The Grand National 2019: Marcus Townend’s guide to the world famous race at Aintree
- Lack of forecast rain will suit Rock The Kasbah as he doesn’t like very soft ground
- Talented contender Mall Dini is trying to emulate 2016 winner Rock The World
- Lake View Lad ran the perfect trial when third at the Cheltenham Festival
The Grand National boasts a glorious tradition for producing thrilling finishes, unsung heroes and heartwarming stories.
Our Racing Correspondent runs the rule over a few who could be making the Aintree headlines next weekend.
Nick Alexander’s Lake View Lad ran the perfect trial when third at the Cheltenham Festival
LAURIE BRANNAN’S NATIONAL TIPS
1 TIGER ROLL 4-1
Last year’s winner was outstanding at Cheltenham and is the one to beat.
2 ROCK THE KASBAH 18-1
Has proven stamina and is reported to be at the top of his form.
3 VINTAGE CLOUDS 11-1
Comes from a Grand National winning stable and ticks all the right boxes.
4 STEP BACK 22-1
Lightly-raced chaser and a live contender who goes on any ground.
ONE FOR ARTHUR
The Lucinda Russell-trained 2017 winner is back for more but his preparation has been far from ideal. Injury meant he missed last season and, having unseated his jockey on his two starts this season, he has not completed a race since the day he became only the second Scottish-trained winner.
A first Grand National runner for trainer Jessica Harrington and also for owner, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood. The guitarist has a stud in Ireland but this is currently his only horse in training. It’s hard to see Sandymount Duke giving Wood satisfaction but his chance will not be harmed by having dual-winning jockey Leighton Aspell on board.
LAKE VIEW LAD
Trained around five miles from One For Arthur by former stockbroker Nick Alexander. Has had a great season and ran the perfect trial when third at the Cheltenham Festival. Along with Vintage Clouds will be trying to give veteran owner Trevor Hemmings a record fourth winner in the race.
ROCK THE KASBAH
A 21st ride in the race for three-time champion jockey Richard Johnson, who has twice been second. His mount has been kept fresh for this race and the lack of forecast rain will suit as he doesn’t like very soft ground.
Much of the focus is on Tiger Roll in the Gordon Elliott army, but he has strength in depth, particularly in this eight-year-old. He cost his syndicate only £23,000 and has won the US National. If he can win the British version he’d be emulating Battleship who landed his Grand National in 1938.
His tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Presenting Percy did not work out for reclusive trainer Pat Kelly but he is back with an enigmatic but talented contender who is trying to emulate 2016 winner Rock The World and record his first success over fences in the Grand National.
TEA FOR TWO
Jockey of the moment Bryony Frost is injured and Aintree regulars Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh retired, but there will still be female jockeys in the race. Rachel Blackmore will pick up a ride and this gelding represents trainer Jane Williams and her jockey daughter Lizzie Kelly. Problem is this gelding has been well below form recently.
TIGER ROLL CHASING RED RUM
Tiger Roll will try to join a very exclusive club next Saturday by becoming just the fifth horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals.
The great Red Rum, trained by Ginger McCain and ridden by Brian Fletcher, was the last to do it in 1973 and 1974, and would go on to complete a hat-trick in 1977.
Abd-El-Kader (1850-51), The Colonel (1869-70) and Reynoldstown (1935-36) are the other three horses to defend the National crown successfully. The Duke won the first race in 1836 and again 12 months later, but the first three races were later deemed unofficial.
Another horse whose back-toback feat is not recognised was Poethlyn, ridden by Ernie Piggott, grandfather of Lester. During the First World War the race was moved from Aintree to Gatwick — today the site of the airport — to a course modified to resemble the one in Liverpool. Poethlyn won the third and final Gatwick running in 1918. A year later, he triumphed again… at Aintree.