Jordan McCarthy previews the 175th edition of the Aintree Grand National.
The Aintree Grand National is arguably the most famous steeplechase in the world. The race has perhaps got a different look to it nowadays, particularly with the changes made to the course in 2013.
The start has been moved 90 yards forward and the race itself is now run over four miles and three and a half furlongs. The landing sides of some of the fences have been levelled out and plastic birch is now used in the famous Aintree fences.
These changes were in place for last year’s running and it was a major success. 33 horses of the 40 that went to post were still standing at the end of the first circuit. 17 runners finished the race, with just two horses falling. The race may have a new look but these changes are very much welcome.
Last year produced a shock winner in 66/1 shot Aurora’s Encore. The race may be somewhat different, but it is still as difficult as ever to crack!
Tidal Bay (11st10lbs) heads the entries for this year’s renewal. The 13 year old has been rejuvenated under Paul Nicholls, winning a Lexus Chase in 2012. The Flemensfirth gelding will have to shoulder top weight around Aintree but is still actually well treated.
Long Run (11st9lbs) is another big name in the line-up. The former Gold Cup winner has not reached the highs of seasons gone by and his jumping is sketchy. The Aintree fences could find him out.
Monbeg Dude is one of the standout horses in the field. This horse is a Welsh National winner so will stay the trip. He also has a bit of class given how he won a good handicap at Cheltenham in December. He is in off an attractive weight of 10st9lbs. Paul Carberry takes the ride and Monbeg Dude looks to be a serious contender.
Mossey Joe was Champion Hunter Chaser last year and is a point to point winner so the trip should not be a problem. Rocky Creek has bypassed the Gold Cup to run here and finished third at the track last season. Mr. Moonshine runs for last year’s winning connections, and what a story that would be if the Double Eclipse gelding were to win.
Last Time D’albain will need five horses to come out to get a run, but he did finish third behind subsequent Hennessy winner Triolo D’alene in last year’s Topham. Walkon separated the pair that day and all three re-oppose here.
Stamina, solid jumping, a touch of class and luck are all needed to win a Grand National. It is the one race that really captures the imagination of the public. There may be many changes to the race but it is still the most thrilling spectacle in the sporting calendar.
2013 winning trainer Harvey Smith said ‘this race will go on forever’. Let’s hope that he is right.