Definitly Red, impressive winner of the G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham last month, heads the weights for the £1-million Randox Health Grand National with 11st 10lb and a rating of 165.
The world’s greatest and richest chase is the highlight of Aintree’s three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival and takes places with a maximum of 40 runners at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14.
Definitly Red (trained by Brian Ellison, 20/1 with Betway) was one of the leading contenders for 2017 Randox Health Grand National, but pulled up on the first circuit with a tack problem when rated 149.
The nine-year-old has improved again this season, with G2 triumphs in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December and the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase on January 27, in which he defeated American (Harry Fry, 11st 2lb, 50/1) by eight lengths.
Blaklion, the 10/1 favourite with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National, has been allotted 11st 6lb following his 12-length victory in the Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree in December.
His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who is the only current handler to have won the Grand National more than once, also has G1 Betfair Chase hero Bristol De Mai (11st 9lb, 33/1) and Aintree G1 scorer Flying Angel (10st 7lb, 80/1) among his five contenders.
Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Willie Mullins lifted the spoils in 2005 with favourite Hedgehunter and has the leading Irish-trained contender this year in Total Recall (11st 1lb, 14/1). Total Recall stayed on strongly to defeat Whisper by a neck in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December and took advantage of a lower handicap mark over hurdles at the Dublin Racing Festival on February 4.
Mullins’ 10 entries also include promising novice Rathvinden (10st 9lb, 50/1), Pleasant Company (10st 7lb, 50/1) and Polidam (10st 5lb, 40/1).
Multiple G1 scorer Outlander (Gordon Elliott IRE, 11st 8lb, 40/1) has the most weight of the 11 Gigginstown House Stud-owned contenders. Others to note for Michael O’Leary’s operation include Valseur Lido (Henry de Bromhead IRE, 11st 5lb, 40/1) and G2 National Hunt Chase hero Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE, 10st 9lb, 50/1).
Last year’s runner-up Cause Of Causes (10st 12lb, 25/1), also trained by Elliott, is one of seven entries for owner J P McManus, who also feature recent G1 Irish Gold Cup hero Edwulf (Joseph O’Brien IRE, 11st 9lb, 25/1), last year’s Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup second Minella Rocco (Jonjo O’Neill, 11st 7lb, 20/1) and Anibale Fly (Tony Martin IRE, 11st 4lb, 33/1).
Elliott’s 10 entries also include the Chris Jones-owned pair of Mala Beach (11st 3lb, 40/1), winner of the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan in November, and Noble Endeavor (10st 13lb, 33/1).
Gold Present (11st, 20/1), successful in competitive handicaps at Newbury and Ascot this season, headlines three contenders for Britain’s champion Jump handler Nicky Henderson. The Lambourn trainer could also run O O Seven (10st 11lb, 66/1) and Vyta Du Roc (10st 6lb, 33/1).
Paul Nicholls triumphed with Neptune Collonges in 2012 and his six entries are led by dual Scottish Grand National winner Vicente (10st 10lb, 28/1), more likely to head back to Ayr, course scorer As De Mee (10st 8lb, 50/1) and Warriors Tale (10st 8lb, 50/1), beaten narrowly on both his starts this season.
Irish handler Mouse Morris saddled the 2016 winner Rule The World. His three entries, all owned by Gigginstown House Stud, include Alpha Des Obeux (11st, 66/1) and 2015 Irish Grand National scorer Thunder And Roses (10st 1lb, 66/1).
Further down the weights, Welsh Grand National hero Raz De Maree (Gavin Cromwell, 50/1), who at the age of 13 is the oldest winner of the Chepstow showpiece, has been handed 10st 5lb, while impressive G3 Classic Handicap Chase victor Milansbar (Neil King, 40/1) is 69th on the list on 10st 2lb. One For Arthur took the Classic Handicap Chase prior to this Randox Health Grand National success last season.
Trainer Dr Richard Newland and owner John Provan combined with 2014 winner Pineau de Re. They have another interesting contender in Abolitionist (10st 4lb, 33/1), who finished third in last season’s Irish Grand National.
