With the Grand National taking place this weekend (Saturday, 8 April at 5.15pm), familiar faces and experts from the racing world give you their tips on who they believe is going to win this year's famous race
Henrietta Knight, Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer (Best Mate, 2002-2004) and racing author
Blaklion: he’s a class horse and he proved that when winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last year. He bypassed the Festival in March so it seems Nigel Twiston-Davies has been saving him for the National. We know he stays as he’s won over three miles, including a point-to-point in Ireland. He’s also being ridden by Noel Fehily who’s been on great form recently.
Pleasant Company: has staying form in Ireland and hasn’t been over-raced by his trainer Willie Mullins, so should run fresh — although his good form has all been on softer ground. He is set to be ridden by Ruby Walsh.
Cause Of Causes (pictured, below): ran brilliantly to win the Cross Country Chase at the Festival in March. This may mean he’s done his bit for the season but he’s a horse I have always liked and I am pleased amateur jockey Jamie Codd takes the ride — he is just as good as the professionals.
Double Shuffle: another horse I particularly like, however, aged seven he may be too young at the moment. He’s by Milan and has Un Desperado (Best Mate’s sire) in his dam’s breeding. He is also being ridden by Adrian Heskin, who is riding well for trainer Tom George.
Jamie Moore, Grand National jockey (rides the Kerry Lee-trained Bishop Road)
Bishops Road (pictured, below): I’m really looking forward to riding Bishops Road — he’s been jumping really well at home. He’s won over 3m 4f but in bottomless ground. He has been very unlucky in the past — falling at the first in both the Topham Chase — over the National fences — and then in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown. I would’ve liked some more rain for him but my plan is to get him into a nice rhythm and survive!
Which horses would Jamie also like to be riding?
Blaklion: he’s a good horse — I won the Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle on him back in 2014 and I was impressed. He’s not a big horse but he’s such a neat and accurate jumper.
More Of That: one of the horses I wouldn’t mind having a spin on. He is a class horse and winner of the Grade One World Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2014.
Marcus Armytage, Grand National-winning former jockey (1990, Mr Frisk) and H&H’s racing correspondent
Highland Lodge: might seem odd to expect improvement from an 11-year-old but very lightly raced over the last couple of seasons. He’s a demon round Aintree and goes very well fresh. A great each-way shot at 40-1.
The Young Master: winner of the bet365 Gold Cup last year, trained for the race by a very shrewd trainer in Neil Mulholland and will not lack in help from the saddle given Sam Waley-Cohen’s outstanding record at Aintree. His last-fence fall in Becher Chase not as bad as it looked, nice prep when sixth at Cheltenham last month.
Vieux Lion Rouge (pictured, below): David Pipe’s chaser has gone from strength to strength this season after finishing seventh in last season’s National when he was not finishing his races. Majority of most recent winners have been having their first start in the race but with a Becher Chase and Grand National trial under his belt, he could be the exception that proves the rule.
Tom Peacock, racing journalist
Rogue Angel: represents last year’s winning trainer Mouse Morris and showed his stamina capabilities by taking the Irish National in 2016. Lightly-weighted sort who seems to come alive in the spring, he completed the course on a sighter in November’s Becher Chase.
Highland Lodge: swiftly becoming a course specialist who has finished first and second in the last two renewals of the Becher and just missed the cut last year. Goes well fresh for underrated trainer Jimmy Moffatt.
Blaklion (pictured, below): last year’s RSA winner is not far off top-class at his very best and is a versatile, genuine type. His second-placed finish to Vieux Lion Rouge at Haydock suggested he was returning to his peak.
Sue Montgomery, H&H’s bloodstock correspondent
Pleasant Company: not that experienced over fences but looks a safe jumper and is progressive. Warmed up with a cosy success on heavy ground at Fairyhouse and will certainly appreciate livelier underfoot conditions. His sire Presenting has one National winner to his credit (Ballabriggs) and his dam is distantly related to another, the 2008 hero Comply Or Die.
Blaklion: won last year’s RSA Chase and has been keeping the best staying handicap company in his second season chasing. Has a terrific never-give-up attitude to his job and bags of stamina. Has not won since his Cheltenham success but was an eyecatching runner-up at Haydock last time out after a break. Not the biggest, but brave as a lion of any colour.
Saint Are (pictured, below): thrives in the spring, and beat all but Many Clouds in the National two years ago. This will be his fourth go at the race — he finished ninth in 2013 and pulled up on heavy ground last year. Took an uncharacteristic fall at the first in the Becher Chase over the unique fences in December but bounced back with a good second under a big weight at Doncaster.
Tony Coleman, racing journalist
Ucello Conti: was having only his sixth outing over fences when sixth in the race 12 months ago and again performed well over this course when fourth in the Becher Chase in December, form that ties him in with other leading contenders. He arrives on the back of a good fourth under top weight in the Leinster National at Naas last month and with another year’s experience and off a decent racing weight appears primed for a big run.
Measureofmydreams: catches the eye with his third to Minella Rocco in last season’s National Hunt Chase over four miles, a performance that saw him strongly fancied for the Scottish National (fell early) and Bet365 Gold Cup (ran flat). Part of the Gigginstown exodus from Willie Mullins last October, he’s yet to sparkle in two runs for his current yard but this sound stayer is worth an each-way shout at the price.