2015 Grand National Review and Result
Get a full analysis of all 19 finishers in the Aintree 2015 Grand National won by Many Clouds at an SP of 25/1.
|1. Many Clouds||25-1||Leighton Aspell||Oliver Sherwood|
|2. Saint Are||25-1||Paddy Brennan||Tom George|
|3. Monbeg Dude||40-1||Liam Treadwell||Michael Scudamore|
|4. Alvarado||20-1||Paul Maloney||Fergal O’Brien|
|5. Shutthefrontdoor||6-1F||AP McCoy||Jonjo O’Neill|
|6. Royale Knight||25-1||Brendan Powell||Dr Richard Newland|
|7. Tranquil Sea||33-1||Gavin Sheehan||Warren Greatrex|
|8. Cause Of Causes||14-1||Paul Carberry||Gordon Elliott|
|9. Soll||9-1||Tom Scudamore||David Pipe|
|10. Chance Du Roy||40-1||Tom O’Brien||Philip Hobs|
|11. Mon Parrain||33-1||Sean Bowen||Paul Nicholls|
|12. Pineau De Re||25-1||Daryl Jacob||De Richard Newland|
|13. Owega Star||50-1||Robbie Power||Peter Fahey|
|14. Spring Heeled||25-1||JH Culloty||Nick Schofield|
|15. Oscar Time||20-1||Robert Waley-Cohen||Ms S Waley-Cohen|
|16. First Lieutenant||14-1||Ms N Carberry||MF Morris|
|17. Rocky Creek||8-1||Sam Twiston-Davies||Paul Nicholls|
|18. Night In Milan||20-1||James Reveley||Keith Reveley|
|19. Dolatulo||66-1||Dougie Costello||Warren Greatrex|
2015 Grand National Review
For many years and in many ways, the Grand National had become an easier race to predict than most punters would believe, such was the strength of its trends. However, if Comply Or Die (who wore blinkers) or Neptune Collognes (who was bred in France), started to chip away at those trends in recent times, MANY CLOUDS blew them apart with a stunning win under almost cloud-free skies at Aintree.
Not only was he, at eight years of age, the youngest winner since Binderee in 2002, he also carried the welter burden of 11st 9lbs to victory, a feat which had seemed almost unthinkable since the days of Red Rum. In triumphing here, he also become only the second National winner to complete the mighty course in a time of under nine minutes. This race also marked back to back wins by jockey Leighton Aspell who rode Pineau De Re to victory in 2014.
2014 Grand National Runners Up
Sixth in the Gold Cup only a few weeks earlier, Oliver Sherwood’s gelding went into the race as the class act and having been left in the lead five out by the departure of The Druids Nephew he was never headed again, although his sizeable margin at the last was whittled down to just over a length by Saint Are in the punishing run to the line.
Given the way the weights for this great race are framed nowadays, he is likely to be able to run off of a similar mark next year and so must have a real chance of becoming the first back to back winner since 1974.
The chances are he’ll have to renew rivalry with many of his conquered opponents in 2016 and his biggest danger may again be Saint Are, who seems to love spring on Merseyside.
Saint Are was also nicely clear of the third, former Welsh National winner Monberg Dude, who arguably finished best of all having been in rear from the outset. He was hampered at Bechers on the first circuit too, having to jump a fallen horse, and would probably have preferred softer ground.
Fourth last year, Alvarado could manage no better this time around, albeit that this was another fine effort for jockey Paul Moloney who is racking up a remarkable string of places in the race, all for the same owners. He, too, was outpaced on the initial lap, but made relentless headway from three out to collar hot favourite Shutthefrontdoor on the line and deny Tony McCoy a place in his final National.
McCoy’s mount certainly had every chance, but just failed to see out the trip as well as some of his rivals.
2015 Grand National Rest of the Field
Royale Night ran a blinder in sixth for connections who won the race last year. This was a step up in class and he just couldn’t quite live with the leaders when push came to shove.
