If the Randox Grand National is the ultimate indicator of the state of play between British and Irish racing the publication of the weights for this year’s race in Liverpool showed just how the pendulum has swung in Ireland’s favour: just 11 of the top 40 horses in the weights are British, only two in the top 20.
Any Second Now, trained by Ruby Walsh’s father Ted, has the dubious distinction of being top-weight with 11st 12lbs despite having finished third and second with lesser weights in the past.
Emmet Mullins, trainer of last year’s winner and this year’s favourite Noble Yeats, accepted his weight of 11st 11lbs and said he could not complain but that "it will be a big ask", to run with 19lbs more than a year ago.
Grand National 2023 runners and riders
The list below is in handicap order
Name (nationality) age, owner, trainer, weight – odds
Any Second Now (IRE) 11, Mr John P. McManus, T. M. Walsh, 11st 12lb – 16/1
Course specialist who has already finished third behind Minella Times and second behind Noble Yeats. If he keeps up that sequence then we might be looking at the winner. Not getting any younger but ran a good race in the Irish Gold Cup. Top-weight means he is probably destined to be no better than one of Aintree’s great near-misses.
Hewick (IRE) 8, Mr T. J. Mcdonald, John Joseph Hanlon, 11st 12lb – 16/1
If you’re looking for a story…..trained by larger than life ‘Shark’ Hanlon, he cost £800 as a two-year-old, failed to get round in his first three point-to-points but has now won £250k and a series of prestigious races: the Bet365 Gold Cup (proving stamina), Galway Plate and American National (proving toe) in the USA. Has already been paraded inside The Pint Depot, Shark’s local in Carlow, he’ll be serving behind the bar if he wins this one.
Conflated (IRE) 9, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 11st 12lb – 20/1
By the same sire, Yeats, as last year’s winner. A two-time three-mile Grade One chase winner at Leopardstown makes him the class act in the race but weighted accordingly. His trainer knows a thing or two about winning Nationals with three in the bag already, a number matched by owner Michael O’Leary. Has a prior engagement in the Gold Cup.
Noble Yeats (IRE) 8, Mr Robert Waley-Cohen, Emmet Mullins, 11st 11lb – 10/1
Last year’s memorable winner for Sam Waley-Cohen on his last ride and has not stopped improving this season, so much so that he is now a major player in the Gold Cup. In the old days you would have said the horse least likely to win the National was the previous year’s winner but Tiger Roll proved that it may be possible over the modern Aintree track.
Galvin (IRE) 9, Mr R. A. Bartlett, Gordon Elliott, 11st 11lb – 33/1
Owned by Mr Spud himself, Ronnie Bartlett, he is in both the Cross Country Chase, a well-trodden path for Gordon Elliott’s previous National winners, and the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Fourth in last year’s Gold Cup and winner of a Grade One chase, he is a class act on his day but so far has not been quite the force of old this season and needs to show some spark in the Cross Country.
Envoi Allen (FR) 9, Cheveley Park Stud, Henry de Bromhead, 11st 8lb – 25/1
Went to Cheltenham being hailed as the next Arkle but fell in his novice chase and he’s pretty much been back among the ordinary mortals ever since. He has won over three miles but possibly one of those horses who does not really have a specific trip and four and a quarter miles might be stretching it.
Fury Road (IRE) 9, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 11st 6lb – 33/1
A good novice last season, he gave red-hot Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs something to think about leading to him to last in the Irish Gold Cup. Another of Elliott’s endless entries in the race, it’s probably worth a crack at the Gold Cup first.
The Big Dog (IRE) 10, Damien J. Kelly/Colin Kelly, Peter Fahey, 11st 5lb – 25/1
Third in the Welsh National at Christmas and was running a blinder when falling in the Irish Gold Cup when still in front three out. Took a heavy tumble which is probably not the best preparation for Aintree and he might need a little confidence booster first. ‘Dog’ is usually a derogatory term when applied to a horse but clearly not when applied to this fella.
Capodanno (FR) 7, Mr John P. McManus, W. P. Mullins, 11st 5lb – 33/1
There seems to be some agreement among the Mullins team that he is the pick of their horses. Similar-ish profile to last year’s winner Noble Yeats though not a novice. Wound up last season winning champion novice chase at Punchestown. Late starting this season due to injury, probably needs a second outing before Aintree to be competitive.
