Published on April 5, 2014
GRAND NATIONAL RUNNERS AND RIDERS 2014
TIDAL BAY Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 18/1 Weight: 11-10 Age: 13 Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies The old rogue is still loving life at 13, six years after his Arkle win. Unseated in the 2011 race, but that remains the only time he's ever come down over fences. Has to give weight to the whole field but almost gave two stone in the Welsh National. 4
LONG RUN Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 14/1 Weight: 11-9 Age: 9 Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Sam Waley-Cohen Still only nine and has a Gold Cup and two King Georges on his mantlepiece. Form this season below what we expect of him, but it might be an extreme test of stamina is what he needs these days. 2
HUNT BALL Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 100/1 Weight: 11-7 Age: 9 Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Andrew Tinkler If he wins this Hollywood will come calling as career has had a touch of stardust already. Seven wins two seasons ago catapulted him from obscurity, then took the Robbie Williams path in America. Back on form now but has plenty of weight to lump.
TRIOLO DALENE Ratings: 4 Best Odds: 22/1 Weight: 11-6 Age: 7 Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Barry Geraghty Really fulfilling his potential over the last year, with a win over the National fences in the Topham and an impressive Hennessy success. Behind in the Gold Cup but Cheltenham might not be his cup of tea and price has inflated as a result.
ROCKY CREEK Ratings: 4 Best Odds: 18/1 Weight: 11-5 Age: 8 Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Noel Fehily Brought along slowly over fences but likely we haven't got to the bottom of his ability, despite showing high class form this season. Missed the Gold Cup through ringworm but minor blip and looks a live prospect if the kid gloves have made him a man. 5
QUITO DE LA ROQUE Ratings: 1 Best Odds: 40/1 Weight: 11-1 Age: 10 Trainer: Colm Murphy Jockey: Brian O'Connell Seemed destined for the very top in 2011, racking up five wins at Grade 1 or 2 level, but an infection left its mark and only won once in 11 races since comeback. Performances even worse this seas on and this looks a hit and hope job.
COLBERT STATION . Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 50/1 Weight: 11-0 Age: 10 Trainer: Ted Walsh Jockey: Mark Walsh Discarded by McCoy but the champ jumped off Jezki and More Of That at Cheltenham. Was progressive coming into last year's race but unseated at The Chair, and fell on his last start, so hardly an ideal prep but trainer knows what it takes to win this.
WALKON Ratings: 4 Best Odds: 50/1 Weight: 11-0 Age: 9 Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Wayne Hutchinson Gorgeous grey will have hope in the heart of Merseyside, and expect a gamble on the day. Played the bridesmaid more than once in his career but took well to the big fences in last year's Topham and season has been geared around this race.
BALTHAZAR KING Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 18/1 Weight: 10-13 Age: 10 Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Richard Johnson King of the Cross Country races this season, unbeaten in four and won off top weight at Cheltenham. Ran well for a long way in last year's race and will go well again but probably needs fast ground to eke out the necessary improvement.
WAYWARD PRINCE Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 80/1 Weight: 10-13 Age: 10 Trainer: Hilary Parrott Jockey: Jack Doyle Signs of wear and tear starting to show after pitching up in a fair few battles over the years. Encouraging record at the track, however, including a Grade 1 win over hurdles in 2010, and not hard to see him bringing out the old gloves for another slugfest.
MR MOONSHINE Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 33/1 Weight: 10-12 Age: 10 Trainer: Sue Smith Jockey: Ryan Mania Represents last year's winning combo of Sue Smith and Ryan Mania, and has been in great heart this season afer a couple of lean years. Staying on third in the Becher reads well, but two wins since means he's 16lbs higher in the handicap.
TEA FORTHREE Ratings: 5 Best Odds: 12/1 Weight: 10-12 Age: 10 Trainer: Rebecca Curtis Jockey: Nick Scholfield Tremendous run to finish third last year, jumping boldly up front, and was the only horse carrying over 11 stone in the mix. Connections will want to hold back a bit more for the finish, and looks to have an outstanding chance racing off a 2lb lower mark. 1
ACROSSTHE BAY Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 66/1 Weight: 10-11 Age: 10 Trainer: Donald McCain Jockey: Henry Brooke Great spin in last year's race as led for a long way before stamina ran out. That must be a concern once more but won a big pot off top weight over a marathon trip on heavy ground at Haydock in December, so definitely worth another crack.
