Nigel Twiston-Davies has trained two Grand National winners in the past and is fancied by bookmakers to land the hat-trick this year. The 171st running of the famous steeplechase returns to Aintree racecourse on Saturday 14th April as the sport’s biggest names aim to save a place in the history books.
One For Arthur won the race last year off a bumper SP 14/1 but he misses out on a shot at two-in-a-row through injury and Team Twiston-Davies have the early favourite with their Blaklion priced as jolly across the board, no more than 12/1 trading following the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival.
The supremely talented nine-year-old gelding brings form to the Liverpool track and it’s little surprise to see traders falling over themselves to keep the bay close. Past runnings of this race prove it’s always worth taking the favourite on with a lively outsider and, with Blaklion winning only one of his last nine, there’s reason to look further down the pecking order.
Here are two hopefuls at a bigger price that should give backers a run for their stake money:
Gold Present is sure to be popular with those who like to keep the trends of this race in mind with the Nicky Henderson representative ticking all the right boxes. As an eight-year-old, he falls into line with two of the last three champions, One For Arthur and Many Clouds, who are also eight-year-old winners.
He’s also available at 25/1 and that has been the price of half of the last four victors. Saw a two-run purple patch come to an end when pulled-up in the Ultima Handicap Chase by Nico de Boinville at Cheltenham but we can forgive him that, as a losing effort in the run before Aintree has been a feature of past National winners.
The clues say he’ll go close and the price makes him easy to take a chance on.
Rathvinden is another who will find friends in the betting ring before this year’s 4m 3f slog over 30 fences and he arrives with confidence to burn following a winning effort at Prestbury Park. Willie Mullins saddles this 10-year-old, who has been chalked up at 33/1 to book another appearance in the winner's enclosure.
He's an outsider but he has already proven his passion for upsetting the horse racing betting odds, claiming the National Hunt Challenge Cup over 3m 7f in March.
With race favourite Jury Duty getting rid of Jamie Codd that day, Rathvinden took full advantage to drag nearest finisher Ms Parfois home by ½ a length. That success means he has never finished outside of the places when managing to stay on his feet.
Eight wins, three seconds and a couple of bronze medals go against four failures to finish, including unseating Patrick Mullins in the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February. If he gets around, he should go close and will catch the eye of each-way backers.