There will be at least three female jockeys riding in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday with Rachael Blackmore, Bryony Frost and Tabitha Worsley all set to take part in the world’s greatest race.
With the King George (Frost), the Champion Hurdle (Blackmore) and leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival (Blackmore) all ticked off the hit list since Christmas, the only female winner of the National so far remains Enid Bagnold’s fictional character Velvet Brown. Although, in reality, Katie Walsh was not far off winning the famous steeplechase in 2012 when five lengths third on Seabass behind Neptune Collonges.
Blackmore has the choice of Henry de Bromhead’s two ‘likely’ runners Chris’s Dream, a 33-1 shot, and Balko Des Flos, a 40-1 shot, and a ‘possible’ third runner, Minella Times who is as short as 14-1.
The last race Balko Des Flos won was the Ryanair Chase in 2018 but he has run well at Aintree round the Mildmay course. Last time out he unseated Blackmore in the Glenfarclas Cross-Country at Cheltenham behind Tiger Roll earlier this month but the ground is coming in his favour.
Chris’s Dream, who was only beaten by a neck in the Grade One Ladbrokes Chase over three miles at Down Royal first time out this season, was pulled up in this season’s Ryanair after ‘getting a bit lost.’
“He’s been ear-marked for the National for a long time but they are both high class on their day,” said the Waterford trainer.
“Minella Times (who has not been out of the first two in three starts this season) is working his way up. He would also have a squeak if he runs.”
Frost, whose best National placing was fifth on Milansbar behind Tiger Roll in 2018, schooled Yala Enki over Aintree style fences in Lambourn on Monday having done the same over David Pipe’s National fences last week.
“He jumped great,” said Nicholls. “In the Becher Chase he went tanking into the first, which he can be a bit inclined to do, and fell but he jumped round brilliantly loose and Bryony said his jumping has been brilliant since.
“I will also run Give Me A Copper which Harry (Cobden) will ride. He ran well on his seasonal debut but he can sulk a bit so we’ve kept him fresh and sometimes the race can entertain horses which sulk. But I’d say Yala Enki is our best chance, he’s a strong stayer with a touch of class.”
It is the third and lesser known of the trio, Tabitha Worsley, who could actually claim the best record over fences; one win from one ride having won the Foxhunters two years ago on Top Wood, a result which she used to help her turn professional.
She will ride Sub Lieutenant which is trained by her mother Georgie Howell, who trains half a dozen horses near Tenbury Wells. He was formerly trained by de Bromhead and gave Blackmore a super spin over the fences to finish second in the Topham Chase over fences in 2019.
During Cheltenham she rode out in the mornings for de Bromhead with Blackmore. “I was riding out for Henry all of Cheltenham week this year so I found out a bit more about him,” explained Worsley. “He said he is such a fun horse to have about and he is a lovely horse. He said he can see him running a really nice race so let’s hope he isn’t wrong.
“I asked Rachael about him and she said if you think he jumps a normal fence well, then wait until you get him over one of those Aintree fences. She said he won’t travel between the fences but as soon as he is in those wings he just lights up so that filled me with a lot of excitement as well.”
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Grand National 2021 current runners and weights
A maximum of 40 horses will line-up for the race. Here are the current entries, allotted weights, owners and trainers. A final line-up plus four reserves are announced on the morning of April 8.