British Horseracing Authority Head of Handicapping Phil Smith, framing the Randox Health Grand National weights for the 20th and final time in 2018, commented: “One of those most interesting aspects of this year’s Randox Health Grand National is the top three horses in the handicap.
“Defintly Red, Bristol De Mai and Edwulf are all on higher ratings than last season and that is down to their wins in Pattern races. A year ago, they were all rated significantly lower. It is what they have done this season that has moved them upwards with Definitly Red taking the Cotswold Chase, Bristol De Mai the Betfair Chase and Edwulf the Irish Gold Cup.
“It will be great if Definitly Red lines up on April 14, because I am confident that he will have already at least been placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup by then. In what looks like an open Cheltenham Gold Cup, I think he will finish in the first four.
“In the past, horses at the top of the handicap have been very worthy horses, such as horses that had run well in Gold Cups for example, but were perhaps horses on their way down. The progressive horses at the top of the handicap is the biggest change for me when looking at this year’s race.
“We also have the established stars like Outlander and Minella Rocco at the top of the handicap. Outlander is a three-time G1 winner in Ireland and Minella Rocco has finished runner-up in a Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“Outlander is a horse that has had a stellar career but has slipped slightly under the radar – if the Grand National was run at Leopardstown, he would be the winner as he is real specialist there. Minella Rocco is a horse that has always looked like he would stay further and it will be interesting to see how he gets on.
“There wasn’t a specific race run this season that helped me frame the handicap in a particular way. The closest association at the top of the weights is Edwulf and Outlander, who were first and second in the Irish Gold Cup. There was a neck between them at Leopardstown and there is a pound between them in the handicap for Aintree.
“The top of the handicap is not so dominated by Irish-trained horses this year, in contrast to 12 months’ ago. There is a good mix at the top this year – four of the top eight in the handicap are GB-trained and four are Irish-trained.
“Obviously, there are also horses that have form over the Grand National fences including Blaklion, The Last Samuri, Cause Of Causes and Saint Are. That is something that is great about the Randox Health Grand National – established star performers over the fences who come back for more.
“The most difficult horse for me to assess, no doubt about it, was Bless The Wings. The reason being was that he is rated 17lb higher on his Cheltenham cross country form compared to his rating in Ireland.
“The form of the cross country races at Cheltenham has historically been very good in relation to Aintree with the likes of Silver Birch, Balthazar King and Cause Of Causes.
“On the one hand, Bless The Wings’ rating of 137 in Ireland would not get him in the race but 154, his cross country rating, seemed to me to be too high compared to his form on park courses.
“In the end, I settled on 143 as a compromise which should hopefully get him in the race. He is a very interesting horse – even though he is a 13-year-old. He is an absolutely super jumper and his cross country form is very good indeed.
“Horses which have tumbled down the weights include Carlingford Lough, who was joint top-weight back in 2015, but is on 10st 11lb this year. Lord Windermere is a Cheltenham Gold Cup winner on 10st 3lb, while Road To Riches is on 10st 1lb this year compared to 10st 13lb a year ago. It will be very interesting if any of these can bounce back to form.
“There is less discrepancy than ever before between British and Irish ratings.
“The biggest difference we do have is with Pleasant Company (10st 7llb) who was going really well last year before making a terrible error at Valentine’s on the second circuit (25th). After that, he just coasted home and finished ninth.
“I didn’t feel I needed to drop Pleasant Company very much for Aintree this year because of that one bad error – his finishing position was not commensurate with how he actually ran on the day. I have him 3lb higher than his Irish rating.”
