It’s the world’s most famous steeplechase and probably the world’s biggest lottery.
Funny names, favourite numbers and ‘tips’ from your sister’s boyfriend make the Grand National an eight-minute rollercoaster ride where seeing your horse finish feels like an achievement.
Paddy’s got your back and is paying 6 places, so we’ve asked top jock and two-time winner Ruby Walsh to go head-to-head with mega racing fan, owner, and Saints’ stiker Charlie Austin to give us their six of the best.
Who’ll come out on top? We’ll know about 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon.
1. Pleasant Company
RUBY: We won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time on ground that wouldn’t have suited him. It was heavy then, but he’ll appreciate the better ground at Aintree and has a nice racing weight on his back.
He’s relatively inexperienced and has only raced twice this year, but is in good form. When I won the Aintree Grand National on Hedgehunter in 2005, he’d also won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. Hopefully that’s a good omen and he’s a good each-way chance at a good each-way price.
CHARLIE: There’s no getting away from his class as he’s run in some top races. He won the RSA Chase last year at Cheltenham and his natural ability should carry him a long way in this race. Provided he gets some luck-in-running, he looks the potential winner to me.
2. More of That
RUBY: Jonjo O’Neill’s runner has a lot going for him. He ran a respectable race when sixth to Sizing John in the Gold Cup last month and is a former Grade One winner when beating Annie Power in the World Hurdle a few years ago. He’s got a lot of class and has a big chance.
2. Cause of Causes
CHARLIE: I backed him when he won the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham last month and he was very impressive. He’s got plenty of guts and wants to put his head in front and kick on. He’s already gotten his eye-in over these fences when eighth to Many Clouds in the 2015 National. Gordon Elliott trained his very first National runner, Silver Birch, to win this in 2005 after he’d finished second in the Cheltenham race Cause of Causes won last month. He looks primed for a big run.
3. Saphir Du Rheu
RUBY: Has always promised to win a big race and ran his best race for a while when fifth to Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month.
The key to him is to get him into a good rhythm early on. if he does that it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise in the world if he delivered on the day. He has a lot of good runs under his belt.
3. The Young Master
CHARLIE: Neill Mulholland’s runner has some very good form in the book and will appreciate the better spring ground. He won at Cheltenham a couple of seasons ago, won the Gold Cup Chase at Sandown on the final day of the season last year and could be the type to do well here. His amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen has ridden a Gold Cup winner before and rides the National fences very well.
4. Lord Windermere
RUBY: Classier horses are definitely getting into the shake-up since they modified the National fences and shortened the distance recently. They don’t come much classier than the 2014 Gold Cup winner. Jim Culloty’s runner has dropped down the handicap and will appreciate the better ground off a nice racing weight. Looks a big price if he can rekindle some of his old form.
4. The Last Samurai
CHARLIE: Ran a blinder to be second last year to Rule the World. He’s 12lbs higher in the handicap this time around but with Paddy paying 6 places he looks a knocking each-way bet to give supporters a massive run for their money again.
RUBY: He won the Grade One RSA Chase last year and his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has twice trained the winner of the National with Earth Summit and Bindaree. His horses are in good form and Blaklion has the type of profile that fits a National winner now.
5. Wonderful Charm
CHARLIE: Paul Nicholls’ runner was a little unlucky at Cheltenham when second in the 3m 2f Foxhunters Chase to stablemate Pacha Du Polder. He finished like a train that day. Ruby’s sister Katie, takes over and she’s already been third in an Aintree National on Seabass in 2012 and won an Irish National in 2015. She can guide him into the places at a nice price.
6. The Young Master
RUBY: Neil Mullholland’s runner has a lot of good form in the book and if he clicks on the day has a live chance of winning. Won a good handicap at Sandown on the final day of last season and if he returned to that type of form he could be in the mix. Ran a credible race when sixth in a Cheltenham handicap on his last start.
6. Pleasant Company
CHARLIE: The top team of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combine for this relatively lightly-raced nine-year-old who has only ran twice this season. He won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on his last start and the man on top is a dual winner of the race. The stable haven’t many runners at Aintree, but this one looks a case of quality over quantity for Saturday’s showpiece event.