Delta Work (FR) 10, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 11st 4lb – 16/1
The pantomime villain at Cheltenham last year when he beat Tiger Roll in the cross-country on the two-time National winner’s swansong. Has taken to mixed obstacles like a duck to water or, even, a delta. Well beaten third in last year’s National carrying 10st 10lbs. Was that his winning chance?
Sam Brown 11, Mr T. C. Frost, Anthony Honeyball, 11st 4lb – 80/1
Won a good handicap chase very impressively round Aintree’s Mildmay course last year and it is amazing how many horses who perform well on that course also like the National fences despite it being very different. Maybe they just like Liverpool. Ran well first time out but a bit disappointing in two starts since pulling up last time. Trainer’s horses were out of form mid-winter so may be better than recent form suggests.
Lifetime Ambition (IRE) 8, Linda Mulcahy/Mary Wolridge, Mrs J. Harrington, 11st 3lb – 25/1
Well named, because everyone wants to win a National. Was being talked about as a National horse a year ago and took to the fences well in the Grand Sefton in the autumn. Finished close enough over too short a trip to Gold Cup favourite Galopin Des Champs to give him a shout here. Jessica Harrington has won ‘em all - except the National. Victory would cap a great career.
Franco de Port (FR) 8, Bruton Street V, W. P. Mullins, 11st 3lb – 50/1
Out-and-out stayer whose main aim this spring will be the Grand Steeple de Paris, in which he finished third last year. If he can jump Auteuil, modern Aintree should be a doddle. Likes a bit of cut. Has spent most of the season running in graded races so might find life a bit easier in a handicap.
Carefully Selected (IRE) 11, Miss M. A. Masterson, W. P. Mullins, 11st 1lb – 25/1
Lightly raced for his age, having had more time off than an office cleaner during Covid. Old fashioned type, once second in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, the physique of a ‘dinosaur’, weight carrying not a problem and his win in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran recently could see him the most fancied of the Mullins gang.
Gaillard du Mesnil (FR) 7, Mrs J. Donnelly, W. P. Mullins, 11st 0lb – 16/1
Got a big shout from Willie Mullins at the National weights lunch. Tailor-made’ he said. A second-season novice but one with Grade One form. He finished third in last year’s Irish National and in similar position behind L’Homme Presse at Cheltenham. Might pay a visit to Cheltenham for the National Hunt Chase.
Longhouse Poet (IRE) 9, Sean & Bernardine Mulryan, Martin Brassil, 11st 0lb – 16/1
Trainer won this race with Numbersixvalverde in 2006. Finished a good sixth in the race last year and been protected from the handicapper this time by being campaigned over hurdles. He won one of them but didn’t see which Teauphoo went last time. Job to tell what sort of form he is in but don’t underestimate the trainer.
Chris's Dream (IRE) 11, Robcour, Henry de Bromhead, 11st 0lb – 33/1
One time useful chaser once considered good enough to run in the Gold Cup. He has been returned whence he started to the point-to-point field which will, surely, have restored his confidence. In two outings he has yet to get round Aintree without unseating his jockey which suggests a new glue might be required. However both times he was cantering, in 2021 when departing four out alongside stable companion and winner Minella Times.
Coko Beach (FR) 8, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 11st 0lb – 33/1
A grey yoke who wears all the headgear. Looks a bit lazy and hard work for a jockey but suited by a big field to keep him interested. Comfortable winner of the Punchestown National Trial, his first win for two years. Eighth in last year’s race but beaten by 66 lengths having cut out a lot of the running early doors. Tried googling Coko Beach the place – it doesn’t exist.
Darasso (FR) 10, Mr John P. McManus, Joseph Patrick O'Brien, 10st 13lb – 25/1
If it were a two mile hurdle….he got within seven lengths of Honeysuckle at Punchestown last April. Latecomer to fences, he is still a novice although that is no barrier these days. Profile a bit similar to last year’s winner in that he has been running over less than three miles but a good third in the Kerry National qualifies him for this. The O’Brien family have won just about everything except a National.