Randox Health Grand National – Betway odds
14/1 Total Recall
20/1 Definitly Red, Gold Present, Minella Rocco, The Last Samuri
25/1 Cause Of Causes, Edwulf
33/1 Abolitionist, Bristol De Mai, Vyta Du Roc, Ucello Conti, Vieux Lion Rouge, Gas Line Boy, Anibale Fly, Bellshill, Noble Endeavor, Wild West Wind
40/1 Go Conquer, Mala Beach, Milansbar, Outlander, Polidam, Saint Are, Seeyouatmidnight, Valseur Lido
50/1 Acapella Bourgeois, A Genie In Abottle, Wounded Warrior, Tiger Roll, Final Nudge, Pendra, Buywise, Vieux Morvan, Arbre De Vie, Rogue Angel, Sametegal, American, Baie Des Iles, Carlingford Lough, Chase The Spud, Childrens List, Cogry, Delusionofgrandeur, Morning Assembly, Pairofbrowneyes, Pleasant Company, Rathvinden, Raz De Maree, Sub Lieutenant, The Dutchman, The Young Master, Three Faces West, Warriors Tale, Bless The Wings, As De Mee, Vintage Clouds
66/1 Shantou Flyer, Relentless Dreamer, Perfect Candidate, O O Seven, Mysteree, Missed Approach, Minella Daddy, Lord Windermere, General Principle, Alpha Des Obeaux, Vic De Touzaine, Braqueur D’Or, Bonny Kate, Ballyalton, Walk In The Mill, Bravissimo, Henri Parry Morgan, I Just Know, Out Sam, Regal Encore, Road To Riches, Rock The Kasbah, Silsol, Sir Mangan, Sizing Codelco, Splash Of Ginge, Thunder And Roses
80/1 Double Ross, Flying Angel, Long House Hall, Tenor Nivernais, Virgilio
100/1 Thebarrowman, Alfie Spinner, Knock House, Phil’s Magic, Houblon Des Obeaux, Goodtoknow, Dancing Shadow, Beeves, Captain Redbeard, Krackatoa King, Maggio, Third Intention, Traffic Fluide
The Randox Health Grand National entries:
Horse Age Wgt Rating Owner Trainer
1) DEFINITLY RED (IRE) 9 11-10 165 Phil & Julie Martin Brian Ellison
2) BRISTOL DE MAI (FR) 7 11-09 164 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
3) EDWULF 9 11-09 164 J P McManus Joseph O’Brien IRE
4) OUTLANDER (IRE) 10 11-08 163 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
5) MINELLA ROCCO (IRE) 8 11-07 162 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
6) BLAKLION 9 11-06 161 Simon Such & Gino Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
7) SUB LIEUTENANT (IRE) 9 11-05 160 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
8) ANIBALE FLY (FR) 8 11-04 159 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE
9) THE LAST SAMURI (IRE) 10 11-04 159 Paul & Clare Rooney Kim Bailey
10) MALA BEACH (IRE) 10 11-03 158 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE
11) VALSEUR LIDO (FR) 9 11-03 158 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
12) AMERICAN (FR) 8 11-02 157 The Jago Family Partnership Harry Fry
13) TOTAL RECALL (IRE) 9 11-01 156 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
14) ALPHA DES OBEAUX (FR) 8 11-00 155 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
15) GOLD PRESENT (IRE) 8 11-00 155 John & Barbara Cotton Nicky Henderson
16) NOBLE ENDEAVOR (IRE) 9 10-13 154 Chris Jones Gordon Elliott IRE
17) PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE) 11 10-13 154 ISL Recruitment Fergal O’Brien
18) SIZING CODELCO (IRE) 9 10-13 154 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Colin Tizzard
19) CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) 10 10-12 153 J P McManus Gordon Elliott IRE
20) SHANTOU FLYER (IRE) 8 10-12 153 Carl Hinchy Richard Hobson
21) CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE) 12 10-11 152 J P McManus John Kiely IRE
