The 2018 Grand National looks certain to be run on soft ground, which would mirror the conditions of the 2016 Grand National. The winner that day was Rule The World, who defied a mark of 148 as he carried 10-7 to victory. It was 6-lengths back to the The Last Samuri (10-8) in second, and a further 8-lengths back to Vics Canvas (10-6) in third. Gilgamboa ran best of the horses carrying 11-0 or more in finishing a further 2-lengths further back in fourth.
2016 proved an especially tough year for horses carrying big-weights in the National, with top-weight Many Clouds finishing last of the 16 finishers. Meanwhile, other class horses like Silviniaco Conti, First Lieutenant, and On His Own all failed to complete. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if any of the horses near the top of the weights can shoulder more than 11-0 to victory in conditions that suggest light-weights may have an advantage.
Grand National Runner-By-Runner Guide 2018
Took to these fences like a duck to water when fourth last year and again when an impressive winner of the 2017 Becher Chase. Not sure greater emphasis on stamina sure to suit this year, though wind-op could help. Some of the stable’s runners are running well, such as Bristol De Mai who finished second to Might Bite on Thursday.
Might Bite franked the form of this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup when winning on Thursday and the way Anibale Fly finished that day to be third suggests he could relish this stamina test. Officially 9lb well-in after handicapper bumped his rating up for his Gold Cup performance but he carried 11-8 to victory in a big handicap at Leopardstown earlier in the season. Stable struggling for winners but Barry Geraghty rides in preference to the other JP McManus horses.
The Last Samuri
Gallant second on soft in 2016 but has much more weight to carry this year. Decent third in the Cross Country Race at Cheltenham but tough task all the same.
Rated 8lb lower than when at the peak of his powers. Grade 1 winner then but hasn’t looked as good since returning from injury.
Won this year’s Ladbrokes Trophy off a much lower mark but looks the type to get the trip. Connections are probably rueing running him in the Gold Cup, when he fell when looking likely to finish in the first four and could bounce back.
Alpha Des Obeaux
Former high-class staying hurdler who has yet to prove as good over fences. Used to prefer better ground.
Pulled up in the 2017 Grand National and tends to reserve his best for Cheltenham.
Ran okay in last year’s Grand National before stamina seemed to run out. Been in decent form this year but victory looks unlikely.
His trainer has been in brilliant form this week and she’s saddled a previous winner in Mon Mome who had also previously failed in the race before. Won off today’s mark too, but chase wins have come in single-figure fields.
Multiple Grade 1 winner who is now rated 14lb lower than when at his best. Not shown much this season in three runs before Christmas but often comes to life at this time of year. Gone quietly under the radar and could be over-priced.
Proved his stamina with wins in the National Hunt Chase and the Cross Country Race at the last two Cheltenham Festivals. Only small though so could find these fences a tough examination of his jumping and would have preferred better ground. Not Ruled out.
Eighth last year but not sure greater emphasis on stamina will suit.
Vieux Lion Rouge
Looking to make it third time lucky but its hard to find a reason why he’ll find improvement this year after coming into the race in worse form than for his last two attempts.
Chase The Spud
Proved his stamina with a win in last year’s Eider and started the season on a winning note. Poor since but could hit the frame if there proves to be plenty of non-stayers.
Yet to try this trip but does travel well in his races. Fell on previous visit to Aintree on the Mildmay Course though.
Unusually light preparation but has been placed in a Scottish National and should handle the ground. He’s also shown good form in decent races and must have a chance with just 10-11 on his back.
Gas Line Boy
Won over the National Fences in December but his stamina gave way late on last year as he faded into fifth on better ground. Could sneak into the frame but likely to get outstayed by a few rivals.
Seemed to enjoy carrying a light-weight when wining this season’s Peter Marsh Chase but handicapper bumped him up 13lb for that. He also broke blood vessels last time but still potentially interesting on his first attempt at this longer trip.