Pencilfulloflead (IRE) 9, Robcour, Gordon Elliott, 10st 12lb – 33/1
The things they call a horse these days….Not living up to his name recently having only run four times in last two years. Better with a good bit of cut in the ground, it’s been very much stop-start with him so far. Best hope is probably his three-time winning trainer but doesn’t look the pick of his murmuration and no obvious signs of life in the Bobbyjo.
Le Milos 8, The Jolly Good Partnership, Dan Skelton, 10st 11lb – 25/1
Won the Coral Gold Cup, a race which the whole of racing still refers to as the old ‘Hennessy’ and is unbeaten in two starts since joining Dan Skelton in the autumn. Always looked a promising staying chaser when with his previous trainer but has come on a stride this season. Likes a bit of cut, is a proven tough customer and we are getting into the realms of a very carriable weight once we drop under 11st.
Quick Wave (FR) 10, Ms Sharon Kinsella, Venetia Williams, 10st 11lb – 25/1
A once difficult-to-train mare who was hard to get on the racecourse, she ran the race of her life to win the Haydock Grand National Trail in February at a big price. Distance no problem, trainer knows what is all about having won with Mon Mome. There are lies, damn lies and statistics though; the last mare to win a National was Nickel Coin in 1951.
The Shunter (IRE) 10, Mr John P. McManus, Emmet Mullins, 10st 11lb – 33/1
The first evidence of Emmet Mullins’s genius, before winning this race last year with Noble Yeats, was when he landed a £100k bonus by winning a hurdle at Kelso and a race at Cheltenham 10 days later with The Shunter. That was two years ago and the only race he has won since has been a maiden flat race at Sligo. Might take more than genius to win a National with this one now.
Happygolucky (IRE) 9, Lady Dulverton, Kim Bailey, 10st 11lb – 33/1
I’m pretty sure Kim Bailey won this race once before but in days of old when knights were bold. Went right through the gears last season ending up second at Cheltenham and winning over the Mildmay course at Aintree. Good run first time out this season. Careful jumper. Not much sign of his preferred soft ground this winter. Has Bishop of Cashel there in his dam’s pedigree so must have some sort of prayer.
Ga Law (FR) 7, The Footie Partnership, Jamie Snowden, 10st 11lb – 66/1
Pronounced ‘Galore’ he came back better than ever after a long injury time out for his owners, the Footie Partnership, a group of friends who named their syndicate in honour of their great racing buddy Nick Foot who died from cancer six years ago. Won the Paddy Power Gold Cup in the autumn, tantalisingly failed to qualify for the National when falling at the last in his first three-mile chase. Must be placed in one before he can run. Stamina did not look an issue, touch of class and trainer on crest of a wave.
Remastered 10, Brocade Racing, David Pip, 10st 10lb – 25/1
Interesting. A strong stayer with a touch of class. Qualifies as a veteran these days but in the form of his life. Ran a career best when half-length runner up to Le Milos in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury. Weighted to reverse that form. Tom Scuadmore, who usually rode him, is retired now which might be just as well as he holds the record (jointly with Richard Johnson) of most National rides without winning. I wonder if he will be regretting that on April 14 this year?
The Big Breakaway (IRE) 8, Eric Jones, Geoff Nicholas, John Romans, Joe Tizzard, 10st 10lb – 25/1
Hampered by sore shins last season, he ran a terrific trial for this finishing third off top weight in the Welsh National. Like a lot of National entries will go to Cheltenham for the Ultima Chase as a warm up. Should enjoy the tempo of the race, first runner for his trainer, one of Britain's best (and few) chances of keeping the race at home.
Escaria Ten (FR) 9, McNeill Family, Gordon Elliott, 10st 10lb – 33/1
Was ninth in the race last year beaten by 75 lengths. He was going well to the second last so the inference has to be that any jockey would start getting range anxiety after about four miles. Not a regular winner but, to be fair, not that many miles on the clock either. Nevertheless there must be better options among the trainer's 20 other entries.
Farclas (FR) 9, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 10st 10lb – 66/1
Quite well fancied for the 2021 National when the trainer was on his infamous sabbatical. Trying to emulate Tiger Roll, who had also won a Triumph Hurdle aged four, he ran a stormer in fifth for Sneezy Foster. It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong for him since, only completing once in four outings. Can’t see it in his present form I’m afraid.
