|1. Rule The World||33-1||David Mullins||MF Morris|
|2. The Last Samuri||8-1JF||Davis Bass||Kim Bailey|
|3. Vics Canvas||100-1||Robert Dunne||Dermot Anthony McLoughlin|
|4. Gilgamboa||28-1||Robbie Power||E Bolger|
|5. Goonyella||12-1||JJ Burke||J T R Dreaper|
|6. Ucello Conti||25-1||Daryl Jacob||Gordon Elliott|
|7. Vieux Lion Rouge||66-1||James Reveley||David Pipe|
|8. Morning Assembly||16-1||Davy Russell||PA Fahy|
|9. Shutthefrontdoor||12-1||Barry Geraghty||Jonjo O’Neill|
|10. Unioniste||28-1||Nick Schofield||Paul Nicholls|
|11. Le Reve||50-1||Harry Skelton||Lucy Wadham|
|12. Buywise||33-1||Paul Moloney||Evan Williams|
|13. Pendra||50-1||Aidan Coleman||Charlie Longsdon|
|14. Triolo D’Alene||50-1||Jeremiah McGrath||Nicky Henderson|
|15. Just A Par||40-1||Sean Bowen||Paul Nicholls|
|16. Many Clouds||8-1JF||Leighton Aspell||Oliver Sherwood|
Seldom can a winner of this great race have been more aptly named than RULE THE WORLD who claimed the latest running of the Grand National in some style for young jockey David Mullins.
The rain that fell on Merseyside in the build up to the contest meant that the 39 runners faced soft ground when they headed out to tackle the fiercest fences in the sport, and that easing in the going certainly seemed to suit the winner as he was able to outstay his rivals on the gruelling run to the line.
By coming home in front, Rule The World also broke one of the long standing trends set by previous winners of this big race as he was still a novice when he faced the starter. The last novice to triumph here was Mr What in 1958.
There were only three horses still in contention at the Elbow, but the winner had the momentum having been delivered wide and late by his young pilot – another descendant of the extraordinary Mullins clan.
The unluckiest loser was probably the runner up, The Last Samuri, as he had been in the firing line for much of the 4m 2½ f contest only for his stamina to give way in the last 150 yards. He couldn’t have given his connections any more and may have won had the rain stayed away.
The veteran, Vics Canvas, also went down fighting and this was a mighty effort from a 13 year old. His odds of 100-1 showed what punters thought of his chances, but he has run well here in the past and would arguably have given the winner even more to do had he not made a terrible blunder at Bechers on the first circuit. His jockey, Richard Dunne, did well to keep the partnership intact.
Gilgamboa fared best of the JP McManus runners to finish 4th. He has a touch of class, which is why he had to carry 11st 1lb, but his stamina for an examination of this nature was completely untested. In the end, he probably didn’t quite get home, but he lasted better than most of his rivals and should pick up a decent prize next season if the handicapper doesn’t overreact.
By contrast, Goonyella is all about stamina and, having been outpaced for much of the middle part of the contest, he was doing all of his best work after the third last. He was a long way adrift of the first five and given that he had conditions to suit this is probably as good as he is.
The rest of the field came home at long intervals behind the first five.
Ucello Conti was sixth and he didn’t help his chances with a couple of bad mistakes on the second circuit. He is another who may prefer better ground when encountering this sort of trip.
One of the biggest eye-catchers down the field was Vieux Lion Rouge (7th) who jumped and travelled beautifully for James Reveley before his petrol tank started to empty after the second last. He seemed to take to the fences and will surely be seen here again next season.
Two well fancied runners were next, with Morning Assembly and Shutthefrontdoor coming home 8th and 9th respectively. Both weakened in the latter stages on the testing ground having been close to the leaders at various points throughout the race.
By contrast, Unioniste was never in the mix having made a number of clumsy mistakes early on.
Pendra, Triolo D’Alene, Just A Par and last year’s winner, Many Clouds, were all heavily eased after the last once their chances had gone – a sure sign of how stamina sapping the ground had become by then.
Many Clouds was particularly disappointing as he stopped very quickly despite his big weight. The ground may not have suited him but, more significantly, his pilot, Leighton Aspell, felt he had a breathing problem. Connections will clearly look to resolve that over the summer, before trying to come back here again next season.
