In the 2011 John Smith’s Grand National, the late stallion Old Vic, who died in February at the age of 25, will bid to join a club so exclusive it has only five current members.
That is the number of horses who have sired the winners of three or more of the 163 Grand Nationals run so far.
Heading the roll of honour on four is My Prince, with Gregalach (1929), Reynoldstown (1935-36) and Royal Mail (1937). Ascetic is responsible for three individual winners – Cloister (1893), Drumcree (1903) and Ascetic's Silver – as are Cottage, with Workman (1939), Lovely Cottage (1946) and Sheila's Cottage (1948), and Vulgan, with Team Spirit (1964), Foinavon (1967) and Gay Trip (1970). And Quorum has triple winner Red Rum (1973-74 and 1977) to his credit.
Old Vic's first hero of the great Aintree race was Comply Or Die in 2008 (pictured), followed by Don't Push It 12 months ago. On that occasion, he also sired the runner-up Black Apalachi, becoming the first to achieve the feat since Gay Trip beat Vulture, both sired by Vulgan. This time Old Vic's team is likely to comprise his two previous winners, plus Vic Venturi and In Compliance.
When Old Vic won his only sires' title in 2008, he bucked a trend, being the first champion whose laurels included the Aintree winner since Menelek, with Rag Trade, in 1976.
The John Smith’s Grand National, with a purse of £950,000, may yet have a bearing on this season’s leading jump stallion title. Old Vic is currently out of the top 10 but the first five on the leaderboard – namely King's Theatre, Presenting, Oscar, Beneficial and Flemensfirth – all have progeny earnings of less than £450,000.
King's Theatre's only National entry is King Fontaine. Presenting has Ballabriggs, Niche Market and Killyglen; Oscar should be represented by Oscar Time and Dooneys Gate; Beneficial by Becauseicouldntsee; and Flemensfirth by the current favourite The Midnight Club and Tidal Bay.