Grand National 2019: Marcus Townend’s essential guide to the 40 runners and riders in the world’s most famous horse race
- Last year’s hero Tiger Roll is the 7-2 favourite to become the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1974
- Like Red Rum, Tiger Roll is relatively small in stature for a steeplechaser but also agile and quick on his feet
- Cases can be made for many runners and only two winners have returned at single figure odds this century
The Randox Health Grand National is renowned for being the most unpredictable race in the world but bookmakers are betting like there is a certainty in Saturday’s Aintree contest.
Last year’s hero Tiger Roll is the 7-2 favourite to become the first back-to-back winner since the legendary Red Rum 45 years ago. Tiger Roll could be the shortestpriced winner for 100 years, his odds maybe even getting close to 1919 winner Poethlyn who won at odds of 11-4 ridden by Lester Piggott’s grandfather Ernie.
One of a remarkable 11 runners for top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, a two-time Grand National winner, Tiger Roll last month won his fourth race at the Cheltenham Festival when storming to an easy win in the Cross Country Chase.
Favourite Tiger Roll will seek to be the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974
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On the back of an equally impressive success over hurdles, Tiger Roll goes to Aintree in sparkling form. He also has echoes of Red Rum, the only three-time winner of the Grand National. Like Red Rum, Tiger Roll is relatively small in stature for a steeplechaser but also agile and quick on his feet.
But it is the glorious uncertainty that makes the Grand National so popular.
It’s why 8.5million tuned in to watch the race on ITV last year and why the marathon fourand- a-quarter-mile race commands a global audience of 600m.
Everyone who backs one of the 40 runners will feel they have a chance when the starting tape goes up around 5.15pm. The modern-day National, with less daunting fences, means that is truer than ever.
Only two winners this century returned at single figure odds — 7-1 favourite Hedgehunter in 2005 and 7-1 joint favourite Comply Or Die in 2008. Since then we’ve had two winners at 33-1, one at 66-1 while Mon Mome won at 100-1 in 2009.
Cases can be made for plenty of the 40 runners. In-form Lake View Lad tries to become only the third Scottish winner and the second one, 2017 winner One For Arthur, is back again. So is last year’s second Pleasant Company and his eyecatching Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Rathvinden, who will be ridden by two-time winning jockey Ruby Walsh.
There’s a winner of the Irish National (General Principle) and the American National (Jury Duty) plus the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly.
There are two female jockeys in the race, Lizzie Kelly and Rachael Blackmore. Their mounts, Tea For Two and Valseur Lido, are outsiders but can’t be totally written off. It’s the Grand National, after all.