DOUBLE SEVEN Ratings: 4 Best Odds: 14/1 Weight: 10-11 Age: 8 Trainer: Martin Brassil Jockey: Tony McCoy 18-time champ Tony McCoy has chosen him ahead of Colbert Station, and he was a rapidly improving horse on good ground last year. Form been boosted since and if the rain stays away is very interesting for trainer who won the race with Numbersixvalverde. 3
LION NA BEARNAI Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 40/1 Weight: 10-10 Age: 12 Trainer: Thomas Gibney Jockey: Davy Russell Roared to a shock 33/1 win in the 2012 Irish National, and showed he's still got some grit at 12 when winning back at Fairyhouse in February. Was a late withdrawal last year but good to go now and gets the assistance of Gold Cup- winning jockey Davy Russell.
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 25/1 Weight: 10-10 Age: 11 Trainer: Willie Mullins Jockey: Paul Townend Ante-post favourite for this race for the last two years before injury struck. Chance may have passed, as probably not as well treated this year, form hasn't been much to write home about and the race is a mile further than he's ever been.
BATTLE GROUP Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 50/1 Weight: 10-10 Age: 9 Trainer: Johnny Farrelly Jockey: Brendan Powell Nine-year-old has a bipolar streak in him, and form this season has reflected the winter weather. Connections will hope a three month break gets him back to the same place where he was able to rack up two easy wins in three days at Aintree last year.
BUCKERS BRIDGE Ratings: 1 Best Odds: 100/1 Weight: 10-10 Age: 8 Trainer: Henry de Bromhead Jockey: Andrew Lynch Patchy profile doesn't jump off the page, and eight-year-old will be one of the least experienced in the field. Glimpse of promise on his first try over three miles last time though connections are gambling that a marathon trip is what he wants.
MONBEG DUDE Ratings: 4 Best Odds: 14/1 Weight: 10-9 Age: 9 Trainer: Michael Scudamore Jockey: Paul Carberry Welsh National win last season showed his appetite for a real test, and looked an improving horse when winning at Cheltenham in November. Jockey Paul Carberry won on Bobbyjo in 1999 and will play his trademark assassin's late swoop. 3
BIG SHU Ratings: 4 Best Odds: 20/1 Weight: 10-8 Age: 9 Trainer: Peter Maher Jockey: Peter Buchanan Cheltenham and Punchestown Cross Country winner last year and ran well to finish third a few weeks ago. Silver Birch won a National coming from that discipline and this similarly unconventional test should suit, so lots to like about him.
BURTON PORT Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 16/1 Weight: 10-8 Age: 10 Trainer: Jonjo O'Neill Jockey: Brian Harding Mixed it with the big boys in his career, though could never break through at Grade 1 level. Not regained form on comeback from injury this season and though trainer is a wily operator it would be a surprise to see him come home in front.
OUR FATHER Ratings: 1 Best Odds: 66/1 Weight: 10-8 Age: 8 Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Denis O'Regan Highly-touted through his career, but struggled with consistency and hasn't finished a race well in three starts this season. Handsome grey will be easy to spot through the first circuit, but you might have to get the binoculars out on the second.
MOUNTAINOUS Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 50/1 Weight: 10-7 Age: 9 Trainer: Richard Lee Jockey: Jamie Moore Gutsy winner of the Welsh National over Christmas, and a 7lb rise for that success isn't too harsh. Problem for him is he thrives on heavy ground in the winter, so could be outpaced in spring conditions. One to note if the heavens open.
VINTAGE STAR Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 70/1 Weight: 10-7 Age: 8 Trainer: Sue Smith Jockey: Brian Hughes In the right hands, as trainer won the race last year and owner triumphed with Hedgehunter and Ballabriggs. This guy lacks the class of those and fell last time, but we probably haven't seen the best of him and this is the kind of test he wants.
THE RAINBOW HUNTER Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 33/1 Weight: 10-7 Age: 10 Trainer: Kim Bailey Jockey: Aidan Coleman Bidding to give trainer a second National 24 years after Mr Frisk, was a 50/1 shot last year and didn't get past the 8th fence. Likely to be a shorter price this time after good win in January trial at Doncaster, but has to convince he's over jumping issues.
CHANCE DU ROY Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 33/1 Weight: 10-6 Age: 10 Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Tom O'Brien Saves his best for these fences nowadays, and made the most of a drop in the handicap to record a first win on his fourth try in December's Becher Chase. That stands him in good stead but he may choke on his oats when he realises he has to go around twice.
