2023 Grand National – Early Contenders
The dust has now settled on the sensational win of Sam Waley-Cohen and Noble Yeats in last month’s Grand National at Aintree.
The amateur rider was having the final outing of what had already been an outstanding career when he steered the Emmet Mullins-trained seven-year-old home in front, breaking the trends in the Merseyside showpiece in doing so.
Although Waley-Cohen himself will not be returning to Aintree in 2023 to ride in the contest again, Noble Yeats is likely to defend his crown and he tops many bookmakers’ lists to match what Tiger Roll did in 2019 by scoring in back-to-back Grand Nationals.
Here’s an early look at three of those that might turn up to try and steal away his crown in 2023.
Welsh trainer Christian Williams has established a reputation for being one of the best trainers for staying handicap chasers and there’s no doubt he has the ability to become a leading Grand National handler in the future.
Kitty’s Light was one of the more unfortunate runners of the season just gone, the six-year-old finishing second on four of his eight starts and ending the term with a third-place finish in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
Before that he’d chased home stablemate Win My Wings in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr, while he also brought home silver medals from the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and the Coral Trophy at Kempton, both graded events.
He has shown a real liking for a test of stamina and has lots of jumping experience for a six-year-old. He surely will be destined for Aintree in the future and, with Noble Yeats having ended the long wait for a seven-year-old winner, there’s no reason Kitty’s Light’s ambitious trainer won’t be targeting this race in 2023.
Once good enough to be second behind Al Boum Photo in a Cheltenham Gold Cup, Santini left Nicky Henderson last summer to start life with new trainer Polly Gundry and, all told, he enjoyed a good season despite failing to win in four starts.
He was second behind Chantry House in the Grade 2 Cotswolds Chase on Cheltenham Trials Day in January and then ran a sound race in another Gold Cup in March, though never troubling the principles.
From there to Aintree and a fourth-place finish in the Grand National, his first time jumping the famous National fences at the Merseyside venue.
He crept around Aintree and looked a threat at one stage, with Nick Scholfield maybe left wondering what might have happened had they pushed into contention sooner. He’s still only a ten-year-old and has just 14 chase starts behind him. This was a good first attempt at the National and there could be more to come from this stamina-laden contender in the future.
Gordon Elliott knows what is needed to win this race and he could be aiming Galvin at Aintree next spring. He’ll be nine years old by then and is another with low miles on the clock.
Though he won the Grade 1 Savills Chase at Christmas, defeats in Gold Cups at Cheltenham and Punchestown this spring have suggested he isn’t quite a top-drawer staying chaser.
Galvin has always been a stamina horse and he is a rock-solid jumper. He was touted for this race before and, now having had his cracks at the bigger prizes, it could be time to reassess. Owner Ronnie Bartlett is a sporting sort and would surely relish having a leading Aintree contender. Galvin looks tailor-made.