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The Grand National - runner by runner

A brief summary of every runner in the 2021 Grand National, including the arguments for and against each of them.



1.Bristol De Mai
Multiple Grade 1 winner, all at Haydock, stepping up to the National fences and trip for the first time. Should have the stamina but topweight in the National is a massive ask.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Class gets you a long way.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
The last horse to carry this weight or more to victory was Red Rum in 1974 (although Many Clouds carried 11st9 in 2015).


2.Chris's Dream
Good Irish chaser who has never lived up to the hype in Britain, flopping on all four occasions. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
At his only run in a big handicap, he won the Troytown at Navan in 2019.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Jumped terribly at Cheltenham, seems like he is here to fulfill an owner's dream rather than have a genuine chance.

3.Yala Enki
Seems to save his best for very soft ground. Reliable jumper, very experienced

WHY HE CAN WIN
Paul Nicholls is on fire this week and in an era where female jockeys are hitting the spotlight, can it be fate for Bryony Frost to smash the glass ceiling?

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Just don't think he has the class. Solid bet in 'To Finish' markets or even Top 10.

4.Ballyoptic
Ran second, beaten a nose, in a Scottish National three years ago, but hasn't done much in big handicaps since then. Well below his best this season.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Sam Twiston-Davies is back on board, as he was at all five of his chase wins.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Three runs over these fences for Fell (although in contention at the time, four fences from home), Fell, Tailed Off. Was offered for sale last month via Goffs online and went unsold, even to the syndicates desperate for a runner. 


5.Definitly Red
Started 10/1 in this race four years ago before being knocked out of the race early and pulled up. Fourth in the 2019 Becher but recent runs aren't in same ballpark. Won the Premier Chase at Kelso last year, this time he finished a dozen lengths behind Cloth Cap at level weights. Now he meets him 10lb worse. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
I expect everything in the latter part of his career has been planned around this race, the ability certainly was there.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
At 12, his better days are behind him.


6.Lake View Lad
Started 14/1 two years but was pulled up after being hampered. Trained said he'd prefer softer ground and he won't get that here. Great strike rate of nine wins from 27 starts, he won the G2 Many Clouds Chase over the Mildmay fences in December (note low sun meant several fences omitted), ahead of Frodon, Native River and Santini, all Grade 1 winners, but has disappointed at his past two starts. Had wind surgery a month ago and has cheekpieces on here for the first time, an odd move this deep in his career.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Class is there, finished close up in only big handicap chase, and wind surgery can make a hell of a difference to a horse (being able to breathe properly is a good thing over four miles!). The owner has won this race three times.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Needs softer ground, the headgear seems like a random throw at the stumps, would prefer more big field experience.

7.Burrows Saint
Irish National winner of 2019, only the five runs since (0/4 over fences). Could use the lightly campaigned (and mostly over hurdles) to protect his handicap angle and his last three wins were on Good or Good/Yielding ground. Think he's priced a lot on the colours and connections rather than pure ability. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Drier ground, shrewdly campaigned, stamina no concern.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Irish National winners don't have a great record here and in defeat behind Acapella Bourgeois last start, he hung left and right in the last half-mile. I'd be concerned about that at the end of a long slog.


8.Magic Of Light
Runner-up to Tiger Roll at 66/1 back in 2019 when the ground was supposedly too firm and distance way too far for her.  Has campaigned over shorter and often over hurdles since to defend her mark, I wouldn't be concerned about that now that it's known she can handle this assignment. Poor at Cheltenham last month but hasn't done much there in the past.

WHY SHE CAN WIN
Track record, smart trainer, right age for success and reliable jumper.

WHY SHE CAN'T WIN
Up 5lbs from 2019, last mare to win was back in 1951 (although not many attempt it).


9.Acapella Bourgeois
Won the Bobbyjo at Fairyhouse for second year in a row, equalling his career best RPR, giving weight and a beating to four rivals who line up here. Meets Burrows Saint 7lb better for beating him almost 5L. Will give a great sight at a great price.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Ticks a lot of trends, often front runs, going as well as ever, sound jumper, strong connections, classy chaser.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Has been regarded as ground dependent in the past, ie needs it wet, but did run third in Irish National in 2019 on good/yielding, which will be similar to these conditions.

