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63 go forward for Saturday’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree, with Katie Walsh keen on Baie Des Iles

Ante-post joint-favourite Blaklion headlines 63 entries eager to take part in Aintree’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14 – the 171st running – following today’s five-day confirmation stage.

Staged over four and a quarter miles and 30 fences, the Randox Health Grand National is the world’s greatest and richest chase – the culmination of Aintree’s three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival.

Katie Walsh is keenly anticipating partnering Baie Des Iles (10st 7lb, 33/1 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival) in Saturday’s £1-million contest.

Trained by Walsh’s husband Ross O’Sullivan in Ireland, the seven-year-old grey mare was a fine third behind subsequent Irish Grand National fourth Folsom Blue in a Grand National trial at Punchestown in February.

Amateur rider Walsh, a Randox Health Grand National Festival Ambassador for the fourth time in 2018, achieved the highest-ever finish by a female jockey in the Aintree spectacular when third aboard Seabass, trained by her father Ted, in 2012. She has completed the course on four of her five Grand National rides.

Walsh said this afternoon: “Baie Des Iles is really well at home and we are very much looking forward to Saturday.

“She did a nice piece of work towards the end of last week and everything has gone smoothly with her.


“We’re hoping that she will take to the fences and she is a really solid jumper. She ran plenty of times in France over different obstacles and her jumping is one of her biggest assets.


“She has jumped well in all of her races and she is neat and accurate over her fences. She doesn’t jump them too high and measures her fences nicely.

“She ran a cracker at Punchestown on her last start. I wasn’t overly hard on her and she was carrying a lot of weight. The form took a boost with the two horses in front of her running well in the Irish National last week (Isleofhopeanddreams 2nd and Folsom Blue 4th).

“It’s always very difficult to have a horse for the Grand National, but she has an attractive profile and is relatively unexposed.

“She has plenty of form on heavy ground, but she has a good action and I think better ground wouldn’t be too much of an issue either.

“We’re counting down the days now, but it’s going to be a great experience and I’m looking forward to riding in the race again and especially for Ross.

“There is so much luck involved in a Grand National. It can depend on where you’ve been positioned throughout the race or whether you’re behind a horse who doesn’t jump well. There are a lot of variable involved.

“Every runner has a chance of winning the Grand National – you just do not know what is going to happen. We’re really excited about Baie Des Iles and it will be great to be a part of the race again – I’m really looking forward to it.

“Zorka Wentworth [owner] has been a great supporter of the yard who loves the game of National Hunt racing, so she’s also looking forward to the experience.

Last year’s fourth Blaklion (11st 9lb), one of four entries for dual Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, was a decisive nine-length winner over The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey, 11st 7lb, 16/1) in the G3 Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase (3m 2f) over the Grand National fences at Aintree on December 9.

The Gloucestershire-based trainer is also hoping to run Double Ross (10st 5lb, 100/1), Splash Of Ginge (10st, 66/1) and Cogry (10st, 100/1), although it is doubtful whether the last two will get in the final field of 40, plus four reserves, revealed on Thursday morning.

Blaklion was second under top-weight on his latest start in the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase on heavy ground at Haydock Park on February 17, and has since had a wind operation.

He is the 10/1 joint-favourite with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, as he attempts to provide Twiston-Davies with a third winner following the victories of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).

Another 10/1 joint favourite is the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall (11st 4lb), who was staying-on when falling at the third last in the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March, having landed the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December.

Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Mullins, successful in the Randox Health Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, has two other entries going forward courtesy of Pleasant Company (10st 10lb, 33/1), 10th in last year’s renewal, and Children’s List (10st 7lb, 66/1).

Gordon Elliott, winner of the Grand National with Silver Birch (2007) in his first season with a training licence, is responsible for the third 10/1 joint-favourite, Tiger Roll (10st 12lb), who became the sixth horse to win three different races at the Cheltenham Festival following his success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase last month.

Elliott, who beat Mullins eight to seven in the number of winners sent out at the Cheltenham Festival, is also likely to be represented by Ucello Conti (10st 9lb, 25/1), who was sixth in the 2016 Grand National before unseating his rider at the 22nd fence in last year’s renewal. He is also responsible for Bless The Wings (10st 5lb, 50/1) and the recent Irish Grand National winner General Principle (10st 1lb, 33/1).

