Company (10st 7lb, 50/1), Sambremont (9st 11lb, 66/1), Polidam (9st 10lb, 50/1) and The Crafty Butcher (9st 4lb, 50/1)
Venetia Williams, who gained Grand National glory with 100/1 chance Mon Mome in 2009 and rode in the race too, also is responsible for five hopefuls, with the main two being Tenor Nivernais (10st 10lb, 66/1) and Houblon Des Obeaux (10st 7lb, 50/1).
Neil Mulholland has three entries; Hennessy Gold Cup runner-up Carole’s Destrier (10st 12lb, 33/1) and Goulanes (9st 7lb, 100/1) besides The Young Master.
The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere (Jim Culloty IRE, 50/1) gets in with 10st 5lb, while dual Sky Bet Chase winner Ziga Boy (Alan King, 40/1) has the same weight.
Dame Judi Dench part owns the Paul Nicholls-trained As De Mee (10st 3lb, 50/1) and the seven-year-old has already won over the Grand National fences, being the five-length winner of the Betfred Sefton Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Aintree on December 3 last year.
Horse Weight Rating Owner Trainer
Outlander (IRE) 11 10 166 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Champagne West (IRE) 11 9 165 Mr R. S. Brookhouse Henry de Bromhead
Empire of Dirt (IRE) 11 8 164 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Don Poli (IRE) 11 7 163 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Carlingford Lough (IRE) 11 6 162 Mr John P. McManus J. E. Kiely
The Last Samuri (IRE) 11 5 161 Paul & Clare Rooney Kim Bailey
Alary (FR) 11 4 160 Ann & Alan Potts Colin Tizzard
Alelchi Inois (FR) 11 3 159 L.McMahon/Mrs F.Murphy/F.Mangan W. P. Mullins
Minella Rocco (IRE) 11 2 158 Mr John P. McManus Jonjo O’Neill
Devils Bride (IRE) 11 1 157 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead
More of That (IRE) 11 1 157 Mr John P. McManus Jonjo O’Neill
Lord Scoundrel (IRE) 11 0 156 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Perfect Candidate (IRE) 11 0 156 ISL Recruitment Fergal O’Brien
Saphir du Rheu (FR) 11 0 156 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
Shantou Flyer (IRE) 11 0 156 Mr Carl Hinchy Rebecca Curtis
Road To Riches (IRE) 10 13 155 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade
Sausalito Sunrise (IRE) 10 13 155 Mrs Diana L. Whateley Philip Hobbs
Carole’s Destrier (GB) 10 12 154 Mrs C. Skipworth Neil Mulholland
Clarcam (FR) 10 12 154 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Foxrock (IRE) 10 12 154 Mr Barry Connell T. M. Walsh
Roi des Francs (FR) 10 12 154 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Wonderful Charm (FR) 10 11 153 R J H Geffen & Sir John Ritblat Paul Nicholls
Wounded Warrior (IRE) 10 11 153 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade
Blaklion (GB) 10 10 152 S Such & CG Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
Drop Out Joe (GB) 10 10 152 The Jesters Charlie Longsdon
Tenor Nivernais (FR) 10 10 152 Boultbee Brooks Ltd Venetia Williams
Tiger Roll (IRE) 10 10 152 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
A Toi Phil (FR) 10 9 151 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Le Mercurey (FR) 10 9 151 Chris Giles & Colm Donlon Paul Nicholls
The Game Changer (IRE) 10 9 151 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott
Cause of Causes (USA) 10 8 150 Mr John P. McManus Gordon Elliott
Maggio (FR) 10 8 150 D G Pryde/James Beaumont Patrick Griffin
Regal Encore (IRE) 10 8 150 Mr John P. McManus Anthony Honeyball
The Young Master (GB) 10 8 150 Dajam & The Old Masters Neil Mulholland
Definitly Red (IRE) 10 7 149 Mr P. J. Martin Brian Ellison
Double Shuffle (IRE) 10 7 149 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
Houblon des Obeaux (FR) 10 7 149 Mrs Julian Blackwell Venetia Williams
Pleasant Company (IRE) 10 7 149 Mr Malcolm C. Denmark W. P. Mullins
Ucello Conti (FR) 10 7 149 Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede Gordon Elliott
Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 10 7 149 Prof Caroline Tisdall & Mr John Gent David Pipe
Ballynagour (IRE) 10 6 148 Mr Allan Stennett David Pipe
Highland Lodge (IRE) 10 6 148 Bowes Lodge Stables James Moffatt
Junction Fourteen (IRE) 10 6 148 Martin St. Quinton & Tim Syder Emma Lavelle
O’Faolains Boy (IRE) 10 6 148 Trembath, Hyde, Outhart & Hill Rebecca Curtis
