My horse-by-horse Grand National guide

Ruby Walsh gives his assessment of the 40 runners in today’s Grand National.
My horse-by-horse Grand National guide

The Last Samuri

Ran a good race to be second in this last year, but had a lighter weight on his back then and was probably in better form than he is at the moment. He is proven around the course, but I think he faces a stiff task off top weight.

More Of That

Undoubtedly, he is one of the class horses in the race, and was in the process of running a big race when unseating his rider at the last in the Irish Gold Cup. Might have been slightly disappointing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but he’s still a class horse, and I think he’s a big player.

Shantou Flyer

Has improved enormously through the winter and, while unproven over the trip, I think he will stay. That said, it looks as though the handicapper may have hold of him now, and he faces a stiff task.

Perfect Candidate

Won well last time, but is one of the outsiders today. His trainer, Fergal O’Brien, trains plenty of long-distance chase winners, but this fellow has plenty of weight on his back, and would need a career-best effort to figure.

Saphir Du Rheu

Comes here on the back of a brilliant run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and if he can get into a rhythm with his jumping he could be a major player. But he can miss the odd one, and cannot afford to do that around here.

Roi Des Francs

Won a conditions race around Down Royal on St Patrick’s Day, but his handicap form this winter has only been okay, and others make more appeal.

Wounded Warrior

If he came back to his very best he would have a chance as he was a classy sort in his younger days. But, he hasn’t been running well this winter, and hasn’t shown enough to suggest a return to form is imminent.

Wonderful Charm

Another classy sort on his day, he has been hunter chasing this season, and was just touched off in the Foxhunters’ on his last run, at Cheltenham. Should give Katie a good spin, and would be no great surprise were he to run into the money.

Tenor Nivernais

One of the best handicapped horses in the race, as he is due to go up considerably in the ratings after this. Represents a trainer-jockey combination which won this in 2009 with 100-1 shot Mon Mome, but I think stamina may be this fella’s problem.


Massive player. Winner of last year’s RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and was a genuine graded novice hurdler, and is a genuine graded novice chaser running in a handicap. Looks one of the more likely winners, and must be given maximum respect.

Drop Out Joe

Won a handicap chase at Uttoxeter on his most recent start, but that was in June, and faces a huge task to win this race off such a long lay-off.

Le Mercurey

A pretty consistent sort, with some good form to his name, including when giving Native River a little fright in the Denman Chase, but he is the stable’s third or fourth string, and probably has place claims, at best.

The Young Master

Winner of last season’s Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, and a repeat of that effort would put him in the mix. Certainly, one to consider for each-way punters.

Cause Of Causes

A three-time Cheltenham Festival winner, the latest of which was in this season’s Cross-Country Chase, he is normally a strong finisher, but could find these fences plenty big enough for him.

Regal Encore

Will either be in the first two, or pull up – that’s the type of horse he is, it just depends what side of the bed he gets out of. If the real Regal Encore turns up, he won’t be far away, but is hard to recommend.

Vieux Lion Rouge

One of the favourites, he’s a big, staying horse who won the Becher Chase at this course. He looks to be improving, and has to be respected for a stable which knows what it takes to win this race.

Definitly Red

Won well in Doncaster on his last start, he’s a good jumper, strong stayer, and likes to race on the pace. Wouldn’t be surprised were he to go off favourite, but I think he’s there to be shot at.

Ucello Conti

Finished sixth in this race last year, and has been running well in handicap chases this winter, but probably doesn’t have a lot in hand of his handicap mark, and will do well to be placed again.

Double Shuffle

Just a seven-year-old and few horses of that age win the National. But, he is still improving, comes here in great form, and couldn’t be ruled out with any confidence.

Houblon Des Obeaux

An out-and-out stayer. When other horses are slowing down, this fella will still be galloping, but he could do with some rain getting into the ground to give him his best chance.

Pleasant Company

He surprised us a bit in the Bobbyjo Chase, insofar as he was able to win on very testing ground, but the better ground here will certainly help, and we’ve been aiming him at this race for a while. I think he has the right profile for the race and, touch wood, he’s usually a good jumper.

He’s as good a ride as I’ve had in the race for a few years, so I’m really looking forward to it. If I can get him to switch off early, he could go very well. He’s only a 14-1 shot, and hopefully he can justify such short odds.

One For Arthur

The big hope of Scotland, he’s trained by Lucinda Russell and ridden by Derek Fox, and is an improving horse, who stays very well. He’s from a small yard, but has to be respected.


Completely out of form, he hasn’t managed to complete in his last three outings. No chance.

O’Faolains Boy

On top form, this former RSA Chase winner would have a chance, but it’s a long time since we’ve seen his best, and he’s hard to fancy.

Highland Lodge

He runs off a mark higher than his official rating because of his run in the Becher Chase, in which he finished second behind Vieux Lion Rouge. To me, he shouldn’t be in the race, and he’s not good enough.

Bishops Road

Just missed the cut last year. Hasn’t been in quite the same form this year, but, like a number of the runners, if he could rediscover his best form, he could outrun his odds.

Lord Windermere

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup and RSA Chase winner, he is, obviously, a genuine Grade 1 horse, and he likes dryer ground, which he will get here. He gets in here off a nice mark, is ridden by Leighton Aspell, who won this race in 2014 and 2015, and this fella could run a nice race.

Saint Are

Fourth time running in the race, achieved his best position when runner-up to Many Clouds in 2015, but was pulled up last year and it’s hard to see him winning it now.


Has the right profile for this race. Was a good winner of the Scottish National last year, is young enough to still be improving, and is usually a good jumper. Can see him running a good race.

Just A Par

Ran in this race twice before and made little impact, and no obvious reason he should make it third time lucky.


If he came back to his novice form, he would be a huge player. He was third in the four-miler at the last season’s Cheltenham Festival, but hasn’t been as good this term. If he could find that form, though, he is a massive price.

Raz De Maree

Very good run when second behind Native River in the Welsh National, but it’s hard to see a 12-year-old winning this race.

Stellar Notion

Has had some very good runs in handicap chases this winter, likes to be ridden handily, and has last year’s winning jockey on top, so can’t be discounted.

Rogue Angel

Winner of last season’s Irish Grand National, he represents the winning owner and trainer from this race in 2016. Stays well and, if he puts his best foot forward, could play a part.

Cocktails At Dawn

Has completed in only one of his last five outings, and was well beaten on that occasion. Makes little appeal.

Thunder And Roses

Another former winner of the Irish Grand National, which is always a good pointer for this race, he ran well in the Bobbyjo Chase, when just behind Pleasant Company, and could go well here.

Gas Line Boy

Normally a good jumper, and stays well, but got no further than the first fence in this race in 2015, so has plenty to prove back at this course.


Jumps and stays, but was pulled up behind Vieux Lion Rouge on latest start, and needs to step up considerably to play a significant part.

La Vaticane

Rank outsider. Well beaten on her two previous runs over these fences, and nothing in her most recent form to say she is good enough to have a major impact on today’s race.

Doctor Harper

Capable sort on his day, but the application of blinkers, for the first time, will need to prompt significant improvement.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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