This week saw the first big Grand National announcement of the year, as 85 potential runners were named. The list is significantly shorter than in recent years, with 107 horses announced in 2022 before eventually being trimmed down to the maximum field size of 40.
There are plenty of twists and turns to come, but who are the horses to catch the eye at this early stage?
It would be remiss to start anywhere else than Noble Yeats, after he became the first seven year-old since Bogskar in 1940 to win the National. Things have gone well since then, with a win in December’s Many Clouds Chase particularly notable. It remains to be seen whether connections will also send him to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, but an attempt at winning back-to-back Nationals looks certain at this stage. He’s sure to prove a popular selection on the day, and bookies are wary, making him their 12/1 favourite.
Any Second Now
If you like to back a horse with Grand National pedigree, Any Second Now is surely the one to go for. Third placed in 2020 and second last year, he’ll be hopeful of getting the better of Noble Yeats this time round with their weights expected to be more closely matched than last April. He can currently be backed to make it third time lucky at 20/1.
Many horses win the National having never raced over the fences before, and Hewick is certainly being primed to do the same this year. John Hanlon has already trained his big hope to wins in the Durham National, bet365 Gold Cup, Galway Plate and American Grand National, but he’s made it clear that the race he really wants is the English Grand National. Hewick is 25/1 for the Aintree showpiece.
How long to wait?
For those wondering exactly when is the Grand National, the Aintree marathon is set to take place at 5.15pm on Saturday 15th April, as the race keeps its relatively new time slot to avoid clashing with the afternoon’s football.
The next really important date to look out for though is 21st February, which is when the handicaps will be announced. That invariably proves a critical moment on the road to Aintree, as shrewd punters latch on to the horses perceived to have gone under the handicapper’s radar.