10.Talkischeap
Just two Chase wins in his career suggests inexperience and one of those was in a two-horse field. The other though was the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2019 which suggested the National might be a future target. But he's showed nothing like that form ever since (although a couple of those have been on the Flat/bumpers) and has needed two wind surgeries.

WHY HE CAN WIN
A 10L win of the Bet365 Gold Cup in any year is form worthy of attention.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
2019 form was a revelation.


11.Tout Est Permis
Won the Troytown Chase on good ground back in Nov 2018 and has mixed his runs between hurdles and chases ever since. Just seems to be caught in that gap between championship chaser and top handicapper; not quite good enough for the first and now weighted too high for the other.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Big handicap form is decent, close up thirds/fourths in three big hurdles last season.  

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Doesn't get enough weight relief from the likes of Chris's Dream and Acapella Bourgeouis to get his chance.


12.Anibale Fly
Fourth and fifth to Tiger Roll in 18/19, hasn't run in a handicap chase since and drops a lofty 12lbs. Four runs in Graded chases over past two years (3xG1, 1xG3), has run last in all of them. Miracle resurrections are usually confined to Easter weekends.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Big drop in class from what he's been running in, to this race which he is proven in.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Before his previous good runs here, he'd run placings in the Gold Cup. This time he can't even beaten a single horse in four chase runs.

13.Mister Malarky
Much improved run at Kempton last time after a wind op, and the theory is horses often perform better the second time after a wind op, as they then know they can breathe properly again. Won a Listed Chase at Ascot in December over the ill-fated The Conditional, after unseating the rider in the Ladbrokes Trophy behind Cloth Cap. Was in the market that day at 16/1 so there's an expectation there that he is competitive in this class. Decent chance at odds but worried about stable form.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Has been competitive at this level with scope still to improve. Excellent young jockey aboard.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Stable form concern and while he has been competitive in big handicaps, he's never actually won any of them.


14.Kimberlite Candy
Another JP McManus-owned runner obviously aimed at this. Has run second in the past two Becher Chases with a dominant win in the Classic Chase at Wariwck in between, which shot his rating up 16lbs since the first Becher - hence a conservative approach over the past year to keep to a winnable mark. Trendswise, 28 of the last 29 winners have run within 55 days - he hasn't raced for four months. Ticks nearly every other box.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Class, clearly planned campaign to reach this race on a winnable mark.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Four months off into the toughest test in National Hunt racing is a huge ask. Might prefer softer ground but not conclusive.


15.Any Second Now
Another JP McManus plot horse, this time with Ted Walsh who trained Papillon to victory in 2000. A quiet campaign over hurdles this season until the weights came out, then he bolts in by 10L in the Webster Cup Chase at Navan, albeit over two miles on a heavy track. Tripwise, he won the Kim Muir on good-slow back in 2019 so the ground and trip shouldn't bother him. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Everything says he has been shrewdly campaigned toward this. 

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Not that it affects his winning chances but can't see any value in his price now.

16.Balko Des Flos
Will run in psychadelic new colours after being purchased by the RacehorseClub recently for £110k. Exactly why they paid that much for a 10yo without a win since the Ryanair Chase in March 2018 is beyond me. In the 15 runs since, EW punters would not have collected once. He tried dropping back from Grade 1 to G3 or even Listed to no avail, then gave the Cross-Country course a go at Cheltenham only to unseat the rider halfway around.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Won the Galway Plate in 2017 (off 146) and the Ryanair Chase seven months later. Horses earning almost half a million quid have had ability.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
On a downward spiral with little hope of getting out of it.

17.Alpha Des Obeaux
If you erase March 2020 to Feb 2021 from his career, he has a great chance here. Second in the Munster National (Oct17), Thyestes (Jan19), third in the Becher (Dec19), second and third in the Bobbyjo (Feb19,Feb20) - but the next 12 months were dire, beaten 40L at Punchestown in a G3, last at DownRoyal in the Champion Chase (albeit beaten only 13L), last in the Clonmel Oil Chase, pulled up in the Thyestes and Punchestown National trial. Then up came Cheltenham, they threw him over the Cross-Country course and he ran fourth, beaten 22L (but remember Tiger Roll won by 18). Fell at the Chair when going well in 2019, there's hope for life in this old fella yet.

