It’s very early days, with the race not scheduled until Saturday April 6, but some 112 entries have been declared for the Grand National 2019.
The defending champion, Tiger Roll, has been entered by his connections, and he has already taken his place at the head of the ante post betting market at a best price of 25/1.
He is one of 47 Irish-trained entries – let’s hope the Brexit deal doesn’t make their life more difficult in travelling to Aintree, and the early declarations have a very Celtic connection with One for Arthur, the 2017 Grand National champion, and Elegant Escape, the Welsh National winner, also in the mix at this early stage.
Gordon Elliott, who saddled Tiger Roll in 2018, has the most entries of any trainer with 22. That contingent also includes Bless The Wings, who finished third in last year’s National, the talented Alpha Des Obeaux and last year’s Irish Gran National champion, General Principle.
Can Tiger Roll Earn His Stripes for a Second Time?
To find the last horse that won back-to-back stagings of the Grand National, you have to go all the way back to the 1970s and the awesome Red Rum.
Many have tried, and all have failed, to emulate the legend’s achievements, and so the weight of history is against the nine-year-old.
But his storming run at Aintree last year, where he showed tremendous courage to stay on and pip Pleasant Company on the line, indicates this is a horse made of stern stuff.
There will be challenges ahead of another tilt at the big prize too, with Elliott lining up his Gigginstown bay for a shot at the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He’s already in to 3/1 to take the spoils there.
There may be some caution on the betting floor in backing Tiger Roll too. He served up a fairly docile effort in Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase at Cheltenham back in November in his seasonal return, but a fast finish on good ground suggests there was plenty of gas in the tank. Those extra four furlongs at Aintree may just prove crucial to his chances.
Famous Faces Enter the Picture
The worlds of celebrity and National Hunt racing have collided on numerous occasions in the past, and the Grand National affords three famous faces the chance to add another string to their bow in Merseyside.
Sir Alex Ferguson will cross the bitter divide between Manchester and Liverpool to try and land his first National winner as a part owner. He has the 50/1 shot, Give Me A Copper, as his entry.
The former Manchester United manager has pedigree as a talent spotter on both two and four legs, with Clan Des Obeaux – a horse he holds a major stake in – winning the King George VI on Boxing Day. He will attempt to win a Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March; imagine if Sir Alex Ferguson was able to pull off yet another double trophy win!
Give Me A Copper is also part-owned by Jeremy Kyle, the ITV ‘problem solver’ who also has his finger on the pulse as far as racing is concerned. He will have another entry, Black Corton, a general 50/1 hope who looks arguably a stronger candidate than either Sir Alex’s entry or that of another celebrated individual.
Ronnie Wood, the Rolling Stones guitarist, owns a stud farm in Ireland, and one of his proteges is Sandymount Duke, who is ow stabled with Gold Cup winner Jessica Harrington.
At 66/1, the bookies aren’t sweet on Wood’s chances, but imagine him rocking up to the winner’s enclosure after the unlikeliest of Grand National winners!