Grand National 2023: Tom Collins provides a runner-by-runner guide for Aintree’s biggest race

Tom Collins

14 April 2023

One event will attract hundreds of millions of viewers on Saturday: Aintree’s Grand National. Whether you’re represented in the race, a keen punter, entered in a work sweepstake or a newcomer to the sport, buckle up because the upcoming nine minutes of action will be gripping, exciting and, in some circumstances, life changing.

A maximum field of 40 runners will head down to the start for jumps racing’s finest contest, so what better way to preview the race than by providing a runner-by-runner guide? Let's get started.

1. Any Second Now (16/1)

Form figures: 12-241
Jockey: Mark Walsh
Trainer: Ted Walsh

Irish challenger who is looking to make it third-time lucky in the Grand National after finishing third in 2021 and second in 2022. No excuses last year and is 8lb higher in the weights this time around, but warmed up for this with a nice spin around Navan.

Verdict: Should be there or thereabouts but winning is a tough ask off topweight.

2. Noble Yeats (9/1)

Form figures: -P1134
Jockey: Sean Bowen
Trainer: Emmet Mullins

Became the first seven-year-old to win this race since 1940 when successful last year at 50/1. He’s gone from strength-to-strength since, which isn’t common for National winners, and returns to Aintree on the back of a gritty fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Verdict: Massive player despite being raised 19lb in the handicap over the last 12 months.

3. Galvin (20/1)

Form figures: -61462
Jockey: Davy Russell
Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Grade 1-winning chaser who hasn’t been seen at his best so far this season. His Cross Country Chase second at Cheltenham provides some cause for optimism, though, and he will be the mount of Davy Russell, who has won this race twice.

Verdict: Has the class and should stay the trip, so he’s dangerous if he produces his best.

4. Fury Road (66/1)

Form figures: -31336
Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill jnr
Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Talented performer who has almost exclusively run at the top level over the last three years, though he has fallen short more times than he has been successful. He will tackle the National fences for the first time and his tendency to jump left may cause a few issues.

Verdict: Doubtful stayer and unlikely to complete the course.

5. The Big Dog (25/1)

Form figures: 6-113F
Jockey: Aidan Coleman
Trainer: Peter Fahey

Lightly raced 10-year-old whose career has been planned out in order to have a crack at the Grand National. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue - he won a Grand National trial over 3m4f in 2019 and finished third in this year’s Welsh National over 3m6½f - but he fell when last seen.

Verdict: Not the most fluent jumper and would like softer underfoot conditions.

6. Capodanno (20/1)

Form figures: 2U4-13
Jockey: Danny Mullins
Trainer: Willie Mullins

One of the unknown quantities in this year’s renewal with just 12 races under his belt, only six of them have come over fences. Willie Mullins hinted that he could have the class for a Gold Cup, which would stand him in good stead here, but his fluency over fences is a concern.

Verdict: Plenty of people will back him but I won’t be one due to his questionable jumping.

7. Delta Work (8/1)

Form figures: 3-1361
Jockey: Keith Donoghue
Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Loveable veteran who recorded his third Cheltenham festival success by fending off the aforementioned Galvin in the Cross Country last month. Clearly the best horse that day and looked full of running at the line, but he tired badly when third in this race last year.

Verdict: Accurate jumper who is in rip-roaring form, but he could prove vulnerable late.

8. Sam Brown (80/1)

Form figures: 1-35P5
Jockey: Jonathan Burke
Trainer: Anthony Honeyball

Aintree winner who warmed up for his seasonal target with a jog around Uttoxeter in a handicap hurdle. He’s had wind surgery since, which is a slight concern, and connections have previously stated that he needs testing ground. He won’t get his ideal conditions on Saturday.

Verdict: He’s an outsider for a reason and shouldn’t feature unless there’s heavy rain.

9. Lifetime Ambition (25/1)

Form figures: 242343
Jockey: Sean O’Keeffe
Trainer: Jessica Harrington

Extremely consistent performer who just struggles to get his head in front, as proven by his recent form figures. He has finished behind The Big Dog and Capodanno in the last year, so will need to improve for the switch to better ground and national fences, but there is untapped potential over a stamina-sapping trip.

Verdict: Can’t be written off but there are more logical options.

10. Carefully Selected (66/1)

Form figures: 1U/014
Jockey: Michael O’Sullivan
Trainer: Willie Mullins

Twice placed in Grade 1 bumpers, Carefully Selected was highly regarded during his novice chasing season in 2020 before suffering an injury after unseating his rider at the Cheltenham Festival. He had 1,022 days off the track to recover and is yet to prove that he retains his ability.

