Grand National: Racing expert Kevin Blake analyses 40-runner field for Aintree feature on Saturday

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Racing expert Kevin Blake takes a close look at the full field for Saturday’s 2022 Randox Grand National at Aintree.

1) Minella Times

(Trainer: Henry de Bromhead; Jockey: Rachael Blackmore)

Secured his place in history by winning this great race in straightforward style last year, quashing the pre-race stamina concerns surrounding his chance by powering home to win readily. Now rated 15lb higher and has failed to complete in both his starts this campaign, but will have been trained with one race in mind all season and looks to have better prospects than most previous winners of becoming a two-time winner of it. Rating: 3/5

2) Delta Work

(Gordon Elliott; Jack Kennedy)

A five-time Grade One winner over fences, he bounced back to winning ways for the first time in over two years in the Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. That was a strong performance on what was his first run in a cross-country race and suggests that it may well have rejuvenated his enthusiasm. It also offered strong supporting evidence regards his ability to stay this longer trip. Rating: 4/5

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3) School Boy Hours

(Noel Meade; Sean Flanagan)

Gained a belated first win over fences in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and was creeping into the Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last only to stumble badly after the fourth-last fence and be pulled up soon after. His tendency to make jumping errors is a significant concern. Rating: 3/5

Also See:

  • Full Grand National racecard

  • Jamie Codd blog: Aintree Grand National day selections

4) Any Second Now

(Ted Walsh; Mark Walsh)

The winner of the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019, he was trained for the Grand National in 2020 only for it to be cancelled due to Covid-19. He was again targeted at it last year and ran a great race to finish third despite being badly hampered at the 12th fence. He was again been target trained for this race and looks to have strong prospects despite a 7lb higher mark. Rating: 4/5

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5) Run Wild Fred

(Gordon Elliott; Davy Russell)

A progressive second-season chaser, he finished second in the Irish Grand National last year and has been better than ever this season, winning the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan and finishing second in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time. He looks to have the right credentials for this race. Rating: 4/5

6) Lostintranslation

(Colin Tizzard; Harry Cobden)

Looked one of the most exciting staying chasers in training in 2019/20, but has been more miss than hit since then. Runs off a mark that is 14lb lower than his peak here and while his notably measured jumping will stand to him over these fences, he will be vulnerable to others with more progressive profiles. Rating: 3/5

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Joe Tizzard reports Grand National contender Lostintranslation to be in fine form ahead of Aintree and hopes the former Gold Cup third can bounce back.

7) Brahma Bull

(Willie Mullins; Brian Hayes)

Has tended to pop up with big runs in valuable handicap chases on occasions, namely when winning the Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase at Punchestown last year and being placed in the Kerry National and the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury this season. He has a chance of staying the trip and isn’t a no-hoper by any means. Rating: 2/5

8) Burrows Saint

(Willie Mullins; Paul Townend)

The winner of the Irish Grand National in 2019, he was trained for this race last year and ran well to finish fourth having held every chance and seeming not to get the trip. His preparation for this year’s race hasn’t been quite as encouraging and it could be difficult for him to improve on his performance in last year’s race. Rating: 3/5

9) Mount Ida

(Gordon Elliott; Denis O’Regan)

One of the best mares over fences in training, she won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last year despite jumping markedly right, but she couldn’t overcome the same tendency in the Mares’ Chase at this year’s meeting. Her tendency to jump right won’t help her cause, but she is still unexposed over staying trips and is one to consider. Rating: 4/5

10) Longhouse Poet

(Martin Brassil; Darragh O’Keefe)

From the trainer of previous winner Numbersixvalverde, he has only had six runs over fences, but his most recent victory in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park stamps him as a fascinating contender. He jumped with notable assuredness that day and while his stamina for this trip is an unknown, he shapes as though he’ll have every chance of staying it. Rating: 5/5

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Kevin Blake provides his expert analysis on runners 11-20 in the Grand National line-up, featuring one of the leading British hopefuls Fiddlerontheroof.

11) Fiddlerontheroof

(Colin Tizzard; Brendan Powell)

A high-class novice chaser last season, he has shown progression this season and was a bit unlucky not to win the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November. He ran another fine race in defeat at Ascot last time and looks to be one of the leading British-trained hopes for this race. Rating: 4/5

12) Two For Gold

(Kim Bailey; David Bass)

Has proven to be better than ever this season and is 5lb well in following his excellent second to Fakir D’Oudairies in the Ascot Chase last time. He is unproven beyond three miles and didn’t make much impression over these fences in the Topham Chase last year. Rating: 3/5

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Trainer Kim Bailey is hoping for rain to aid the chances of Two For Gold in Saturday’s Grand National at Aintree.

