ALMOST half of the field for next Saturday's Randox Grand National at Aintree are likely to be Irish-trained.
A total of 68 horses were left in the race at Monday's six-day confirmation stage and 27 of them are trained in Ireland. However, of the top 40 guaranteed a place in the line-up at this stage, 19 are Irish.
The Irish-trained Tiger Roll won the race in 2018 and 2019 but was denied a chance to make it three-in-a-row when the 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Following several withdrawals at the five-day stage, Evan Williams’ Welsh National hero Secret Reprieve is 43rd on the list, on the same weight as Some Neck who is 42nd. The maximum field size is 40, with four reserves eligible if there any defectors from the declared runners before 1pm on Friday.
There were never any concerns of not making the cut for the ante-post favourite, Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap, impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy and Kelso’s Premier Chase.
He will be ridden by Tom Scudamore, who told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast: “It looks like he’s the ideal horse and it’s the old cliche that I wouldn’t swap him for anything. If I was riding something else Cloth Cap would be the one I’d want to ride.
“He stayed four miles plus in the Scottish National, he’s put up some great performances this year and he’s a stone well-in. That all points to him having a great chance, but he’s got to go and actually do it – we’ve seen it time and time again before, you can talk as much as you like, but you’ve got to go and do it.
“It’s nice to talk about it, it’s a lovely position to be in, but we’ve got to go and do it.”
While the race has seen many modifications to the famous fences in recent years, Scudamore feels if anything it takes even more winning than in the past.
“The National has always been fantastic to ride in and since the modifications it is still a test, you mustn’t underestimate the fences,” he said.
“The relentlessness of the race has changed, it used to be a mad dash to Becher’s Brook but once you made your way to the Canal Turn and headed towards The Chair (you could get a breather) – it does seem more relentless now.
“That can put more of an emphasis on stamina, it’s a long time since they said it but they used to say you needed a good two-and-a-half-miler for the National. I don’t think that’s the case now.
“I’ve had some fantastic rides in it, my best is sixth on Vieux Lion Rouge. I tend to be in contention across Melling Road but not quite get home, the likes of Soll, Vieux Lion Rouge, The Package, Blowing Wind were great rides but didn’t manage to make it all the way.”
There is a strong Irish contingent with the likes of Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now, Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Times, the expected mount of Rachael Blackmore and Willie Mullins’ Burrows Saint.
Bristol De Mai is set to carry top weight for Nigel Twiston-Davies, who is chasing a third win int he race with Yala Enki set to be the ride of Bryony Frost.
Kimberlite Candy, Takingrisks, Potters Corner, Lord Du Mesnil and Discorama were all left in.
Among those taken out were Beware The Bear, Pym, The Jam Man, Class Conti and those that had already been scratched, like Santini and Achille.
5.15PM AINTREE SATURDAY
RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE (GRADE 3) 4m 2f 74y
Bristol de Mai (FR) 10 11 10 Nigel Twiston-Davies Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede
The Storyteller (IRE) 10 11 8 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Mrs Pat Sloan Keith Donoghue
Chris's Dream (IRE) 9 11 7 Henry de Bromhead Ireland Robcour
Yala Enki (FR) 11 11 3 Paul Nicholls Hills of Ledbury Ltd
Ballyoptic (IRE) 11 11 1 Nigel Twiston-Davies Mills & Mason Partnership
Definitly Red (IRE) 12 11 1 Brian Ellison Phil & Julie Martin
Lake View Lad (IRE) 11 11 0 N. W. Alexander Mr Trevor Hemmings
Burrows Saint (FR) 8 10 13 W. P. Mullins Ireland Mrs S. Ricci
Magic of Light (IRE) 10 10 13 Mrs J. Harrington Ireland Ann & Alan Potts Limited
