Last year’s winner Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood) tops 87 horses going forward for the £1-million Crabbie’s Grand National, staged at 5.15pm on Saturday. The nine-year-old Many Clouds is the 8/1 clear favourite with Betfred, official betting partner of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival, is bidding to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the world’s greatest since the legendary Red Rum in 1973 and 1974.
He completed his preparation in fine style with victory in the Listed Premier Chase at Kelso on March 13 when he proved 10 lengths too good for Unioniste (Paul Nicholls).
The only winner of the Grand National trained in Wales was Kirkland 101 years ago in 1905 but the principality could have up to three representatives in 2016, including Buywise (Evan Williams).
Buywise achieved his biggest victory to date in the 2014 Grade Two Silver Trophy at Cheltenham in April, 2014 and has been in the first four on all four of his starts this season, including when a fast-finishing runner-up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November. His most recent appearance was in the Listed Sky Bet Chase over three miles at Doncaster on January 30, when he was third.
Williams, who is based at Llancarfan in the Vale Of Glamorgan, commented today:
“Everything is good with Buywise ahead of the Crabbie’s Grand National.”
“I wouldn’t be confident at all whether he will stay or whether he will jump but we will take our chance and see what happens.”
“He is has won on all types of ground, so that does not really concern me – I have plenty of other things to worry about with Buywise.”
The two other possible starters for Wales on Saturday are O’Faolain’s Boy and The Romford Pele (both Rebecca Curtis).
The 10/1 second-favourite with Betfred is The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey), an impressive winner of the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time. Silviniaco Conti (Paul Nicholls), a seven-tine Grade One winner including twice in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree, is a 12/1 chance and one of seven remaining entries for Britain’s reigning champion trainer.
Other contenders prominent in the market with Betfred are The Druids Nephew (Neil Mulholland, 14/1), second behind The Last Samuri at Doncaster and travelling well when falling five from home in the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National. Three horses are on the 16/1 mark – Holywell (Jonjo O’Neill), runner-up in the Grade Three Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last time and a Grade One winner at Aintree in 2014, last year’s runner-up Saint Are (Tom George) and Cause Of Causes (Gordon Elliott IRE), who won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but is number 50 on the list at present. A maximum field of 40 can line up in the Crabbie’s Grand National.
There are a total 23 horses going forward from Ireland, including last year’s Midlands National winner and Scottish National runner-up Goonyella (Jim Dreaper, 20/1) plusGallant Oscar (Tony Martin, 20/1), successful in a valuable handicap chase at Punchestown in May.
Morning Assembly (Pat Fahy, 25/1), fourth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last time, was a Grade Two winner back in 2013, when he claimed the very notable scalp of Don Cossack, successful in this season’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Fahy said today: “Morning Assembly was quiet in himself after Cheltenham, so we gave him a few days’ break.”
“But he’s back in good form now – he’s the best we’ve had him all year. I was pleased with his run at Cheltenham, he just made a slight mistake at the vital time but apart from that I was delighted with him.”
“The Crabbie’s Grand National has always been his main target, we’ve always had the race in mind for him.”
Another contender from Ireland is Home Farm (Hendry de Bromhead, 66/1), who was third in the 2013 Irish Grand National and was last seen out when sixth over hurdles at Leopardstown on February 28.
De Bromhead said: “Home Farm is in really good form and definitely goes for the Crabbie’s Grand National. He is a high class horse and I am expecting a really good run.”
Willie Mullins, Ireland’s champion trainer, has four entries going forward as he chases his first British trainers’ championship – Boston Bob (33/1), On His Own (40/1), Sir Des Champs (40/1) and Ballycasey (50/1).
The final field of 40, plus four reserves, will be revealed shortly after 10.00am on Thursday, April 7. The order of elimination for horses currently 41 and below on the list of confirmations will be known tomorrow.
8/1 Many Clouds;
10/1 The Last Samuri;
12/1 Silviniaco Conti;
14/1 The Druids Nephew;
16/1 Cause Of Causes, Holywell, Saint Are;
20/1 Gallant Oscar, Goonyella, Shutthefrontdoor;
25/1 Bishops Road, Kruzhlinin, Morning Assembly;
33/1 Boston Bob, First Lieutenant, Onenightinvienna, Rule The World, Triolo d’Alene, Ucello Conti, Unioniste;
40/1 Alvarado, Just A Par, Le Reve, Midnight Prayer, O’Faolains Boy, On His Own, Sir des Champs, Soll;
50/1 Ballycasey, Ballynagour, Black Thunder, Buywise, Double Ross, Double Seven, Hadrian’s Approach, Highland Lodge, Mountainous, Pineau de Re, Royale Knight, The Romford Pele, Vieux Lion Rouge, Wonderful Charm;
66/1 Aachen, Firebird Flyer, Gilgamboa, Home Farm, Katenko, Pendra, Perfect Candidate, Present View, Rocky Creek, Splash Of Ginge, Vics Canvas;
100/1 Amigo, Any Currency, Bally Beaufort, Benvolio, Bless The Wings, Bob Ford, Cogry, Corrin Wood, Dare To Endevour, Doing Fine, Emperor’s Choice, Gas Line Boy, Golden Wonder, Indian Castle, Knock House, Maggio, Milborough, Mr Moonshine, No Secrets, Portrait King, Rivage d’Or, Rogue Angel, Russe Blanc, Saroque, Standing Ovation, Summery Justice, Woodford County;
150/1 Big Water, Wyck Hill;
200/1 Aerlite Supreme, Financial Climate, Harry The Viking, Ikorodu Road, Tour des Champs.
Yours In Sport!