As of April 5 2021
Bristol de Mai (FR) 10 11 10 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nigel Twiston-Davies
The Storyteller (IRE) 10 11 8 Mrs Pat Sloan Mrs Denise Foster
Chris's Dream (IRE) 9 11 7 Robcour Henry de Bromhead
Yala Enki (FR) 11 11 3 Hills of Ledbury Ltd Paul Nicholls
Ballyoptic (IRE) 11 11 1 Mills & Mason Partnership Nigel Twiston-Davies
Definitly Red (IRE) 12 11 1 Phil & Julie Martin Brian Ellison
Lake View Lad (IRE) 11 11 0 Mr Trevor Hemmings N. W. Alexander
Burrows Saint (FR) 8 10 13 Mrs S. Ricci W. P. Mullins
Magic of Light (IRE) 10 10 13 Ann & Alan Potts Limited Mrs J. Harrington
Acapella Bourgeois (FR) 11 10 12 Slaneyville Syndicate W. P. Mullins
Anibale Fly (FR) 11 10 12 Mr John P. McManus A. J. Martin
Mister Malarky (GB) 8 10 12 Wendy & Malcolm Hezel Colin Tizzard
Talkischeap (IRE) 9 10 12 Charles Dingwall Alan King
Tout Est Permis (FR) 8 10 12 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade
Kimberlite Candy (IRE) 9 10 10 Mr John P. McManus Tom Lacey
Any Second Now (IRE) 9 10 9 Mr John P. McManus T. M. Walsh
Balko des Flos (FR) 10 10 9 Gigginstown House Stud Henry de Bromhead
Alpha des Obeaux (FR) 11 10 9 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Ok Corral (IRE) 11 10 8 Mr John P. McManus Nicky Henderson
Takingrisks (IRE) 12 10 7 Mr Frank Bird Nicky Richards
Shattered Love (IRE) 10 10 7 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Jett (IRE) 10 10 7 Mr Robert Waley-Cohen Mrs J. Harrington
Lord du Mesnil (FR) 8 10 6 Mr Paul Porter & Mike & Mandy Smith Richard Hobson
Potters Corner (IRE) 11 10 6 All Stars Sports Racing & J Davies Christian Williams
Class Conti (FR) 9 10 6 Mr Simon Munir/Mr Isaac Souede W. P. Mullins
Milan Native (IRE) 8 10 6 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Discorama (FR) 8 10 6 Thomas Friel/Andrew Gemmell Paul Nolan
Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 12 10 5 Prof Caroline Tisdall & Mr John Gent David Pipe
Cloth Cap (IRE) 9 10 5 Mr Trevor Hemmings Jonjo O'Neill
Cabaret Queen (GB) 9 10 5 Syndicates.Racing W. P. Mullins
Minellacelebration (IRE) 11 10 5 Mr Nick Elliott Katy Price
Canelo (IRE) 8 10 4 Mr John P. McManus Alan King
The Long Mile (GB) 7 10 4 Mr John P. McManus J.P.Dempsey
Give Me A Copper (IRE) 11 10 4 Done, Ferguson, Mason, Nicholls & Wood Paul Nicholls
Farclas (FR) 7 10 3 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Minella Times (IRE) 8 10 3 Mr John P. McManus Henry de Bromhead
Sub Lieutenant (IRE) 12 10 3 Ms G. Howell Georgie Howell
Hogan's Height (IRE) 10 10 3 Foxtrot Racing: Hogan's Height Jamie Snowden
Double Shuffle (IRE) 11 10 2 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
Ami Desbois (FR) 11 10 2 The Reserved Judgment Partnership Graeme McPherson
Blaklion (GB) 12 10 2 Darren & Annaley Yates Dan Skelton
Some Neck (FR) 10 10 1 Some Neck Partnership John McConnell
Secret Reprieve (IRE) 7 10 1 Mr & Mrs William Rucker Evan Williams
Kauto Riko (FR) 10 9 13 Mr and Mrs J.Dale and Partners Tom Gretton
Fagan (GB) 11 9 13 Mr Ben Brackenbury Alex Hales
Deise Aba (IRE) 8 9 13 Mr Trevor Hemmings Philip Hobbs
Valtor (FR) 12 9 13 Mr Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
Golan Fortune (IRE) 9 9 13 P Middleton, M Lowther Phil Middleton
Run Wild Fred (IRE) 7 9 11 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
The Hollow Ginge (IRE) 8 9 11 The Ginge Army Nigel Twiston-Davies
Captain Drake (IRE) 8 9 11 Gary Stevens and Brian and Sandy Lambert Harry Fry
Another Venture (IRE) 10 9 11 Racing For Maggie's Partnership Kim Bailey
Crievehill (IRE) 9 9 11 Highclere T'Bred Racing- Crievehill Nigel Twiston-Davies
Flying Angel (IRE) 10 9 10 Mr R. J. Rexton Nigel Twiston-Davies
