It’s perhaps no more than a curiosity that a horse with ‘King’ in its name has never won the Grand National. There has been a Regal, an Empress and even a Royal, but never a King.
When you’re gambling in casinos across the globe from the United States to Australia, three crowns can often appear on the slot machines. And, as gaming sites are becoming mobile optimised, it may also be time for the Kings to mobilise themselves at Aintree in April to finally be crowned a Grand National winner.
Balthazar King and Merry King are the two horses at the head of the betting, awaiting their coronation.
They both have the profile of a National winner, with the claims of Balthazar King, in particular, hard to resist.
The 11-year-old finished 15th to Auroras Encore in 2013, but followed that up by finishing second to Pineau De Re 12 months ago.
The Philip Hobbs-trained horse has been getting better with age and, for those who like omens, 11-year-olds have won the last three runnings of the National.
Balthazar King boasts an excellent record in Cross Country races, winning twice at the Cheltenham Festival. He has also won the last two Cross Country races at Cheltenham’s November meeting after winning a similar race at Craon in France in September.
Indeed, Balthazar King’s win at Cheltenham in November was his eighth at the course. However, he won’t be bidding for a third Festival success.
Hobbs wants Balthazar King to go to Aintree a fresh horse as he felt running at Cheltenham last year had an impact on his fitness.
The style of fences also suits and you wouldn’t rule out Balthazar King going one better at Aintree this year.
Merry King is three years younger than Balthazar King, but has shown a liking for extreme trips and still appears to be on the upgrade. Last season, Merry King finished fifth in the Hennessy at Newbury and the Welsh National at Chepstow before then taking fourth place in the Scottish National at Ayr.
Jonjo O’Neill’s charge has returned this season in better form, with a third-placed finish in the Hennessy behind Many Clouds on his last run.
Many Clouds has franked the form since by winning at Cheltenham and now has the Gold Cup on the agenda.
Merry King should also get into the National this year on a decent weight after swerving a return trip to Chepstow for the Welsh National.
Both Kings will head to Aintree in the spring as fresh horses. But will one of them leave as the new King of Aintree?