Britain’s current champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson is set to be represented by Gold Present (11st 3lb, 22/1), a three-length winner of a Listed handicap chase at Ascot on December 23, who had an issue when pulled up in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Colin Tizzard’s The Dutchman (10st 10lb, 28/1), was an impressive winner of the G2 Peter Marsh Chase on heavy ground at Haydock over an extended three miles and one furlong on January 20, in which Captain Redbeard (Stuart Coltherd, 10st 6lb, 33/1) was 13 lengths behind in second.

The Dutchman burst a blood vessel when pulled up in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in February, but assistant trainer Joe Tizzard reports the eight-year-old son of King’s Theatre to be in fine fettle.

Tizzard reported today: “The Dutchman is in good form. We took him down to David Pipe’s for a school on Friday morning over the Grand National trial fences and Harry Cobden rode him and the horse jumped well.

“He burst a blood vessel on his last run and came home all wrong. It is not something he is prone to do, so hopefully that’s sorted.

“He will handle the ground well if it does turn up soft, and he won well on heavy ground at Haydock in January, while he is not totally exposed.”

A maximum of 40 runners can line up at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14 for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National. The final declaration stage is at 10.00am on Thursday, April 12. The declared runners, plus a maximum of four reserves, will be known shortly after this time.

Reserves come into the race if there are any withdrawals among the 40 declared runners prior to 1.00pm on Friday, April 13.

The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree runs from Thursday, April 12 to Saturday, April 14.

Seeyoumidnight purchased by Patricia Thompson

The Sandy Thomson-trained Seeyouatmidnight (10st 11lb), currently a 16/1 shot with Betway for the Randox Health Grand National, has been bought by Patricia Thompson ahead of Saturday’s race.

This has been a successful tactic for Thompson, who owns Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket with her husband David, in the past as she bought Party Politics from owner-breeder David Stoddart days before the gelding won the 1992 running of the world’s greatest chase.

The owner has tried to repeat this feat on several occasions, but has been out of luck in recent years.

Last year, she purchased Le Mercurey (who finished 12th) and Highland Lodge (pulled up before the final fence) in the days leading up to the Randox Health Grand National and then snapped up Just A Par (who finished 14th and ran in the colours of the Thompsons’ son, Richard) at the Goffs UK Aintree Horses-in-Training Sale at the racecourse after racing on the first day of the meeting, Grand National Thursday.

Prior to the 2010 Randox Health Grand National, Thompson purchased the well-fancied Character Building, who went on to be seventh under leading amateur rider Nina Carberry, a total of 37 lengths adrift of the A P McCoy-ridden winner Don’t Push It. Both Character Building and Carberry returned the following year for another crack at the race, but could only finish 15th behind the Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs.

Seeyouatmidnight has faced a race against in time in order to qualify for this year’s Randox Health Grand National.

The 10-year-old, who previously ran in the colours of Sandy Thomson’s wife Quona, needed to run in a chase this season, but several abandoned meetings had frustrated the Scottish-based trainer in his attempt to get Seeyouatmidnight to meet the qualifying criteria.

However, the horse eventually managed to qualify for the Randox Health Grand National following a run at Newbury on March 24, when he finished third under top-weight in a handicap chase over two and a half miles, Seeyouatmidnight’s first outing for a year following wind surgery.

Seeyouatmidnight beat another one of his rivals on Saturday, Regal Encore (10st 12lb, 33/1), when making a successful debut under Rules at 66/1 in a Hexham novice (under Randox Health Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania) in December, 2013 and he went on the same season to land the G2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.

As a novice over fences, he beat Blaklion, the 10/1 current joint-favourite for this year’s Randox Health Grand National, in the G2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in 2016 and, the following season, he had the measure of subsequent G1 winner Bristol De Mai in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.

Betway keeping an eye on Fly

Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, cannot split 10/1 shots Blaklion, Tiger Roll and Total Recall at the head of the market for Saturday’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National following this afternoon’s five-day confirmation stage.

The trio have been at the head of Betway’s ante-post book for some time now, with Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly next in the betting at 11/1 following his fine effort at The Festival last month.

Top-weight Minella Rocco is next at 16/1, alongside Seeyouatmidnight, just purchased by Randox Health Grand National winning-owner Patricia Thompson, and The Last Samuri, who finished second behind Rule The World in the 2016 running of the world’s greatest chase.