WHY HE CAN WIN
A spin over the XC course might just be what he needed to revive him, he wouldn't be the first horse to be revived by a change of scenery.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
A good dose of faith is required to ignore the form over the previous 12 months before Cheltenham, but at 66/1, you can accept that risk.


18.Ok Corral
Yet another runner for JP, but this one has had plenty of trouble in his career. An 11yo, he has only raced 14 times with five breaks of 240 days or more. Has won decent races at Kempton, Warwick and Doncaster along the way but resumed after his latest break (416 days) at Cheltenham, jumped poorly, lost his action and finished up lame. Couldn't have any faith in him getting round.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Connections

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Too fragile, too inexperienced.

19.Takingrisks
Won the Skybet Chase at Doncaster last time out (at 40/1), the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in Nov 2019 (both Listed races), and the Scottish National in April 2019, ahead of Cloth Cap. That's a handy career for a now 12yo, but the last of that age to win was Amberleigh House back in 2004. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Doesn't seem to be slowing down. While Nicky Richards has yet to win this race as a trainer, his dad won it twice.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Now off a career-highest mark, big task for a veteran.

20.Shattered Love
A brilliant mare early in her career, she appears to have come back to the pack in recent years. Her stamina is a little concerning, at her only runs beyond 3m she has been well beaten in the Gold Cup (most likely outclassed) and pulled up in Burrows Saint's Irish National two years ago. The stable seems to be happy with her again, in her last four chases she has run 3123, the latter at Cheltenham, so perhaps a step up in trip will be right up her sleeve.

WHY SHE CAN WIN
Competitive at shorter trips, stable murmurs encouraging (Jack Kennedy apparently thought long and hard between this one and Farclas), off a nice weight. 

WHY SHE CAN'T WIN
Long drought for mares winning here, might prefer softer ground.


21.Jett
Beaten 100L in the Becher in December, and then pulled up, beaten 65L and beaten 23L in his three starts since. Awful form since being purchased by Robert Waley-Cohen last March. No hope.

WHY HE CAN WIN
A shamen might visit the stables overnight and erase all memory of his past 12 months.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Lost all form.


22.Lord Du Mesnil
Won the Haydock Grand National trial in February but no winner of that has gone to win this race for decades. Beaten 45L in the Grand Sefton in December, this course but much shorter trip (many of those rivals go around in the Topham). Needs to do a rain dance.

WHY HE CAN WIN
All four wins have been in chases and last start winning form is good form, even if it was a much weaker race.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Has never run a place on any track with 'good' in the going description.

23.Potters Corner
Famous for 'winning' the Virtual Grand National in the absence of the real race last year, this is one runner without any concern over his stamina. Has won the Midlands National and the Welsh National, now has a shot at the biggest of them all. Since missing last year's race, he's avoided standard chase races to protect his handicap, running third in a X-Country race at Cheltenham in November, followed by a couple of ordinary runs over hurdles. Forget them, he's in with a shot. Blinkers being applied for the first time might just perk him up a bit. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Would have been second favourite last year, if he retains that ability, he's right in the finish.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Would like to have seen a bit warmer form this season, and the addition of blinkers could just be a hail Mary hope.

24.Class Conti
Loves wet ground in Ireland, the only time he has faced ground this dry he won a bumper in France but who knows how weak/strong that race was. Placed twice in the Thyestes at Gowran Park but hopeless in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Xmas in the same seasons. Guesswork whether he will stay the distance, handle the big field and the firmer ground.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Thyestes form is decent and three miles in deep ground gives hope that he can stay further on good-to-soft.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Awful form in Leopardstown handicaps and rarely wins anything else (just two wins over fences).

25.Milan Native
Won the Kim Muir last season but hasn't shone this campaign. Was sent off for wind surgery after a poor run at Xmas, but only finished midfield in the Ultima at Cheltenham upon his return, after strong support in betting.  He also lost a shoe that day which sometimes is trivial, other times annoys them. Loses nothing with Ireland's top 'amateur' Jamie Codd aboard.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Any horse who wins a big field chase at Cheltenham has to have a decent shot here. As mentioned earlier, the improvement after wind surgery can be more notable at their second run. 

