* It would be more efficient to just bin the money…
** Not worth getting excited about
*** Might get round, might even do well.
**** As good a chance as any, get ‘em while they’re hot!
***** My money is very firmly where my mouth is.
1. Imperial Commander – Age: 12 / Weight: 11-10 / Stars: ***
The class horse in the race, Imperial Commander won the Gold Cup back in 2010 and is set to run with less weight than he would usually be expected to carry. However, there have only been nine 12 year old winners of the race since the war and Imperial Commander will have to do a lot to change this.
2. What A Friend – Age: 10 / Weight: 11-9 / Stars: **
Part owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, What A Friend is a top race horse. However, while he has finished third in a Cheltenham Cup his previous runs in the National have been particularly uninspiring.
3. Weird Al – Age: 10 / Weight: 11-8 / Stars: ***
I can already hear the hordes of Alistairs and Alexandras clamouring to throw their money away on a name but fate may just have smiled kindly. Trained by Donald McCain, whose father was responsible for Red Rum’s three victories, Weird Al has bags of class. However, a big weight and his fall in last year’s race could yet hamper his chances.
4. Quel Esprit – Age: 9 / Weight: 11-7 / Stars: **
A Grey – which is nice – Quel Esprit is trained by Willie Mullins whose stable is in top form, and has raced well at Grade 1 level. If he can handle the jumps and his weight (neither of which is guaranteed) he might do better than expected.
5. Big Fella Thanks – Age: 11/ Weight: 11-6/ Stars: ***
If it is possible to have a ‘guilty pleasure’ in horse racing then this is mine. A horse who has finished in the top seven in all three nationals that he has run, Big Fella Thanks is about as safe a bet as you can make to finish in the top ten. He might not win, but could be there or thereabouts.
6. Seabass – Age: 10 / Weight: 11-6 / Stars ****
Heavily Backed going into last year’s race Seabass finished 3rd after a good round of jumping. His jockey Katie Walsh achieved the best ever result achieved by a female jockey and is looking to go on to win it this time around.
7. Roberto Goldback – Age: 9 / Weight: 11-6/ Stars: ***
If there was ever a case of an unfortunate victory, then Roberto Goldback’s win at Ascot is it. Bought to be a National Horse, his chances in the race are hampered slightly by the heavier load he will now have to cart around Aintree. However, if the ground stays good he could give punters a real run for their money.
8. Sunnyhill Boy – Age: 10 / Weight: 11-4 / Stars: ****
Coming second in the Grand National’s first ever photo finish last year, Sunnyhill Boy has shown that he liked the course and is looking to do one better. However, he does have to carry 7lb more in a strong field, which could cause problems and champion jockey AP McCoy’s decision to ride Colbert Station instead of Sunnyhill boy could be telling.
9. Ballabriggs – Age: 12 / Weight: 11-4 / Stars: ***
The winner in 2011 and a gallant 6th in 2012, Ballabriggs is a horse for the course. Whether he can repeat his performance of 2011 at the age of 12 is another question. A win for Ballabriggs would be another notch in the Aintree cap of the McCain training dynasty.
10. Teaforthree – Age: 9 / Weight: 11-3 / Stars: *****
Having already won over 4 miles, Teaforthree has plenty of go and – in all likelihood – will keep on going. One of the horses in the field who looks to tick all the boxes of a National Prospect.
11. Across The Bay – Age: 9 / Weight: 11-2 / Stars: ****
Another trained by Donald McCain, Across The Bay has been run mainly over hurdles this season but looks to have been trained specifically for the race. If he can handle his weight then he has every chance of being involved at the finish.
12. Join Together – Age: 8 / Weight: 11-2 / Stars: ***
Runner up at the Becher’s Chase in 2012, Join Together finished well and seems to have plenty of stamina. While he is only 8 he has shown that he relishes the fences. Could be an exciting prospect.
13. Colbert Station – Age: 9 / Weight: 11-1 / Stars ****
Winning half his races this season, the only negative to place behind Colbert Station is that he has only run 5 times over fences. If he takes to the course though, he looks like he will be in real contention. The chosen mount of champion jockey AP McCoy, so there’s at least one other person who thinks he’s got a real shot at the big one.
14. Forpaddydeplasterer – Age: 11/ Weight: 11-0 / Stars **
Normally runs over shorter distances and will do well to finish let alone win. There are better horses, with less weight and bigger chances.
15. On His Own – Age: 9 / Weight: 11-0 / Stars *****
Trained By Willie Mullins, who is in a rich vein of form. Mullins left Cheltenham as the festivals top trainer of 2013. The horse ran is last years National and looked to be going well before falling on the second circuit. Has a huge chance this year.
16. Joncol – Age: 10 / Weight: 10-13 / Stars *
Has won big races in the past but this year’s National looks a step too far. If he performs to his best though, there is nothing to say he couldn’t spring a surprise.
17. Balthazar King – Age: 9 / Weight: 10-12 / Stars: ****
A very good jumper, with a solid record in the races that he has run in this year. He has been run primarily over cross-country events and looks every inch a contender this year.
