THE much-anticipated contenders were unveiled this week for the 2021 Randox Grand National, ran over four miles, two furlongs, 74 yards and over 30 fences at Aintree Racecourse on Saturday, 10 April.
This year’s running will be the 173rd Aintree Grand National.
The latest two renewals of the world’s most-watched chase in 2018 and 2019 have been landed by the magnificent Tiger Roll who is trained in Meath by Gordon Elliott, the popular 11-year-old tops the 106 entries this year.
If successful for a third time in April, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Tiger Roll would become only the second triple Grand National winner after Red Rum (successful in 1973, 1974 and 1977). He is the 16/1 favourite with most firms to land this year’s National.
Tiger Roll’s handler Gordon Elliott, who was also successful with Silver Birch in 2007, is the most successful current trainer in the Grand National and one more victory would see him join Fred Rimell and Ginger McCain as the most successful Grand National trainer of all time.
Elliott has 16 entries in total which is the most of any trainer. His contingent also includes five-time G1 winner Delta Work, the classy Presenting Percy and the tough chaser The Storyteller.
Tiger Roll’s second success in 2019 was a third for owner Gigginstown House Stud, with Michael O’Leary’s operation having also taken the spoils in 2016 with Rule The World to make it the joint-most successful owner in the history of the Grand National.
Trevor Hemmings, who has very close connections to Cork, also has three Grand National victories to his name courtesy of Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015). His three entries this term include impressive G3 Ladbrokes Trophy victor Cloth Cap as well as Lake View Lad, who landed the G2 William Hill Many Clouds Chase over the Mildmay Course in December.
Of the 106 entries, 43 are trained in Ireland and two in France. The Grand National trophy has crossed the Irish Sea on 27 occasions, most recently Tiger Roll in 2019. France has taken the honours twice, Cortolvin in 1867 was the most recent French victory.
In addition to Tiger Roll, the 43 Irish-trained entries also include Magic Of Light (Jessica Harrington), runner-up in 2019, Anibale Fly (Tony Martin), who was fourth in 2018 and fifth in 2019, 2019 G2 National Hunt Chase scorer Any Second Now (Ted Walsh), Munster and Kerry National heroine Cabaret Queen (Willie Mullins), 2019 Irish Grand National hero Burrows Saint (Willie Mullins) and dual Cheltenham Festival winner Presenting Percy (Gordon Elliott).
Both French-trained entries are from the yard of David Cottin and are headed by Easysland, who defeated Tiger Roll in the 2020 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham.
The Grand National is the one major race to have eluded six-time and reigning British champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson, the master of Seven Barrows has twice sent out the runner-up courtesy of Zongalero (1979) and The Tsarevich (1987).
Henderson’s six entries this year, the most of any UK trainer, are headed by 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup second Santini and also include the OK Corral, a lightly-raced 11-year-old who has not been seen out since landing the Listed Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster just over a year ago.
Nicholls’s two entries are Yala Enki, winner of the G3 Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in 2018 and impressive when winning at Taunton last month, plus Listed winner Give Me A Copper, who is part-owned by Alex Ferguson.
Other big names among the entries include Bristol de Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies), three-time winner of the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, dual William Hill Becher Chase hero Vieux Lion Rouge (David Pipe), G3 Ultima Handicap Chase scorer The Conditional (David Bridgwater) and Yorkhill, a dual G1 winner at Cheltenham for his former trainer Willie Mullins who came back to form last time out when landing the Listed Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle for current handler Sandy Thomson.
Yorkhill is partly owned by golfer Lee Westwood, who has represented Europe in 10 Ryder Cups and was named player of the year for 2020.