The 2019 Grand National comes hot off the heels of the Cheltenham Festival. Just three weeks separate these massive events in the jumps horse racing calendar this year.
Clues aplenty were on offer in Gloucestershire for the world’s most famous steeplechase run at Aintree over 30 unique fences and an extended four-and-a-quarter miles. So, which horses at Cheltenham shaped with real promise for the 2019 Grand National, which is scheduled for 17:15 UK time on Saturday, 6 April?
A somewhat obvious place to start, but last year’s Aintree hero Tiger Roll absolutely bolted up when defending his Cross Country Chase crown at Cheltenham over three-and-three-quarter miles. The diminutive nine-year-old may be small in stature, but was spring-heeled at the many obstacles and ran out the most impressive winner of the Festival.
No horse has won back-to-back Grand Nationals since Red Rum in the mid-1970s, but Tiger Roll is the one bookies fear most to end the 45-year wait for a consecutive winner. Gordon Elliott’s Gigginstown House Stud owned gelding is now the 11/2 favourite with William Hill for the Aintree showpiece. If you compare his record to, say, the second-favourite Rathvinden (10/1, SkyBet), it’s easy to see why Tiger Roll is getting such backing.
There is something wonderfully consistent about the Tony Martin trained, JP McManus owned Irish raider Anibale Fly. Also now aged nine, he placed in both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National last season, and has gone one better this year when progressing from third to second in the Festival’s most valuable race.
Provided there is some cut in the ground, Anibale Fly looks capable of going well at Aintree again despite being pretty high in the weights once more. He has been brought along throughout the campaign clearly with these end of season targets in mind.
With his shrewd handler bringing improvement out of him past last season’s Gold Cup one-two Native River and Might Bite, bookmakers are taking no chances with Anibale Fly. BetVictor are 12/1 about him, and you can perhaps increase the value of that bet by checking out the offers listed on this Grand National Free Bets page. Indeed, there are some other long-shot possibilities to consider using free bets on, including Walk In the Mill (33/1, William Hill), Go Conquer (40/1, various), Minella Rocco (40/1, William Hill) and Singlefarmpayment (50/1, Bet365). Obviously, it should go without saying to check your bookie gives NRNB on any ante-post Grand National bets.
Lake View Lad
Photo: “Will the Trevor Hemmings colours carried by Many Clouds in 2015 be victorious again?” by Dan Heap (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Trevor Hemmings is the most successful owner in the Grand National in modern times. His Scottish trained Lake View Lad was an eye-catching third off top weight in the similar Grade 3 Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day of the Festival.
Under a welter burden, the Neil Alexander trained nine-year-old jumped the final fence down the field, but stormed up the Cheltenham hill to run into a place. Lake View Lad was giving weight away to both the first two home and is guaranteed a run in the Grand National like Tiger Roll and Anibale Fly.
He is now a seasoned handicapper after progressing to win the Listed 3m Rehearsal Chance on Fighting Fifth Hurdle day at Newcastle, before following-up over Christmas in the Grade 3 Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby. The way he finished off his race at Cheltenham suggests Lake View Lad will have no problem stepping up to tackle Aintree and he may be overpriced at top odds of 25/1 with Coral for the Grand National.