The Grand National: an early look at three contenders

The Grand National is one of the biggest horse racing events in the world and millions of fans tune in to watch the race on a yearly basis. Since the great race was formed well over a century ago, the best runners and riders have gone head-to-head over this unforgiving four-mile, 30-fence track – and it makes for a fantastic spectacle.

This year, the Michael O’Leary-owned Rule The World romped home to snatch the victory under a great ride from 19-year-old David Mullins on his National debut. Unfortunately, the 2016 winner won’t be there to defend his crown after he was retired to stud in May. Having said that, there are still plenty of viable candidates to emerge victorious; here are three of our favourites.

 

The Last Samuri

David Bass was given a dream ride on The Last Samuri down the inside of the Aintree circuit but he fell short in the closing stages of the race. With two fences to jump, it looked like the Kim Bailey-trained thoroughbred was about to win the biggest race in the business but he just didn’t have the legs as he held on for a gallant second place…

As of September 29th, The Last Samuri is one of Betway’s early market leaders at 20/1 to win the race and Bass will almost certainly be on board yet again. Keep an eye out for this horse in the coming months as he will almost certainly be given a run or two at the trial events – and National Hunt fans will be watching his progress carefully ahead of the big one in April.

 

Don Poli

Fortunately, Don Poli has plenty of time to adjust to Gordon Elliott’s training regime after Willie Mullins and the Gigginstown House Stud parted ways in September. Without a doubt, Don Poli is a tremendous breed and his third-place finish under Davy Russell in March’s Cheltenham Gold Cup was no fluke – he will be there or thereabouts if he is entered…

At 25/1 to romp home at Aintree, Don Poli is decent value and his odds will almost certainly tumble in the coming months. Usual jockey Bryan Cooper has an excellent relationship with the horse and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see that duo continue to work together under Elliott’s guidance. Watch this space; Don Poli could be a serious contender.
 

The Young Master

The Young Master showed his class when winning the bet365 Gold Cup Chase at Sandown in April and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Neil Mulholland-trained mount take the next step in the coming months. Without a doubt, he looks destined for greatness and it would take a brave man to back against him despite his age. Seven year old’s rarely win this race…

At just seven years old, The Young Master is a genuine talent – and he has already gone up against a number of serious horses at the Cheltenham Festival. He was well beaten by Don Poli in the RSA Chase in 2015 before finishing seventh after a decent run up against Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack in this year’s World Hurdle. Who knows, 2017 could be his year.

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