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Grand National: Timeform preview and free Race Pass

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The Grand National (16:00) at Aintree on Saturday is available as a free Race Pass, which means logged-in customers can view all our premium comments and ratings.

It might be a slightly smaller field than we’ve been used to when 34 runners – six fewer than the previous maximum – line up for the Grand National (16:00) but that doesn’t detract from the quality of a field that features the two most recent winners and last year’s runner-up, as well as a former Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, and nor does it make the biggest betting race of the year that much easier to solve. Five of the last seven Grand Nationals have been won by Irish-trained horses and they account for all bar eight of this year’s field.

Last year’s first and second, Corach Rambler (Timeform weigh-adjusted rating 181) and Vanillier (176) are the obvious place to start and both have to be on the shortlist again. Corach Rambler is inevitably higher in the weights this year, 13 lb above where he was when winning in such good style 12 months ago. Kept closer to the pace than usual and making light of the big fences, he soared to the front over the last and sprinted clear before his tendency to idle set in and was value for more than the two and a quarter lengths he had to spare at the line over Vanillier. The sound-jumping Corach Rambler was well in at the weights then and looks well treated again despite his bigger weight this year following an excellent third to Galopin des Champs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, earning the ‘Horse In Focus’ flag to go with his ‘Horses For Courses’ flag as last year’s winner.

Vanillier, who meets Corach Rambler on 9 lb better terms than last year, came from a long way back in 2023 and was still only eighth jumping the last before finishing best of all to close the gap on the idling winner. He’s had a quiet 12 months since, but had the cheekpieces back on last time and took a big step back in the right direction when second in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse and looks sure to go close again.

But it’s John McConnell’s lightly-raced eight-year-old Mahler Mission (178) who could prove too good for last year’s first two. He was in the process of running his best race as a novice last season when coming down two out with a five-length lead in the National Hunt Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. He then proved much sharper for his reappearance when a fine three and three quarter lengths second to Datsalrightgino in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury after travelling best, earning the ‘Horse In Focus’ flag. A likeable type who’s been kept fresh since, the marathon trip looks sure to suit.

The pick of ‘Hot Trainer’ Willie Mullins’ runners is seven-year-old novice Meetingofthewaters (177p), another of the least exposed chasers in the field. After getting off the mark over fences at Cork in November, he was well served by the step up to three miles when beating a huge field in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in clear-cut fashion in December and underlined his stamina when a very good third behind Chianti Classico in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last time, earning the ‘Horse In Focus’ flag after jumping and travelling well. Still in his first season with Mullins, he’s likely to improve further.

Panda Boy (177), fifth in last season’s Irish Grand National, stayed on to finish four and a half lengths second to Meetingofthewaters in the Paddy Power so is entitled to be thereabouts again and this sort of test looks tailor-made for him. He shaped well on his last start, also at Leopardstown but over hurdles, when fourth in a handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival, he too earning the ‘Horse In Focus’ flag.

Completing the short-list is Delta Work (177) who has the strongest claims among Gordon Elliott’s runners. He’s contesting his third Grand National, doing well to finish a good third in 2022 and then unseating on the second circuit last year. Denied a chance to win a third consecutive Cross Country Chase when that race was cancelled at Cheltenham last month, he should be sharper for his latest run over hurdles and it would be no surprise to see him go well in a change of headgear with blinkers on.

I Am Maximus (176+), the mount of Paul Townend, showed deep reserves of stamina to win the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse a year ago at the end of his first campaign over fences. His form this season is better still, with wins at the same track in the Drinmore Novices’ Chase in December and when giving plenty of weight and a sound beating to Vanillier in the Bobbyjo last time. His jumping tempers enthusiasm for his chances to some degree but he can’t be ruled out.

Mr Incredible (176) has his quirks, though it was seemingly a slipping saddle which did for his chances when he unseated shortly after the Canal Turn on the second circuit in last year’s race. Given a lengthy break, he set himself up for another crack in last month’s Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter when staying on gradually under 12-0 to finish a length and three quarters second to Beauport.

Kitty’s Light (174) is another confirmed stayer and creeps in at the bottom of the weights. He tends to come good in the spring, as when ending last season with wins in the Eider at Newcastle, the Scottish Grand National at Ayr and the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, but he was well held in the Ultima last time under more testing conditions and the ground is a potential worry here too.

Limerick Lace (176) is the choice of Mark Walsh among owner J. P. McManus’s runners. She’s won her three starts in mares’ company this season, notably the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham last time, and while all of those were at much shorter trips, she ran well on a first try over three miles to finish second in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan in November and promises to stay further still.

All the recent rain is particularly welcome for Nassalam (171+) whose two wins at Chepstow in December came in the mud, notably when pulling a very long way clear in a gruelling Welsh Grand National. He handled these fences when fourth in the Grand Sefton earlier in the season, but he’s been hit hard by the handicapper and was out of his depth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last time when eventually pulled up.

