The entries: which horses may be a surprise addition to the Grand National?
As expected, the ‘people’s horse’ Tiger Roll headlines the entries once again for this year’s Grand National as he bids for a historic third success in a row and is likely to face a handful of re-opposing rivals.
Last year’s second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth all feature among the initial entries at this stage, as well as the likes of former Gold Cup winner Native River, who has always been touted as a potential Aintree prospect.
However, the entries have thrown a selection of surprise horses into the mix this year, and they could be well set to make their presence known on Merseyside in a bid for National Glory.
All the furore around trainer Gordon Elliott will undoubtedly revolve around Tiger Roll, but the Cullentra handler could have a formidable second-string in the shape of Delta Work.
Despite only being seven, Delta Work has established himself as one of the leading Irish staying chasers, winning four Grade One contests.
His career-best moment came last time out, when edging out a top-class field in the Savills Chase over the Christmas period, beating the likes of Monalee, Road To Respect, Kemboy and Presenting Percy.
On class and dour staying ability, he would be a leading contender for the Aintree showpiece, but his main target this season is the Cheltenham Gold Cup and looks to be a leading fancy for that contest.
However, if things weren’t to go to plan at Cheltenham, he could turn up on Merseyside, yet it looks like a speculative entry at this stage for Delta Work and he may be one to keep in mind for future National’s.
Bristol De Mai
One who is seemingly in the same bracket as Delta Work is the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai, but he may be more likely to be thrown into the Grand National picture.
The admirable grey is a dual-winner of the Betfair Chase and has shown himself to be in good heart this season, finishing second in the aforementioned race as a well another runner-up finish, this time in the Cotswold Chase at the weekend.
His handler has confirmed it’s all systems go for another tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup – which he was third in last year – but this seems more than just a speculative entry.
Now aged Nine, Bristol De Mai may be coming into his prime for a bid at the National, but his tendency to throw in the odd-mistake or jump cautiously may be a negative if he was to turn up over the National fences.
It seemed straightforward for the Peter Marsh Chase hero: avoid Aintree and head to the Scottish National instead. In the space of 24 hours this dramatically changed on its head.
Trainer Sue Smith confirmed her charge would now be entered and is likely to be aimed towards the Grand National, in which he fell at the first last year.
While the decision was likely due to owner Trevor Hemmings’ record with wonderful National winners, Vintage Clouds may have a mountain to climb on Merseyside, with his last performance at the track coming when pulling up in the Becher Chase and seemingly didn’t take to the fences.
Give Me A Copper
Paul Nicholls has only one Grand National victory to his name but may be set to rely on the talented – but fragile – Give Me A Copper in this year’s renewal.
With only seven runs over fences, the ten-year-old lacks the experience of other entries, but makes up for that with his class, including when landing a valuable handicap chase at Wincanton in November.
He was last seen finishing seventh at Ascot on heavy ground, but it is well known that this horse prefers it when there is ‘good’ in the going description.
While he may have his fragilities and isn’t certain to make it to Aintree, with likely ground in his favour Give Me A Copper could go into the race under the radar as he bids to emulate Neptune Collonges’ 2012 success.