The world’s most popular steeplechase is almost upon us. With time running out, here is your complete guide to the event, including the latest betting odds.
What is the Grand National?
The Grand National is the biggest horse race in England and the most valuable jump race in Europe. It is a handicap steeplechase where 40 runners and riders take on 30 Grand National Fences over the course of four and a quarter miles distance for the pride, prestige and a huge slice of the £1million prize purse.
Where is This Event Held?
The 2018 Grand National will take place at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, which has hosted the event since its inception in 1839. It is located at Ormskirk Road, also known as the A59, one of the main routes from Lancashire to Liverpool.
When is the Event?
The Aintree Festival starts on April 12, 2018 and ends on April 14th, with the first race expected to kick-off at 1:40 pm on opening day. Although there will be plenty of quality action for the thousands of racegoers at Aintree racecourse, the festival’s ultimate showdown will be the Grand National race, which is slated for 5:15 pm on Saturday, April 14th.
What is the Schedule of Races?
There are twenty-one races for the event and they are divided into three days of competition:
April 12 – Grand National Thursday
1:45 – Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase
2:20 – Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle
2:50 – Betway Bowl Chase
3:25 – Betway Aintree Hurdle
4:05 – Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase
4:40 – Red Rum Handicap Chase
5:15 – Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
April 13 – Ladies Day
1:45 – Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle
2:20 – Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle
2:50 – Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase
3:25 – JLT Melling Chase
4:05 – Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
4:40 – Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
5:15 – Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race
April 14 – Grand National Day
1:45 – Gaskells Handicap Hurdle
2:25 – Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
3:00 – Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase
3:40 – Betway Handicap Chase
4:20 – Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle )
5:15 – Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
6:20 – Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys’ And Amateur Riders’ Race)
Of course, as we said, the most important is the penultimate race- The Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase.
Who Are The Favorites?
Since the final field of 40 hasn’t been determined at the time of writing, we’re currently looking at the ante-post market with the bookies. Ante-post markets are offered before the final declarations, which usually happen the day before the race. With the Grand National, however, final declarations come in on Thursday.
Here are the odds for some of the favorites due to run the race, as of April 11. Please note that these odds may have changed a little by the time you’re reading this, and they’ll continue to change between now and the start of the race.
Total Recall 10/1
Total Recall has been impressive since joining trainer Willie Mullins, winning three of four starts. This nine-year-old won the Munster National, Ladbrokes Trophy and the William Fry Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown. Although he was a faller at the Gold Cup the last time, he was running well before that happened. A proven force in big races, he is currently this year’s betting favorite.
Anibale Fly 11/1
Anibale Fly won Leopardstown’s Paddy Power Chase last December by seven lengths. He also finished third to Native River in Cheltenham’s Gold Cup but was a faller at the Irish Gold Cup. Because he seems to come to his own when his stamina is tested at great distances, he demands respect despite the fact that this is his first appearance at Aintree.
Blaklion was majestic in chasing home Bristol De Mai at the Charlie Hall Chase last November. But he was more stunning when he beat fellow specialists Highland Lodge and Last Samuri by nine lengths in the Becher Chase a month later. He finished fourth in Last Year’s Grand National and is expected to make another bold bid this year.
Tiger Roll 12/1
Tiger Roll was one of Gordon Elliott’s eight winners at the recent Cheltenham Festival, beating out Urgent de Gregaine by two lengths in the Cross Country Chase. He’s won four different races of 40K or more so for sure, Tiger Roll is made for these big occasions.
Recently bought by the owners of a previous Grand National Winner, Party Politics, Seeyouatmidnight was a winner of three of his first five starts in 2015-16 then finished third in 2016. He only had three starts last year and underwent wind surgery in November. If he is able to return near his best form, he is a standout at the weights.
Baie Des Iles 16/1
Baie Des Iles finished third among 19 in the last installment of the Grand National Trial at Punchestown, a race he won by four and three quarters from Sambremont in 2016-17. Baie Des Iles stays well, has lots of stamina and loves the soft ground. Would be a fairy tale if Katie Walsh rides him to become the first female rider to win the Grand National.
The Last Samuri 16/1
The Last Samuri placed second in this year’s Becher and was runner-up in the Grand National last year. He’s got pedigree over the National Fences. Not the biggest horse but has tons of heart and unquestioned consistency. Trainer Kim Bailey won the Grand National with Mr. Frisk in 1990. The Last Samuri hopes to duplicate that feat this year.
Ucello Conti 20/1
Ucello Conti has yet to win in this yard but won thrice over fences in France. He placed 6th here two years ago but was a faller last time out. Had a subpar outing at the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase last January but he is the type to bounce back and is capable of doing so in this race.
Minella Rocco 20/1
At 11st10lb, Minella Rocco tops the weights for the Randox Health Grand National. He finished second to Sizing John in the 2016-17 Cheltenham Gold Cup but didn’t run in this year’s edition. A faller in the last Irish Gold Cup, he had wind surgery in February. The partnership with top jockey Noel Fehily enhances his stock for the 2018 Grand national.
I Just Know 25/1
The North Yorkshire National Winner runs well over hurdles and shows good form when stamina is tested. Trainer Sue Smith won this race in 2013 as a 66/1 outsider. Coming from the same stable, this horse is an interesting contender in the 2018 Grand National.
Who Will Win the 2018 Grand National?
The challenging nature of this race means it is notoriously difficult to predict the winner. The horses listed above all have a realistic chance of being first past the finishing post, but there’s no such thing as a “safe bet” here.
It’s easy to see why Total Recall is leading the betting at the moment, and this certainly looks like an appealing selection. It’s Blaklion that stands out to us, though, primarily because of his performance in the Becher Chase.
Whichever horse takes the prize, the 2018 Grand National is sure to be a great spectacle. The race rarely fails to live up to its hype and the competitive field this year should ensure we’re not disappointed.