13) Santini

(Polly Gundry; Nick Scholfield)

Beaten just a neck in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020, the handicapper has given him a chance by dropping him a total of 19lb for his last six runs. The last two of those runs were perfectly creditable and he appeals as having many of the attributes required for this race. Not one to rule out. Rating: 3/5

14) Samcro

(Gordon Elliott; Sean Bowen)

Once considered one of the most promising prospects in the entire sport, he has disappointed in recent seasons and has struggled to find his old form this season. He has never appealed as one for a marathon trip such as this and is difficult to fancy. Rating: 1/5

15) Escaria Ten

(Gordon Elliott; Adrian Heskin)

Finished a very good third in a strong renewal of the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last season and returned to form when beaten a nose by Any Second Now in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time. Looks to have been target trained for this race, stays well and has strong form in the book. Rating: 4/5

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Max McNeill and Adrian Heskin, owner and jockey of Escaria Ten, struggled to contain their excitement ahead of their horse’s run in the Randox Grand National.

16) Good Boy Bobby

(Nigel Twiston-Davies; Daryl Jacob)

A steadily-progressive nine-year-old that proved his stamina for three miles this season, but will be far from sure to stay this much longer trip. Questions to answer. Rating: 2/5

17) Romain De Senam

(David Pipe; Philip Armson)

Declared a non-runner in the Topham Chase at Aintree on Friday and instead takes his chance in the Grand National, but would be an unlikely stayer. Rating: 1/5

18) Coko Beach

(Gordon Elliott; Jonjo O’Neill)

One of the youngest contenders in the field, but has already gathered a great amount of experience in competitive handicap chases having won the Thyestes at Gowran Park in 2021. He has shown some promise this season, but hasn’t convinced with his stamina when tried over marathon trips in the past and rates as a doubtful stayer of this trip. Rating: 2/5

19) De Rasher Counter

(Emma Lavelle; Adam Wedge)

Had his biggest day when winning the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in 2019, but hasn’t shown a comparable level of form in just four starts since, including on his return from well over a year off at Newbury last time. Difficult to fancy. Rating: 1/5

20) Kildisart

(Ben Pauling; James Bowen)

Winless since his victory in a valuable handicap chase at this meeting back in 2019, he made an encouraging return from over a year off when a never-nearer fourth in a handicap chase at Newbury in March. Fairly handicapped on his old form and not one to completely rule out. Rating: 3/5

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Kevin Blake takes a look at runners 21-30 in Saturday’s Grand National field, including ‘very interesting contender’ Enjoy D’allen for Ciaran Murphy.

21) Discorama

(Paul Nolan; Bryan Cooper)

Has always looked a very strong stayer, most notably when a close second in an attritional renewal of the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2019, so it was surprising to see him weaken as he did in the closing stages of last year’s Grand National having looked likely to play a big role. That was his first run for five months and perhaps the lack of a recent run was to blame. He has had a prep race this year which he ran well in, so he appeals as being a contender. Rating: 3/5

22) Top Ville Ben

(Philip Kirby; Thomas Dowson)

Won the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby off a mark of 154 in December 2019, but has been relatively lightly raced since. He ran well to finish third back in that same race at Wetherby last December and since preserved his chase mark by running over hurdles. Though, it is concerning that he fell in his first attempt over these fences in the Becher Chase in December. Rating: 2/5

23) Enjoy D’allen

(Ciaran Murphy; Conor Orr)

Progressive sort that was third in the Irish Grand National last year and has been target trained for this race all season. He ran very well in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and completed his preparation with an eye-catching run over hurdles last time. He promises to stay well and has the sort of jumping technique needed for the modern Grand National. A leading chance. Rating: 4/5

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Ciaran Murphy, trainer of Grand National contender Enjoy D’allen, says his horse ticks most of the boxes needed to compete in the Aintree showpiece.

24) Anibale Fly

(Tony Martin; Luke Dempsey)

Has run in the last three renewals of this race, finishing fourth in 2018, fifth in 2019 and being pulled up in 2021. He is now 7lb lower than his most recent run in it, but he doesn’t look to be the force of old. Rating: 3/5

25) Dingo Dollar

(Sandy Thomson; Ryan Mania)

Has been a regular feature in valuable handicap chases for a number of years now, but has yet to win one. He finished an excellent second in the Scottish Grand National last year and has been acquitting himself well enough this season. Not one to rule out for a place, but is vulnerable to less exposed rivals. Rating: 3/5

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Jockey Ryan Mania recalls the ‘absolute disbelief’ of winning the 2013 Grand National in his first ever ride in the race on board 66/1 outsider Auroras Encore.