Amongst the casualties were a host of formerly top class chasers who came here looking to revive their fortunes. Unfortunately, they all suffered various mishaps on the way.
Former Gold Cup runner up, On His Own, and two time Cheltenham Festival winner, Sir Des Champs, both took heavy falls at The Chair, First Lieutenant got no further than the second and dual King George winner, Silviniaco Conti, was pulled up before the 14th having clearly not taken to the fences.
It wasn’t a great race for champion trainers Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins either. Only two of their 10 runners completed (Unioniste and Just A Par) and the best of the Mullins quartet was Ballycassey, who ran well for a long way for Katie Walsh before fading and unseating her at the second last.
The well backed Holywell got no further than the 2nd, course specialist Saint Are didn’t like the ground and was tailed off when pulling up, a fate that also befell Kruzhlinin, The Druids Nephew and Boston Bob, amongst others. The latter reportedly finished lame.
Double Ross also pulled up, but only because his rider lost his irons after his saddle had slipped jumping the Canal Turn for the second time. He was with the leaders at the time, although his stamina had yet to be really tested.
Gallant Oscar and Ballynagour were both creeping into contention on the second circuit when blundering and unseating their riders at the 18th and 19th respectively.
Below is our 2016 Grand National race preview and selections, which included the 33/1 winner (tipped at 50/1).
2016 Grand National Preview
Many Clouds: Last year’s winner, Many Clouds, heads this year’s weights and this year’s market, and there is a real chance he could become the first back to back winner of the Grand National since Red Rum in 1974. Everything has gone well with his prep and he will handle any rain that comes. He only has 1lb more to carry this year, although a further improvement in the quality of the contest is reflected in the fact that he is 5lbs higher in the handicap. His chance is obvious, but his odds aren’t hugely attractive given how hard it is to do the double.
Silviniaco Conti: Dual King George winner, Silviniaco Conti, is arguably the classiest horse in the race and a minor wind operation seemed to work the oracle as he bounced back to near his best with a facile win at Ascot last time out. He missed Cheltenham to come here fresh and a flat track seems to suit him best. His stamina is unproven, but he usually jumps well and is arguably better value than the favourite.
First Lieutenant: First Lieutenant is another horse who has mixed it at jump racing’s top table down the years, but age and a series of hard races seems to be catching up with him. He struggled in the race last year after early mistakes and looks weighted to the hilt as his form hasn’t quite tapered off enough for the handicapper to relent.
Wonderful Charm: The second of Paul Nicholls’ runners, Wonderful Charm, hasn’t been at his best for a while either, but has been freshened up for a crack at this great race. The unique challenge might re-kindle his enthusiasm, although he has plenty of weight and has never won over further than 2m 5f. He does have a touch of class, is lightly raced and could give his pilot a decent spin, but it is hard to see him winning.
Ballynagour: Ballynagour is also talented, but in the doldrums, and he has shown nothing so far this season to suggest he can win this. He is usually best fresh, but was in action at the Festival recently, which is a further negative. There was some encouragement in his effort there, although stamina could again be his undoing even if he is back on song here. His fans will cling to the fact that he has run a number of good races on the Mildmay course here.
O’Faolains Boy: One of the more interesting runners towards the head of the weights is O’Faolains Boy. His yard is now in good form again after a testing winter and this horse showed in the Gold Cup recently that he retains plenty of the ability that saw him win the RSA Chase in 2014 (a race in which Many Clouds was brought down and Don Cossack fell). He apparently wasn’t 100% straight at Cheltenham, but should be spot on for this if those exertions haven’t left their mark. He can be an excellent fencer if getting into a decent rhythm and should run well if the ground doesn’t get too testing.
Gilgamboa: Gilgamboa was a staying on fifth in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival recently – arguably a career best effort for Enda Bolger’s eight year old. However, stamina is again an issue as he has done all his winning at 2m 4f or less. On all known form, he would have little chance of staying if the ground gets testing.