Prime Venture (IRE) 10 9 10 Mrs Janet Davies Evan Williams
Le Breuil (FR) 9 9 10 Mrs Emma Palmer Ben Pauling
Hold The Note (IRE) 7 9 9 Mr T. P. Radford Mick Channon
Plan of Attack (IRE) 8 9 9 Mr A. Halsall Henry de Bromhead
Roaring Bull (IRE) 8 9 9 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Dounikos (FR) 10 9 9 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Musical Slave (IRE) 8 9 8 Mr John P. McManus Philip Hobbs
Soupy Soups (IRE) 10 9 8 Equi ex Incertis Partners Neil Mulholland
Beau Bay (FR) 10 9 7 Mr Peter Green & Dr RDP Newland Dr Richard Newland
Shantou Flyer (IRE) 11 9 7 David Maxwell Racing Limited Paul Nicholls
Hear No Evil (IRE) 9 9 7 Mr Patrick Joseph McCartan Noel C. Kelly
Monbeg Notorious (IRE) 10 9 6 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Aforementioned (FR) 8 9 5 Gigginstown House Stud Mrs Denise Foster
Fingerontheswitch (IRE) 11 9 3 Cahill, Atwell & Crofts Neil Mulholland
The 15 leading contenders assessed
Cloth Cap – Rampantly progressive this season, winning his last two starts in taking fashion. However, showed a tendency to jump left last time out and needs to iron that out in this big field; each-way chance.
Burrows Saint – Winner of the 2019 Irish Grand National who has been kept relatively lightly-raced since. Looks well in at the weights still; the one to beat.
Any Second Now – Steps up a full 18 furlongs in distance having won over 2 miles last time out. Previous smart winner over 3m2f. Chance at weights but will do well to win.
Minella Times – In the form of his life and has form figures of 1122 when teaming up with Rachael Blackmore (who rides again here). Stamina a small query; each-way chance nevertheless.
Kimberlite Candy – Runner-up on both starts over National fences. Stamina assured but surely needs a lot of rain to be considered a leading contender here. Place chance.
Discorama – Not sighted since November and has been the subject of a significant gamble over the last few days. Stamina assured and looks on a good weight; poised to go very close here.
Magic Of Light – 2nd to Tiger Roll in the 2019 renewal at a huge price. Been lightly campaigned over fences since and is respected to a degree off a 5lb higher mark.
The Storyteller – Been mixing between hurdles and fences in Grade 1 company this season. Stayers’ Hurdle not an obvious prep race for the Grand National; place chance.
Potters Corner – More than capable on his day, but arguably a much better horse on heavy ground, which he looks unlikely to get here. Looks a place chance at best unless there is heavy rainfall.
Bristol De Mai – 3-time winner of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase. Goes best on soft ground. Class act who looks a place chance at the head of the weights.
Farclas – Consistent sort who has been in good form of late. However, yet to race beyond 3 miles and does have stamina to prove. If he stays, he can go very close indeed.
Mister Malarky – Has a bit to prove on the stamina front and is arguably better going right-handed. Ground in his favour but has a near career-high mark to defy. Place chance at best.
Anibale Fly – Grand old stayer whose four runs at 3m2f+ have been the four best performances of his career. Rating has tumbled over the last two years. Interesting contender.
Acapella Bourgeois – Gave Burrows Saint 6lb and a 4¾ length beating back in February. However, goes best on heavy ground and looks unlikely to confirm that form, even in receipt of weight here.
Milan Native – Been a touch hit-and-miss this season; ran okay at the Cheltenham Festival following surgery. Ground might not be ideal here; place chance at best.