Aintree Grand National 2016
A huge entry of 126 horses, the highest number since 2008, has been revealed for the £1-million Crabbie’s Aintree Grand National 2016.
The 2016 figure is the second highest level of entries in the last 10 years and marks a significant vote of confidence for the Crabbie’s Grand National which has a maximum field of 40 on Saturday, 9th April .
The detailed entry figures are: 2016 – 126; 2015 – 98; 2014 – 115; 2013 – 84; 2012 – 82; 2011 – 102; 2010 –112; 2009 – 123; 2008 – 150; and 2007– 119.
The world’s greatest and probably most valuable chase takes place at Aintree on the third and final day of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival over 30 fences and four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards.
This year sees the 169th running of the Crabbie’s Grand National and the first with a new later start time of 5.15pm, designed to maximise the audience for broadcasters.
The entries for the 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National feature the previous two winners – 2015 hero Many Clouds (Oliver Sherwood, favourite with Betfred, official betting partner of the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival), and Pineau De Re (Dr Richard Newland) who took the spoils in 2014.
Five of the first six horses home last year are entered again with runner-up Saint Are (Tom George), fourth Alvarado (Fergal O’Brien), fifth Shutthefrontdoor (Jonjo O’Neill) and sixth Royale Knight (Dr Richard Newland) all engaged. Alvarado was also fourth in 2014.
Many Clouds is attempting to become the first horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Crabbie’s Grand National since the great Red Rum in 1973 and 1974. The nine-year-old ran very well on his latest appearance to finish second in the Grade Two BetBright Trial Chase at Cheltenham on 30th January.
Double Seven (Martin Brassil IRE) finished third under Sir AP McCoy behind Pineau De Re in 2014 and is being geared up for another tilt at the Aintree spectacular after missing last season through injury. He is one of nine entries owned by JP McManus who was successful with Don’t Push It in 2010.
The 10-year-old won five consecutive races in the build-up to the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National and ran a fine race to be third in the big race but did not appear again until lining up over hurdles at Punchestown on 31st December. He has raced once more, finishing ninth in a Pertemps qualifier over hurdles at the same course on 31st January.
Martin Brassil, who sent out Numbersixvalverde to win the 2006 Crabbie’s Grand National, said: “Double Seven is grand.
“He’s had the two runs over hurdles but it is hard to know what to make of them because he is not a soft ground horse.
“We are taking it one step at a time at the moment and we won’t really know where we are until he runs in a race when the conditions are right for him. He wants nice ground.
“I’m not sure what we are going to do between now and Aintree. He could have a run over fences but we will see how he is.”
This year’s entries include plenty of high-class performers. The seven entries from Ireland’s champion trainer Willie Mullins include the multiple Grade One winner and 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup second Sir Des Champs as well as Don Poli, whose three Grade One victories include the 2015 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and this season’s Lexus Chase at Leopardstown. Their owner, Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, is responsible for 10 entries, more than any other owner.
A total of 38 entries are trained in Ireland. Ted Walsh has entered Seabass, who achieved the best finishing position for a female rider when third in 2012 under his amateur jockey daughter and Crabbie’s Grand National Ambassador Katie Walsh. The Co Kildare handler has also put in Foxrock, a staying-on third behind Don Poli last time out.
Gordon Elliott was responsible for the last Irish-trained winner of the Crabbie’s Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007 and his half-dozen entries include Ucello Conti, who has run well when placed in valuable handicap chases on his last two starts, and Causes Of Causes, successful in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival before finishing eighth in the Crabbie’s Grand National.
Other interesting Irish-trained contenders include the Grade One winner Gilgamboa (Enda Bolger), last season’s Scottish Grand National second Goonyella (Jim Dreaper) and Thunder And Roses (Sandra Hughes), winner of the 2015 Irish Grand National.
Paul Nicholls, successful in 2012 with Neptune Collonges, is the trainer with most entries, with nine in total. These are headed by Silviniaco Conti, whose six Grade One wins include two King George VI Chases, two Betfair Chases and two renewals of the Betfred Bowl over the Mildmay fences at Aintree (2014 and 2015). Another leading contender from the champion Jump trainer is Just A Par, successful in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park last season.
A number of entries have already scored over the Grand National fences, including Highland Lodge (James Moffatt) who took the Betfred Becher Chase in December, and Triolo D’Alene (Nicky Henderson), who was the impressive winner of the 2013 Crabbie’s Topham Chase.
Other leading entries include Soll (David Pipe), successful in a valuable veterans’ handicap chase at Sandown last month and The Druids Nephew (Neil Mulholland), who was leading the field when falling at Valentine’s on the second circuit in 2015. Two Cheltenham Gold Cup winners have been entered – 2011 victor Long Run (Robert Waley-Cohen) and 2014 scorer Lord Windermere (Jim Culloty IRE).
Owners Paul and Clare Rooney have two interesting contenders in Kruzhlinin (Philip Hobbs), a comfortable winner at Kempton Park last month, and The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey), who landed a valuable handicap chase in impressive fashion at the same course in December.
The name McCain is synonymous with the Crabbie’s Grand National. The late Ginger McCain sent out the only three-time winner with Red Rum (1973, 1974 and 1977) and also enjoyed success with Amberleigh House in 2004, while his son Donald saddled the 2011 scorer Ballabriggs and has one entry this year in Corrin Wood.
The weights for the Crabbie’s Grand National are framed by the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith, and will be unveiled at the Sky Garden in the heart of London on Tuesday, 16th February.
The Crabbie’s Aintree Grand National 2016 is the only handicap of the year where Smith has absolute discretion to deviate from the normal handicap ratings when determining the weights.
Andrew Tulloch, Jockey Club Racecourses’ Regional Head of Racing for the North West and Clerk of the Course at Aintree, said: “We could not have wished for a better set of entries for the 2016 Crabbie’s Grand National, with a big increase on last year in terms of numbers and a significant presence of high-class horses.
“Many Clouds defied 11st 9lb, 1lb off top-weight, when successful in 2015 and it will be interesting to see how the handicap is framed by Phil Smith with Silviniaco Conti, Don Poli and Sir Des Champs all entered.
“Everything is in place for what should be a spectacular 169th running of the Crabbie’s Aintree Grand National 2016.”