Threeunderthrufive (IRE) 8, McNeill Family, Paul Nicholls, 10st 9lb – 50/1
He won four on the bounce as a novice last season but had limitations exposed in Brown Advisory at Cheltenham. Has not quite gone on as you would have hoped this season including falling at the first in the Coral Gold Cup. Sure to be a popular bet in the nation’s 19th holes.
Diol Ker (FR) 9, Gigginstown House Stud, Noel Meade, 10st 8lb – 33/1
Not a serial winner by any stretch of the imagination but a strong staying type who will finish strongly if he gets that’s far. Best form was 40-1 second in a big handicap at Leopardstown at Christmas. If he tidies up his jumping. a repeat of that form would make him an interesting long shot not without a sniff.
Cape Gentleman (IRE) 7, Mr Pierre Manigault, John Joseph Hanlon, 10st 8lb – 40/1
From the same stable as Hewick. A victory for the seven-year-old really would be history repeating itself. The owner's great grandfather was Stephen Stanford who owned 1923 winner Sergeant Murphy, a stalwart of the race who was 13 when he won it and ran in it more times than AP McCoy had hot dinners. Most successful of the entries on the Flat having won the Irish Cesarewitch and run at Royal Ascot. This is a different kettle of fish.
Cilaos Emery (FR) 11, The Has Been's, Sophie Leech, 10st 8lb – 66/1
Spent his whole racing life with Willie Mullins where his best effort was finishing fourth to Epatante in the Champion Hurdle only beaten nine and a bit lengths. Can’t remember many National winners to have done that over hurdles. Not the greatest jumper of all time, never been further than two and three quarter miles so (a) needs to qualify by finishing placed over three (b) unlikely to get four and a half miles without aid of a horsebox. Best hope is recent change of scenery.
Roi Mage (FR) 11, Pryde/Van Der Hoeven/McGladery/Beaumont, Patrick Griffin, 10st 8lb – 150/1
Fell in the cross-country at Cheltenham in December but was not going too badly at the time and jumping Aintree should not be a problem - he’s been knocking about French steeplechases and a Heinz 57 variety of obstacles for long enough before winding up in Ireland. Probably not too fussed by the ground but proven handler of heavy if Aintree’s watering system runs out of control.
Velvet Elvis (IRE) 7, Mr D. Kierans, T. Gibney, 10st 6lb – 50/1
Eight, nine or 10 are the most common ages for a National winner. A relative youngster, Noble Yeats a year ago was the last seven-year-old to win it since Bogskar in 1940 but, to be fair, not many try it. Until winning an ordinary three mile chase at Fairyhouse in February two pulled ups and beaten 57 lengths by The Big Dog offered minimal hope. The trainer said return to form was aided by a small field, if so a field of 40 might not be a happy place for him. This Elvis doesn’t look one for the money.
Minella Trump (IRE) 9, Mr T. G. Leslie, Donald McCain, 10st 6lb – 50/1
There are two places where the name McCain is royalty - the potato world and Aintree through the legendary Red Rum, Amberleigh House and Ballabriggs. It is exactly 50 years since Red Rum nailed Crisp in the last yards to win his first. Essentially a summer jumper (but better than that) he has won nine of his last 10 starts, six of them at Perth where he is unbeaten. Wants proper good ground. Has to be respected coming from where he does.
Vanillier (FR) 8, Mrs H. M. Keaveney, Gavin Cromwell, 10st 6lb – 100/1
This grey dotted up in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham as a novice hurdler suggesting stamina his strong suit. Has not reached same heights over fences but was placed in the National Hunt Chase last year over three miles six. Campaigned mainly over shorter distances since in top class company. Let loose over a proper trip in the Bobbyjo he ran on strongly at the finish just failing to catch Kemboy.Trainer very shrewd and the method in that madness may pay dividends off a winnable weight here. Looks set up for the job and can already see the grey being one of the long range gambles of the race. Get on now.