HAWKES POINT Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 50/1 Weight: 10-6 Age: 9 Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Ryan Mahon Nine-year-old who hasn't been to many big dances in his life but stepped up in the Welsh National, only going down by a head. Should be more improvement in him but likely on slow winter ground rather than quicker spring conditions.
KRUZHLININ Ratings: 1Best Odds: 125/1 Weight: 10-6 Age: 7 Trainer: Donald McCain Jockey: Wilson Renwick Done all his winning up north, with Kelso a particular favourite hunting ground. Been found out on forays elsewhere and no horse younger than eight has won since 1940. We'd say he has no chance but that's a positive in this race.
PINEAU DE RE Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 28/1 Weight: 10-6 Age: 11 Trainer: Richard Newland Jockey: Leighton Aspell Has a National win to his name, but 2013 Ulster success was achieved off an 18lb lower mark. Potted around earlier in the season - including a fall over these fences - but new trainer has found the key to him and finished well over hurdles at Cheltenham.
GOLANWAY Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 100/1 Weight: 10-5 Age: 10 Trainer: Tim Vaughan Jockey: Michael Byrne Knows his job, having been on the go since he was two, and landed his tenth win in facile fashion at Warwick last month. A change of scenery appears to have got him back in the groove but he's failed all his tougher assignments in the past.
TWIRLING MAGNET Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 100/1 Weight: 10-5 Age: 8 Trainer: Jonjo O'Neill Jockey: Richie McLernon Gives the impression that he holds a bit back for himself, so Aintree fences might be the thing that finally fires the flames of his heart. More realistic that he'll be focused on returning home in one piece, however.
VESPER BELL Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 80/1 Weight: 10-5 Age: 8 Trainer: Willie Mullins Jockey: Mikey Fogarty Not one of his stables' brighter lights and appears to have accepted his place in the pecking order. Lost his jockey on two of three starts this season - including at the first over these fences - so hard to say he's on the downgrade but profile looks ominous.
THE PACKAGE Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 18/1 Weight: 10-4 Age: 11 Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Tom Scudamore He's been a package of bandages in recent years, having been restricted to just six races since 2010. Lovely third on latest comeback at Cheltenham suggests ability remains and didn't hate this experience as a youngster in 2010. Wouldn't rule out.
RAZ DE MAREE Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 66/1 Weight: 10-3 Age: 9 Trainer: Dessie Hughes Jockey: Davy Condon First time he's ventured outside Ireland in 23 career starts, so the occasion could be a shock to the system. Won the Munster and Cork Nationals in the autumn however, so likes these contests and as such there will be worse outsiders.
ROSE OFTHE MOON Ratings: 1 Best Odds: 80/1 Weight: 10-3 Age: 9 Trainer: David O'Meara Jockey: Jake Greenall Only six starts over fences to his name with a pair of £6k pots at Wetherby the highlight. Got around but made no real impression over the National fences in December and it's an achievement he's even managed to get a run here.
SHAKALAKABOOMBOOM Ratings: 3 Best Odds: 40/1 Weight: 10-3 Age: 10 Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: David Bass Backed into joint-favouritism for this race two years ago, and took to it well before fading into 8th. Injury struck after, and spark hasn't been there since return in January, though a 9lb lower mark than 2012 is a tempter if return to Aintree can light him up.
ALVARADO Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 40/1 Weight: 10-2 Age: 9 Trainer: Fergal O'Brien Jockey: Paul Moloney Form of his career-best win at Cheltenham in November reads well, and ground conditions should be similar on Saturday. Has refused twice before, however, so may not have the stomach for this attritional marathon.
LASTTIME DALBAIN Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 66/1 Weight: 10-2 Age: 10 Trainer: Liam Cusack Jockey: Robbie Colgan Done most of his racing at two and a half miles and under, but two best performances have been over further. One of those was a third over these fences last year when he stayed on well, so can make an argument but it isn't a persuasive one.
ONE IN A MILAN Ratings: 1 Best Odds: 100/1 Weight: 10-2 Age: 9 Trainer: Evan Williams Jockey: Adam Wedge Barely paid his way through his career, with two wins from 19 starts. Somehow finished fourth in his home Welsh National from 11lbs out of the handicap, but that looks a fluke and he's another you wonder how he's even made it into this race.
SWING BILL Ratings: 2 Best Odds: 100/1 Weight: 10-1 Age: 13 Trainer: David Pipe Jockey: Conor O'Farrell The old lothario will still hog the cameras with his flowing silver locks, but he's a teenager now and retirement beckons. Tenth in 2012, he actually improved on that to finish sixth 12 months ago so who's to say he can't get in the money once more?
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