2021 Grand National: Five interesting horsesBy Timeform, Friday 31 July We take a look ahead to the 2021 Grand National and pick out five interesting horses.
Burrows Saint was a leading contender for the 2020 Grand National prior to its abandonment due to the coronavirus outbreak, representing the Willie Mullins yard that won the race with Hedgehunter in 2005.
Burrows Saint first showed that he might have the attributes required at Aintree when winning the 2019 Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, jumping soundly and keeping going well to land the spoils by a length and three quarters. He made only two starts during the latest season, seemingly with Aintree in mind, finishing third (beaten 26 lengths) over an insufficient trip in the Drinmore Novices’ Chase back at Fairyhouse and then winning a minor event over hurdles at Punchestown.
A thorough stayer, the delay before Burrows Saint’s first appearance in the Grand National could actually work in his favour. Indeed, he will be an eight-year-old by the time the 2021 renewals come around, the age group that has won three of the last five runnings. By contrast, no seven-year-old has won the race since Bogskar back in 1940.
Any Second Now was another Irish-trained runner who featured prominently in the betting for the 2020 Grand National, a smart stayer who was still a maiden after nine starts over fences before winning the Kim Muir at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
He was well on top at the finish of that race, relishing the extra emphasis on stamina as he outstayed another well-handicapped sort, with the pair clear of the third. That performance meant that the Grand National was his main target at the end of the latest season, and he seemed set to head there in top form after winning a Grade 3 at Naas on what proved to be his final start of the campaign, taking the drop back to two miles in his stride to win comfortably by a length and a quarter.
Still totally unexposed at marathon trips (yet to race beyond three and a quarter miles), he may yet have even more to offer when belatedly tackling the Aintree test for Ted Walsh, who memorably won the National with Papillon in 2000.
Potters Corner already has a unique treble of Grand National wins on his CV, namely the Midlands National at Uttoxeter and Welsh National at Chepstow, both in 2019, and, of course, the 2020 Virtual Grand National, the novelty event that raised £2.6 million for NHS charities in the absence of the real thing at Aintree.
A smashing flagbearer for the Christian Williams yard, Potters Corner’s final official appearance on a racecourse came when successful at Chepstow, becoming the first Welsh-trained winner of the race for 54 years. Always in the prime spot just behind the pace under his impressive young claimer Jack Tudor, he was produced to lead three out out and quickened clear between the last two, ultimately winning by a length and three quarters from Truckers Lodge.
Potters Corner will be 11 by the time of the 2021 Grand National, but he has relatively few miles on the clock for a horse of his age. He has progressed gradually since joining Williams and will be well worth a crack at the Aintree showpiece, especially as his jumping has been much better since failing to complete in the 2019 Eider Chase at Newcastle.
Truckers Lodge chased home Potters Corner in the Welsh National before emulating that rival by winning the Midlands National on his next start, which took place on the last Saturday of racing before the coronavirus brought the National Hunt season to a premature end.
Truckers Lodge impressed with how he made winning a gruelling race look so routine at Uttoxeter, especially as he was making only his fifth start over fences. Always jumping and travelling well up with the pace, he hit the front three out and then came right away on the run-in, seeing out the even longer trip thoroughly to win by 18 lengths. He appeared to have plenty left, too, so we know that the test Aintree presents won’t hold any fears for him.
He went up 14 lb after that success to a BHA mark of 155, which would likely put him in the top half of the weights for the National before the handicapper has made any discretionary adjustments. However, there is no better man than Paul Nicholls to continue to squeeze improvement out of a chaser, especially one as lightly-raced as Truckers Lodge.
Le Breuil was well-fancied for the 2020 Grand National despite being far from certain to make the cut. His connections at least have plenty of time to get him high enough in the weights to be guaranteed a run in the 2021 edition, and he has certainly shown enough to suggest he will be well suited to the demands of the Aintree showpiece if making it there.
The National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival has a good record of producing Grand National types, and Le Breuil saw that test out thoroughly when successful in 2019. Going beyond three miles for only the second time in his career, he seemed to relish the increase extra distance in what was a slog of a race, with only four of the 18 runners who went to the post finishing, including runner-up Discorama, who acquitted himself well in a couple of big handicaps during the latest season.
As for Le Breuil, he also shaped well in a couple of his starts in 2019/20, notably catching the eye when seventh over the National fences in the Becher Chase, shaping much better than the distance beaten suggests. Usually a sound jumper, his season will likely be geared around this race and he is very much one to bear in mind.
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