“At the moment, it’s looking like one of Blaklion, Tiger Roll, Total Recall or Anibale Fly will go off as favourite for this year’s Grand National but, as we’ve seen many times over the years, this can all change in the run-up to Saturday – especially with an unsettled weather forecast over the next few days,” said Betway’s Alan Alger.

“However, it will be interesting to see if there is any further support for Anibale Fly over the next few days after it was confirmed that Barry Geraghty will be on board on Saturday and it’s not inconceivable that he joins the current co-favourites of three at the head of the market in the next 48 hours.”

Randox Health Grand National – NRNB – Betway bet: 10/1 Blaklion, Tiger Roll, Total Recall; 11/1 Anibale Fly; 16/1 Minella Rocco, Seeyouatmidnight, The Last Samuri; 22/1 Gold Present; 25/1 Gas Line Boy, I Just Know, Ucello Conti; 28/1 The Dutchman, Vieux Lion Rouge; 33/1 Baie Des Iles, Captain Redbeard, General Principle, Milansbar, Pleasant Company, Regal Encore, Shantou Flyer, Vicente, Vintage Clouds; 40/1 Alpha Des Obeaux, Raz De Maree, Saint Are; 50/1 Bless The Wings, Buywise, Carlingford Lough, Final Nudge, Valseur Lido, Warriors Tale; 66/1 Bonny Kate, Braqueur d’Or, Chase The Spud, Childrens List, Delusionofgrandeur, Houblon Des Obeaux, Lord Windermere, Pendra, Perfect Candidate, Road to Riches, Splash of Ginge, The Young Master, Thunder And Roses, Walk In The Mill; 80/1 Virgilio; 100/1 Beeves, Cogry, Double Ross, Maggio, Minella Daddy, Mysteree, Phils Magic, Relentless Dreamer, Rouge Angel, Sir Mangan, Tenor Nivernais, Wounded Warrior; 125/1 Alfie Spinner, Henry Parry Morgan, Out Sam; 150/1 Dancing Shadow, Krackatoa King.

1/5 the odds 1-2-3-4-5


Randox Health Grand National: First Fence Fallers – Betway bet: 8/15 At least one horse to fall or unseat at the 1st fence; 11/8 All runners to jump the first fence safely


Randox Health Grand National: Winning Distance – Betway bet: 15/8 Under Three Lengths; 6/4 Three to Nine Lengths inclusive; 2/1 Over Nine Lengths.


Randox Health Grand National: Number of Finishers – Betway bet: 6/4 Under 16 Finishers; 16-18 horses (inc) to finish; 2/1 Over 18 horses to finish.


Randox Health Grand National: Age of Winner – Betway bet: 2/1 7 or 8 year-old; 7/4 9-year-old; 5/2 10-year-old; 3/1 11-year-old or older.


Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 11/10Irish Trained Winner


Randox Health Grand National: Winning Weight – Betway bet: 15/8 10st 7lb or less; 9/4 10st – 10st 11lb inclusive; 11/8 10st 12lb or more.


Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 6/1 J P McManus-owned Winner


Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 6/4 to be a False Start


Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 20/1 Female-trained Winner


Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 7/1 Gordon Elliott-trained Winner


Going news


Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch reported it had been dry for 36 hours at 5pm today. He described today’s weather at Aintree as being bright and breezy and amended the going descriptions for all courses this afternoon.


He said: “We have showers and drizzle forecast on and off through to Saturday. The courses have been drying, but whether that continues depends on the quantity of rain we receive.”


Mildmay course – Good to Soft (from Good to Soft, Soft in places)

Hurdle course- Good to Soft, Soft in places stands’ side (Soft, Good to Soft in places)

Grand National course – Soft, Good to Soft in places (Soft)


GoingStick readings at noon today – Mildmay 6.2, Hurdle 5.9 and National 5.



Tuesday – rain clearing mid-morning – 3mm. Thereafter, mainly dry with brighter spells, breezy, 12C.

Wednesday – cloudy & breezy with drizzle overnight, 13C.

Thursday – dry with sunny spells. Rain overnight – 2mm, 12C.

Friday – cloudy, showers through afternoon, 12C.

