The Racing Post's David Baxter shares his picks for this year's Randox Health Grand National.

The last time Willie Mullins claimed the Randox Health Grand National was in 2005 with Hedgehunter, but Ireland's reigning champion jumps trainer has a strong squad for this year's race, highlight of the April racing calendar, headed by ante-post favourite Total Recall.

Formerly with Sandra Hughes, the nine-year-old has won three of his four starts for Mullins, including when justifying favouritism in Newbury's valuable Ladbrokes Trophy. He came to grief on his latest start when a faller in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Native River.

Leading the challenge for the home team is the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Blaklion, who was fourth in the race last year behind One For Arthur. Connections bypassed Cheltenham and he will have been freshened up after finishing a well-beaten second in Haydock's Grand National trial on testing ground.

Topweight for this year's race, following the forfeit stage on March 20th, is Minella Rocco, runner-up in last season's Gold Cup. The testing ground at Cheltenham this season meant connections decided against tackling the Gold Cup again and the eight-year-old bids to give trainer Jonjo O'Neill a second win in the National following Don't Push It's success in 2010.

Gordon Elliott tasted National success in 2007 with Silver Birch, and is planning on sending Tiger Roll, successful in the cross-country chase at Cheltenham, to the race. 

Another who could be back for more is the 2016 runner-up The Last Samuri. The Kim Bailey-trained ten-year-old finished down the field in the race last year but has been in good form this season, and was a fine third behind Tiger Roll in the Cross-Country Chase.

Someone who will not return next year is BHA head of handicapping Phil Smith, who is stepping down after compiling the weights for the race for the last two decades. Smith highlighted Gold Cup third Anibale Fly as potentially the best treated runner in the field. Having already released the Aintree weights, Smith has raised Anibale Fly 9lb for his Cheltenham exploits.

Nicky Henderson has yet to make it into the winner's enclosure for the Grand National, and his main hope this year is Gold Present. The eight-year-old was one of several runners at Cheltenham who did not enjoy the testing ground and was pulled up in the Ultima.

by The Racing Post's David Baxter at Rewards4Racing

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