Tranquil Sea was another fast finisher, which was remarkable given that his best form has tended to come over much shorter trips. The former Paddy Power Gold Cup winner certainly surprised a few with his effort here and is clearly enjoying a new lease of life under Warren Greatrex.
Cause of Causes was a never nearer eighth and may have been feeling the effects of a hard race in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival recently, whilst Soll was in the mix for a long way before fading after reportedly breaking a blood vessel. He seems to enjoy the challenge of these unique obstacles.
The same is true of 2013 Becher Chase winner Chance Du Roy, who got around safely again in tenth, a couple of places ahead of last year’s winner, Pineau De Re, who had every chance three out but faded disappointingly. He wasn’t in the same form coming into the race as he was in 2014 and that was probably reflected in this effort.
The veteran, Oscar Time, who loves it here having been second in 2011 and fourth in 2013, before winning the Becher earlier this season, was also in contention running back towards home, but had nothing left to give at the business end of proceedings. Fifteenth place was no disgrace and a very honourable retirement surely beckons.
First Lieutenant (16th) could never get into the race after bad mistakes early on, whilst the well backed Rocky Creek (17th) ran no sort of race.
2015 Grand National Non-Finishers
If there was an unlucky loser it was definitely The Druids Nephew, who was still tanking along in front when pitching on landing five out and coming down. It was particularly hard luck given that he didn’t actually make a mistake and connections will surely be eying compensation next year already. He’s another who relishes better ground.
Portrait King might also have played a part in the finish but for coming to grief three out, whilst it was good to see Balthazar King leave the course in one piece (albeit in a horse ambulance) after a nasty fall at the Canal Turn on the first circuit.
Below is our 2015 Grand National race preview and selections, which included 4th placed Alvarado at odds of 22/1.
2015 Preview and Tips
L’Escargot was the last horse to have a Gold Cup success and a Grand National victory on his CV. The enormity of the task of winning national hunt racing’s two biggest prizes is illustrated by the number of champions who have tried in the intervening 40 years. Last year’s Gold Cup winner looked on track for a decent defence of his crown at Cheltenham last month, but flopped badly in the race, dropping out the back early on and never landing a blow. It is impossible to fancy him emulating L’Escargot here off the back of that poor effort and his preference for coming from behind in his races isn’t an easy tactic to pull off in modern day Nationals. He will, at least, like the drying ground, but a further negative is the form of his yard which had been winner-less all season.
Hennessy Gold Cup winner, Many Clouds was another fancied contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup to be taken out of his comfort zone in the big race by Coneygree, although he ran respectively to finish a distant sixth. The ground should have suited him that day and may be quicker than he likes here, although the extra mile of this contest should compensate slightly for that. He also tends to put plenty into his races and so it is surprising to see him turned out for the 2015 Grand National rather than roughed off for the summer. Another negative is the fact that, following his Hennessy win, he is unlikely to have much, if anything, in hand on the handicapper.
Another horse who tends to prefer plenty of give in the ground is Unioniste and so conditions may be quickly turning against him. He should be suited by the marathon trip, but he has to cope with a 9lb rise in the weights following his win in a valuable handicap at Sandown in January. His third behind Coneygree, in the Denman Chase at Newbury on his last start, looks even better now that the winner that day has gone on to triumph in the Gold Cup and the key is whether his top class pilot, Noel Fehily, can keep him in touch early.
The second of the Paul Nicholls runners, Rocky Creek, should be better suited by the ground than Unioniste. The two have very similar profiles, both being in their second seasons. Both looked like developing into Gold Cup horses early and Rocky Creek was set to run in that race last year before suffering a setback. Consequently, he was re-routed to the National, running a blinder to finish fifth. He is a couple of pounds lower in the weights despite there being factors that point to him having stronger claims for the 2015 Grand National. His win in the Betbright Chase at Kempton last time out was a top class handicap effort and he looks to have a number of pounds in hand if able to re-create that form. All in all, he looks to have stronger claims than the favourite, Shutthefrontdoor.