Saturday – cloudy am, showers pm, 12C.


Three Grade Ones to whet the appetite


Saturday’s racing at Aintree isn’t all about the world’s most famous chase, the £1-million Randox Health Grand National. There are three Grade One races before the day’s feature, starting with the £100,000 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2.25pm, 25 entries) run over two miles and four furlongs.


This year’s renewal includes Black Op (Tom George), who was second in the G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival to Samcro on soft ground, having previously finished second in a G2 Novices’ Hurdle in January on heavy ground.


Claimantakinforgan (Nicky Henderson), fifth in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival, is a G2 winner this term, having landed the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot in December on soft ground, and is looking to improve on his Cheltenham showing. Another runner in the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham was Lostintranslation (Colin Tizard), who came home seventh.


The Alan Spence-owned and Nicky Henderson-trained On The Blind Side remains unbeaten after three runs under Rules and a maiden point-to-point victory in Ireland. Sold for £205,000 after his point-to-point success, at the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham January sale, the Stowaway gelding has registered two G2 victories.


The £100,000 G1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (3.00pm, 12 entries) over two miles has attracted the Nicky Henderson-trained Brain Power, who was second to Footpad in the G1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase on heavy going at The Festival and is the highest rated (155) in the race.


Cyrname won the G2 Pendil Chase at Kempton last time out. The Nickname gelding is trained by Paul Nicholls, who won this race with San Benedeto last year.


Petit Mouchoir, third in the G1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase, is also entered in the G1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase. The Henry de Bromhead-trained chaser finished second in a G1 at Leopardstown after taking a beginners’ chase at Punchestown on yielding to soft ground in October, 2017.


The final G1 on Saturday is the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (4.20pm, 13 entries), run over three miles and half a furlong. Sam Spinner, trained Jedd O’Keeffe for owners Caron and Paul Chapman, is looking to improve on his fifth in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.


He has to turn around the form with the Cheltenham second and third, Supasundae (Jessica Harrington IRE) and Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies).


Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star The New One, who had a disappointing first try at three miles in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle when 12th, also looks to bounce back into form.


The Randox Health Grand National

Grade 3 handicap chase, £1 million total prize fund. Aintree, 5.15pm Saturday, April 14, 2018. 4m 2f 74yds over the Grand National fences. For seven-year-olds and upwards which, have started in a chase during the current season and who, up to and including March 19, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a steeple chase with an official distance description of’ two miles seven and a half furlongs’ or more and which are allotted a rating of 125 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 11. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 11 would merit a minimum rating of 125. Entries closes January 30, entries revealed January 31 (105 entries), weights revealed February 13 (104 go forward – 1 not qualified), first scratchings deadline February 27 (90 entries remained), second scratchings deadline March 20 (73 entries remained), five-day confirmations April 9 (63 confirmations), final declarations 10am April 12. Maximum field of 40 plus four reserves.