With the 'Horses For Courses' flag, 2022 winner Noble Yeats (174) heads the weights, though he carried 11-11 into fourth place last year when staying on from a long way back after the last having gone with little fluency. He’s been campaigned over hurdles this season, which brought him a win in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, and he has each-way claims again.

Galia des Liteaux (174) is the other mare in the field and while her three wins over fences have all come in small fields, she showed another dimension to her game when three quarters of a length second to My Silver Lining in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January. She wasn’t at her best at Exeter last time but she remains with untapped potential over marathon trips and Dan Skelton’s yard is enjoying a fine season.

Galvin (177) stays well and is a former Grade 1 winner who’s had his attentions switched to cross-country chases more recently, finishing second to stablemate Delta Work at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. He had his last run over hurdles and will be bidding to get further than he did last year when unseating at the first.

Coko Beach (175) has looked better than ever this season, beating Limerick Lace in the Troytown before finishing second in the Becher Chase over these fences, and then looking a natural on a first try over Punchestown’s cross-country course in February. However, those efforts have earned him more weight than in the last two Grand Nationals where he’s failed to last home after being up with the pace.

Latenightpass (171) is well proven over these fences, at least in the Foxhunters’ Chase which he won in 2022 and in which he’s also twice made the frame. Also successful in a cross-country handicap at Cheltenham in December, he’s back with his former yard again after leaving Dan Skelton since a warm-up over hurdles in February which earned him the ‘Horse In Focus’ flag.

The Goffer (175) did well in his novice season last term and has had a lighter campaign this time, returning from a winter break to finish fifth in the Ultima last month when shaping better than the distance beaten suggests. He might be sharper for that run and isn’t badly handicapped, though this is a stiffer task.

Chemical Energy (175) hasn’t had much racing over fences and put up his best effort when second in last season’s National Hunt Chase after Mahler Mission’s fall (had beaten that rival at Cheltenham earlier in the season). However, he didn’t repeat that effort in the Irish Grand National and has been absent since finishing sixth in the Kerry National at Listowel last September.

Ain’t That A Shame (173) was backed down to 10/1 but didn’t get home when the last to complete in last year’s Grand National, so while he comes here on the back of a win in the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran in January, the trip remains a concern.

Veteran Roi Mage (171) also looked stretched by the marathon trip when fading into seventh last year, and while he won a cross-country event in France in the autumn and ran a solid race when second at Down Royal last time, he’ll likely prove vulnerable to younger rivals again.

2021 Gold Cup winner Minella Indo (172+) has only a couple of Grade 3 wins to his name since, including at Punchestown in October. He was fourth behind Latenightpass on his cross-country debut at Cheltenham in December but the suspicion is he’ll come up short.

Capodanno (173x) got back to winning ways when landing the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January and showed similar form despite shaping as if the drop in trip was against him when fourth in the Ryanair Chase there last month. However, he seemingly failed for stamina when pulled up in this last year and his sketchy jumping is a concern round here too.

Adamantly Chosen (173) made the most of a good opportunity in a minor chase at Down Royal when a clear-cut winner from Roi Mage last month but his stamina wasn’t fully tested at the trip on that occasion and there are definite reservations as to whether he wants this far.

Stattler (164+) quickly developed into a high-class novice a couple of seasons ago, readily winning the National Hunt Chase. However, he ran no sort of race in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and hasn’t properly fired this season either, failing to take to the course when a distant fourth behind Coko Beach in a cross-country chase at Punchestown last time.

The front-running Foxy Jacks (169x) did well in the second half of last year, winning the Midlands National at Kilbeggan and a cross-country handicap at Cheltenham when jumping better than usual to see off Latenightpass. He was a good fourth over hurdles in December but needs to keep the errors to a minimum here.

The lightly-raced Glengouly (174) is another who goes from the front and cemented a positive start to the season when two and a half lengths second to Ain't That A Shame in the Thyestes but he took a strong hold when well held in the Plate at Cheltenham last time and will need to settle better up markedly in trip.

Chambard (171) ended his 2021/22 campaign with success in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham and saw off Coko Beach when landing the Becher Chase over these fences in December. However, his revised mark has been enough to prevent him figuring in competitive contests since and it’s likely best to look elsewhere.

Mac Tottie (169) won both the Grand Sefton and the Topham over these fences during the 2021/22 campaign and notched another success over regular fences in a veterans chase here on Boxing Day but he has stamina to prove upped markedly in trip and is operating from a career-high mark.

Minella Crooner (166) made a winning return in a listed chase at Wexford and showed similar form when third in a Grade 3 at Tramore on New Year's Day but he was well held in the Ultima last time and is far from certain to relish this test.