The last time First Lieutenant ran handicap was the 2012 Hennessy, finishing third off of a mark of 159. Since then, he has been placed in top class races such as the 2013 Ryanair Chase and the 2014 Punchestown Gold Cup. He also won the Betfred Bowl on the Mildmay course in 2012. However, that was his last win. Despite being four pounds lower than in the Hennessy, he has been out of form this campaign. However, this unique challenge could easily rekindle his enthusiasm and the 2015 Grand National should suit. As he gets older he also looks like he needs a thorough test of stamina. So there is a chance that he will make Nina Carberry the first female jockey to win the race. His yard seems to be turning the corner too, which is encouraging for his supporters.
As far as the jockeys are concerned, all of the build up has focused on Tony McCoy. But no jockey has had more losing rides in the race than Richard Johnson. It would be ironic if Johnson, who has spent so many years in the shadow of McCoy was to break his National duck in his final contest. There is a chance it could happen in the 2015 Grand National. Conditions should be perfect for a horse that has been a star for his connections over a number of years. He won back to back Cross Country Chases at the Cheltenham Festivals in 2012 and 2014. He was a brave runner up here last season. His nimbleness over cross country courses in Europe has helped him to safely navigate these fences in two Nationals. He’s only 3lbs higher in the weights than when chasing Pineau De Re last season.
A victory for the retiring Tony McCoy on his final mount, Shutthefrontdoor, would give a fairytale end to the 2015 Grand National. The conundrum for punters, though, is whether his likely very short odds truly represent his chances of winning the 2015 Grand National. His trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, is a genius when it comes to training staying chasers such as this when winning the Irish National last season. He was sixth in the National Hunt Chase over four miles at Cheltenham, and looked better than ever winning at Carlisle. However, that race was in November and he hasn’t been seen since. Other concerns are his jumping, stoppinh him finishing closer than he did in the National Hunt Chase. Time could show him to be a very well handicapped horse off of a mark of 153. But, at the prices, the negatives may just outweigh the positives.
Last year’s winner, Pineau De Re, will be looking to make history of a different sort. He’ll try to be the first horse since the great Red Rum to win more than one National. He is twelve now, his form in the build up to the race hasn’t been like it was prior to triumphing last year. But he did beat Balthazar King with a fair bit in hand in 2014. He could be nicely treated with only an extra 8lbs on his back. The better ground and a return to Aintree may see him run his best race of the season. Though, whether it will be enough to win the 2015 Grand National is doubtful.
It is hard to ignore the claims of any horse representing the deadly combination of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins. But Ballycasey’s National claims aren’t the most obvious. He was pulled up last time out in the Ryanair Chase. Although the drying ground should suit this son of Presenting, he doesn’t look particularly well handicapped. He has to prove his stamina for the 2015 Grand National.
Spring Heeled’s success in last season’s Kim Muir was the start of a magical 24 hours for his owner and trainer. Lord Windermere won the Gold Cup in the same colours just a day later. Whilst his illustrious stablemate’s season was geared around a fruitless defence of his crown, Spring Heeled has been kept under wraps with the 2015 Grand National in mind. Patience has been rewarded at least as far as the ground is concerned. This horse has to have decent going to be at his best. His bold jumping, front running style will be really suited to tacking these fences. He has often run as though a thorough test of stamina would suit. However, as with Lord Windermere, the big question mark is the terrible form of his yard.
Rebel Rebellion does have winning form over these fences having won the Grand Sefton in December 2013. He has safely negotiated the course twice since, so a clear round at the 2015 Grand National looks a decent bet. Whilst his jumping is proven, his stamina isn’t and it is hard to see him lasting home. He has been in fine form all season, picking up some nice prizes, but looks weighted up to the hilt as a result.