18: Cappa Bleu – Age: 11 / Weight: 10-11 / Stars *****
After his fast-finishing 4th place last year, Cappa Bleu is my pick of the bunch. He is trained by Evan Williams, who was responsible for State of Play’s remarkable record in the race (placed three times out of four) and there is every reason to suggest that Cappa Bleu will reproduce his form of last year.
19. Oscar Time – Age: 12 / Weight: 10-11 / Stars ***
Runner up in 2011, he will be partnered by amateur jockey Sam Whaley-Cohen. Oscar Time is well weighted but might be a little too old to repeat his feat of two years ago.
20. Always Waining – Age: 12 / Weight: 10-10 / Stars: **
Aimed specifically at the National this year, his connections – like most cult leaders – have a faith that I simply do not share.
21. Tatenen – Age: 9 / Weight; 10-10 / Stars **
If he had some proven stamina over three miles, Tatenen would be a definite contender for the race. Having said that, he doesn’t and fell in last year’s running. It could happen… but probably won’t.
22. Treacle – Age: 12 / Weight: 10-09 / Stars *
Fell last year after a pretty haphazard attempt at the course. Has been aimed at the race, however, all being said and done that means very little.
23. Lost Glory – Age: 8 / Weight: 10-8 / Stars **
Bred in New Zealand, which means almost nothing outside of rugby. Sadly, without an oval ball in sight, Lost Glory doesn’t look like he’s going to change this.
24. Swing Bill – Age: 12 / Weight: 10-08 / Stars *
A bold-jumping grey, Swing Bill came home a gallant 10th last year. He will be easy to spot in the field, but that is just about all he’s got going for him this year.
25. Saint Are – Age: 7 / Weight: 10-08 / Stars **
Has done well at Aintree before but never over the big fences. You have to go back before the war to find a seven year old who has won the race and you’re money would probably be safer in Cyprus.
26. Chicago Grey – Age: 10 / Weight: 10-07 / Stars: *****
Very well handicapped, Chicago Grey looked to be in great shape when brought down last year. Having not had a grey winner since 1951, we could be on for a run of two in a row. Huzzah.
27. Quiscover Fontaine – Age: 9 / Weight: 10-07 / Stars ***
Fell at the 17th last year when going well. There is no guarantee that he would have stayed the distance but if you’re feeling brave, his odds look pretty handy.
28. Rare Bob – Age: 11 / Weight: 10-06 / Stars ****
Another who was unlucky to be brought down last year. Rare Bob looks as well placed as any to make amends come Saturday. Certainly worth consideration.
29. The Rainbow Hunter – Age: 9 / Weight: 10-06 / Stars **
Definitely an outsider, but could spring a surprise. That being said, it would be a surprise and The Rainbow Hunter will have to improve a lot to beat all the horses around him.
30. Becauseicouldn’tsee – Age: 10 / Weight: 10-06 / Stars: *
Trying the same things over and over again, expecting different results is one of the first signs of insanity. The horse has been run in the last two editions of the National and has made very little impact. Your call.
31. Harry The Viking – Age: 8 / Weight: 10-06 / Stars ***
Runner up to Teaforthree at Cheltenham in 2012, Harry The Viking should get the distance well. He is Sir Alex Ferguson’s best chance at glory in the race but will need to improve if the United boss is to get his hands on one of the very few major trophies that still evades him.
32. Mr Moonshine – Age: 9 / Weight: 10-05 / Stars **
Will do well to stay in contention and needs a lot to go his way if he is to come in ahead of all the other horses in the race. That being said, he is running in very fetching silks. A win for fashion if nothing else.
33. Mumbles Head – Age: 12 / Weight: 10-04 / Stars *
I can count the reasons to bet on Mumbles Head using all of France’s 2013 Six Nations’ victories. For those of you who need to be reminded, that is a grand total of Zilch.
34. Ninetieth Minute – Age: 10 / Weight: 10-03 / Stars **
I can already see gleeful journalist conjouring up awful, football related, puns in the hope that this outsider romps to victory. I’ll need some extra-time to come up with my own though.
35. Auroras Encore – Age: 11 / Weight: 10-03 / Stars ***
Runner up in the 2012 Scottish National so Auroras Encore has definitely got stamina. If he can manage the fences then he could be one of the outsiders to watch.
36. Tarquinius – Age: 10 / Weight: 10-02 / Stars *
Has been aimed at the Grand National, but much like North Korea’s war-talk, this is probably ill-considered.
37. Any Currency – Age: 10 / Weight: 10-00 / Stars ***
Usually runs well and is rarely out of the frame. While there are better horses in the race, his low weight could work in his favour.
38. Major Malarkey – Age: 10 / Weight: 9-13 / Stars *
Another horse carrying very little weight. This gives him an advantage over his rivals but will it be enough? To be in contention, he will need a lot of things to go his way.
39. Soll – Age: 8 / Weight: 9-12 / Stars **
Won well last time out and has been treated kindly by the handicapper. Will need to improve, but if having watched enough YouTube I can attest that many more bizarre things happen on a daily basis. Mostly involving cats.
40 Viking Blond – Age: 8 / Weight: 9-11 / Stars **
He fell at the first last year and can only do better this time around. That being said, this doesn’t mean all that much
Pentific – Age: 10 / Weight: 9-08 / Stars *
Mortimers – Age: 12 / Weight: 9-06 / Stars *