Part 1 of our Official Grand National Chart was created after the release of the weights for the Aintree showpiece, highlighting the top 10 horses that seemed to have been marked fairly leniently by the handicapper.
But over a month has passed since. Some of those fancied have been withdrawn for other races, while others have produced eye-catching performances from the same rating that they will line up with in the National. Don Poli, Houblon De Obeaux and Valseur Lido are among those to be withdrawn.
This has caused a reshuffle to our top 10, with a new number one on top of the pile.
In relation to the statistics, these are the metrics we have used:
– Over two-thirds of horses placed in the race since 2009 have carried at least 10-10
– In the last 15 years 58 of the 60 horses to make the frame were aged between eight and 11
– Nine of the last 10 winners had previously won a chase worth at least £29k
– The last 14 winners had won or been placed in a chase with at least 15 runners
– Since 2011, 65 per cent of placed horses had finished in the first four in either the Aintree, Welsh, Scottish or Irish Grand National
Bidding to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back Grand Nationals. He does have to carry 1lb more than 12 months ago, but could technically be well treated on the basis that he is rated 6lb higher.
Missed the Cheltenham Festival this year to provide better preparation, but he was seen at Kelso earlier in March, easing to a comfortable victory in a Listed contest.
Looked to be on the decline until an emphatic victory in the Ascot Chase just after the release of the Grand National weights, beating a Grade 1 field by 20 lengths.
At his best, Silviniaco Conti is the best horse in the field, running to a mark 1st beyond his Grand National official rating. He has never been out of the first three at Aintree either, although whether he has the stamina for a trip this long is an unknown.
His victory in the Grimthorpe Stakes off of his National mark of 149 has seen The Last Samurai surge up the chart.
Technically he is 12lb well-in at Aintree after now being raised to a mark of 161 by the handicapper and the eight-year-old appears to possess the stamina and bold jumping nature to go close. He remains slightly inexperienced though, having just eight chase starts.
Saint Are was runner-up last year and returns to face Many Clouds on 2lb better terms.
A victory in a veteran’s chase at Doncaster in late February suggests he arrives in good form and his record at the Grand National meeting is an striking 11F2.
Many Clouds warmed up for the Grand National last year by being beaten by just over 20 lengths in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, running on late after not having the speed to cope with the leading challengers.
Carlingford Lough produced an almost identical performance in the Cheltenham showpiece this year and the National’s extended distance promises to suit. However, it remains a concern that he has never finished in the first three outside of Ireland.
Cause Of Causes is still not guaranteed to get into the final Grand National field, with his mark of 142 leaving him requiring a further 17 entrants to pull out.
He was eighth in the National last year off a 4lb higher mark, getting caught too far back in the field before overtaking beaten horses. Such exaggerated waiting tactics could be his undoing again.
A big positive though was the manner he ran away with the Kim Muir Handicap Chase at Cheltenham off this mark, suggesting he is incredibly well handicapped here if making the final field.
There was already a feeling that a season of average performances on ground that was softer than ideal had seen Holywell’s mark drop to an enticing 153.
He proved as much by finishing a fine second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham and if running to a similar level at Aintree, he must be in the reckoning, especially if the rain stays away.
The Druids Nephew was travelling as well as anything when leading four fences from home last year before falling.
He returns off a 9lb higher mark this time, but his run in second behind The Last Samuri indicated that it is not beyond him to be a leading challenger again, especially with the ground that day being softer than ideal.
He has finished fourth in the Grand National in each of the last two years and returns this time from a mark just 3lb higher than 12 months ago.
There was nothing truly notable about finishing down the field at Newbury at the start of the month, but the chance to shake away any cobwebs on his first start since last April could prove significant.
It will need a career best for Goonyella to win a Grand National from a mark of 149, but his performance at Naas last time from a 2lb lower mark provided optimism that such a run wasn’t beyond him.
His second last year in the Scottish Grand National was another indication that this longer trip at Aintree should suit.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing