The Grand National; the one time that men, women and children get those pins out of their pockets and pick a horse based on whatever takes their fancy.
Names, colours, nationalities, all of which play a part in the selection process of that hard-studied Grand National selection over breakfast on the morning of the Grand National.
Picking your horse based on it’s colour is aÂ familiarÂ selection process and many grey horses pit their wits against their bay, brown, horse-coloured rivals this year.
It’s an old preference of many in the Grand National, if you’re not sure what horse to back, back the green one – right? Only one flaw this year, there’s ten of them carrying a tinge of green.
If colours are your thing, and not of the horse, then the colours of the jockeys silks may be more your thing. Greens, blues, reds and some more obscure varieties – there’s a colour for everyone here
The race which forms the crown jewel to the English racing crown, the Grand National is always the race which pits the bestÂ steeplechasersÂ against each other in a traditionally competitive affair.
The form lines have been drawn, jockeys selected, colours pinned to their mast in the race that captures the hearts of many.
Traditionally a race for you to don those punting boots, even for that Â£1 bet just once a year, the Grand National is a race which sees the heartfelt love for grey horses in increased abundance than usual.
Look no further than the quick slips scattered across the tables in your local bookmakers, it’s clear to see the sign, asterisk or marker showing which horses are grey and in 2013, the grey contingent looks to defend it’s crown after the last-gasp victory of legendary grey, Neptune Collonges, in 2012.
Last year the grey horse contingent looked to have an average chance at best, yet this year’s flagbearer is Chicago Grey.Â A quirky horse who has had his fair share of off days, this ten year old was a winner last time out at 25-1 in a classier affair in Ireland. A winner at the Cheltenham Festival before over the distance of four miles, this grey wasn’t seen to great effect last year when being brought down by a falling horse at the fifth fence.
This year, Chicago Grey comes into the race seemingly better than before, classier than before, and with an exceptionally able pilot in Paul Carberry. Likely to be amongst the favourites, grey horse fans will want this young galloper on their side.
Quel EspritÂ continues the quirky grey trait. A fascinatingly intriguing runner over fences over the last eighteen months, it has often been believed that, if trainer Willie Mullins were to iron out hisÂ pronenessÂ to jumping errors, he would make into a very tough steeplechaser.
Last season saw Quel Esprit at his best, a victor at the highest grade against Roberto Goldback, another National runner, saw him saunter to the top. However, this year’s one run, albeit against the very best Ireland had to offer, left little to be desired. A classy grey, it would not be a total shock to see him run a big race, but not one of the better greys in the race.
Swing Bill is likeable; the horse that would draw you in, give you a lick on the face and persuade you to part with your cash – and he’ll try his best for you too. A likeable sort from the yard of David Pipe, a winner of the race with Comply or Die in the same colours, what Swing Bill lacks in youth is certainly not obvious to the unknowing raceviewer.
An experienced veteran of the Aintree fences, Swing Bill has only failed to complete the course on one occasion, that in atrociously heavy ground in a Grand National trial. 10th in the race last year, Swing Bill has impressed with his determination and will to win this season. A close 4th in a traditional trial in December, there are far worse 66-1 shots for you to part with your money for.
Our final grey, Tarquinius, comes from the same stable as Chicago Grey. Second in a competitive affair at Gowran Park in Ireland one start back, he left little to be desired when fourteenth on his following outing. The beauty of the Grand National always reminds viewers of one thing – expect the unexpected – but the chance of this ten year old gelding looks Â to be minimal at best.
Four fine grey horses make their way to the start this season – can they defend the title for their friend and rival from last year, Neptune Collonges? Chicago Grey certainly looks to have the best chance of doing so.
Colbert Station, Lost Glory, Quiscover Fontaine and SunnyhillboyÂ all represent top owner JP McManus’ orange and green silks. A team to follow in many a renewal, those green fans amongst us would do no worse than to take a chance on these.
If the McManus silks don’t take your fancy then Roberto Goldback‘s green silks could prove the ideal tonic for you. Green, green and more green – there’s nowhere else green could fit on these silks. One for the green obsessives amongst us.
