We may only be just into the new year but already speculation is rife as to not only who will win the Grand National 2015 but will even get an entry. With Oscar Time defying age to win the recent Becher Chase at Aintree, many thought he would surely line-up on April 11th 2015 and take his chances, despite being 14 years of age.
Not so though, and despite a second place in the 2011 National and fourth in 2014, trainer by owner Robert Waley-Cohen said after the Becher “He doesn't get the National trip and he will be 14 in a few weeks, so he won't run.” [blockquote cite=”Robert Waley-Cohen” type=”left”]He doesn't get the National trip and he will be 14 in a few weeks, so he won't run.
Mountainous is definitely going to have his name on the entries list, despite an injury sustained while running in the Coral Welsh National on December 27th. Mountainous, who ran but fell at Valentines in 2014, is to be prepared for a second crack at the Grand National as trainer Richard Lee has stressed that he suffered only a minor problem.
Lee said “He got a nasty overreach, which has curtailed him a little bit, but he'll be back. In another week or so he'll be back in work. It's nothing too serious at all.
Richard Lee – The Grand National is the target again. He'll probably have one more run before Aintree.
Trainer Paul Nicholls is apparently giving serious consideration to letting Unioniste have a run and given that he is owned by John Hales, of Halewood International who own Crabbies, the sponsors of the Grand National, that's not a big surprise.
His recent unchallenged win under Noel Fehily in the 32Red Casino Handicap Chase at Sandown, proved he has what it takes but the record for seven year olds actually winning the Aintree showpiece is pretty dire, with Bogskar the last to do it in 1940.
Following that win owner John Hale said “He's just turned seven and it all depends on whether the handicapper gives us a chance.
John Hale – Some people want me to leave it another year, but I won't take too much notice.
Trainer Colin Tizzard is hoping that he will have a runner this year in the form of Theatrical Star following his decent performance in the BetBright On Mobile Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
While it will certainly be a challenge for the nine-year-old to go the distance, given that he has never started beyond 3m2f100y, Tizzard is unfazed saying “He ran well on his prep over hurdles and then won at Fontwell, where he stayed on well.
“That's a stiff track so he should be fine (at Cheltenham). We're going there with high expectations.”
So with a Grand National entry and a trip to Cheltenham on the cards it will be interesting to see which way Tizzard goes as the season progresses.
At ante-post odds of 33/1, the Jim Culloty trained Spring Heeled is also being prepped for the 2015 Grand National with the trainer possibly sticking to hurdles to protect the eight-year-old's handicap mark.
With a win in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last year under his belt, Culloty, speaking in The Big Read in Sunday's Racing Post, said: “I think he is tailor-made for the Grand National if he gets good ground.
“He's on 150 and in any of those handicaps he'd be off topweight or so and I wouldn't have been keen to do that, so he might even run over hurdles until the National weights come out.”
The winner of the 2014 Irish Grand National, Shutthefrontdoor, also has his eyes on the prize at Aintree and with another win already notched up this season at Carlisle, Jonjo O'Neill will be hoping that he can win a second National for the team at Jackdaws. One of a number of JP McManus horses that are likely to be entered this year, Shutthefrontdoor is an early ante-post joint favourite at odds of around 20/1.
Hennessy Gold Cup winner in November, Many Clouds, may also get an entry from trainer Oliver Sherwood. Owned by Trevor Hemmings, the eight year old may also take his chances in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Though Sherwood has admitted that he would prefer not to tackle the Grand National until 2016 at the earliest, he still plans to enter him for the Grand National 2015 but only as an insurance should something go wrong early on in the Gold Cup.
2014 winner, Pineau De Re, will get another entry this year as he plans to do the near impossible and win back-to-back Grand Nationals, however, this season hasn't gone as smoothly as trainer Dr Newland would have liked with an 11th place finish at Cheltenham back in November followed by a Pull-Up at Carlisle in December.
Clearly a disappointing performance with Newland stating “He travelled well for two miles and, for whatever reason, he weakened very quickly. He seemed fine after the race, but he got very tired.
Dr Richard Newland – We’ll just get him home and see where we are. I want to be seeing more from him next time.
And unfortunately, one horse who will not be back again this season is Double Seven. The third place finisher has had a setback and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Frank Berry, racing manager to the nine-year-old's owner JP McManus, said “We noticed that Double Seven is high up in the betting lists for the Grand National and thought it best that we let it be known that he has had a setback and won't be running this season.”