One For Arthur (IRE) 10 6 148 Two Golf Widows Lucinda Russell
Vivaldi Collonges (FR) 10 6 148 The Gi Gi Syndicate Paul Nicholls
Bishops Road (IRE) 10 5 147 Mr Alan Halsall Kerry Lee
Lord Windermere (IRE) 10 5 147 Dr R. Lambe J. Culloty
Saint Are (FR) 10 5 147 Mr D. W. Fox Tom George
Vicente (FR) 10 5 147 Mr John Hales & Mr Ian Fogg Paul Nicholls
Vics Canvas (IRE) 10 5 147 Bodeen Bandits Partnership Dermot Anthony McLoughlin
Ziga Boy (FR) 10 5 147 Axom LI Alan King
Just A Par (IRE) 10 4 146 Paul K. Barber & The Late C. G. Roach Paul Nicholls
Measureofmydreams (IRE) 10 4 146 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade
Raz de Maree (FR) 10 4 146 James J. Swan Gavin Cromwell
Stellar Notion (IRE) 10 4 146 Mr R. S. Brookhouse Henry de Bromhead
As de Mee (FR) 10 3 145 The Stewart Family & Judi Dench Paul Nicholls
Cocktails At Dawn (GB) 10 3 145 R J H Geffen & Sir John Ritblat Nicky Henderson
Pendra (IRE) 10 3 145 Mr John P. McManus Charlie Longsdon
Rogue Angel (IRE) 10 3 145 Gigginstown House Stud M. F. Morris
Seventh Sky (GER) 10 3 145 Mrs Fidelma Toole Charlie Mann
Shutthefrontdoor (IRE) 10 3 145 Mr John P. McManus Jonjo O’Neill
Gas Line Boy (IRE) 10 2 144 The Three Graces Ian Williams
Goodtoknow (GB) 10 2 144 Burling Daresbury MacEchern Nolan Potter Kerry Lee
The Romford Pele (IRE) 10 2 144 Trembath & Outhart Rebecca Curtis
Thunder And Roses (IRE) 10 2 144 Gigginstown House Stud M. F. Morris
Triolo d’Alene (FR) 10 2 144 Mr & Mrs Sandy Orr Nicky Henderson
Vieux Morvan (FR) 10 2 144 N. H. Bloodstock Ltd Mrs I. Pacault
Doctor Harper (IRE) 10 1 143 The Johnson Family David Pipe
Gallant Oscar (IRE) 10 1 143 Mr John P. McManus A. J. Martin
La Vaticane (FR) 10 1 143 Ms Maria Bukhtoyarova David Pipe
Bless The Wings (IRE) 10 0 142 Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor Gordon Elliott
Tour des Champs (FR) 10 0 142 Prestbury Racing Club Samuel Drinkwater
Knock House (IRE) 9 13 141 Mr T. G. Leslie Donald McCain
Hadrian’s Approach (IRE) 9 12 140 Mr & Mrs R. Kelvin-Hughes Nicky Henderson
Benbens (IRE) 9 11 139 S Such & CG Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
Potters Cross (GB) 9 11 139 Conyers, O’Reilly, Roddis, Zeffman Rebecca Curtis
Sambremont (FR) 9 11 139 Shanakiel Racing Syndicate W. P. Mullins
Straidnahanna (IRE) 9 11 139 M. B. Scholey & R. H. Scholey Sue Smith
Viva Steve (IRE) 9 11 139 Paul & Clare Rooney Fergal O’Brien
Cloudy Too (IRE) 9 10 138 Formulated Polymer Products Ltd Sue Smith
Lamb Or Cod (IRE) 9 10 138 Mr Terry Warner Philip Hobbs
Milansbar (IRE) 9 10 138 Mr Robert Bothway Neil King
Polidam (FR) 9 10 138 Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede W. P. Mullins
Dromnea (IRE) 9 9 137 Mrs A. M. Daly M. F. Morris
Streets of Promise (IRE) 9 9 137 Gempro Michael Scudamore
Vyta du Roc (FR) 9 9 137 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
Beeves (IRE) 9 8 136 Paul & Clare Rooney Jennie Candlish
Royale Knight (GB) 9 8 136 C. E. Stedman & R. J. Corsan Dr Richard Newland
Alfie Spinner (IRE) 9 7 135 Alan Beard & Brian Beard Kerry Lee
Emperor’s Choice (IRE) 9 7 135 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
Goulanes (IRE) 9 7 135 Mr R. S. Brookhouse Neil Mulholland
Lessons In Milan (IRE) 9 7 135 Mr Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
Mountain King (GB) 9 7 135 Jack McKay/Paul McKay/Mark McKay Gordon Elliott
Out Sam (GB) 9 7 135 Swanee River Partnership Warren Greatrex
Sizing Coal (IRE) 9 7 135 Alan & Ann Potts Partnership J. T. R. Dreaper
Dare To Endeavour (GB) 9 6 134 Mr Aidan J. Ryan Eric McNamara
Father Edward (IRE) 9 6 134 Mr Fergus Wilson David Pipe
Samingarry (FR) 9 6 134 Nigel Hawke Racing Club & Partner Nigel Hawke
Silver Man (GB) 9 6 134 Mr John Wardle Jo Hughes
Alvarado (IRE) 9 5 133 Mr & Mrs William Rucker Fergal O’Brien
Milborough (IRE) 9 5 133 Miss Helen Cross Ian Duncan
The Crafty Butcher (IRE) 9 4 132 P Byrne/P W Mullins/D Ryan/I Madigan W. P. Mullins
Waldorf Salad (GB) 9 4 132 Mr Alan Parker Venetia Williams
Katenko (FR) 9 3 131 Mr A. Brooks Venetia Williams
Federici (GB) 9 2 130 Mr Jon Glews Donald McCain
Gone Too Far (GB) 9 1 129 Mr Fergus Wilson David Pipe
Racing Pulse (IRE) 9 1 129 Mr Carl Hinchy Rebecca Curtis
Killer Crow (IRE) 9 0 128 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott