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Grand National 2019 preview: Lee McKenzie with tips on who to bet on at Aintree
It’s arguably the biggest event on the racing calendar and talkSPORT’s Lee McKenzie has the lowdown
The Grand National, more than any other horse race in Britain, has a magical appeal that stretches way beyond the sport’s regular fans. Every year, for ten minutes, millions become hooked on the spectacle of 40 horses jumping 30 unique obstacles – with famous names like Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn, The Chair and Valentine’s – at Aintree racecourse in the suburbs of Liverpool.
The 2019 National is live on talkSPORT and talkSPORT2, along with commentary on many of the other top races during each of the three days. The quality of the racing throughout the meeting is top-class, with many horses heading to Aintree after running at the Cheltenham Festival the previous month.
However, the Grand National is the star attraction, and this year there’s huge interest in whether or not the 2018 winner Tiger Roll will become the first horse since the legendary triple winner Red Rum (in the mid-1970s) to land the race more than once.
Tiger Roll warmed up for the National with a spectacular 22-length win at Cheltenham and has since become a short-priced favourite to achieve the double. One of the smallest steeplechasers in training, he’ll be carrying a bigger weight this year, but he’s tough and versatile and has a sporting chance of pulling it off.
Another Irish runner, Rathvinden, could go off second-favourite – he has stamina and class; while Anibale Fly is the highest-rated runner in the race, having been placed twice in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and fourth in last year’s National. He should go well again but has a big weight to carry. Last year’s runner-up Pleasant Company will be having another crack; and Vintage Clouds is a game galloper, as he showed when finishing second at Cheltenham.
Rock The Kasbah will be a popular choice as he attempts to give champion jockey Richard Johnson his first winner in the race; Walk In The Mill put in a fine round of jumping to win a shorter race over the Grand National fences in December; and Joe Farrell demonstrated his ability to stay long distances by winning last season’s Scottish National at Ayr.
For me it’s RATHVINDEN, with REGAL ENCORE as a fun outsider – he’s unpredictable but completed the course in 2017 and can improve on that. But with recent winners at 66-1, 33-1 (twice) and 25-1 (twice), the Grand National remains a thrilling occasion in which nothing can be taken for granted.
Rupert Bell (talkSPORT racing correspondent): ROCK THE KASBAH
Tanya Stevenson (talkSPORT2’s daily round-up at 6.40am): WALK IN THE MILL
Colin Brown (former jockey and talkSPORT2 pundit): JOE FARRELL