In 2015 Shutthefrontdoor became the clear favourite for the Grand National. Trained by Jonjo O'Neill he was the mount of Champion jockey AP McCoy for his last ever National and went off as short as 6/1 across all of the major UK bookmakers.
Owned by JP McManus, who also owned winning Grand National horse Don't Push It, Shutthefrontdoor didn't necessarily possess the box-ticking requirements that precede many of those horses who go on to win the Aintree showpiece. With only six chase starts at the time, he just fell short of the trend that suggest winners will have ridden in at least ten of them.
2014 Irish Grand National Winner
Despite his best efforts, he wasn't able to give AP and fans the fairytale ending and instead finished in a very worthy fifth place.
Now nine years old, he has had one run since then, again at Aintree in November, but the weather this season has meant fewer opportunities to stretch his legs before the 2016 Grand National which is definitely giving O'Neill some headaches.
Speaking to The Guardian recently O'Neill said: “He’s in grand form.
“He ran well in a hurdle race at Liverpool in November but then the ground got really heavy and he wants good ground.
“When he gets pulled around on heavy, he’s not the easiest horse to keep right. I wanted to run him at Sandown this weekend but when I saw it was heavy, I thought I won’t even enter him.
“If you were a jockey, he’d be the sort of horse you’d look forward to riding in the National. He jumps really well.”
This year it could very well be jockey Barry Geraghty who takes the reins. As JP McManus's first jockey of choice the option will certainly be on the cards and having already won the Irish Grand National in 2014 on him, it may be the natural choice.
As the records stand, Shutthefrontdoor has run 16 times under race rules, winning nine times and placing in another three. If you extend that out to five places, as this is the payout bar for most UK bookmakers, then he has actually come home in the money in fifteen of his sixteen runs of them making him a very good each-way prospect.