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
At pure face value his last three runs have been poor. Need a leap of faith to forgive them completely.


26.Discorama
Just one win over fences in his career makes this a mighty big task. Ran third in the Ultima last season behind The Conditional (also second there the year before in the NH Challenge Cup over 4miles), beaten narrowly by Milan Native early this season, sent off for wind surgery after a disappointing run at Cheltenham in November. Seems to revel in big fields (1st of 25, 2nd of 23, 2nd of 18, 8th of 23, 3rd of 23). You want to rule him out on the trends but his form is right up there with the better chances. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Big field form, especially at Cheltenham.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Just one win over fences worries me greatly, so EW is definitely the play if keen on him.


27.Vieux Lion Rouge
At the grand old age of 12, he's finished on all nine occasions over these fences, which is a record. But the better results have come in the Becher in December, two wins and a second, versus a best result of sixth behind One For Arthur in 2017. Beaten 56 and 42L behind Tiger Roll, I don't see him getting much closer this year.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Any horse that can get around the course safely every time has to have some chance

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
He'll finish, just a loooonnngg way back.

28.Cloth Cap
Likely to start one of the shortest favourites in years after making a mockery of his handicap this season. Third in the Scottish National in 2019 (behind Takingrisks), he was then fourth in the Native River at Chepstow (behind Ballyoptic) and later that season eighth behind Milan Native in the Kim Muir of 2020. Since then, he has worked out what is needed to be a championship chaser. After his third to (subsequent King George winner) Frodon at Cheltenham in October, the stable applied the cheekpieces and away he went. He led from pillar to post in the Ladbrokes Trophy to win by 10L (albeit carrying bottomweight 10st), then waited for the weights to come out before belting Aso, Two For Gold, Definitly Red and Lake View Lad (off almost similar weights) in the Listed Premier Chase at Kelso by an eased down 7.5L. If the weights were assigned today, he'd carry 14lb more. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
All of the above.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Luck in running. Might see competition for the lead and that's suicidal over four and a quarter miles.

29.Cabaret Queen
Seemingly moody mare with several non-completions in her record. Won the Kerry National in September (beating 150/1 Irish National winner Freewheeling Dylan), then ran second to Shattered Love at Clonmel before her form tapered off - 29L third at Fairyhouse, beaten 75L in the Thyestes, pulled up at Cheltenham. The ownership syndicate will be delighted to have a runner but she has no hope.

WHY SHE CAN WIN
39 horses might not finish.

WHY SHE CAN'T WIN
Recent form, too high in the weights plus poor mares record.


30.Minellacelebration
Two runs over the National fences for a 41L tenth and most recently an unseated. Tremendous record over the regular course here but that's no help. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Loves the surroundings at Aintree.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Hates the National fences.


31.Canelo
Yet another bloody JP McManus runner - I have no issue with one of the biggest owners having as many runners as he can qualify, I do have a big issue with them all wearing virtually identical colours, only changing the cap. This can only lead to confusion with the plethora of once a year punters who never see another race all year. And that's even on a sunny day. Imagine what it's like during most of the National Hunt season. Every sporting team has clash strips, why not racehorse owners? Max of three in the main strip, then the others change. Try being a racecaller for the year's toughest race with this farce on top of it. Sort it out racing authorities. Gigginstown Hose are just as guilty here too. Rant over. Has completed at every start beyond his point-to-point debut but latest results don't scream National winner at me. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
McManus owned, it could all be a big decoy for this one to claim the prize.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Just not good enough.


32.The Long Mile
McManus...again. Four wins from 11 chase starts. Won a handicap chase at Limerick at Xmas by 22L then went up 12lbs. Well beaten in a big handicap at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival (where he was 7th of the eight McManus runners). Kept on behind Acapella Bourgeois and Burrows Saint in the Bobbyjo (beaten 7.5L) and gets some weight relief from that. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Still improving and seemed to relish his first attempt at three miles last time.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
A 7yo hasn't won this since WWII however it's not the same test it once was and yet to win beyond two and a half miles.