26) Freewheelin Dylan

(Dermot McLoughlin; Ricky Doyle)

Became the biggest-priced winner in the history of the Irish Grand National when making all to win at 150/1 last year. He has failed to complete in his last two starts, but is likely to have been trained with the spring in mind. Rating: 3/5

27) Class Conti

(Willie Mullins; Sam Twiston-Davies)

Beaten 129 lengths in this race last year and hasn’t offered much encouragement in his form this season to suggest he will do significantly better this year. Rating: 1/5

28) Noble Yeats

(Emmet Mullins; Sam Waley-Cohen)

Lightly raced sort that only commenced his racecourse career last season, he ran a solid race in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time and has been campaigned with a view towards this race, but needs to find improvement for this unique test. Rating: 2/5

29) Mighty Thunder

(Lucinda Russell; Derek Fox)

Won the Scottish Grand National last year, but has been notably disappointing this season and requires a leap of faith to think he can bounce back to form on the biggest stage in this contest. Rating: 2/5

30) Cloth Cap

(Jonjo O’Neill; Tom Scudamore)

Sent off favourite for last year’s Grand National when 14lb well in, but was pulled up due to a breathing issue. Has hinted at promise this season, but has also shown quirks and won’t be nearly as popular a choice this year. Rating: 2/5

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Popular grey Snow Leopardess features in the bottom ten runners in this year’s Grand National line-up, alongside Emma Lavelle’s well-backed Eclair Surf.

31) Snow Leopardess

(Charlie Longsdon; Aidan Coleman)

Has gone from strength to strength since returning to the track in 2019/20 after giving birth to a foal and has taken her form up another few notches this season, taking very well to these fences when winning the Becher Chase in December and winning a Listed mares’ chase at Exeter since. Looked to stay well in the National Hunt Chase in 2021 and has a very solid chance. Rating: 4/5

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Trainer Charlie Longsdon is feeling a combination of nerves and excitement as he prepares popular grey Snow Leopardess for Saturday’s feature at Aintree.

32) Agusta Gold

(Willie Mullins; Danny Mullins)

Looked a potential future contender for the Grand National when a close second in the Grand National Trial for Mags Mullins at Punchestown in February 2020, but hasn’t kicked on as might have been hoped since switching to Willie Mullins. Showed more promise at Down Royal last time, but needs to improve again. Rating: 2/5

33) Commodore

(Venetia Williams; Charlie Deutsch)

Relatively lightly raced and somewhat inconsistent, but showed when bolting up in the Betfair Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in December that he is very good when on a going day. He jumps and stays well and while he went up 10lb for that success, he shouldn’t be ruled out. Rating: 3/5

34) Deise Aba

(Philip Hobbs; Tom O’Brien)

Steadily progressive handicap chaser that has already proven that he stays well. He comes into this off the back of a career-best effort at Sandown and isn’t one to rule out. Rating: 3/5

35) Blaklion

(Dan Skelton; Harry Skelton)

One of the veterans in the field, he has a good record over these fences, winning the Becher Chase in 2017, finishing fourth in the Grand National in 2017 and sixth in it last year. He has won twice this year and clearly retains plenty of ability at his age, but he probably has no better than place prospects at the very best at his age. Rating: 3/5

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36) Poker Party

(Henry de Bromhead; Robbie Power)

Won the Kerry National at Listowel in 2019, but hasn’t shown much promise in three runs since returning from a long absence this season. Rating: 2/5

37) Death Duty

(Gordon Elliott; Jordan Gainford)

A Grade One novice chase winner back in 2017, he has returned from a period in the wilderness this season to win the Grand National Trial at Punchestown and run well in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Stays well and isn’t without a chance at a big price. Rating: 3/5

38) Domaine De L’Isle

(Sean Curran; Harry Bannister)

Has had 20 runs over fences and thus is more exposed than most of the leading contenders, though did well a solid race on his first try over these fences when fourth to Snow Leopardess in the Becher Chase in December. Rating: 2/5

39) Eclair Surf

(Emma Lavelle; Tom Bellamy)

A progressive chaser that has taken two big steps forward since being stepped up to marathon trips, winning a strong renewal of the Classic Chase at Warwick prior to finishing a good second to the subsequent Scottish Grand National winner Win My Wings in the Eider Chase. Looks to have plenty going for him. Rating: 4/5

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Trainer Emma Lavelle says Grand National hopeful Eclair Surf is ready to go after warming up for Aintree’s unique fences with some makeshift obstacles at home.

40) Fortescue

(Henry Daly; Hugh Nugent)

A steadily progressive chaser, he had been running well without winning in valuable handicap chases all season until gaining a deserved win in the Swinley Chase at Ascot. A sound-jumping, strong-staying sort, he is 4lb well in and could well run a big race. Rating: 4/5

Kevin Blake’s Grand National verdict

Both LONGHOUSE POET and Enjoy D’Allen boast appealing profiles for this race and have had good preparations for it. They are hard to separate, but Longhouse Poet is given the nod on the basis that he will find it easier to sit in a handy position and travel whereas Enjoy D’Allen may find himself a little further back through the race and vulnerable to mishaps.

Mount Ida still has ample scope to improve over staying trips and could well arrive late on the scene if her tendency to jump right doesn’t put her too much on the backfoot. Of the rest, Snow Leopardess put up such a good show over these fences in the Becher Chase last December that she seems very likely to run another big race.

1. LONGHOUSE POET
2. Enjoy D’Allen
3. Mount Ida
4. Snow Leopardess

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