Verdict: You probably haven’t carefully selected your bets if this guy features.

11. Coko Beach (33/1)

Form figures: 8-9441
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Bold front-running type who led last year’s field throughout the early portion of the race, before ultimately fading to finish a distant eighth. His recent performances in the Thyestes and a Grand National trial at Punchestown, which he won, suggest he is better than ever, but the handicapper has punished him. Harry Cobden’s an interesting jockey booking.

Verdict: Who was the last horse to lead from start to finish in the Grand National? It’s not a regular occurrence.

12. Longhouse Poet (14/1)

Form figures: -P16U1
Jockey: JJ Slevin
Trainer: Martin Brassil

Last year’s Thyestes winner who has promised plenty throughout his career. He attracted strong market support in this race last year and he was right up with the leaders until it all got too much after the second-last fence. He jumps well and boasts a high cruising speed, which will help him find a nice position early.

Verdict: Tired quickly on the run-in last time and will likely do so again.

13. Gaillard Du Mesnil (14/1)

Form figures: 3-2131
Jockey: Paul Townend
Trainer: Willie Mullins

National Hunt Chase winner who has an abundance of stamina and represents one of the best trainer/jockey combinations in the game. His form figures will garner plenty of attention, so he’s likely to be overbet, and the quick turnaround from Cheltenham has to be a worry.

Verdict: Ticks a lot of boxes. However, his recent exertions may get the better of him.

14. Darasso (80/1)

Form figures: 233154
Jockey: L P Dempsey
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Former French trainee who has been campaigned over much shorter distances than this (2m-2m6f). He takes a chance at a lot of his fences, so completing the course is far from certain, but good ground will suit him better than most.

Verdict: Give me 20 selections and I wouldn’t pick him. Shocks happen, though.

15. Le Milos (14/1)

Form figures: 14-112
Jockey: Harry Skelton
Trainer: Dan Skelton

Pinpoint accurate over his fences, Le Milos has improved a great deal since he moved to Dan Skelton’s yard and he rewarded his new connections with a famous victory in the Hennessy back in November. He’s gutsy and determined, but he got tired late over 3m2f and this is a different kettle of fish.

Verdict: He will be primed and ready to go, but I don’t think he will stay.

16. Escaria Ten (125/1)

Form figures: 29-27P
Jockey: Adrian Heskin
Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Aimed at this race all season, this nine-year-old will look to perform better than 12 months ago when he finished 75 lengths behind eventual winner Noble Yeats in ninth place. He set off with the leaders that day but faded dramatically in the closing stages in the manner of a horse who blatantly didn’t stay.

Verdict: I can’t fault anyone who wants to have a couple of quid on an outsider, but he’s not for me.

17. The Big Breakaway (33/1)

Form figures: 3P-22P
Jockey: Brendan Powell
Trainer: Joe Tizzard

Touted as one of the best novice hurdlers of the season in 2020, this imposing specimen has failed to hit the lofty heights ever since. However, there were signs of life in his second-placed finish in this year’s Welsh Grand National and he’s now fitted with blinkers.

Verdict: Headgear could spark a revival and I will have a small play at big odds.

18. Cape Gentleman (150/1)

Form figures: 92F304
Jockey: Jody McGarvey
Trainer: JJ Hanlon

Speed was this guy’s main asset early in his career, as proven by his 2021 victory in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle over two miles. New trainer and owner seem to have other plans, though, and he’s a surprise inclusion in this race. Jumping isn’t his forte and Jody McGarvey will be required to use all of his skill to negotiate the obstacles.

Verdict: Should be 1,500/1.

19. Roi Mage (50/1)

Form figures: 7-33F2
Jockey: Felix de Giles
Trainer: Patrick Griffin

This 11-year-old has spent the majority of his career in France, and I won’t profess to know his form inside and out. However, from a handful of Irish starts it is clear that stamina is his forte. A mark of 149 seems a little harsh, while the booking of Felix de Giles catches the eye.

Verdict: Don’t know enough about him to have a strong opinion, but success seems unlikely.

20. Diol Ker (80/1)

Form figures: 0-9220
Jockey: Kieren Buckley
Trainer: Noel Meade

Far from prolific with just three wins from 22 races and tends to find trouble whenever he sets foot on the track, largely due to his hold-up running style. Noel Meade’s runner finished 10th in the Irish equivalent of this race last year and will need to improve.