33.Give Me A Copper
Disappointing last time at Doncaster when pulled up, he'd resumed there the previous month after a year off with a promising second. Paul Nicholls isn't exactly known for his marathon chasers and this one looks to have been injury-prone with numerous long spells.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Sir Alex Ferguson et al started this week by winning the first three races, their luck is in. Seems to prefer drying ground.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
No consistency to his form, no reason to have any confidence in him.

34.Farclas
Second to the handicap lock at Cheltenham, The Shunter, carrying almost a stone more. Might have been a little unlucky there, stumbling on the turn, and probably entitled to get even closer than the three-length margin. Fourth at Leopardstown during DRF in the biug handicap chase, and third over Xmas in a similar race. Travels well in big fields which is a massive plus. 

WHY HE CAN WIN
Big field experience, wasn't stopping at Cheltenham, nicelt weighted.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
7yo record, as per The Long Mile. First time beyond three miles. Might be a better shout for next year.


35.Minella Times
Another for McManus. Has been running against Farclas, finishing just ahead of him in the two Leopardstown handicaps. Hasn't run beyond three miles but hasn't looked like stopping in recent starts. Has the services of Cheltenham Festival champion jockey Rachel Blackmore looking to become the first woman to ride the Grand National winner. Not a million to one that public support pushes him into favouritism.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Strong handicap form timed to the minute and Rachel Blackmore will only add to the big support for him.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Slightly outside the 55 days since last race trend and has won only twice over fences (but has run second five times).


36.Sub Lieutenant
Now 12, this fromer Henry de Bromhead-trainer runner takes his first chance in the National. If he was up to it, you have to wonder why he hasn't had a crack at it previously, especially when previously owned by Gigginstown House. Second in the Topham (to Tout Est Permis) two years ago, these fences won't worry him. Reasonable fourths behind Mister Malarky and Captain Chaos in his two starts for Georgie Howell but a miracle win is unlikely. His best days are past him and the trainer has had just four placed runners from 56 races under Rules in the past five years. Nice feel good story, especially with Tabitha Worsley aboard but it ain't gonna happen.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Has form over these fences and has spent much of his career running in top level races.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
A shadow of his former self and trainer & jockey make a nice story but are a long way behind their rivals.

37.Hogan's Height
Won three novice chases followed by the Grand Sefton in Dec 19, but has been poor ever since. Beaten 29L at Warwick last March, then pulled up in heavy going at Wincanton and beaten 128L behind Tiger Roll in the X-Country recently at Cheltenham. Nothing to suggest he is up to these.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Any form over these fences is worthy of consideration but the Sefton's a much weaker race than this. Sound jumper, no falls or unseateds.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Every other piece of his form.

38.Double Shuffle
Once beaten just a length in a King George behind Might Bite (Dec 17), he now takes to the marathon trip for the first time. Last three runs at Kempton, competitive in each (won one) but a long way of short of this at this stage of his career.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Just keeps on going, certainly a shout for place money at a big price. 

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Nothing inspiring in his form for several years.

39.Ami Desbois
On a career-best mark at age of 11, but has won just two chases from 17 attempts. Can't see it.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Drops nearly two stone from his last run, that's about all he has going for him.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Just not up to these.

40.Blaklion

Third attempt at National glory, ran fourth behind One For Arthur in 2017 when he started 8/1 favourite, then was brought down at the first a year later. Has only finished in the first half of the field once in seven starts since, and that was a fifth of 13, beaten 11.5L back in Feb 2019. Now 23lbs below his top mark but that sums up the status of his career, on the slide with no end in sight.

WHY HE CAN WIN
Someone might miraculously turn the clocks back three years.

WHY HE CAN'T WIN
Reality.


THE SHORTLIST

Acapella Bourgeois
Minella Times
Cloth Cap
Shattered Love
Takingrisks
Farclas
Discorama
Potters Corner

A little dabble on Acapella Bourgeois (28/1) and Shattered Love (50/1) at juicy prices, with some exotic action on exactas/reverse forecasts including the others.

Best of luck!


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