How the favourites are warming up for the Grand National

On March 10, 2020 by Tim Newman

Next month marks one of the highlights in the horse racing calendar, the Grand National. Aintree’s fearsome fences provide the ultimate test for horses and jockeys alike, and this year’s edition is bound to be no different.

Betting opportunities on Grand National outright winner are currently in the favour of defending, and two-time champion Tiger Roll, but who else is in the running and how are they going to prepare for such a gruelling challenge?

Tiger Roll

Will he or won’t he race was the dilemma last month, when connections of the 10-year-old weren’t happy with his allocated weight. But Eddie O’Leary then issued the green light and racing fans heard the news they had been waiting for – Tiger Roll will be entered into the Grand National in a bid to win a hat-trick of races, emulating the feat of Red Rum in the 1960s. He will also race in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, another race that Tiger Roll has won for the last two years. The Gordon Elliott-trained bay recently had a run-out at Leopardstown, but in his last official outing, came fifth in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan.

Any Second Now

Ted Walsh’s eight-year-old recently enhanced his Grand National credentials with a gutsy performance at Naas in the WhatOddsPaddy? Chase – winning by one-and-a-

quarter lengths. Any Second Now had been largely unfancied before then but has since entered the fray as one of Tiger Roll’s biggest challengers. His trainer was pleased with the performance, saying after the race:

“He travelled well and jumped well, and if he runs as well as Seabass (at Aintree), I’ll be delighted. It’s a good prep for Aintree. Whether he’s good enough or not, only time will tell.”

Any Second Now will head straight to the National on April 4th.

Burrows Saint

Burrows Saint is another horse heading straight to Aintree, despite not racing since December. Willie Mullins’ bay won the Punchestown Hurdle on his last outing and famously won the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse with Ruby Walsh in the saddle last April. The seven-year-old has been ridden by numerous jockeys over the last year or so, and while it’s not yet been confirmed who will be in the saddle for the National, Mullins will be hoping for his second success in the prestigious chase. History suggests seven-year-olds don’t have much luck in the National, but Burrows Saint has plenty of experience over fences, albeit over shorter distances.

Definitly Red

Definitly Red warmed up for the Grand National with a run-out at Kelso which proved a great success. Trainer Brian Ellison was jubilant following the win by 14 lengths in the Premier Chase.

There’s some unfinished business for the 10-year-old, who previously took to the Aintree fences in the 2018 race – but pulled up before the ninth fence after struggling at Becher’s Brook.

The now-veteran was fancied for the race then at odds of 10/1 and despite slightly longer odds this time around, is among the favourites. Following victory at Kelso, Ellison said:

“I’ve always thought the race would suit him, as he’s a proper stayer. He’s got plenty going for him, he’s got a nice weight, 10st 12lb, but you need luck.”

Many are hoping to spoil Tiger Roll’s party, with Becher Chase winner Walk In The Mill and one of last year’s contenders Anibale Fly also in the running. One thing’s for certain, the Grand National is anything but predictable and as fans await the final starting entries to be announced, there could be a twist in the plot yet.

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