Verdict: Not very appealing but there are worse bets in this year’s Grand National.

21. A Wave Of The Sea (150/1)

Form figures: 64P03P
Jockey: Shane Fitzgerald
Trainer: Joseph O’Brien

Would you back a Grand National runner who has shown their best form this year over 2m1f? Me neither. There have to be major doubts about the trip, course and his jumping, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he pulled up early on. Saying that, you always have to consider JP McManus’ runners.

Verdict: Look elsewhere.

22. Minella Trump (66/1)

Form figures: 121-17
Jockey: Theo Gillard
Trainer: Donald McCain

Fantastically placed throughout his career, and he is perhaps the most prolific runner in the field with 11 victories from just 21 starts. However, those successes have come at a much lower level than this and Saturday will mark just his second run back after a long layoff.

Verdict: Reportedly lost his confidence after a bad mistake in a run at Ludlow in 2021. Hesitant jumpers rarely succeed in the National.

23. Vanillier (22/1)

Form figures: -636F2
Jockey: Sean Flanagan
Trainer: Gavin Cromwell

Smart novice hurdler who plundered the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett at the 2021 Cheltenham festival. His transition to chasing hasn’t gone without mishap, though, and he’s yet to put a clean round together. One of the more interesting runners from a profile point of view.

Verdict: Clean jumping would make him a contender, though it’s hard to bank on that happening.

24. Velvet Elvis (40/1)

Form figures: -0PP12
Jockey: Darragh O’Keeffe
Trainer: Tom Gibney

Courageous front-runner who finished sixth in last year’s Irish Grand National and has been aimed at this event ever since. He returned to form with a bang when accounting for the talented Minella Crooner on his penultimate outing, and was badly wrong at the weights when second to Any Second Now last time.

Verdict: Underrated in the market now that he gets a 17lb pull with the top weight.

25. Ain’t That A Shame (8/1)

Form figures: 20-241
Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead

Representing the winning jockey and rider from two years ago, Ain’t That A Shame has a sexy profile for a Grand National horse and is sure to attract some support before the off. He jumps and travels well throughout his races, but his stamina has ebbed away over three miles on two occasions.

Verdict: Unlikely to stay the trip but could show up nicely for a long way.

26. Corach Rambler (8/1)

Form figures: U1-541
Jockey: Derek Fox
Trainer: Lucinda Russell

Your current market leader. This two-time Ultima winner ticks a load of boxes and his running style suggests this test will be right up his street. Regular pilot Derek Fox has passed the doctor and will return from injury to ride, which is a big boost, and he’s won on the Mildmay course at Aintree before.

Verdict: The ‘now horse’ in the field. Hard to rule him out, though his erratic nature is slightly off putting.

27. Enjoy D’Allen (80/1)

Form figures: 9-0006
Jockey: Simon Torrens
Trainer: Ciaran Murphy

Another to don JP McManus’ green and gold silks, Enjoy D’Allen’s main asset is stamina and he has to be considered a live outsider on the form of his 2021 Irish Grand National third. However, he got no further than the first fence in this race last year and hasn’t troubled the judge in five subsequent outings.

Verdict: Could be worth a small bet at huge odds if you forget his effort last year.

28. Mr Incredible (14/1)

Form figures: RP-B23
Jockey: Brian Hayes
Trainer: Willie Mullins

Lightly raced seven-year-old who looked extremely smart early in his career before showing signs of reluctance, which saw him refuse to race at Leopardstown. Jumping was a major issue last season, but the switch to Willie Mullins seems to have ironed out his hesitancy. Recent Kim Muir third is reasonably strong form.

Verdict: I’m still not convinced, but a safe round of jumping could see him feature.

29. Mister Coffey (50/1)

Form figures: 20-223
Jockey: Nico de Boinville
Trainer: Nicky Henderson

Physically imposing chaser who has finished in the first three on 12 of his 15 career starts. His consistency can’t be faulted, but he rarely gets his head in front and that has to be a concern. No excuses behind Gaillard Du Mesnil at Cheltenham last month and these obstacles might not help his cause.

Verdict: Regulation fences are big enough.