On His Own: A veteran of three Gold Cups (including a second place in 2014), On His Own tackles the race again for the first time since he went off at odds of 8-1 under Ruby Walsh in 2013. He is possibly a better horse now than he was then, although he showed little at the Festival three weeks ago. He could take to these fences, but he only had 10st 3lbs when Auroas Encore triumphed and so it is hard to see him being in the mix here under 11st 1lbs.
The Druids Nephew: The unlucky horse of last year’s race, The Druids Nephew, is bidding for compensation here and he must have a big chance if the rain stays away. He was tanking along when coming down five out and was even more unfortunate given that he didn’t actually make a mistake at the obstacle – he simply over jumped and pitched on landing. He is fresher this time around having been trained for the race and skipping Cheltenham, and he has to be on any shortlist.
Triolo D’Alene: Underlining the quality of this year’s field, we have King George winners, Grand National winners, numerous Cheltenham Festival winners and, in Triolo D’Alene, a Hennessy winner. Nicky Henderson’s charge has also won over these fences, so he clearly ticks many boxes despite a quiet spell since that Hennessy success. He pulled up here in 2014 behind Pineau De Re, but had taken in the Gold Cup en route to Aintree that year and had probably had enough for the season. He won on his comeback at Kempton in January after a year off and should be peaking nicely after a second run at Ascot should have taken the “bounce” factor out of the equation. On good ground, we could run a big race.
Rocky Creek: One of the favourites for this race last year, Rocky Creek was unable to fare any better than 17th behind Many Clouds, a far cry from his 5th behind Pineau De Re 12 months earlier. He has been out of form this season and a clear round looks the most his connections can hope for.
Sir Des Champs: Another slightly out of form chaser is Sir Des Champs. He was well fancied for the 2013 Gold Cup when finishing second to Bobs Worth, having won at the two previous Cheltenham Festivals. He had to miss two years after a setback following his run in the 2013 Lexus Chase and but won on his comeback to suggest some ability is still there. He acts on soft, seems to come alive in the spring and based on his best form is arguably the best handicapped horse in the field if he can recapture past glories. Ruby Walsh’s injury yesterday means Nina Carberry gets a late spare ride and could this be the fairy tale National story that the race so often throws up?
Holywell: Jonjo O’Neill is a great trainer of staying chasers and Holywell is a horse who really comes alive at this time of year. He has been slow to come to form this season following his fourth in last year’s Gold Cup, but ran well at the Festival again three weeks ago. He’s not the biggest, but is usually an excellent jumper and is very brave. He’s another who relishes decent spring ground and his front running tactics should keep him out of trouble here. He’s one for the shortlist.
Shutthefrontdoor: Another O’Neill runner, Shutthefrontdoor, will always be remembered as Tony McCoy’s last ride in the race and he went off favourite when fifth last year. He just failed to see out the trip, but is lightly raced enough to be capable of building on that effort. The concern is his form so far this year, which has been very uninspiring. Strangely, though, O’Neill has a great record of winning with horses that pulled up on their previous start, so don’t rule out a revival for arguably JP McManus’ strongest contender.
Soll: Course form is a major plus for any aspiring Grand National winner and Soll has plenty of it. The problem is that he has never been able to get close to winning on four visits here including in two tries at the big one. He’s a decent bet to make it round in one piece, but is hard to fancy for anything else.
Buywise: Remarkably, Paul Moloney has been placed in the last seven Grand Nationals and if any jockey deserves to win the big one it is arguably him. Buywise is talented but quirky in equal measure – a combination that can be a potent one around this unusual course. He is infuriating too, as he keeps running on late in his races to claim a place, but never the big prize. Maybe a thorough test of stamina will suit. All in all, he’s one of the more interesting outsiders.
Boston Bob: After back to back wins at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals in 2014, Boston Bob looked the one to beat in the Gold Cup going into the 2014/5 season, but he was a well beaten tenth that day and seemed to have lost his way completely, until winning the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse last time out – traditionally a decent trial for this race. It is a worry that Ruby Walsh has chosen Sir Des Champs ahead of this fella, but Walsh may have got it wrong as in our view this looks the pick of the Mullins runners.
Aachen: There are very few runners in the forty strong field who can readily be discounted as having little prospect of winning, but Aachen is one of those that is hard to fancy. He would probably need a major downpour to give him any sort of chance.
