With the dust settled on the stands of Prestbury Park following another thrilling renewal of the iconic Cheltenham Festival, the onus has very quickly switched to Aintree as the Merseyside track is gearing up to host the three-day Grand National Festival.
The headline contest itself is well-known as the race the world stops to watch, with around 500 million people from around the globe tuning in for the thrills and spills of the National. This year’s race has been somewhat marred by the criticism surrounding the lack of British runners – with entries from the hosts slashed in half over the last couple of renewals.
In total, British-trained horses make up for just 31 of the entries – which is a stark decrease from the 62 in 2021. On top of Ireland’s dominance at the Cheltenham Festival, it is not a good look for British racing that their cross-sea rivals have won the last four editions of the National as well – and the drop in numbers hasn’t helped their case.
The Brits still have a few chances featuring in the top 10 of the Grand National betting, so let’s take a look at three of their front runners to reclaim the title from the Irish.
Corach Rambler – Lucinda Russell
Trained in Scotland by Lucinda Russell, Corach Rambler is now the favourite for the Grand National at 7/1. The nine-year-old won the Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival, but returned to Prestbury Park for the defence of his crown winless in his two seasonal outings – finishing fifth and fourth respectively.
However, he returned to form at the right time to retain the Ultima title by a neck from Fastorslow. The nine-year-old has been targeted at the Grand National all season and might have hit form at the perfect time. That win and an allocated weight of 10-5 will certainly have the horse’s connections feeling confident.
Ashtown Lad – Dan Skelton
The first of two Dan Skelton entries to feature on this list, the English trainer has been heavily critical of the potentially damaging comments made by the handicapper about the decline in British racing after the drop in entries by the hosts, so he would love nothing more than to land his first National.
Ashtown Lad is one of two 20/1 shots for the Warwickshire-based trainer at the time of writing. The nine-year-old has course form too, winning over the Becher Handicap Chase over National fences in December. He’s been second and third since – including in the Grade 2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock in February last time out – so could be there or thereabouts come the finish.
Le Milos – Dan Skelton
Moving on to Skelton’s next chance, Le Milos has displayed some fine form since switching to the trainer from handler Tim Vaughan. The eight-year-old won a Handicap Chase at Bangor-on-Dee on debut for Skelton and followed that up with a Premier Handicap success in the Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Newbury.
He was then disappointingly beaten by Empire Steel when sent off as the odds-on favourite for the Premier Chase at Kelso last month. Le Milos is set to go off at a nice mark however, so is another to consider each-way at 20/1.
Also read: 7 Things You Should Know About Horse Racing Before Betting