As the 2018 Grand National draws ever closer, all eyes are on the trainers who will saddle up the forty runners who will take part in the race on Saturday April 14th at 5.15pm.
As expected most are quite optimistic about their chances while some are more cautious and playing their cards close to the chest.
Ian Williams who will be sending Gas Line Boy to Aintree said: “Gas Line Boy is in great form at home and everything has gone well with him since his last run at Sandown.
“He has schooled over Grand National-type fences at home and his work has been good.
“He’s been really well in the build-up to the race and he was an excellent fifth in last year’s Grand National.
“Robbie Dunne, who rode him in both last year’s Grand National and the Grand Sefton, will ride him once again as he knows the horse well – we’re looking forward to the day.”
Gas Line Boy is currently has Grand National Odds of 33/1 with Betfair.
Jim Culloty will be bringing 12 -year-old Lord Windermere to Aintree for his third attempt in four years. He pulled-up in 2015 but was back last year to finish in 7th place. Culloty, when speaking to Chris Cook at The Guardian, said: “He boils over progressively more as the season goes on.
“Over the years, the further we’ve got into the season, the worse he does it. So I’m trying to bring him there fresh, as if it was his first run of the season. He always runs well first time out.
“He’s in good form. I think he’s fit. I’m very, very happy with him.”
Lord Windermere can now be backed at odds of around 50/1 for the Grand National.
Gordon Elliott is still riding high from an epic Cheltenham Festival and an Irish Grand Win so can one of his three runners also bring the 2018 Grand National trophy back to Ireland? Speaking about Tiger Roll, Elliott said: “Tiger Roll is in very good form and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“I think he’ll love the National, the fences will light him up.
“It’s the Grand National, and you need a lot of luck and for everything to go right, but I think the race will suit him.
“The one worry would be the weather and what sort of ground they get.
“The better the ground at Aintree the better his chance, but there’s still nearly two weeks until the race and with a dry week the ground should start to dry.”
Tiger Roll is gaining on the current Grand National favourites with the bookmakers and is a general 14/1 to win – not bad odds considering his excellent form.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Gold Cup winner Native River, will be fielding The Dutchman and signs from the yard are positive. Joe Tizzard, the assistant trainer said: “The Dutchman is in good form.
“We have been easy on him since Haydock and he seems to be really well in himself at the moment.
“I think the Grand National should suit.
“We are hopeful that he will stay and he also jumps very well, which is always important for a test like Aintree.
The Dutchman is 33/1 with Betfair and slightly shorter at 25/1 with Paddy Power.
Anthony Honeyball is confident that Regal Encore can improve on his eighth place finish in last year’s race. He said: “I think he’ll take to it again. It’s just a case of having that same luck in running he had last year. He had a lovely run through last season.”
“It is something special. Growing up watching the race, it’s amazing to think I’d have a horse running with a good chance,” he said.
“We’re not going in there thinking it’s beyond belief. We’re going there thinking he ticks all the boxes and why shouldn’t he win it? It wouldn’t be the biggest shock. You just need the luck.”
At odds of 33/1, if he has luck on his side, Regal Encore could be big earner for those who share Honeyball’s enthusiasm.
Fergal O’Brien will saddle up two runners next week in Chase The Spud and Perfect Candidate, who was pulled-up last year, and is confident that both can give good accounts of themselves. He said: “They both jump well, they stay all day and that’s exactly what you need.
“We need our own luck and a bit of someone else’s luck.
“The thing is, it’s the Grand National and anything can happen. It’s not like Cheltenham, where you need every box ticked.
“With the National, you can go there and, as long as you’ve got a sound, fit horse, you’ve got half a chance.”
Chase The Spud is a general 50/1 with bookmakers while Perfect Candidate is slightly more on 66/1.
Jonjo O’Neill, winning trainer with Don’t Push It in 2010, will saddle just one runner in Minella Rocco and it looks like he is pulling out all the stops to get him ready. He said: Minella Rocco wants the ground to dry up badly and it is due to improve a bit.
“He’s never at his best in the mud and if we get the ground you would be excited. We live in hope.
“I’d think he’ll stay although you never know until they run.
“He’s in great old form. Yogi (Breisner) has been up to school him and pop him over some poles. He will be coming back next week.
“We’ve had no hold-ups.”
Minella Rocco is one the race favourites on odds as short as 14/1 but despite being top weight, all the signs are good that he’ll run a great race.
Gavin Cromwell has the opposite problem to Jonjo O’Neill and badly needs it to rain. With Raz De Maree heading to the starting line Cromwell said: “It’s looking like Robert Power will ride him.
“Robbie obviously knows what it takes and I’m just hoping this rain keeps up for a little longer.
“I think I’m the only man around who wants it to carry on raining but I’ll be doing a rain dance until National day!”
Raz De Maree is around 40/1 to win the Grand National 2018.