22) O O SEVEN (IRE) 8 10-11 152 Christopher Hanbury Nicky Henderson
23) TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) 11 10-11 152 Boultbee Brooks Ltd Venetia Williams
24) GO CONQUER (IRE) 9 10-10 151 Paul & Clare Rooney Jonjo O’Neill
25) TRAFFIC FLUIDE (FR) 8 10-10 151 Galloping On The South Downs Partnership Gary Moore
26) VICENTE (FR) 9 10-10 151 Trevor Hemmings Paul Nicholls
27) ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS (FR) 8 10-09 150 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
28) RATHVINDEN (IRE) 10 10-09 150 Ronnie Bartlett Willie Mullins IRE
29) REGAL ENCORE (IRE) 10 10-09 150 J P McManus Anthony Honeyball
30) TIGER ROLL (IRE) 8 10-09 150 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
31) VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR) 9 10-09 150 Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent David Pipe
32) A GENIE IN ABOTTLE (IRE) 7 10-08 149 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
33) AS DE MEE (FR) 8 10-08 149 The Stewart Family & Judi Dench Paul Nicholls
34) CHASE THE SPUD 10 10-08 149 Christine Banks Fergal O’Brien
35) ROCK THE KASBAH (IRE) 8 10-08 149 Diana Whateley Philip Hobbs
36) SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT 10 10-08 149 Quona Thomson Sandy Thomson
37) WARRIORS TALE 9 10-08 149 Michelle & Dan Macdonald Paul Nicholls
38) BELLSHILL (IRE) 8 10-07 148 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
39) FLYING ANGEL (IRE) 7 10-07 148 Rob Rexton Nigel Twiston-Davies
40) GAS LINE BOY (IRE) 12 10-07 148 The Three Graces Ian Williams
41) PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE) 10 10-07 148 Malcolm C Denmark Willie Mullins IRE
42) THE DUTCHMAN (IRE) 8 10-07 148 SprayClad UK Colin Tizzard
43) BEEVES (IRE) 11 10-06 147 Paul & Clare Rooney Jennie Candlish
44) SAINT ARE (FR) 12 10-06 147 David Fox Tom George
45) UCELLO CONTI (FR) 10 10-06 147 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Gordon Elliott IRE
46) VYTA DU ROC (FR) 9 10-06 147 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
47) CAROLE’S DESTRIER 10 10-05 146 Carole Skipworth Neil Mulholland
48) LONG HOUSE HALL (IRE) 10 10-05 146 Carl Hinchy Dan Skelton
49) POLIDAM (FR) 9 10-05 146 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Willie Mullins IRE
50) RAZ DE MAREE (FR) 13 10-05 146 James Swan Gavin Cromwell IRE
51) ABOLITIONIST (IRE) 10 10-04 145 Mark Albon, John Provan & Chris Stedman Dr Richard Newland
52) BAIE DES ILES (FR) 7 10-04 145 Zorka Wentworth Ross O’Sullivan IRE
53) BUYWISE (IRE) 11 10-04 145 T Hywel Jones Evan Williams
54) CHILDRENS LIST (IRE) 8 10-04 145 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
55) I JUST KNOW (IRE) 8 10-04 145 M B Scholey & the late R H Scholey Sue Smith
56) MAGGIO (FR) 13 10-04 145 Douglas Pryde/James Beaumont Patrick Griffin IRE
57) PENDRA (IRE) 10 10-04 145 J P McManus Charlie Longsdon
58) VIRGILIO (FR) 9 10-04 145 C J Edwards, D Futter, A H Rushworth Dan Skelton
59) CAPTAIN REDBEARD (IRE) 9 10-03 144 Stuart Coltherd Stuart Coltherd
60) HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR) 11 10-03 144 Mrs Julian Blackwell Venetia Williams
61) LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) 12 10-03 144 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
62) SILSOL (GER) 9 10-03 144 Michelle & Dan Macdonald Paul Nicholls