Another horse to have safely got around this course recently is Dolatulo, who was eighth in this season’s Grand Sefton. Rebel Rebellion was fifth and with Dolatulo being worse off at the weights he looks hard to fancy. He is trying to follow the path taken by Pineau De Re last season. His warm-up for this contest was the Pertemps Final, but he beat only four home. It seems unlikely that he will be able to put the cherry on the cake for Warren Greatrex. Warren is enjoying a breakthrough season courtesy of nearly 50 winners and half a million pounds in prize money so far.
The final Nicholls runner will be ridden by the race’s youngest pilot, Sean Bowen. Sean only qualified to ride in the 2015 Grand National on Saturday when Virak won at Haydock. Mon Parrain is a bit of an enigma. He runs plenty of bad races but pops up to win at least one decent prize a season. This course can often bring out the best in the enigmatic types. He did safely negotiate these fences in the Becher Chase in December. However, he was well beaten that day. If he drops himself out early, no amount of encouragement is likely to help him make up the ground.
The former Gordon Elliott inmate, Carlito Brigante, had gradually been regaining his form. He lost his way totally following a bright start to his chasing career in 2012. His connections will be amongst those watching the weather forecasts with a smile on their faces. Though, the horse looks to have plenty of weight even granted the upturn in his fortunes.
Night In Milan:
A stronger challenger from the northern yards is Night In Milan. He is a top of the ground performer and his trainer will be praying they do not put too much water on the course. This horse’s biggest attribute is his jumping. It is easy to see him getting into a great rhythm over these big fences. He likes being up with the pace, which is another plus as he should have the tactical speed to stay out of trouble. The slight question marks are whether he has anything in hand of the handicapper and whether he can see out the finish in the 2015 Grand National.
The former top class performer, Rubi Light, is another with major stamina doubts. He has never won over further than 2½ miles and most of his form is on soft ground. He can be a spectacular jumper, giving his jockey a thrill for a circuit or so. Though, it is very hard to see him still being in the mix at the business end of the contest.
The Druids Nephew:
The Druids Nephew was an impressive winner of the big staying handicap at the Festival. He looked a horse at the peak of his powers and is able to run off of the same mark in the 2015 Grand National. He won’t have the same pilot though, as Barry Geraghty misses the meeting after a fall. But connections have secured a fine substitute in Aiden Coleman, who missed the winning ride on Mon Mome in 2009 after choosing his stablemate. This horse was seventh behind Many Clouds in the Hennessy earlier in the season. Though, the soft ground may not have suited him that day, he certainly relished the better surface at Prestbury Park. He is really fulfilling his potential, having taken some time to recover from a fractured pelvis. Also encouraging is the fact that Neil Mulholland’s yard remains in great form, so he looks a major player.
Cause Of Causes:
Another Festival winner to take his chances here is Cause Of Causes. He was arguably an even more impressive winner this time in the National Hunt Chase. Up until then, he had failed to win over fences despite having had plenty of chances. He was second to Spring Heeled in last season’s Kim Muir. Though, has a 3lbs swing in the weights for a 1¾l defeat. Prior to his Festival win, he probably wouldn’t have merited support for the 2015 Grand National. However, there is a chance that something clicked. He needs his head in front and has the tactical speed. Good ground may also be key to nowadays. It probably wasn’t an easy decision for Tony McCoy to choose Shutthefrontdoor ahead of him. Paul Carberry is the right man to execute the hold up tactics on the horse although, those aren’t easy tactics to pull off around here.
Former Scottish National winner, Godsmejudge, is one of the few horses with known stamina. As well as triumphing at Ayr in 2013, he was runner up there last year and finished third in the 2013 National Hunt Chase. His jumping is his other main weapon and all his best form is on good ground. He has struggled off of his higher weight mark so far this season. He likes to be ridden prominentl, so could be a threat if able to go the early pace. But if he gets behind early, he may struggle to peg back the leaders. He has been trained all season for the 2015 Grand National and his handler has put a nightmare 2013/4 campaign behind him.