The winner in 2011, Ballabriggs, was the last horse to carry the green tinge to victory – could he do it for you again? Stay loyal green friends, don’t be put off by the yellow squares.
If you’re not opposed to a bit of yellow or red alongside your green, then Saint AreÂ or The Rainbow HunterÂ may be the horses for you. A mish-mash of greens, reds and yellows, these boys aren’t quite sure what they want to be, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you haven’t kept them on side.
Ninetieth Minute and Swing Bill complete that green loving ten.
For the blue people amongst us, you too can have Ninetieth Minute orÂ Swing Bill,Â but Cappa Bleu may be the ideal horse for you. Blue silks, and he even has blue in his name, this fourth-placed finisher from last year will be trying his best to make sure you’re not blue after the race.
For the lighter blue fans, Big Fella ThanksÂ is a horse that loves the Grand National fences, but don’t confuse him with the similarly-coloured Across The Bay and Join Together.
Blue fans look to have a great chance at victory this year, none more so than Teaforthree. This stripey-sensation could be the horse you’ve been waiting for for years, or are Rare Bob or late-comer, Soll, more to your tastes?
Auroras Encore and TarquiniusÂ round out the blues.
The doom and gloom of black looms boldly in the National, but a lucky colour for some and Imperial Commander flies that black flag high alongside the likes of Quel Esprit, Weird Al and Treacle.
For the girls, the pink contingent is high this year. Any Currency, Mr MoonshineÂ and Mumbles Head look to surge home for a pink victory whilst the purple cross diamonds of Always WainingÂ may also be claimed by the pinks if he wins.
Browns,Â beige and whites – look no further than On His Own, Oscar TimeÂ and Becauseicouldntsee, whilst it feels slightly strange to pronounce a white horse, What A Friend,Â as well-known red, Sir Alex Ferguson,’s horse.
Making amends for the lack of red, Sir Alex Ferguson also runs Harry The Viking in the vivid red whilst Viking Blond, Tatenen, Balthazar King, Joncol and Forpadydeplasterer contribute to a strong red challenge.
The ever-familiar process of picking your horse based on a name, be it that the name includes your name or it bears some relevance to your occupation. If it’s your name you’re looking for then this may be your bagÂ .
Selecting your horse by the time of the start of the Grand National might prove tricky. You may not know the form, but you know your name, right?
John, Al, Bill, there’s one for you all this year, yes even you Bob, but the females amongst us might not be so well positioned with this method of selection.
For the Bills amongst us, Swing BillÂ looks to give your name a great spin over the Aintree fences. A regular visitor to Aintree he’ll give you a bold sight of victory at some point in the race as a 66-1 outsider.
For the Johns, Joncol could be the one for you. An Irish trained stayer who looks to be begging for the step up to the four mile trip, Joncol could be the first ‘name based’ horse to win since Monty’s Pass in 2003.
For the Oscar’s – Oscar Time returns having finished second in the 2011 renewal of the race. Absent last year and out of form, you Oscar’s might be wishing your name was something different by the end of the race.
Are you weird, a little bit quirky, and is your name Al, Alfred, Alfonso – even? Then Weird Al is the one for you. A top chaser who fell in this race last year, this 50-1 shot does look to have it all to do.
Paddy, Patrick, Pad; wherever you are, whoever you are Forpadydeplasterer looks to give your name a bold chance of victory and as for Bob, well Rare BobÂ looks to be coming into the race perfectly with a chance of glory.
For the Robs, Robert and Roberto amongst us, Barry Geraghty and his partner Roberto GoldbackÂ come into the race for the hot Henderson team from Seven Barrows in Lambourn. A 33-1 chance, you Robs may be shouting your name sake all the way home to victory.
Harry, ever thought you’d be owned by Sir Alex Ferguson? Well, if Harry The Viking wins that’s just how you’ll feel. Owned by Sir Alex Ferguson and friends, Harry The Viking thrives on long-distance racing and this 40-1 shot will give you a nice run for your money.
If all else fails, and your name doesn’t appear in any name, why not try What A Friend? Everyone has a friend and you too can be owned by Sir Alex Ferguson if this one-time Gold Cup fancy powers to victory on his third attempt in the race.
but if you’re job just can’t escape you, then this is for you
Horse based on your Job?