A Wave of The Sea (IRE) 7, Mr John P. McManus, Joseph Patrick O'Brien, 10st 6lb – 100/1
Quite a few miles on the clock for a horse of his age and enough Fs in his form to think that he is not the greatest jumper of all time even though that seems to matter less these days. Probably one to avoid - particularly if you are a jockey riding something else in the race. Of the Waves, the Quick one looks the better of the two.
Corach Rambler (IRE) 9, The Ramblers, Lucinda Russell, 10st 5lb – 12/1
Trainer gave the Scots its second ever winner with One For Arthur in 2017 so knows what it is all about and I am not sure this isn’t a better horse. He won at the Cheltenham Festival a year ago so has a touch of class but that is not all he has going for him; he’s a good age, stays, goes on any ground, jumps, perfect weight and is racing’s youth policy; one of his owners is a 21-year-old at Edinburgh University. There are a lot worse ways to spend your student grant. Not many Brits but he’s the pick of them.
Ain't That A Shame (IRE) 9, Robcour, Henry de Bromhead, 10st 5lb – 25/1
Trainer saddled first and second in 2021 and the runner-up then, Balko Des Flos, went into the race with a lot worse form than this horse. Consistent chaser, ran a very good race in a handicap at Leopardstown over Christmas. Rachael Blackmore has the pick of several from the Waterford yard and this might be the best of them off a nice racing weight.
Lord Lariat (IRE) 8, P.Blake/Patrick John Casey, Dermot Anthony McLoughlin, 10st 5lb – 33/1
Big priced winner of last year’s Irish National, often a good trial, off a very low weight to give his trainer a second winner in succession in the race. Did not look like a fluke, he travels strongly and jumps and looks like he should get an extreme distance. Trainer’s only previous runner was Vics Canvas, third at 100-1 in 2016. One of Ireland’s smaller men battling the big battalions, he’d be a popular winner.
Enjoy d'Allen (FR) 9, Mr John P. McManus, Ciaran Murphy, 10st 5lb – 40/1
Only got as far as the first last year when stumbled and unseated rider. At 20-1 he was quite fancied then but he has not done anything since to suggest he is in better form or has a greater chance. Placed in an Irish National but his last win is fading into the distance in the rear view mirror - it’s over two years ago. His owner has had a lot of shots at the race and has had countless seconds but still only the one winner, Don’t Push It.
Mr Incredible (IRE) 7, Mr P. Byrne, W. P. Mullins, 10st 4lb – 25/1
We have to take it on trust he is named after Bob Parr aka Mr Incredible the title character in the Disney/Pixar film The Incredibles, a man in possession of superhuman strength, durability and, key to the National, stamina. Joined Mullins from Henry de Bromhead in the autumn. Lightly raced, relative babe aged seven. May also possess a few traits of his talented but quirky sire Westerner, he once planted himself at the start and refused to race so this could go either way.
Cloudy Glen (IRE) 10, Exors of the late Mr Trevor Hemmings, Venetia Williams, 10st 4lb – 40/1
Travelled eye-catchingly well in Haydock’s Grand National trial after a very long lay-off to finish third. A Hennessy winner too. A suggestion he goes well fresh but is meant to be going to Cheltenham first. Trainer won it with 100–1 shot Mon Mome.
Gin On Lime (FR) 7, Robcour, Henry de Bromhead, 10st 4lb – 40/1
You might remember his last win, in a two horse race at Cheltenham in November 2021, when the two runners took part in some synchronised falling at the second last. After sliding along on his tummy, doing the splits and a few other gymnastics he got to his feet with Rachael Blackmore still on his back, showjumped the last and came home alone. Still only seven, fourth in the Kerry National last autumn, not really screaming National winner to me.
Mister Coffey (FR) 8, Lady Bamford & Alice Bamford, Nicky Henderson, 10st 4lb – 50/1
Second season novice who has been a bit unlucky not to win one yet. The only disappointing race he has run was when favourite for last year’s Topham Trophy over the fences. He’ll be the talk of Daylesford if he wins but having failed to perform there once leaves a bit of a question mark, while the trainer has struggled to get one beyond the first for a while.
Battleoverdoyen (IRE) 10, Pioneer Racing, Gordon Elliott, 10st 4lb – 150/1
Once upon a time a pretty useful chaser but on the slide down the handicap now and increasingly this race looks like it’s one for unexposed horses on the up rather than the other way round. Jumped round the Topham last year when he never got involved and has been pretty busy since. Hasn’t won for nearly two years. Others in the yard preferred.
