The weights for the 2019 Grand National have now been allocated. That means horses are free to run well off their current mark without fear of a rise in the weights before the big day. A day that many trainers look forward to, they can now take the handbrake off their runners as they look to put the finishing touches to their preparation. The Cheltenham Festival can be a target for many runners. Plus we have a number of trials for the race. They start with one of the few recognised trials, the Haydock Grand National Trial.
Fears surrounding the number of Irish runners in the race due to potential problems with travel just a week after Brexit have so far not come to life. We have a record number of Irish runners in at this stage. 47 in total have been entered. And that includes a staggering 21 from the Gordon Elliott yard. He has also included last year’s winner Tiger Roll.
Willie Mullins is another Irish trainer with a strong hand. Not only does he bring back last year’s second Pleasant Company, but he has also entered the 2018 National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Bristol De Mai will carry top weight if he goes for the race. With 11st 10lb on his back, it would take a huge performance from him to win. A more realistic challenger from the yard would be Go Conquer. He recently won the very competitive Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in very impressive style.
2017 winner One For Arthur is another entered in the race. His yard will be hoping to see more from him in his next outing that what we have seen so far this season. After being ruled out for the whole of last season, he has come back and raced twice so far. Unfortunately he unseated his jockey on both outings. He has now been ruled out of Haydock on Saturday.
Elegant Escape from the Colin Tizzard stable is currently vying for favouritism in the National and he is the main hope from his yard. After winning the Welsh National, he stayed on for second place at Cheltenham last time out. There is no doubt that he needs this kind of test and he looks like the type of horse to relish Aintree what it brings.
Now we have the weights it is time to look out for horses having their final run before the big race. Although some are likely to head straight to the race without a prep run. Those having a race know their handicap mark is protected for the National after today, so they can win as impressively as they like without fear of a rise in the weights.