Bristol De Mai has been revealed as top weight for the Randox Health Grand National.
The Multiple Group 1 winner heads the weights on 11st 10lb, with a lowered rating of 168.
With a prize fund of £1 million, the world’s greatest chase is the most valuable Jump race globally and takes place over four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards and 30 fences at Aintree at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 6, day three of the Randox Health Grand National Festival. This year sees the 172nd running of the great Aintree chase.
Bristol De Mai is one of nine entries for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Twiston-Davies, whose Aintree successes came courtesy of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002), also has impressive Sky Bet Chase victor Go Conquer (10st 13lb) and 2017 Becher Handicap Chase winner Blaklion (10st 12lb) among his nine entries.
Gordon Elliott’s defending champion Tiger Roll has been given 11st 1lb, as he bids to become the first dual winner of the race since the legendary Red Rum.
Tiger Roll is the 20/1 joint-favourite alongside Welsh Grand National winner seven-year-old Elegant Escape, who comes from Colin Tizzard’s yard. Earth Summit was the last horse to win the Welsh Grand National and the Grand National in the same season (1997/98).
Elliott’s team also features Cheltenham Festival winner The Storyteller (11st 3lb) and General Principle (10st), winner of the 2018 Irish Grand National.
Elliott’s big Irish rival Willie Mullins, responsible for 2005 Grand National scorer Hedgehunter, has 10 entries in total.
Mullins’s contenders are headed by last year’s head runner-up Pleasant Company (10st 11lb), G2 National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden (10st 10lb) and Up For Review (10st 2lb), who was an eye-catching third in the Thyestes Chase on his latest start.
Owner Trevor Hemmings, who is chasing a fourth Grand National triumph – which would make him the winning-most owner of all time – has three entries including the highly-progressive pair Lake View Lad and Warriors Tale.
The 2017 Grand National victor One For Arthur, who was unable to defend his crown last year due to injury, has been allotted 10st 10lb.
No mare has won the Randox Health Grand National since Nickel Coin in 1951. The four female contenders this time around are Shattered Love (Gordon Elliott, 10st 10lb), a dual G1-winning novice over fences last season, G2 National Hunt Chase second Ms Parfois (Anthony Honeyball, 10st 2lb), Magic Of Light (Jessica Harrington IRE, 10st 7lb) and Baie Des Iles (Ross O’Sullivan IRE, 9st 12lb).
British Horseracing Authority Handicapper Martin Greenwood, who framed the weights for the first time this year, said: “It was fairly straightforward to do the weights. I tried to treat it like any other race whilst bearing in mind there has to be some digression when needed.
“Bristol De Mai heads the weights and his rating has been compressed by 5lb as I thought it was better to have a horse at the top of the handicap whose rating was slightly out of kilter. If Bristol De Mai does run then I think it was the right call to make.
“I found Auvergnat (10st 8lb) of Enda Bolger’s hard to weigh up. He has a lot of Cross Country form and he was the hardest one I had to deal with. He has been running primarily in Cross Country races and they are events which are having an increasing impact on the Grand National, highlighted by Tiger Roll’s success last year.
“His form ties in with Josies Orders and Tiger Roll. He would almost have three different ratings, one in the mid-140s for regulation fences, a high 150s for the Cross Country fences and I have put him somewhere in the middle of that (152) to tie in with Josies Orders.
“Tiger Roll is up 9lb from his mark for last year’s Grand National and Pleasant Company 7lb. I have them both on the same mark for what they were rated after last year’s Grand National. Tiger Roll confirmed that rating in the Cross Country Handicap at Cheltenham in November. Pleasant Company has been a bit disappointing in a few runs since, but I think the Aintree fences will bring out the best in him, so that is why I left him on that mark.
“I think there are several interesting runners like Vintage Clouds and Elegant Escape, who is towards the top of the betting and he is an improving horse and was a good second to Frodon at Cheltenham last time out so you can see why he is one of the more fancied horses.
“I think it would be a knee-jerk reaction to make too much of the small amount of horses who are weighted 11st or higher. I wouldn’t want to get too clever about what the reason is.
“At the entry stage, you needed to be around the mid-70s to get you into the race. I think anything based in the top 80 has a chance of getting in. Four of the last five years, horses approaching that number have got in so some connections shouldn’t give up because they are rated towards the bottom.”
William Hill have installed Tiger Roll and Elegant Escape their 20/1 joint-favourites for the 2019 Aintree Grand National following the announcement of the race weights this afternoon.
The 2018 winner Tiger Roll will be aiming to become the first horse to win back-to-back Nationals since Red Rum in 1973/4. “Tiger Roll was a terrible result for us last year and is likely to be even worse should he emulate Red Rum and win back-to-back Nationals,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.
Meanwhile, Hills are offering odds of 100/1 that Tiger Roll wins 3 Grand Nationals and 16/1 that we see the first female winner of the race this year.
Randox Health Grand National 2019: 20/1 Tiger Roll, 20/1 Elegant Escape, 25/1 General Principle, 25/1 Vintage Clouds, 25/1 One For Arthur, 25/1 Rock The Kasbah, 25/1 Step Back, 25/1 Walk In The Mill, 33/1 Ballyoptic, 33/1 Lake View Lad, 33/1 Ramses De Teillee, 33/1 Vieux Lion Rouge, 33/1 Valtor, 33/1 Total Recall, 33/1 Ms Parfois, 33/1 Anibale Fly, 33/1 Blaklion, 33/1 Dounikos, 33/1 Give Me A Copper, 33/1 Missed Approach, 33/1 Shattered Love, 33/1 Pleasant Company, 33/1 Abolitionist, 40/1 Traffic Fluide, 33/1 Up For Review, 33/1 Mall Dini, 33/1 Bristol De Mai, 33/1 Rathvinden, 33/1 Auvergnat, 33/1 Noble Endeavor, 40/1 The Last Samuri, 40/1 Alpha Des Obeaux, 40/1 Impulsive Star, 40/1 Monbeg Notorious, 40/1 Warriors Tale, 40/1 Go Conquer, 40/1 Allysson Monterg, 40/1 The Young Master, 40/1 Fact Of The Matter, 40/1 Royal Vacation, 40/1 Minella Rocco, 40/1 Cogry, 40/1 Some Neck, 40/1 Baie Des Iles, 40/1 Black Corton, 40/1 Folsom Blue, 40/1 Out Sam, 40/1 Pairofbrowneyes, 40/1 Ultragold, 50/1 Bar