Rathvinden has been touted as the horse that could mount the challenge to disrupt Tiger Roll’s bid to win back-to-back Grand Nationals. Willie Mullins’ charge has won two of his last three races, although he has never competed at Aintree.
The Irish-bred horse provides Mullins with his best opportunity to win the National for the first time since 2005. The trainer had great success at Cheltenham Festival this term as Al Boum Photo broke his duck to claim the Gold Cup for the first time. Mullins will now be desperate to achieve a famous double in the same season by notching his second crown at the prestigious race at Aintree.
Rathvinden is backed at 10/1 in the betting odds of Grand National 2019 runners, placing behind only Tiger Roll in the minds of the bookmakers to enter the winners’ enclosure at the end of the race. Although he does have quality, it has only been the last year where he has proven his talent on the track, beginning at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
Mullins’ charge was a strong contender for the National Hunt Challenge Cup, although he did face a talented field, which included Jury Duty. Patrick Mullins took to the saddle and did not make a smooth start as the bay gelding made an early mistake. However, he was able to regain his rhythm on the track to move into contention two fences from the end of the meet. The Irish-bred horse found an extra gear after the final hurdle and to move into a battle with Ms Parfois. He just had enough to edge out his rival by half-a-length to take the crown.
The third leg of the @WillieMullinsNH treble on day one of the @CheltenhamRaces Festival. Patrick Mullins and RATHVINDEN (IRE) triumph in a thrilling finish of the Gr2 NH Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase pic.twitter.com/Ebt1gcwpGV
— ITM (@IREthoroughbred) March 13, 2018
Rathvinden dropped back to 24 furlongs for his next race at the Growise Champion Novice Chase. His performance earned him the respect of the bookies, although with Monalee in the field he faced a challenge for the win. The Irish-bred horse outperformed the favourite for the event, but he could not match the pace of the horses that Gordon Elliott sent out. The Storyteller won the race with a fine outing, while Monbeg Notorious and Jury Duty completed an Elliott 1-2-3 at Punchestown.
The 11-year-old was out of action for 10 months before he made his return to the track at the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. Paul Townend took to the reins and got an impressive performance out of the Irish-bred horse. Rathvinden was in rhythm throughout the contest before he was able to take control of the race three fences out. He found a surge of speed to beat off the attention of Alpha Des Obeaux to close out a win by three-and-a-half lengths.
Mullins opted not to race Rathvinden at Cheltenham, using the same approach as he utilised with Hedgehunter. It worked for his charge in 2005 when he was well rested to take the title, while his attempts to win both the Gold Cup and the National ended in disappointed when Hedgehunter placed second in the two races. Mullins knows the recipe for success and it could lead to Rathvinden etching his place in the history of the sport at Aintree.