Another former Scottish National winner, Al Co, who won that race last year, has a similar profile to Godsmejudge. He carries the same weight here. He too has proven stamina and a liking for better ground. It would be no surprise to see either make the frame. He has run two races over hurdles recently. His trainer, Peter Bowen, also has a fine record with horses over these fences. Although this horse was pulled up in December, he comes alive in the spring and the ground will suit him for the 2015 Grand National. He is only 5lbs higher than when winning at Ayr. Although he isn’t the most consistent, that effort showed he can be dangerous in big staying handicaps.
Monbeg Dude proved again last year how hard it is to execute exaggerated hold up tactics over these fences. The well fancied 10 year old could only finish a never threatening seventh. He hasn’t shown much sparkle so far this campaign and was 14th behind The Druids Nephew at the Festival recently. The handicapper hasn’t been kind and he makes mistakes. This doesn’t bode well for his chances of finishing closer in the 2015 Grand National.
It has been a tough season for Donald McCain and it is unlikely that a venue that has been so kind to him and his family in the past will see an upturn in his fortunes at Corrin Wood is hard to fancy. He stays well, but has shown most of his best form on heavy ground and was pulled up last time out. He has also done all his winning in very small fields.
The Rainbow Hunter:
2014/5 has been kinder to Kim Bailey, but his horse, The Rainbow Hunter, almost needs softer ground to win. He has unseated his rider in the last two Nationals and has only run once since last year. He’s 8lb higher than his last winning mark in the 2015 Grand National.
Ever since his novices hurdle days, Saint Are has enjoyed his visits to Aintree. He won the big staying novices hurdle in 2011, the big staying handicap chase in 2012, and came third in the Becher Chase in December. He was ninth in the 2013 National, so another bold run can be expected. He’ll have to cope with a steep rise in the weights following an easy win at Catterick last time out.
Across The Bay:
Donald McCain’s other runner in the race, Across The Bay, does not appear to have much stronger claims. He hadn’t shown any form this season prior to a slightly more encouraging run at the Festival last time. But he has been well beaten in two Nationals. Another safe conveyance is probably the best his supporters can hope for in the 2015 Grand National.
It was as far back as 2009 when Tranquil Sea enjoyed his finest hour on a racecourse. He won the Paddy Power Gold Cup on heavy ground, always having preference for softer ground. He is in the veteran stage and done all his winning over trips around 2m 4f. So, it is hard to make out much of a case for him here.
By contrast, another veteran, Oscar Time, seems as good as ever at the ripe old age of 14. He won the Becher Chase before Christmas finished fourth here in 2013 and second in 2011. He will have plenty of assistance from the saddle too as amateur Sam Waley-Cohen has a record over these fences. The better ground really suits him and he could easily outrun his odds. Having been freshened up, there are doubts as to whether this strong travelling sort sees out the marathon trip.
Remarkably, Bob Ford has won five times in eighteen starts, but pulled up as many times. All of his wins under rules have been on soft or heavy ground. He seems to save his best for unique, undulating tracks like Chepstow and Ffos Las. He is hard to fancy under these conditions at the 2015 Grand National.
One of the potential dark horses in the race is Super Duty. He was backed like defeat was out of the question ahead of the 2013 Kim Muir. But he was caught in the shadow of the post by Same Difference (well clear of Court By Surprise and Saint Are despite plenty of weight). That was still a fine performance as he lumped 11st 12lbs that day. Although he has lost his way, there have been signs of revival following his switch to Ian Williams’ yard. At 9 years of age there is still time for him to land a big one. You will see plenty of worse 66-1 shots.
The last of JP McManus’ runners, Wyck Hill, has being threatening to fulfil his undoubted potential. He could easily be fancied for this race were the ground a lot softer. His trainer and jockey have both enjoyed fine seasons, and a decent run from this horse would be the icing on the cake. He isn’t the most consistent, but on the plus side he did run well over these fences in 2013. His comeback race over hurdles at Chepstow in January was also encouraging. But we was being niggled along when falling at the sixth in the Eider Chase last time out. On this ground, he may find everything happening too quickly for him.
