Willie Mullins hasn’t saddled a Grand National winner since Hedgehunter in 2005.
So he’ll be hoping for a change in fortune this year as he bids for only a second Aintree success with Total Recall.
The nine-year-old is considered to be among the favourites to win the Grand National. And he’s up there for a reason.
Not only has the son of Westerner showed that he has the stamina to stay the 4m2f trip, he’s also showed that he has the quality to come out on top.
After middling about over 2m distances last season, Mullins took the opportunity to step him up to 3m at the beginning of the current campaign.
It proved an inspired move. The Irish-bred raider hacked up on his first start over the distance at Limerick in October, landing the £51,000 first prize by 7l from Alpha Des Obeaux.
Two months later he was handed a far sterner task – the Ladbrokes Trophy.
Jockey Paul Townend gave him a stalking ride in the Grade 3 contest at Newbury before pouncing when three out.
He clawed back a 1l deficit after the final fence to edge Nicky Henderson’s raider Whisper by a neck over the 3m2f distance.
That could prove to be a landmark victory for the raider, with Denman, Bobs Worth and 2015 Grand National winner Many Clouds also having tasted success in the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup.
Total Recall continued his good form at Leopardstown in the William Fry Handicap Hurdle in February. He beat Oscar Knight into second to chalk up a third straight success and a hat-trick of victories over the 3m distance.
While a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup didn’t go to plan last month, connections should take great heart from his performance. The nine-year-old displayed some quality jumping before falling four from home.
That run will hold the charge in good stead. And after a solid campaign he must be taken under serious consideration for his first National attempt.
He’s shown that he has the stamina to stay the trip and with the ground not set to be an issue he is rightfully priced as one of the leading contenders.
Paul Townend could be given the ride on the raider, who will carry 11-4 on Merseyside.
He guided the bay gelding to two victories in mid-season, and in the absence of Ruby Walsh through injury, would be the obvious choice.
The recent race trends should also give cause for optimism for speculative punters.
Three of the last eight victors have carried between 11-00 and 11-6.
Nine-year-olds also account for four of the last 13 winners and hold the joint-best record alongside 10-year-olds since 2005.
However, if he does go off as favourite, he’ll have to overcome an infamous curse on runners in the Grand National.
Only six horses at the head of the market have justified their position by coming home first since 1974.
None of the last seven winners have gone off as the SP favourite, with last year’s winner One For Arthur winning at a price of 14/1.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication