Trainers Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls could have almost a quarter of the field between them for this years Grand National at Aintree by the time the official race line up is announced in the coming weeks. Mullins is planning to enter at least a four strong team of horses at the famous race as he bids to become the first Irishman to win Britains Champion Trainer award since Vincent O’Brien in 1954. Meanwhile, Nicholls may have as many as five horses in the race in which he last won four years ago with Neptune Collonges.
Mullins currently trails his counterpart by £140,000 heading into the race s he searches for a second Grand National victory, having won back in 2005 with Hedgehunter. For Mullins, Fairhouse winner Boston Bob could well provide his finest opportunity for victory, and is offered odds of 26/1 by bookmaker Betway. The fact that experienced jockey Ruby Walsh looks set to take to the saddle has seen a major shift in betting patterns, as he bids to win his third Grand National title at the event in just a few weeks time. It may well be Nicholls who heads into the race with the better chance however, as he looks to current second favourite Silvianco Conti to overcome the likes of defending champion Many Clouds, who is 9/1 with Betway to claim glory for the second consecutive year. Opportunities to back a Grand National winner at Betway could well centre on the two famous trainers.
Having led the charge at the recent Cheltenham Festival with seven winners over the four day event, Mullins suffered a setback after choosing to withdraw Gold Cup third places horse Don Poli after he questioned the horses credentials for Aintree. With ninety six horses having been left by the forfeit stage on Tuesday, the promise of increased safety during the race as well as an increase in the prize fund, the lure of the Grand National is seemingly growing on trainers.
This year’s race looks set to hold the highest quality field for many a year, meaning that six of the winners since 1999 would not have made it into the meeting this time around due to not having a high enough handicap. Several high profile entries are currently in danger of missing out on a starting birth in the forty strong field, with the likes of Pineau De Re and Mountinous still sweating on places.