Morning Assembly: Morning Assembly was third to O’Faolains Boy in the 2014 RSA Chase, but has only run four times since. Those efforts include a fourth last time out in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham, just behind Holywell and just ahead of Kruzhlinin. He travelled well throughout that race and could do the same here, but will he see out the trip?
Double Ross: A hot favourite for the Grand Sefton here in December, Double Ross duly negotiated these fences the second time in two attempts, but he was well beaten on ground that may have been too soft for him. He was a beaten favourite for the Topham too in 2014 (finishing fifth on better ground) and he possibly remains too far up the handicap having been highly tried throughout last season.
Goonyella: One definite stayer is Goonyella who won last year’s Midlands Grand National on soft ground before finishing second in the Scottish version on a much sounder surface. He was well beaten over these fences in December, but has shaped quite encouragingly in two efforts since. If the rains come, he could outstay many of these. If it doesn’t, he may lack the class of some of his rivals.
Ucello Conti: Ucello Conti has only had three starts since joining Gordon Elliott from France, but has run a couple of nice races in valuable handicaps and could be a dark horse here for the Gold Cup winning trainer. Any rain would help him further as most of his form is with give in the ground. He has, though, won on good to firm and often shaped like a thorough stayer in the past. He’s been kept fresh for this and it will be interesting to see if Elliott can eek out any more improvement.
Unioniste: Unioniste is another who possesses plenty of stamina and the key to him will be staying in touch on the first circuit, as he always seems to finish his races strongly. That was the case when he chased home Many Clouds last time out, but he got no further than the fifth in this contest last year. He could only finish 8th in the Becher Chase too, so he has questions to answer despite being in better form recently.
Le Reve: One thing Le Reve has on his side is his size, as these obstacles will appear slightly smaller to him than many of his rivals. He could enjoy the challenge and see out the trip, but all his best form to date has been reserved for Sandown. The handicapper should know all about him too.
Gallant Oscar: Tony Martin is always a man to fear when he sends raiders to these big meetings and this race was being talked about for Gallant Oscar in the aftermath of his impressive win at the Punchestown festival in May. He wasn’t far behind The Druids Nephew on his start immediately prior to that and he has been brought along quietly this season with this big day in mind. All his form is on soft ground, but that might be more because that tends to be the prevailing surface in Ireland. His breeding suggests a better surface shouldn’t inconvenience him either. He’s one of the more interesting contenders.
Onenightinvienna: Despite being a novice, Onenightinvienna has had this as his target all season. It is big ask for a horse with only four runs over fences under his belt, even if stamina does seem to be his forte. Seven year olds also have a terrible record in the race, so he is hard to fancy.
The Last Samuri: Few horses will come into the race on the back of a smoother preparation than The Last Samuri, who has been in fine form since joining Kim Bailey. He has won two competitive, valuable handicaps and been second in another, jumping well in the process and showing plenty of stamina at the end of each contest. Anything good to soft or softer will be ideal and it is easy to see why he has been so heavily supported in recent weeks, but has the value gone?
Kruzhlinin: In the same ownership as The Last Samuri, Kruzhlinin was our ante post fancy for the race last year having run well behind Pineau De Re in 2014. He has been better than ever for Phillips Hobbs this campaign and has a chance of breaking Richard Johnson’s unenviable, record breaking sequence of losing rides in the race. He seemed a bit one paced in a big handicap at Cheltenham last time out and promises to stay this marathon trip. Good to soft would be perfect for him, but he needs to cut out the odd mistake that he tends to make in his races.
Rule The World: Amazingly given some of the races he has run, and run well, in, Rule The World remains a novice over fences. His best effort over the larger obstacles to date was a runners up spot in the 2015 Irish National, so the trip should be within his compass. Mouse Morris also has his horses in good form, so another solid showing could be on the cards and what a race this would be to break your duck in.
Just A Par: Just A Par ended last season by winning the Bet365 Gold Cup courtesy of a late rattle and, like stablemate Unioniste, he will need to stay closer to the leaders here if he is to have a chance of adding this great race to his CV. He showed signs of a return to form at Exeter last time out and it is possible he saves his best for this time of year. However, it is hard to think there won’t be at least a few better handicapped horses in the field.
