Rachael Blackmore, riding Minella Times, on her way last year to becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National at Aintree. (PHOTO BY: Tim Goode/Getty Images)

12 horses to keep an eye on in the Grand National at Aintree

The world's most famous horse race, the Grand National, struts its stuff again at Aintree on Saturday.

By Richard Silverwood
Friday, 8th April 2022, 10:49 pm

Forty horses line up for the £1 million Randox-sponsored showpiece, primed to tackle 30 fences, many of which have household names such as Becher's Brook, The Chair, Valentine's Brook and the Canal Turn.

Those fences are not as fearsome as they once were. Quite rightly, animal welfare takes first priority now. But the historic race, which dates back to 1839, is still a thrilling spectacle.

Last year, it was forced behind closed doors by the pandemic, having been cancelled altogether in 2020. But it's back in all its glory on Saturday (5.15 pm) and will be enjoyed by 70,000 on course and a global TV audience of up to 600 million people. You can watch it live on ITV.

It remains the one day of the year when most of us have a flutter, whether it be a couple of quid each/way or a go on the sweep at work or our local pub. Bookies expect about £200 million to be bet on the great race.

This year's running looks as competitive as ever, even though it lacks the presence of two-times winner TIGER ROLL, who was retired after last month's Cheltenham Festival.

Last year's race made history when Rachael Blackmore became the first female rider to triumph aboard MINELLA TIMES. They are back for more, but the horse has been burdened by top weight and has been in poor form.

Amazingly, ten of the first 11 places 12 months ago were filled by horses trained in Ireland. Once again, Irish handlers such as Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott are well represented.

So in trying to find the winner, do you study the form or do you stick a pin in? To help you decide, our guide pinpoints 12 horses likely to have a say in the outcome. A couple of lively outsiders, Mount Ida and Fortescue, just failed to make the cut!

Please note: the numbers do NOT relate to their order on the racecard. And the prices quoted were correct at the time of going to press.

Good luck!

MY VERDICT - 1 Escaria Ten, 2 Any Second Now, 3 Fiddlerontheroof, 4 De Rasher Counter, 5 Delta Work

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