63) THIRD INTENTION (IRE) 11 10-03 144 Robert & Sarah Tizzard Colin Tizzard
64) THREE FACES WEST (IRE) 10 10-03 144 Paul & Clare Rooney Philip Hobbs
65) WILD WEST WIND (IRE) 9 10-03 144 Simon Clarke Tom George
66) BLESS THE WINGS (IRE) 13 10-02 143 Adrian Butler & S P O’Connor Gordon Elliott IRE
67) DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) 12 10-02 143 Options O Syndicate Nigel Twiston-Davies
68) FINAL NUDGE (IRE) 9 10-02 143 Corbett Stud David Dennis
69) MILANSBAR (IRE) 11 10-02 143 Robert Bothway Neil King
70) MORNING ASSEMBLY (IRE) 11 10-02 143 Clipper Logistics Group Ltd Pat Fahy IRE
71) DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR (IRE) 8 10-01 142 McGoldrick Racing 3 Sue Smith
72) ROAD TO RICHES (IRE) 11 10-01 142 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
73) THUNDER AND ROSES (IRE) 10 10-01 142 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
74) SAMETEGAL (FR) 9 10-00 141 John & Barbara Cotton Paul Nicholls
75) VINTAGE CLOUDS (IRE) 8 10-00 141 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith
76) WALK IN THE MILL (FR) 8 10-00 141 Baroness Harding Robert Walford
77) GENERAL PRINCIPLE (IRE) 9 9-12 139 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
78) VIC DE TOUZAINE (FR) 9 9-12 139 Andrew Brooks & G Moore Venetia Williams
79) VIEUX MORVAN (FR) 9 9-12 139 M L Bloodstock Joseph O’Brien IRE
80) WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE) 9 9-12 139 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
81) ARBRE DE VIE (FR) 8 9-11 138 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
82) BALLYALTON (IRE) 11 9-11 138 John Westwood Ian Williams
83) BONNY KATE (IRE) 8 9-11 138 Patricia Hunt Noel Meade IRE
84) COGRY 9 9-11 138 Graham & Alison Jelley Nigel Twiston-Davies
85) MISSED APPROACH (IRE) 8 9-11 138 Alan & Andrew Turner Warren Greatrex
86) MYSTEREE (IRE) 10 9-11 138 Mrs Lynne Maclennan Michael Scudamore
87) SIR MANGAN (IRE) 10 9-11 138 Frank McAleavy Dan Skelton
88) SPLASH OF GINGE 10 9-11 138 John Neild Nigel Twiston-Davies
89) BRAQUEUR D’OR (FR) 7 9-10 137 Corsellis & Seyfried Paul Nicholls
90) MINELLA DADDY (IRE) 8 9-10 137 Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar Peter Bowen
91) PAIROFBROWNEYES (IRE) 9 9-10 137 Fibbage Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
92) RELENTLESS DREAMER (IRE) 9 9-10 137 Nigel Morris Rebecca Curtis
93) KNOCK HOUSE (IRE) 9 9-09 136 Tim Leslie Donald McCain
94) THE YOUNG MASTER 9 9-08 135 Mike Burbidge & The Old Masters Neil Mulholland
95) ALFIE SPINNER (IRE) 13 9-06 133 Alan Beard & Brian Beard Kerry Lee
96) HENRI PARRY MORGAN 10 9-06 133 Ednyfed & Elizabeth Morgan Peter Bowen
97) PHIL’S MAGIC (IRE) 8 9-06 133 Lyreen Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
98) BRAVISSIMO (FR) 7 9-05 132 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
99) DANCING SHADOW (IRE) 9 9-05 132 The Dancing Shadows Victor Dartnall
100) ROGUE ANGEL (IRE) 10 9-05 132 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
101) THEBARROWMAN (IRE) 8 9-04 131 D Keys Adrian Keatley IRE
102) OUT SAM 9 9-03 130 D Charlesworth Gordon Elliott IRE
103) KRACKATOA KING 10 9-00 127 JC Harrison Lee & T Howard Partnership Kerry Lee
104) GOODTOKNOW 10 8-13 126 Burling Lee MacEchern Nolan Potter Kerry Lee
105) POORMANS HILL (IRE) 7 NQ 120 V Caldwell/Mrs K Caldwell Gordon Elliott IRE
105 entries (1 not qualified)