Â Tea ladies, plasterers, bankers and lone workers; there’s a horse for everyone this year in the world’s greatest steeplechaser, the Grand National, so why not relate your selection to your job?
Referees, times have been hard as you’re continually criticised for your decisions, good or bad, as your are judged in public as each weekend elapses. However, fear not, whilst you may be refereeing your cup finals on Saturday at 4:15pm, Ninetieth Minute may be able to provide you with a nice increase in your bank balance.
Ever dependant by many a worker, you tea ladies and lads are what keeps the 9-5 workers going and what better tribute to you than Teaforthree, a live contender for National victory. Second in the Welsh National in December, Teaforthree was a welcome winner of the four-mile-long National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012. A horse with staying prowess, Nick Schofield and his tea-filled mount will provide you with excitement throughout the race as he saunters towards the head of the pack – he might just have you jumping for joy and punching the air at the finishing line.
If he does, and you punch just a little too high, you might just provide those pesky plasterers with some welcome employment if their representative, Forpadydeplasterer, can’t do the business himself. A Cheltenham Festival winner over a shorter distance, Forpadydeplasterer has regularly been the dependable horse you can trust to come second. Not this year my friends, he has already put that unwanted trait to bed with victory in an eyecatching trial at the beginning of the season. A 66-1 shot, there are far worse longshots than this fellow – but remember to back him each-way, just in case…
Fishermen, chefs, fish and chip shop owners – Seabass is the one for you. Third in the race last year, he is again partnered by Katie Walsh and looks to put up a bold bid for victory yet again. Many have views on whether Walsh hit the front too soon with Seabass last year, but the same mistake won’t be made again and Seabass will be given the best possible chance of victory for you fishy friends.
Working alone? Sole proprietor of your own business – well that’s great news, this year there’s even one for you! On His Own, under the guiding hands of top Irish jockey, Ruby Walsh, comes into the race off the back of an intriguing victory over smaller obstacles. Unfortunate to be brought down in last year’s renewal, this might be that victorious moment you lone workers have all been waiting for.
In the army, navy, marines or any other fine services, then look no further than Imperial Commander, and as for you train station fiends, Colbert Station and Tony McCoy might just give you something to cheer.
There’s even one for the saints out there…..Saint Are, anyone?
P.S. Prince Wills, there’s even one for you if you wanted to pre-empt your likely coronation in the next few decades…Balthazar King
Passionate about the Irish? Think they can surge to victory? All of the Irish horses are covered here
Just weeks after the tantalising battle between Britain and Ireland at the Cheltenham Festival, 14 of Ireland’s best steeplechasersÂ re-engageÂ and lock horns with Britains finest in the great race, the Grand National.
The familiarity of Seabass is there for all to see as Katie Walsh and her ten year old equine friend return for a bid at Grand National glory just a year after finishing third in the closest National finish ever observed.
Walsh, riding for her father, is confident of a bold effort from Seabass. After encouraging performances all season, this is the moment the Walsh team have been aiming towards, the second chance at Grand National victory, and with Irish hearts willing Katie Walsh on towards the finishing post, first place could just be on the cards this year.
Ted Walsh goes into the race doubly handed with the fancied Colbert StationÂ partnered by British Champion Jockey, Tony McCoy. A sole winner of the Grand National, McCoy is hungry for further success in the great race and Colbert Station comes into the race unexposed and progressive. This could be McCoy’s greatest chance atÂ acquiringÂ victory for the Irish.
It won’t be easy for Seabass and Colbert Station though and beating their compatriot, On His Own,Â will be high on the agenda before victory is assured. A heavily fancied favourite, On His Own is partnered by Ruby Walsh for only the second time in his career. The first association saw the duo fail to complete the course in the Paddy Power Chase of 2011, brought down two fences from home when making little impression. More will be needed from the duo this time round and the same can be said for stable mate, Quel Esprit, who is addressed in more detail in another article on this website.
Second in that renewal of the Paddy Power Chase, TreacleÂ is an individual who has an impressive record of finishing within the first few home when completing his races. A faller in last year’s renewal of the Grand National, Treacle is again partnered by Andrew Lynch – of Sizing Europe fame – in a bid for more big handicap glory.
