Cheltenham 300x204 photoThe Grand National is still the most popular betting race of the year in the UK with forty runners set to tackle the gruelling four and a half mile Aintree course. The favourite this year is On His Own, going well last year when falling at Bechers Brook on the second circuit. He will be ridden by Ruby Walsh, successful on Papillon (2000) and Hedgehunter (2005).


Champion jockey Tony McCoy finally ended his long wait for a Grand National winner with Don’t Push It (2010) but was devastated last year by a fatal injury to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised when attempting the big race double. He looks set to ride either last year’s runner-up Sunnyhillboy or the progressive Colbert Station, both owned by JP McManus.


Last year’s third and fourth, Seabass and Cappa Bleu are also expected to line up again. Seabass is almost certain to be ridden by Katie Walsh who achieved the best placing in the race by a lady jockey last season. 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs finished only sixth last year but trainer Donald McCain believes that he has him in better form this season and is expecting a good run, providing the ground isn’t too soft.


The class horse of the race is top weight Imperial Commander who won the Gold Cup in 2010 but has been plagued by injury ever since. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the race with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002) so it will be worth taking note if he decides to run his stable star. Neptune Collonges ended a Grand National hoodoo for grey horses in 2012 and Irish raider Chicago Grey will be a popular choice to continue the trend. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls believes that Join Together represents his best chance of back-to-back wins in the race whilst Rebecca Curtis saddles Welsh National runner-up Teaforthree.


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