Though not always quite as dramatic as Foinavon, as momentous as Red Rum or as heart-warming as Aldaniti, every Grand National winner provides a good story. The prospect, however, of 20-time champion Tony McCoy capping his extraordinary career with a second triumph in the world’s most famous horse race before retiring on the spot is a tale almost too good to be true.
The betting momentum is already building and, come the weekend, his mount Shutthefrontdoor is likely to be the shortest-priced National favourite for 40 years. But can he win? And if he can’t, who else might be making the headlines next Sunday morning?
Would hold an obvious chance even without AP in the saddle. Won the Irish Grand National last year and don’t worry that he hasn’t run since November; he goes well fresh and has been laid out for this all season. Only eight, though, and National winners of his age come around only about once a decade.
Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill
Jockey: Tony McCoy
Odds: 7-1 favourite
Would probably be favourite but for the McCoy factor following his return to top form at Kempton in February. A handicap stand-out and his team are convinced he is more the finished article now than when finishing weakly in fifth last year. Ticks a lot of boxes and if you were forced to have your mortgage on one, he would have to be very high up on the list.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
Pineau De Re
Last year’s winner has been given a sporting chance by the handicapper, but history is against him. Not only has no horse won the National more than once since the immortal Red Rum triumphed three times in the mid-seventies, remarkably no winner since Bindaree (2002) has won another race under rules of any description.
Trainer: Dr Richard Newland
Jockey: Daryl Jacob
A classy horse who appears to have gone a little sour, the type who may well be sweetened up by the National challenge. The booking of the excellent Nina Carberry is a thrilling development. She is bidding to become the third Carberry to ride a National winner following brother Paul and father Tommy and, of course, the first woman to have her name on Aintree’s famous roll of honour. This would be as big as a McCoy win.
Trainer: Mouse Morris
Jockey: Nina Carberry
No 14-year-old has ever won the National, but this outsider should not be dismissed lightly. Runner-up in 2011 and fourth in 2013, he also showed there is plenty of life left in the old dog yet when winning the Becher Chase over these big fences last December. No amateur has won the race for 25 years, so history is against him, but this place sparks him to life.
Trainer: Robert Waley-Cohen
Jockey: Sam Waley-Cohen
Cause Of Causes
It’s asking a lot of a seven-year-old to win, even one fresh from a Cheltenham Festival victory – no horse so young has done so for 75 years – but his handler, Gordon Elliott, bucked an age trend in 2007 when becoming the first trainer in his twenties to saddle a National winner. McCoy has turned him down, but don’t let that put you off. The champ doesn’t always pick right; he even got it wrong for his last ever Cheltenham Festival mount last month, allowing Paul Carberry to take what turned out to be the better ride. It couldn’t happen again, could it? Well, yes it could. There may always a good National story, but it rarely follows the script.
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Jockey: Paul Carberry