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Grand National 2019 preview

The weights have been announced and the build-up to the Aintree Grand National 2019 steps up another notch as we approach most prestigious race meeting.

It has been more than 40 years since a horse carried top weight to glory, but the popular grey Bristol de Mai will be hoping to emulate the iconic Red Rum in doing just that.

Trained by twice-victorious Grand National winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, the eight-year-old is aiming to continue the form that has already brought him two Betfair Chase victories. A key preview of his chances will be available when he runs the Gold Cup at Cheltenham next month.

It is last year’s winner, the inimitable Tiger Roll however, that is the certified favourite according to the odds from Paddy Power in the Grand National betting. The Irish-bred champion is looking to be the first back-to-back winner of the National since – once again – the legendary Red Rum in the 1970s.

His trainer, twice-champion Gordon Elliott, told the Racing Post that “we’ve won it twice and we want to win it again.”

“Tiger Roll has a very hard task, he has a lot more weight this year but we’ll see what happens.”

The nine-year-old has already begun his Spring campaign in good form with a solid victory in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan, despite Elliott declaring he was only “75% fit” before the race.

Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape, meanwhile, has seen his odds considerably shortened following the confirmation of a weight of 11st 4lbs. The six-year-old only emerged as a genuine contender for the crown over the Christmas period but, with a showing at Chepstow that displayed a dynamic balance of speed and stamina, is now being viewed as a real challenger for the Aintree showpiece.

It is a record year, meanwhile, for Irish trained horses; 47 of the 110 qualified entrants hail from training yards based in the country.

Elliott clearly leads the way with 22 qualified entrants, but compatriot Willie Mullins is aiming for success with his 10, including last year’s runner-up Pleasant Company.

The threat of a no-deal Brexit, it seems, has done nothing to dissuade Irish trainers despite the fact that Aintree is set to fall only a few days after the UK’s exit date.

To go one better this year, however, Pleasant Company would have to emerge from a crowded middle tier behind Tiger Roll and Elegant Escape in the betting odds.

Currently valued amongst a group that includes 2018 Cheltenham handicap chase winner Rock the Kasbah and Irish Grand National champion General Principle, there are a tightly-packed selection of runners that could take the crown should Tiger Roll fail in his back-to-back bid.

With the suspension of racing due to equine flu providing a more disruptive build-up to the National than enjoyed in previous years, it remains a tight and fascinating field. With only a few weeks remaining until things get underway, it won’t be long to wait until we see who takes home the coveted crown.

The Randox Health Grand National will take place from 6th-8th April 2019.


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