The Randox Health Grand National Festival Horses To Follow
Three days of top class action starts with the Grade 1 Manifesto Chase, followed hot on the heels by the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle where impressive JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil will be bidding to maintain his unblemished record over hurdles. He aims to record his seventh consecutive victory over timber at Aintree next Thursday. Old foes Mega Fortune and Bapaume, who were readily brushed aside by Defi Du Seuil at Cheltenham, re-oppose and their hopes will be pinned on the different track configuration helping them out to turn the tables on Defi.
The Aintree Hurdle is arguably the most intriguing race of the day with Buveur D’air and Apple's Jade set to lock horns. Both horses were victorious at this meeting last year, where Apple's Jade recorded one of the biggest winning distances for Grade 1 in recent history, pulverising her fellow juvenile rivals by 41 lengths. That victory lingers long in the memory but it’s unlikely she will be able to replicate that against better opposition, notably Champion Hurdle victor, the aforementioned Buveur D’air who promises to be a warm order.
Racing fans also get their first sight of the iconic National fences on Day 1, with the amateurs taking centre stage in the Foxhunters.
Day 2 really whets the appetite and acts as the perfect precursor to Grand National day itself, with Grade 1’s to savour. Cheltenham Festival form will be tested and old favourites will be out strutting their stuff.
On Randox Health Grand National day, the stage is set and three Grade 1’s, including the Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle help build up the crescendo in anticipation of the big one, The Randox Health Grand National. Huge crowds will be there, excited, ready to witness the next piece of racing history and see a star name cement their place in racing folklore.
In an attempt to do the race some semblance of justice, we outline five runners we think will run well:
Pleasant Company – Lightly raced son of Presenting, who finished a good fourth in the Thyestes behind Champagne West before winning the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse, beating another Grand National hopeful, Thunder and Roses into second. Willie Mullins trained Hedgehunter to win the Bobbyjo Chase before going on to land the Grand National on his next start. This one holds strong credentials as long as his lack of experience does not count against him.
Definitely Red – Winner of the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase on Boxing Day beating fellow contender Blaklion by in excess of 10 lengths. Won the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster with consummate ease in March, beating last year’s Grand National runner up The Last Samurai by 14 lengths. Undoubtedly running off a favourable weight judged on that performance and holds strong claims.
Thunder And Roses – Notably beat last year’s Grand National winner Rule The World in the Irish Grand National in 2015. Has since moved to the Mouse Morris yard, who won the Grand National last year and it is likely that this horse's season has revolved around a shot at this race. He has stamina to burn and plenty of experience to boot, he is another that holds strong claims.
Raz De Maree – Evergreen twelve year old who is in the form of his life. Finished a good second to Native River in the Welsh Grand National in December and warmed up for this race with an excellent second over hurdles at Thurles at beginning of March. Finished 8th in the 2014 running of this and that experience will no doubt stand him in good stead. He can run well for his talented and upcoming trainer.
Vicente – Recently purchased by Trevor Hemmings whose famous colours are synonymous with this great race. Won the Scottish Grand National last year and ticks a lot of the boxes. Somewhat below par on his last couple of starts but not outrageous to suggest his whole season has been geared towards a shot at this race. Likely to be primed to the minute for this by champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
Fleeting and honourable mentions go to old favourites Saphir Du Rheu and More Of That, who both put in good efforts with their Timico Gold Cup runs finishing 5th and 6th respectively and certainly have the class to get competitive.
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