30. Cloudy Glen (80/1)

Form figures: 1P9-3P
Jockey: Charlie Deutsch
Trainer: Venetia Williams

Stalwart of the staying division who caused a 33/1 shock by winning the 2021 Coral Trophy on his first start after wind surgery. He has failed to fire in four subsequent outings, although he ran respectably on his penultimate start at Haydock, and there are major trip concerns here.

Verdict: Likely to be up with the pace before falling back through the field.

31. Hill Sixteen (80/1)

Form figures: 2U-370
Jockey: Ryan Mania
Trainer: Sandy Thomson

Long-distance specialist who was only narrowly denied a huge payday in the 2021 Becher over these fences. This course should hold no fears for Hill Sixteen and he’s reasonably treated in the weights, but he lacked a spark last time out.

Verdict: Not completely written off with first-time cheekpieces applied.

32. Gabbys Cross (50/1)

Form figures: 515683
Jockey: Peter Carberry
Trainer: Henry de Bromhead

Quirky individual who has run down the field in some competitive handicap chases this term. He has never seen the National fences before, which raises an alarm, and he surely won’t stay this trip. Stable jockey Rachael Blackmore has opted to ride Ain’t That A Shame.

Verdict: Not good enough.

33. Recite A Prayer (150/1)

Form figures: 102300
Jockey: Jack Foley
Trainer: Willie Mullins

Fifth-string from the Willie Mullins stable who showed some ability when third in the Cork National back in November. Two subsequent efforts have been dire, including when he was beaten 47 lengths over these fences in the Becher. First ride in the race for Jack Foley.

Verdict: Next?

34. Eva’s Oskar (50/1)

Form figures: -62164
Jockey: Alan Johns
Trainer: Tim Vaughan

Grey gelding who is having his third crack at a race over further than three-and-a-half miles after pulling up in the 2021 Welsh Grand National and finishing fourth in the Eider Chase back in February. Should stay and is a safe jumper, but lacks the talent required.

Verdict: First-time tongue-tie is interesting but would need a huge deal of improvement.

35. Our Power (20/1)

Form figures: 135-11
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
Trainer: Sam Thomas

In-form eight-year-old who scraped in at the bottom of the weights after his game victory over three miles at Kempton. He finds plenty for pressure and jumps well, but this is a completely different test. Good ground will suit.

Verdict: Should give Sam Twiston-Davies a nice spin.

36. Dunboyne (66/1)

Form figures: 6R1P24
Jockey: Jack Tudor
Trainer: Gordon Elliott

Sharp novice hurdler who had a long spell in the doldrums before refinding his form at the turn of the year. He produced a cracking effort to finish a close second to Carefully Selected in the Thyestes before finishing fourth in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. Requisite stamina is a worry, though.

Verdict: I must have backed this horse 10 times without success. I’m leaving him today.

37. Francky Du Berlais (100/1)

Form figures: 20005R
Jockey: Ben Jones
Trainer: Peter Bowen

One of the most experienced horses in this line-up over the National fences - he has encountered them on three occasions and finished the race each time. This is his first attempt at the Grand National, though, and he refused to jump the last when tired at Cheltenham last time.

Verdict: Not the strongest finisher but likely to complete the course.

38. Fortescue (66/1)

Form figures: U-44P5
Jockey: Hugh Nugent
Trainer: Henry Daly

Six-time chase winner who never troubled the leaders in this race last year before unseating rider Hugh Nugent at the fourth-last. He finished a creditable fourth in the Becher over these obstacles in December and his recent fifth at Haydock was promising enough.

Verdict: Will be out the back early and try to pass beaten horses for minor money.

39. Back On The Lash (50/1)

Form figures: -9231P
Jockey: Adam Wedge
Trainer: Martin Keighley

A regular on the cross-country circuit who should have the versatility to handle these fences. Looked good when he won at Cheltenham back in January, but his most recent display left a lot to be desired. He will race from 3lb out of the handicap.

Verdict: Poorly treated at the weights and will find this tough.

40. Born By The Sea (150/1)

Form figures: 353050
Jockey: Phillip Enright
Trainer: Paul Gilligan

Career-best performance came at Galway in 2021 on summer ground, so the underfoot conditions should suit him. That’s about the only positive as he’s racing from 6lb out of the weights, has no form over this kind of trip and was stuffed at Cheltenham last month.

Verdict: Outsider of the field for a reason.

Grand National 2023 Tips

Noble Yeats @ 9/1
Galvin @ 20/1
The Big Breakaway @ 33/1
Velvet Elvis @ 40/1

Tom Collins

14 April 2023

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