All eyes will be on the legendary Tiger Roll as he bids to make history by winning a third consecutive Grand National this year. He delivered a fine performance to win the famous race in 2018 and then he went off as the 4/1 favourite when successfully defending his crown last year. Many punters cashed in, and he is sure to be a popular pick at short odds this time around.
However, long shots have an excellent record in this race. Neptune Collonges defied odds of 33/1 to win it in 2012, then 66/1 shots Auroras Encore seized victory in 2013, before Pinaut De Re won with an SP of 25/1, Many Clouds won at 25/1 and then 33/1 hopeful Rule The World emerged victorious in 2016. The Grand National features an epic trip and 30 brutal fences, so many favourites fall and there is plenty of opportunity for long shots to prove their worth. These are five outsiders to consider for the big race in 2020:
Kimberlite Candy announced himself as a potential Grand National winner when he clinched a fine victory in the Grade 3 Classic Chase at Warwick in December. The race takes place over 3m 5f 54y, and Kimberlite Candy relished the trip. He appeared to have plenty left in the tank after finishing comfortably clear of Captain Chaos. That saw him bumped up 10lbs to a mark of 150, but he still sits neatly in the Grand National weights at 10st 4lb. One For Arthur landed the Classic Chase en route to his 2017 Grand National triumph, which code bode well for Kimberlite Candy’s chances.
“He’s in great nick,” said trainer Tom Lacey. “He’s fresh and well and will go straight to Aintree. I don’t think we’ll go for a racecourse gallop. We’ll prepare him at home.” In his previous race, Kimberlite Candy finished second in the Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree – another key prep race for the Grand National – so connections should feel confident about his chances of success. However, he is still priced at 20/1 to win the big race, which makes him a tempting each-way punt.
Magic of Light
The Jessica Harrington-trained nine-year-old put in a heroic effort to finish second in last year’s Grand National. She was always prominent throughout the race, despite a blunder at the 15th. She held a narrow lead five out and she was still neck-and-neck with Tiger Roll at the penultimate fence, before finishing strongly to hold off a rampaging Rathvinden. Magic of Light went off at 66/1 to win the National, so anyone that placed an each-way bet on her would have made a tidy profit.
Since then Magic of Light has done reasonably well. She was third over 2m 4f on her seasonal reappearance at Naas in November, before winning a Listed mares’ chase at Newbury the following month. She then won the Grade 2 mares’ hurdle at Ascot in January, which saw her shortened to 16/1 to win the National. However, she then finished eighth of eight runners in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan last time out, which tempered the excitement and saw her odds drift out on the Grand National. Yet she has already proven her ability to finish the big race at Aintree, which is no mean feat. She is set to carry 10st 12lb, which is only 1lb more than last year, whereas Tiger Roll – who beat her by fewer than three lengths – is lumbered with an extra 5lbs.
The valiant veteran will get another crack at glory when he lines up for the Grand National at Aintree this year. He finished eighth in the 2017 renewal, and then went one better when finish seventh last year. He is now 12 years old, but he is a gutsy horse, proven to last the trip. Regal Encore has had 41 runs throughout his long career, with eight wins and six runner-up finishes. Trainer Anthony Honeyball recently reported that Regal Encore is in great form.
“He has a crazy constitution,” said Honeyball. “You’d obviously want to own a Gold Cup class horse, but the next best thing must be him, because he has gone to all the biggest handicaps and won a few of them. Hopefully he goes back to Aintree. Last year three out he was right there at the business end and just got tired, then stayed on a little bit again. It’s a bit of a lottery really but I think he will go very well again.” Regal Encore is a massive outsider in the Grand National betting odds at Marathonbet, but he could spring a surprise.
Nicky Henderson’s 10-year-old returned to form with an eye-catching win in the Great Yorkshire Chase at Doncaster in January. The trainer was asked if he would now consider pointing OK Corral towards Aintree. “It would have to cross your mind,” said Henderson. “It certainly crossed mine. He hasn’t got a lot of experience but he didn’t go to chasing until he was eight. As a young horse he was very hard to keep sound, he was very big and raw… But he’s had a good run at it now for a couple of seasons and he’s a very trainable horse. I wouldn’t rule it out, personally, but that’s entirely down to JP [McManus, owner].”
Last March, OK Corral went for the National Hunt Chase over a marathon trip at Cheltenham, but he struggled and was eventually pulled up. He was uninspiring on his return to action in November, but that win at Doncaster was encouraging. He is an inexperienced chaser for a 10-year-old, but he jumps well and he has good stamina, so OK Corral looks like an interesting long shot at 40/1 for the Grand National.
One For Arthur
It is now three years since One For Arthur’s famous Grand National triumph. He raced towards the rear of the field and only started to make progress at the start of the second circuit. One For Arthur only moved into contention three out. Favourite Blacklion had opened up a healthy lead by that point, but One For Arthur reeled him in and eventually won by to win by four and a half lengths from Cause of Causes, with Saint Are taking third ahead of a fading Blaklion. It was a really brave performance. Derek Fox, who had just returned to action following a nasty injury, gave him a beautiful ride and Scotland had just its second Grand National winner.
One For Arthur has never hit those heights again. Injury kept him out for 20 months, and he unseated his rider on his comeback in December 2018. He then unseated Fox in his next race, so he was not given much chance of success when he went straight into last year’s Grand National. However, One For Arthur relished the trip once again and ended up sixth. He was pulled up with a fibrillating heart at Haydock last month, sparking serious fears for his health. However, trainer Lucinda Russell has reported that he is now fighting fit.
“He’s fine and his heart is back to its normal rhythm, which is great,” she said. “Everything is absolutely perfect with his heart. All the valves are tight and everything is great. He’s had a resting ECG and that was perfect, there were no drop beats. He’s had an exercise ECG and we’re going to do another one about three weeks before Aintree and we’ll continue to keep testing him but it’s so far so good.” One For Arthur is now on course for the National, he looks in great shape and he is priced at 33/1 to triumph once again.