Acapella Bourgeois (FR) 11 10 12 W. P. Mullins Ireland Slaneyville Syndicate
Talkischeap (IRE) 9 10 12 Alan King Mr Charles Dingwall
Tout Est Permis (FR) 8 10 12 Noel Meade Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Anibale Fly (FR) 11 10 12 A. J. Martin Ireland Mr John P. McManus
Mister Malarky 8 10 12 Colin Tizzard Wendy & Malcolm Hezel
Kimberlite Candy (IRE) 9 10 10 Tom Lacey Mr John P. McManus
Any Second Now (IRE) 9 10 9 T. M. Walsh Ireland Mr John P. McManus
Balko des Flos (FR) 10 10 9 Henry de Bromhead Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Alpha des Obeaux (FR) 11 10 9 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Jody McGarvey
Ok Corral (IRE) 11 10 8 Nicky Henderson Mr John P. McManus
Takingrisks (IRE) 12 10 7 Nicky Richards Mr Frank Bird
Shattered Love (IRE) 10 10 7 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Jett (IRE) 10 10 7 Mrs J. Harrington Ireland Mr Robert Waley-Cohen
Lord du Mesnil (FR) 8 10 6 Richard Hobson Mr Paul Porter & Mike & Mandy Smith
Potters Corner (IRE) 11 10 6 Christian Williams All Stars Sports, Davies & RacehorseClub
Class Conti (FR) 9 10 6 W. P. Mullins Ireland Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede
Milan Native (IRE) 8 10 6 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Discorama (FR) 8 10 6 Paul Nolan Ireland Thomas Friel/Andrew Gemmell
Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 12 10 5 David Pipe Prof Caroline Tisdall & Mr John Gent
Cloth Cap (IRE) 9 10 5 Jonjo O'Neill Mr Trevor Hemmings
Cabaret Queen 9 10 5 W. P. Mullins Ireland Syndicates.Racing
Minellacelebration (IRE) 11 10 5 Katy Price Mr Nick Elliott
Canelo (IRE) 8 10 4 Alan King Mr John P. McManus
The Long Mile 7 10 4 J.P.Dempsey Ireland Mr John P. McManus
Give Me A Copper (IRE) 11 10 4 Paul Nicholls Done, Ferguson, Mason, Nicholls & Wood
Farclas (FR) 7 10 3 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud Jack Kennedy
Minella Times (IRE) 8 10 3 Henry de Bromhead Ireland Mr John P. McManus
Sub Lieutenant (IRE) 12 10 3 Georgie Howell Ms G. Howell
Hogan's Height (IRE) 10 10 3 Jamie Snowden Foxtrot Racing: Hogan's Height
Double Shuffle (IRE) 11 10 2 Tom George Crossed Fingers Partnership
Ami Desbois (FR) 11 10 2 Graeme McPherson The Reserved Judgment Partnership
Blaklion 12 10 2 Dan Skelton Darren & Annaley Yates
Some Neck (FR) 10 10 1 John McConnell Ireland Some Neck Partnership
Secret Reprieve (IRE) 7 10 1 Evan Williams Mr & Mrs William Rucker
Kauto Riko (FR) 10 9 13 Tom Gretton Mr and Mrs J.Dale and Partners
Fagan 11 9 13 Alex Hales Mr Ben Brackenbury
Deise Aba (IRE) 8 9 13 Philip Hobbs Mr Trevor Hemmings
Valtor (FR) 12 9 13 Nicky Henderson Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede
Golan Fortune (IRE) 9 9 13 Phil Middleton P Middleton, M Lowther
Run Wild Fred (IRE) 7 9 11 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
The Hollow Ginge (IRE) 8 9 11 Nigel Twiston-Davies The Ginge Army
Captain Drake (IRE) 8 9 11 Harry Fry Gary Stevens and Brian and Sandy Lambert
Another Venture (IRE) 10 9 11 Kim Bailey Racing For Maggie's Partnership
Crievehill (IRE) 9 9 11 Nigel Twiston-Davies Highclere T'Bred Racing- Crievehill
Flying Angel (IRE) 10 9 10 Nigel Twiston-Davies Mr R. J. Rexton
Prime Venture (IRE) 10 9 10 Evan Williams Mrs Janet Davies
Le Breuil (FR) 9 9 10 Ben Pauling Mrs Emma Palmer
Hold The Note (IRE) 7 9 9 Mick Channon Mr T. P. Radford
Plan of Attack (IRE) 8 9 9 Henry de Bromhead Ireland Mr A. Halsall
Roaring Bull (IRE) 8 9 9 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Dounikos (FR) 10 9 9 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Musical Slave (IRE) 8 9 8 Philip Hobbs Mr John P. McManus
Soupy Soups (IRE) 10 9 8 Neil Mulholland Equi ex Incertis Partners
Beau Bay (FR) 10 9 7 Mr Peter Green & Dr RDP Newland
Shantou Flyer (IRE) 11 9 7 Paul Nicholls David Maxwell Racing Limited
Hear No Evil (IRE) 9 9 7 Noel C. Kelly Northern Ireland Mr Patrick Joseph McCartan
Monbeg Notorious (IRE) 10 9 6 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Aforementioned (FR) 8 9 5 Mrs Denise Foster Ireland Gigginstown House Stud
Fingerontheswitch (IRE) 11 9 3 Neil Mulholland Cahill, Atwell & Crofts