Forpadydeplasterer andÂ Joncol, two exceptionally likeable sorts, come into this race as live outsiders but their chances of glory are all but that. Grade 1 winners over varying distances, both have looked to be crying out for this kind of test and trip for many a year, Joncol maybe more so, and I would expect to see both horses flying the Irish flag towards the finish of the National this year.
Bryan Cooper partnered Forpadydeplasterer to his victory last time out, but this time he opts for the progressive Rare Bob. Third in the Leinster National and fifth in the Bobbyjo Chase, Rare Bob is a solid individual who has been unlucky by lacking the opportunities to express his ability at the highest levels. Brought down on multiple occasions, Rare Bob has the hot guiding hands of Bryan Cooper, who is unstoppable on both sides of the Irish Sea at current, and goes into the race as one of the best chances for the Irish at regaining the Grand National.
Second in 2011, Oscar TimeÂ hasn’t been seen to great effect since, yet an effort similar to that performance could see this twelve year old involved in the finish. Piloted by Sam Waley-Cohen, a Gold Cup winning amateur, Oscar Time is rated on his current performances as opposed to his Aintree form and rightly so.
The Grand National announced Gordon Elliott as a trainer to watch as his Silver Birch powered home in the 2007 renewal. This year Elliott is doubly represented by Chicago Grey and Tarquinius. Brought down last year, Chicago Grey returns on an upward curve in his career and goes into the race with a live chance having powered to victory last time out over incredibly classy rivals. Unlike Chicago Grey, Tarquinius looks to have it all to do in the race, but write off Gordon Elliott at your peril. Remember, Silver Birch was 50-1!
Quiscover Fontaine,Â the fourth string for renowned owner JP McManus, BecauseicouldntseeÂ and Tom Taffe’s live outsider, Ninetieth Minue,Â round out the Irish raiding party.
Â The Underdog
Everybody loves an underdog, a horse that can reign supreme in the face of adversity, laugh at his foes as he, or she, finally acquires that elusive victory in glorious circumstances. The Grand National harbours potential stories about many an underdog, and what a day it’d be if one were to be victorious.
A one-time Gold Cup victor, Imperial Commander returned to racing in January having had two years off with a variety of injuries. His return to racing at Cheltenham saw him saunter to the front of a Graded race field only to tire on the run in in desperate circumstances – Aintree could yet provide that victory he so richly deserves.
Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, Imperial Commander spends his daysÂ enjoyingÂ life, roaming around in one of many paddocks available to the Twiston-Davies yard, sharing stories and tips on how to jump the National fences with two-time National fence victor, Hello Bud. With Hello Bud now retired after victory in the Beecher Chase, the traditional National trial, how fitting it would be for his stable mate to return with victory in the National with the trainer’s son aboard.
In a season which has finally seen his ability acknowledge by increasing masses, Aidan Coleman partners The Rainbow HunterÂ in the Grand National just four years after missing out on longshot victory with 100-1 shot, Mon Mome, opting for the consistent performer, Stan, over his stable mate.
A bitter pill to swallow, in a week commenced by the retirement of Mon Mome, Coleman can gain redemption in a big way with victory on The Rainbow Hunter.
Ricard Rowe’s TatenenÂ was once believed to be an exciting prospect for the future of the two mile chasing division. The favourite for one of the hottest Arkle Chase’s at the Cheltenham Festival, an early fall not only ended Tatenen’s chance of Grade 1 Cheltenham glory, but also seemed to trigger an end to his progression at the top.
April 6th 2013 marks Tatenen’s return to the top – a welcome return – and a chance that the horses deserves.
At twelve years young, Always Waining,Â is one of Aintree’s darlings. A winner of the Friday feature, the Topham Chase over National fences, for three years running, this is his first bid at National glory. Lit up by the National fences on each and every attempt at victory over them, this attempt has been a long time coming for little ol’Always Waining and Tom O’Brien – victory would lift the roof of the Aintree grandstand.
and last but not least, fancy a female jockey to reign supreme this year? Then look no further than Katie WalshÂ