Ran well for a long way last year until a bad mistake cost him his chance of winning. Still finished ninth though and could go close with an error-free round in the hands of the 2016 Grand National winning jockey.
Keeps promising to win a big one and has shown form over these fences before. Only sixth in 2016 though and needs to have found more stamina since. Trainer Gordon Elliott can do little wrong though this season.
Placed in the 2015 and 2017 Grand Nationals but pulled up on soft ground in 2016. Ground may have gone against him.
Raz Da Maree
Run well in the last two Welsh Nationals but unseated in this race last year having been eighth in 2014. Soft ground should slow the other down though and no forlorn hope to hit the frame at the age of 13, which Vics Canvas did in 2016.
I Just Know
The form of his win over 3 miles 6 furlongs on soft ground at Catterick this season doesn’t amount to much but at least proved he should stay this trip. He also carried top-weight there so could relish carrying a light-weight here.
Overall form needs improving on, but this will be his first try at a marathon trip. Also won three of his 6 starts at Aintree, whilst he’s won all four-times he’s carried less than 11-0 in his career.
Baie Des Isles
Katie Walsh rides this 7-year-old for husband Ross O’Sullivan, and he’s already finished sixth in an Irish National and fifth in a Welsh National. Third behind Folsom Blue last time and that horse was unlucky not to win the Irish National afterwards.
13-year-old who has won over the conventional Aintree fences but seemed to hate the National fences when previously running in the 2015 Topham Chase.
Stable had a winner at Aintree on Thursday but only thirteenth under similar conditions in the 2016 National.
Can be a dodgy jumper and was beaten 83-lengths in the 2016 National.
Seemed to lack for stamina in a Grand National Trial last time.
Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner who was seventh last year, but ground has probably gone against him.
Done most of his winning at around 2½ miles but didn’t seem to enjoy these fences over that sort of trip earlier in the season.
Houblon Des Obeaux
Only tenth last year but stable have hit form with a vengeance this week. Could hit the frame if jumping holds up, and fully 19lb better of with Chase The Spud for 9-lengths from their running in the Midlands National.
Bless The Wings
Looked to have retained all his enthusiasm when winning over the Cheltenham Cross Country fences earlier in the season but has fallen and been pulled up since. Should stay but needs to have found his form quickly after flopping in the Irish Grand National.
Jumped well for Bryony Frost when winning this season’s Classic Chase and he’s one horse for whom conditions can’t be too soft. Could put up a bold sight from the front if getting into an early rhythm.
Often suggested he’ll stay a marathon trip and was going well when previously falling late on in a Midlands National. Third in this year’s Welsh National and could sneak a place.
Has shown form over the National Fences before but best form over shorter. Stamina Doubts.
Road To Riches
His third to Coneygree in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the best pieces of form on offer and the fact he’s got bottom-weight means he could make a mockery of his current mark. However, he’s been in dreadful form for a while and stamina must be a doubt.
Thunder And Roses
This former winner of the Irish Grand National should handle conditions, and he has previously failed to complete in this and been placed in the Irish National a few days later. Big run not ruled out of 2016 winnings connections.
Tried 4-miles two starts ago at Musselburgh there and looked a non-stayer, so up against it on that evidence.
Walk In The Mill
Handicapper had his say when he won earlier in the season but could be the type to go well with a low-weight, despite having not previously proven his stamina.
The eye is naturally draw to those at the head of the weights as they’ve run in Cheltenham Gold Cups, but the outcome of the last Grand National run on soft ground makes me lean towards the horses carrying low-weights. The likes of Milansbar, Houblon Des Obeaux, I Just Know, and Raza Da Maree should have the stamina but may lack a touch of class, whilst Tiger Roll and Vicente should stay but may prefer better ground. Meanwhile, Carlingford Lough is a class act who has been given a chance by the handicapper. However, it’s Pleasant Company who gets the vote as he was going well last year and looks nicely weighted in the hands of jockey D J Mullins who has already proven he can has what it takes to steer a horse to victory in a soft ground Grand National.