Ashtown Lad (IRE) 9, Darren & Annaley Yates, Dan Skelton, 10st 3lb – 20/1
Gabbys Cross (IRE) 8, Mr R. S. Brookhouse, Henry de Bromhead, 10st 2lb – 66/1
Hill Sixteen 10, J Fyffe & S Townshend, Sandy Thomson, 10st 2lb – 100/1
Recite A Prayer (IRE) 8, The Turner Family, W. P. Mullins, 10st 1lb – 66/1
Rapper 9, The Home Farm Partnership, Henry Daly, 10st 1lb – 100/1
Eva's Oskar (IRE) 9, Sally & Richard Prince, Tim Vaughan, 10st 1lb – 100/1
Our Power (IRE) 8, Walters Plant Hire & Potter Group, Sam Thomas, 10st 0lb – 40/1
Dunboyne (IRE) 8, S. P. O'Connor, Gordon Elliott, 10st 0lb – 40/1
Death Duty (IRE) 12, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 10st 0lb – 100/1
Francky du Berlais (FR) 10, Mr Roddy Owen, Peter Bowen, 10st 0lb – 100/1
Back On The Lash 9, Maughan, Redknapp, Ryan, Salters, Martin Keighley, 9st 13lb – 50/1
Fortescue 9, Mrs L Nixon, Henry Daly, 9st 13lb – 66/1
Defi Bleu (FR) 10, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 9st 12lb – 100/1
Punitive (IRE) 9, Pioneer Racing, Gordon Elliott, 9st 10lb – 66/1
Born By The Sea (IRE) 9, Natalie Gilligan, Paul John Gilligan, 9st 10lb – 100/1
Gevrey (FR) 7, Denis Gallagher Racing, Gordon Elliott, 9st 10lb – 100/1
Milan Native (IRE) 10, Gigginstown House Stud, Gordon Elliott, 9st 10lb – 100/1
Fakiera (FR) 8, Mr T. O'Driscoll, Gordon Elliott Ireland, 9st 8lb – 66/1
Darrens Hope (IRE) 9, Robert Murphy, Robert Murphy, 9st 8lb – 100/1
Mortal (IRE) 11, Mr A. Dunlop, Gordon Elliott, 9st 8lb – 100/1
Captain Kangaroo (IRE) 8, Kanga Racing & Brett Graham Syndicate, W. P. Mullins, 9st 8lb – 100/1
Secret Reprieve (IRE) 9, Mr & Mrs William Rucker, Evan Williams, 9st 5lb – 66/1
Captain Cattistock (IRE) 10, Mr Nic Brereton, Fergal O'Brien, 9st 5lb – 150/1
Fantastikas (FR) 8, Imperial Racing Partnership 2016, Nigel Twiston-Davies, 9st 5lb – 150/1
Glamorgan Duke (IRE) 10, Natalie Gilligan, Paul John Gilligan, 9st 1lb – 100/1
Odds and list accurate as of February 27, 2023
Which horse should I back at the Grand National?
As the Randox Grand National has evolved a different type of horses is required to win it – you can forget the flamboyant jumper of yesteryear; they expend too much energy. Jumping the smaller, softer obstacles of the modern Aintree requires something that just gets over them like Tiger Roll or Noble Yeats, the least flamboyant of Sam Waley-Cohern’s many rides round the course.
The winning horse will still have to stay but it can be no coincidence that two novice chasers, therefore potentially unexposed to the handicapper, have won recently. Rule The World had never won a chase while Noble Yeats had been campaigned, for the most part, over distances we now know were way to short for him.
Though not a novice, the pick of the British horses at this stage appears to be the Lucinder Russell-trained Corach Rambler, winner of last year’s Ultima Chase at Cheltenham. He looks potentially very well treated on 10st 5lbs, a lovely race winning weight.
William Hill are betting 1-3 on an Irish trained-winner and, at the momentum, the pick of those could be the Willie Mullins trained Gaillard du Mesnil on 11st. He won a Grade One three-mile novice chase at Leopardstown at Christmas.