Horse racing fans cannot wait for 10 April 2021 when the next running of the Grand National is scheduled to take place at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool.
The world’s most famous steeplechase is part of the rich sporting fabric of Merseyside, with nearby town Southport the place where the iconic Red Rum was trained on its Lancashire Coast beaches.
That is the Grand National’s legendary past, though. What about its future? Here are four horses to follow en route to Aintree in 2021.
Red Rum’s record as the outright best Grand National horse of all-time is under threat from Tiger Roll. A Flat castoff from Godolphin supremo Sheikh Mohammed, he ended up over jumps and bought by Ireland’s Gigginstown House Stud.
The rest, they say, is history. Trainer Gordon Elliott masterminded four Cheltenham Festival victories for Tiger Roll. What catapulted him to equine super-stardom, however, was consecutive wins in the Grand National in 2018 and 2019.
A third victory for Tiger Roll at Aintree rates a 12/1chance. Given his previous course and distance form, and exploits in the Cross Country sphere which ask horses to clear a range of obstacles of different shapes and sizes, he cannot be discounted.
French-trained Easysland took the scalp of Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in 2020. He is the young pretender and impressed leading Irish owner JP McManus so much in the course of the last jumps season that the great gambler bought him.
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Expect to see a few horses sporting the famous green and gold hooped silks of McManus lining up in the Grand National. He loves having runners in the race, and Easysland will be eligible for a first crack at it in 2021 when he turns seven.
While younger horses don’t have the best recent record in the Aintree showpiece, the way he defeated Tiger Roll was very impressive. Easysland is a 25/1 bet on horse racing with Betfair in their ante post market on the Grand National.
Welsh trainer Christian Williams has already saddled Potters Corner to Midlands Grand National glory on desperate ground and then landed another major target last season. That came in the Welsh Grand National around Chepstow last Christmas.
With two “National” successes on his CV, Potters Corner came out as the algorithms’ winner of the 2020 Virtual Grand National. The big question is can that computer-generated art now be imitated in real life in 2021?
Potters Corner is a 33/1 shot for the actual Grand National. After being trained to peak at just the right time for his last two targets, you wouldn’t put it past connections to come good on Merseyside in 2021.
Walk In The Mill
Aptitude for the unique spruce-covered fences at Aintree is essential to have any hope of winning the Grand National, so dual Becher Chase winner Walk In The Mill is another horse to follow. Robert Walford will likely be training him specifically for another crack at the big one.
With his handler often keeping Walk In The Mill over hurdles to protect his steeplechase mark and ensure a nice racing weight in the Grand National, plenty of thought has gone into previous bids. This plucky horse represents the underdogs, because he’s not from one of National Hunt horse racing’s big stables.
Walk In The Mill is overpriced on his form over the Grand National fences at 40/1 to go better than when fourth to Tiger Roll in 2019. There could be one last hurrah in him at Aintree.