Eldorado Allen (173) remains capable of smart form on his day over fences, proving as much when fourth in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury in December, but was pulled up in the Ultima last time so others have stronger claims.

Farouk d’Alene (169+) had some very smart form as a novice two seasons ago but missed all of last term and hasn’t convinced with his jumping over fences. Back over hurdles lately, he was pulled up in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last time after finishing second in the Leopardstown qualifier.

Janidil (172) has shown high-class form in the past but his recent efforts have been largely underwhelming, including when well beaten in last month's Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham, while stamina has to be a major doubt too.

Eklat de Rire (172) and Run Wild Fred (?), both pulled up in the Ultima last time, are hard to fancy judged on recent efforts, though the latter was nearly backed down to favouritism in this two years ago when a faller at the first Canal Turn.

Timeform analyst’s verdict

Claims can be made for plenty in a cracking renewal including low-mileage eight-year-old Mahler Mission. Kept fresh since finishing a fine second in the Coral Gold Cup in December, the way he jumped and travelled that day marked him down as one who will be well served by the demands of this race. Vanillier, second last year, and the improving Meetingofthewaters head the dangers along with last year's hero Corach Rambler, while Panda Boy and Delta Work complete the shortlist.

Timeform weight-adjusted ratings

181 Corach Rambler

178 Mahler Mission

177p Meetingofthewaters

177 Delta Work

177 Galvin

177 Panda Boy

176+ I Am Maximus

176 Limerick Lace

176 Mr Incredible

176 Vanillier

175 Chemical Energy

175 Coko Beach

175 The Goffer

174 Galia des Liteaux

174 Glengouly

174 Kitty’s Light

174 Noble Yeats

173 Adamantly Chosen

173 Ain’t That A Shame

173 Eldorado Allen

173x Capodanno

172+ Minella Indo

172 Eklat de Rire

172 Janidil

171+ Nassalam

171 Chambard

171 Latenightpass

171 Roi Mage

169+ Farouk d’Alene

169 Mac Tottie

169x Foxy Jacks

166 Minella Crooner

164+ Stattler

? Run Wild Fred

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HUNTINGDON 19:40

Tuesday 21 May
7. UBETYA (IRE) 132
Henry Brooke silk Henry Brooke
Jedd O'Keeffe
2. MIDNIGHTREFLECTION 131
Mr Charlie Case silk Mr Charlie Case
Ben Case
6. PLANET LEGEND (IRE) 130
Charlie Hammond silk Charlie Hammond
Dr Richard Newland & Jamie Insole
Go to full race

LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

14:40 NOTTINGHAM

1st James Doyle silk 7. NATIVE WARRIOR 1/21.5f
2nd Jim Crowley silk nk 8. FAYQA 11/43.75
3rd Neil Callan silk 6. LONE PIPER 33/134
J: James Doyle  
T: K. R. Burke  
All 9 ran.
QUICK RESULT

14:28 PUNCHESTOWN

1st J. Coen silk 9. MAKFILS (FR) 10/111
2nd E. Walsh silk 4 18. STEPS IN THE SAND (IRE) 14/115
3rd J. Smith silk 3. SON OF HYPNOS (IRE) 11/26.5
4th S. D. Torrens silk ½ 11. EDGE OF MY SEAT (IRE) 14/115
J: J. Coen (5)  
17 ran. NRs: 13  19  20 
FULL RESULT

14:20 BRIGHTON

1st Josephine Gordon silk 1. JACQUELINA (IRE) 11/43.75
2nd Rossa Ryan silk nk 6. ANGLESEY LAD (IRE) 11/82.37f
T: Phil McEntee  
6 ran. NRs: 3  8 
FULL RESULT

14:10 NOTTINGHAM

1st William Buick silk 4. GENERAL ASSEMBLY (IRE) 1/12f
2nd Rowan Scott silk 1 2. DURAN (IRE) 22/123
5 ran. NRs: 1  6 
FULL RESULT

13:55 PUNCHESTOWN

1st P. Townend silk 1. BELLOCCIO (FR) 4/51.8f
2nd C. Stone-Walsh silk 9 9. STARCROSSED LOVER (IRE) 28/129
3rd M. P. Walsh silk 9 7. MARTINSTOWN (IRE) 11/26.5
J: P. Townend  
15 ran. NRs: 11  15  8 
FULL RESULT

13:25 PUNCHESTOWN

1st M. P. Walsh silk 7. MYWAYOFTHINKIN (IRE) 4/51.8f
2nd Sam Ewing silk 9. OMNISCIENT 85/403.12
3rd Patrick Michael O'Brien silk 14 16. MY POLICY (IRE) 200/1201
J: M. P. Walsh  
15 ran. NRs: 17  18  5 
FULL RESULT
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