Katenko: There was a time when Katenko looked like developing into a top class chaser, but he has really struggled since coming back from injury in 2015 and has shown nothing in his last four starts to recommend him here.
Vics Canvas: The veteran of the field is Vics Canvas who, despite his advancing years, has run some good races in big handicaps over the past couple of seasons. He has negotiated these fences too, finishing a close 5th in the Becher Chase in December, so whilst a win is unlikely a clear round and a respectable effort are real possibilities. He should outrun his big price.
Black Thunder: Sold at auction earlier in the week, Black Thunder is capable of giving his new owners some excitement although it is hard to see him being in the shake-up at the death. One of those owners is his new pilot, Sam Waley-Cohen, and few professional jockeys have the record that this amateur has managed to accumulate over these fences in recent years.
Ballycasey: The Mullins longshot is Ballycasey and his jockey, Katie Walsh, will be hoping the rain stays away as this horse has question marks over his stamina. He ran well enough at the Festival recently, but fell at the Canal Turn here last season, when ridden by Katie’s brother Ruby. His price reflects his chance.
Hadrian’s Approach: Like Just A Par, Hadrian’s Approach is a former Bet365 Gold Cup winner and it is slightly surprising to see him so far down the weights and at such a big price. Nicky Henderson has a shocking record in the race given how many good horses he has had over the years, but he has always felt that this horse could run a big race here one day. He’s been very lightly raced since his Sandown victory and in fact has only had 16 starts under rules spread across four seasons. He’s had jumping and injury issues, but is reportedly in good form at home and his trainer thinks he may have found a way to eliminate the mistakes. He may not win, but his price looks too big.
Vieux Lion Rouge: Vieux Lion Rouge is another novice in the line-up and he has a fine wins to runs ration. He was a respectable sixth in the National Hunt chase last time out, but the handicapper looks to have his mark.
Pendra: Pendra is the last of the McManus runners and stamina could be an issue for him, especially if there is any rain around. He was a well handicapped horse over fences for a while, but duly took advantage of his mark earlier in the season and has struggled of this higher mark recently.
Saint Are: A close second last season, Saint Are has a good chance of going one better this year, with his yard in flying form. This is his time of year and he seems to love Aintree in general and this course in particular. He has definitely improved for the switch in stables and he had the perfect prep for this at Doncaster recently. His year has been planned around this race and he looks to be going into the race in top shape. A 3lbs higher mark than last year should be manageable.
Home Farm: Home Farm is another doubtful stayer and with no decent form to speak off for 18 months he is understandably a rank outsider here.
The Romford Pele: He may have been the last horse to make the cut, but the chances of The Romford Pele shouldn’t be dismissed too lightly. He ran an eye-catching race at the Festival recently in the Pertemps Final – a performance reminiscent of Pineau De Re before he won here in 2014. His is another in form stable and a marathon trip might just be the making of this horse. If he can iron out the jumping errors and if the ground dries out, there will be plenty of worse 40-1 shots.
As if trying to solve the puzzle of this year’s National (one of the most competitive and classy renewals ever) wasn’t hard enough, punters have to deal with huge uncertainty over arguably the most important factor of them all – the ground.
Strong fancies on good to soft ground or better become virtual no hopers on a genuinely soft surface as the only factor that then matters is stamina.
There has been 7mm of rain at Aintree overnight, and with a mixture of sunshine and showers forecast the ground could go either way.
The ground may just have gone against Triolo D’Alene, while Saint Are is an obvious threat and was hard to leave out of the equation. Slight doubts about his jumping steered us away from Kruzhlinin.
If we get more rain, Goonyella must come into the equation along with another soft ground specialist, Ucello Conti.
However, we are going to have a mix of good and soft ground horses to try to cover all bases and the horses we predict will fill the first five places are:
Grand National 2016 Tips
|1st – Hollywell (ew)||16-1||Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places|
|2nd – Gallant Oscar (ew)||18-1||Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places|
|3rd – Sir Des Champs (ew)||28-1||Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places|
|4th – Rule The World (ew)||50-1||Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places|
|5th – Hadrian’s Approach (ew)||80-1||Ladbrokes < click link for 5 places|