Gas Line Boy:
There is no doubt about Gas Line Boy’s ability to stay this four mile plus trip. The question is whether he has enough speed when the need for that stamina really kicks in. The majority of his form suggests that he doesn’t and he doesn’t look particularly well handicapped either.
Chance De Roy:
Former winner over these fences, Chance De Roy, has a fine record here generally. As well as his win in the 2013 Becher Chase he was ninth in the 2013 Topham. He was a very respectable sixth behind Pineau De Re in the big one last season. His last start here was a fifth place behind Oscar Time in the Becher in December. So, he looks sure to give jockey Tom O’Brien another decent spin. He is a couple of pounds lower in the weights than he was last year. Although, that may not be enough to see him find sufficient improvement. He needs to get his head in front and he has yet to prove he can see out the 2015 Grand National.
Irish challenger, Portrait King, is another with proven stamina having won the 2012 Eider Chase. Connections have been eying a crack at the National for some time. Though it is hard to see him having the touch of class necessary to be competitive at the business end of the contest.
Another raider from the Emerald Isle, Owega Star, is higher in the weights than this Irish form seems to merit. Albeit that a lower rating may have seen him miss the cut. It is hard to find too many positives when assessing his chances. He looks one of the least likely winners of the 2015 Grand National.
The same is true of the sole French raider, River Choice, who looks out of his depth based on recent form. He has already won an incredible £512,476 in prize money for his connections, though, and so owes them nothing. However, he has been in gradual decline since his form peaked in 2012 and a safe conveyance should be his number one objective.
Court By Surprise:
Emma Lavelle probably hasn’t had the season she hoped for given the exciting group of young horses had. But any season can be rescued by a win in this great race. Court By Surprise comes here fresh after two successes on his only starts pre-Christmas. The latter victory came via the controversial disqualification of The Young Master in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton. This is the highest mark he has ever run off, but he should like the ground and has threatened to be suited by an extreme test of stamina.
Last year’s fourth, Alvarado, has only run once since and has clearly been laid out for the race. His owners deserve a winner having had umpteen places in recent seasons. As well as staying so well Alvarado does have some tactical speed. He also goes well fresh and it may just be that a horse described as a “nutcase” will be inspired by this unique test. He is a consistent nutcase, having been outside the first five in only two of his completed starts. There is just a slight concern that he may have preferred softer ground.
Soll has won two veteran’s chases on his last two starts (his only outings since joining David Pipe). But he is only ten and certainly looks to still have a lot to offer. He ran a mighty race here in 2013 when he was in the leading group for a long way before fading two out. He was a never dangerous 11th in last season’s Topham and this big horse is able to cope well with huge obstacles. Despite his veteran’s tag, he is lightly raced and open to further improvement.
One of the least experienced horses over fences in this year’s line-up is Ely Brown. He has only had four runs over the bigger obstacles. He won two of them, showing a decent level of form in the process and he was a talented stayer over hurdles. Ely Brown showed nothing on his re-appearance over timber in January. Though, goes well fresh and loves this track having twice landed decent hurdle prizes. In time, he could prove to be well handicapped and have another nice pot in him. But his inexperience has to put us off him and he would probably prefer more give in the ground.
Last year’s winning trainer, Dr Richard Newland, has two strings to his bow this year. He will be delighted that Royale Knight crept in as the last of the forty runners. The horse is an out and out stayer, but his highest winning mark was 124. He has to race off of 139 here. He did, win that race, the Durham National, by 17 lengths. 12 months prior to that he won the Borders National by 8 lengths. He bounces off decent ground and is usually a sound jumper. He should give his more illustrious stablemate a run for his money, but he may not have the class to win.