  Horse Age Wgt Owner Trainer
1) MINELLA ROCCO (IRE) 8 11-10 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
2) BLAKLION 9 11-09 Simon Such & Gino Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
3) ANIBALE FLY (FR) 8 11-07 J P McManus Tony Martin IRE
4) THE LAST SAMURI (IRE) 10 11-07 Paul & Clare Rooney Kim Bailey
5) VALSEUR LIDO (FR) 9 11-06 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead IRE
6) TOTAL RECALL (IRE) 9 11-04 Slaneyville Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
7) ALPHA DES OBEAUX (FR) 8 11-03 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
8) GOLD PRESENT (IRE) 8 11-03 John & Barbara Cotton Nicky Henderson
9) PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE) 11 11-02 ISL Recruitment Fergal O’Brien
10) SHANTOU FLYER (IRE) 8 11-01 Carl Hinchy Richard Hobson
11) TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) 11 11-00 Boultbee Brooks Ltd Venetia Williams
12) CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE) 12 11-00 J P McManus John Kiely IRE
13) VICENTE (FR) 9 10-13 Trevor Hemmings Paul Nicholls
14) TIGER ROLL (IRE) 8 10-12 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
15) REGAL ENCORE (IRE) 10 10-12 J P McManus Anthony Honeyball
16) VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR) 9 10-12 Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent David Pipe
17) CHASE THE SPUD 10 10-11 Christine Banks Fergal O’Brien
18) WARRIORS TALE 9 10-11 Trevor Hemmings Paul Nicholls
19) SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT 10 10-11 Patricia Thompson Sandy Thomson
20) GAS LINE BOY (IRE) 12 10-10 The Three Graces Ian Williams
21) THE DUTCHMAN (IRE) 8 10-10 SprayClad UK Colin Tizzard
22) PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE) 10 10-10 Malcolm Denmark Willie Mullins IRE
23) UCELLO CONTI (FR) 10 10-09 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Gordon Elliott IRE
24) SAINT ARE (FR) 12 10-09 David Fox Tom George
25) BEEVES (IRE) 11 10-09 Paul & Clare Rooney Jennie Candlish
26) RAZ DE MAREE (FR) 13 10-08 James Swan Gavin Cromwell IRE
27) I JUST KNOW (IRE) 8 10-07 Michael Scholey & the late Ray Scholey Sue Smith
28) VIRGILIO (FR) 9 10-07 C J Edwards, D Futter, A H Rushworth Dan Skelton
29) BAIE DES ILES (FR) 7 10-07 Zorka Wentworth Ross O’Sullivan IRE
30) MAGGIO (FR) 13 10-07 Douglas Pryde/James Beaumont Patrick Griffin IRE
31) PENDRA (IRE) 10 10-07 J P McManus Charlie Longsdon
32) BUYWISE (IRE) 11 10-07 T Hywel Jones Evan Williams
33) CHILDRENS LIST (IRE) 8 10-07 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
34) LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) 12 10-06 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
35) CAPTAIN REDBEARD (IRE) 9 10-06 Stuart Coltherd Stuart Coltherd
36) HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR) 11 10-06 Mrs Julian Blackwell Venetia Williams
37) BLESS THE WINGS (IRE) 13 10-05 Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor Gordon Elliott IRE
38) MILANSBAR (IRE) 11 10-05 Robert Bothway Neil King
39) FINAL NUDGE (IRE) 9 10-05 Corbett Stud David Dennis
40) DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) 12 10-05 Options O Syndicate Nigel Twiston-Davies
41) ROAD TO RICHES (IRE) 11 10-04 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
42) THUNDER AND ROSES (IRE) 10 10-04 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
43) DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR (IRE) 8 10-04 McGoldrick Racing 3 Sue Smith
44) WALK IN THE MILL (FR) 8 10-03 Baroness Harding Robert Walford
45) VINTAGE CLOUDS (IRE) 8 10-03 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith
46) WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE) 9 10-01 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
47) GENERAL PRINCIPLE (IRE) 9 10-01 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
48) SPLASH OF GINGE 10 10-00 John Neild Nigel Twiston-Davies
49) BONNY KATE (IRE) 8 10-00 Patricia Hunt Noel Meade IRE
50) COGRY 9 10-00 Graham and Alison Jelley Nigel Twiston-Davies
51) SIR MANGAN (IRE) 10 10-00 Frank McAleavy Dan Skelton
52) MYSTEREE (IRE) 10 10-00 Lynne Maclennan Michael Scudamore
53) MINELLA DADDY (IRE) 8 9-13 Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar Peter Bowen
54) BRAQUEUR D’OR (FR) 7 9-13 Corsellis & Seyfried Paul Nicholls
55) RELENTLESS DREAMER (IRE) 9 9-13 Nigel Morris Rebecca Curtis
56) THE YOUNG MASTER 9 9-11 Mike Burbidge & The Old Masters Neil Mulholland
57) HENRI PARRY MORGAN 10 9-09 Ednyfed & Elizabeth Morgan Peter Bowen
58) PHIL’S MAGIC (IRE) 8 9-09 Lyreen Syndicate Tony Martin IRE
59) ALFIE SPINNER (IRE) 13 9-09 Alan Beard & Brian Beard Kerry Lee
60) DANCING SHADOW (IRE) 9 9-08 The Dancing Shadows Victor Dartnall
61) ROGUE ANGEL (IRE) 10 9-08 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
62) OUT SAM 9 9-06 D Charlesworth Gordon Elliott IRE
63) KRACKATOA KING 10 9-03 J C Harrison Lee & T Howard Partnership Kerry Lee


63 five-day confirmations

22 Irish-trained