Aintree Racecourse is set to host the 172nd running of the Grand National in April where once again the eyes of the world will be on the North West for one of the most enjoyable days on the sporting calendar.
The weights for the 4m2f contest were revealed earlier this month and there are a total of 112 horses at the latest stage of declaration. Come the day of the race, there can be a maximum field of 40 runners who will line up and bid to add their name into the history books in this famous steeplechase.
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Last year, it was Tiger Roll who stole the headlines with a narrow victory for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. Under the hands of jockey Davy Russell, the Cross Country Chase winner from the Cheltenham Festival a month earlier finished just less than a length ahead of Pleasant Company, who was coming home strongly in the run-up to the finish line.
Red Rum, who was trained by Ginger McCain on Southport Beach, was the last horse to win the Grand National in back-to-back years. He was victorious in the Merseyside contest for the third time in 1974. Tiger Roll, therefore, must end a run of 45 years where the defending champion has been unable to retain their crown.
Elliott is bidding for a third success in the prestigious National Hunt contest this year. He was also successful in 2007 when Silver Birch was a surprise 33/1 winner. Irish horses have had a great record in the race in recent years as two of the last four runnings have come from Ireland.
Bristol De Mai Tops The Weights This Year
The top horse in the Grand National 2019 runners will be Bristol De Mai as the Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable star has been handed 11 stone and 10 pounds, the highest in the weights list by at least four pounds.
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It’s been another big season for the chaser as he won the opening leg of the Chase Triple Crown at Haydock back in November for the second consecutive year. The field for that race included Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River, runner-up in the Blue Riband event of the Festival, Might Bite and former King Goerge VI Chase winner Thistlecrack, yet he beat his rivals by four lengths in an impressive performance.
Unfortunately for his connections, any chance of the £1 million bonus for winning all three Chase Triple Crown races ended in the second leg as he fell in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. The eight-year-old made a mistake at the 9th fence and came down in what was a big disappointment for those who had backed the horse.
Given what he has achieved in the chase division so far, Bristol De Mai is considered to be the best horse in the Grand National field this year. He has an entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, therefore, he could attempt to win the feature race of the Festival before a first attempt at the bigger fences at Aintree Racecourse, where we are set for another brilliant renewal of the people’s race.