Irish-trained horses dominated the weights, when they were revealed in London this evening, for the 2017 Randox Health Grand National by occupying the top five slots - an unprecedented situation.
It’s a good form of the GUBU, glorious, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented that we have such an outstanding selection of horses trained in Ireland.
For 22 years, from L’escargot in 1975 to Bobbyjo in 1999 there were no Irish winners of the world’s greatest steeplechase. Then we had five in eight years from Papillon to Silver Birch, though we had to wait nine more to Rule The World last year.
This year 37 of the 109 entries are from Ireland. Gordon Elliott has dominated the big handicap chases all winter, and was successful in the Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007. He has the biggest number, 14 entries in all, while Gigginstown House, (do we like handicaps yet?), tops the lot with 16 entries.
Elliott said immediately that top-weight Outlander will not run, having the Gold Cup as his number one target. In fact, the top three must be considered doubtful runners with Thyestes winner Champagne West also appearing to be Gold Cup bound. That leaves Empire of Dirt (10st 8lb) who must have stamina doubts, as next best.
It all leaves it quite likely that Don Poli, who reportedly has the National as his target, will carry top-weight of 11st 10lb with the weights rising 3lb.
Clarcam, Roi De Francs, Lord Scoundrel, A Toi Phil and Wounded Warrior (10st 11lb) who could have a similar profile to last year’s winner Rule The World, all could represent Gigginstown.
As with most of the top races, the National is also dominated by the bigger owners. J.P. McManus has eight entries and a high class team headed by Carlingford Lough, More Of That, Minella Rocco and Cause Of Causes, the latter on an attractive 10st 8lb. Ucello Conti (10st 7lb), sixth in the race last year and fourth in the Becher Chase in November, represents Simon Munir.
Of the Willie Mullins runners, Alelchi Inois (11st 3lb) looks to have plenty to do on that weight, especially if the weights rise.
Paul Nicholls best chances seem to lie with the classy Saphir Du Rheu (11st) and Scottish National winner Vicente (10st 5lb)
British-trained runners to catch the eye are Alan King’s Doncaster winner Ziga Boy (10st 5lb), last year’s RSA Chase winner, Blaklion (10st 10lb) for Nigel Twiston Davies and the well weighted Definitly Red (10st 8lb).
Vicente, Blaklion, More Of That, Definitly Red, Ucello Conti and Minella Rocco are all 33/1 with Betway.
The ‘old’ boys, Maggio (10st 8lb), who is guaranteed a run this year, at 12 for Paddy Griffin, Vics Canvas at 14 (10-05) for Dermot McLoughlin, Raz De Maree, 12 years old (10st 4lb) for Gavin Cromwell, all could put up a bold show.
Early odds: 16/1 The Last Samuri, Don Poli; 20/1 One For Arthur, Vieux Lion Rouge, Empire Of Dirt; 25/1 The Young Master, Carlingford Lough
THE TOP 70 ENTRIES
Number Horse Weight Trainer
1 Outlander 11-10 Gordon Elliott IRE
2 Champagne West 11-09 Henry de Bromhead IRE
3 Empire Of Dirt 11-08 Gordon Elliott IRE
4 Don Poli 11-07 Gordon Elliott IRE
5 Carlingford Lough 11-06 John Kiely IRE
6 The Last Samuri 11-05 Kim Bailey
7 Alary 11-04 Colin Tizzard
8 Alelchi Inois 11-03 Willie Mullins IRE
9 Minella Rocco 11-02 Jonjo O'Neill
10 Devils Bride 11-01 Henry de Bromhead IRE
11 More Of That 11-01 Jonjo O'Neill
12 Lord Scoundrel 11-00 Gordon Elliott IRE
13 Perfect Candidate 11-00 Fergal O'Brien
14 Saphir Du Rheu 11-00 Paul Nicholls
15 Shantou Flyer 11-00 Rebecca Curtis
16 Road To Riches 10-13 Noel Meade IRE
17 Sausalito Sunrise 10-13 Philip Hobbs
18 Carole's Destrier 10-12 Neil Mulholland
19 Clarcam 10-12 Gordon Elliott IRE
20 Foxrock 10-12 Ted Walsh IRE
21 Roi Des Francs 10-12 Gordon Elliott IRE
22 Wonderful Charm 10-11 Paul Nicholls
23 Wounded Warrior 10-11 Noel Meade IRE
24 Blaklion 10-10 Nigel Twiston-Davies
25 Drop Out Joe 10-10 Charlie Longsdon
26 Tenor Nivernais 10-10 Venetia Williams
27 Tiger Roll 10-10 Gordon Elliott IRE
28 A Toi Phil 10-09 Gordon Elliott IRE
29 Le Mercurey 10-09 Paul Nicholls
30 The Game Changer 10-09 Gordon Elliott IRE
31 Cause Of Causes 10-08 Gordon Elliott IRE
32 Maggio 10-08 Patrick Griffin IRE
33 Regal Encore 10-08 Anthony Honeyball
34 The Young Master 10-08 Neil Mulholland
35 Definitly Red 10-07 Brian Ellison
36 Double Shuffle 10-07 Tom George
37 Houblon Des Obeaux 10-07 Venetia Williams
38 Pleasant Company 10-07 Willie Mullins IRE
39 Ucello Conti 10-07 Gordon Elliott IRE
40 Vieux Lion Rouge 10-07 David Pipe
41 Ballynagour 10-06 David Pipe
42 Highland Lodge 10-06 James Moffatt
43 Junction Fourteen 10-06 Emma Lavelle
44 O'Faolains Boy 10-06 Rebecca Curtis
45 One For Arthur 10-06 Lucinda Russell
46 Vivaldi Collonges 10-06 Paul Nicholls
47 Bishops Road 10-05 Kerry Lee
48 Lord Windermere 10-05 Jim Culloty IRE
49 Saint Are 10-05 Tom George
50 Vicente 10-05 Paul Nicholls
51 Vics Canvas 10-05 Dermot McLoughlin IRE
52 Ziga Boy 10-05 Alan King
53 Just A Par 10-04 Paul Nicholls
54 Measureofmydreams 10-04 Noel Meade IRE
55 Raz De Maree 10-04 Gavin Cromwell IRE
56 Stellar Notion 10-04 Henry de Bromhead IRE
57 As De Mee 10-03 Paul Nicholls
58 Cocktails At Dawn 10-03 Nicky Henderson
59 Pendra 10-03 Charlie Longsdon
60 Rogue Angel 10-03 Mouse Morris IRE
61 Seventh Sky 10-03 Charlie Mann
62 Shutthefrontdoor 10-03 Jonjo O'Neill
63 Gas Line Boy 10-02 Ian Williams
64 Goodtoknow 10-02 Kerry Lee
65 The Romford Pele 10-02 Rebecca Curtis
66 Thunder And Roses 10-02 Mouse Morris IRE
67 Triolo D'Alene 10-02 Nicky Henderson
68 Vieux Morvan 10-02 Isabelle Pacault FR
69 Doctor Harper 10-01 David Pipe
70 Gallant Oscar 10-01 Tony Martin IRE