There has been plenty of talk about Easysland, the French-trained 7-year-old, and the 2021 Grand National. When he absolutely crushed the competition in the Cross Country at Cheltenham last year, he went straight into the betting markets as an early favourite for this year’s Grand National.
When the weights came out and he was handed a top weight of 11-10 by the BHA Handicapper, it diminished his chances slightly. No horse carrying top weight has won the Grand National since Red Rum in 1974. To do it as a 7-year-old would be miraculous. That’s because no horse that young has won a National since Bogskar in 1940. So to beat all the odds – and be a French horse – was asking for the impossible.
While history and the stats may have been lining up against him, Easysland is an incredible long-distance chaser. Going into this season he was riding high on seven back-to-back wins. When he went back to Cheltenham for the Cross Country in November, he had to settle for fourth place.
That was plenty of prep for another showdown with Tiger Roll on March 17th. So would he get the better of the Grand National winner again? The answer is no. Despite Tiger Roll’s decline in recent performances, he relished the trip around Prestbury Park, winning by a whopping 18L. What a shame he had already been taken out of the 2021 Grand National.
So on odds of around 20/1, Easysland was still looking good for the Grand National.
Easysland Out Of The Grand National
Four days after his trip around Cheltenham, trainer David Cottin confirmed that Easysland would not head to Aintree.
Cottin said: “Easysland has gone off on his holidays to Ireland after his run at Cheltenham on Wednesday, he will not be running in the Grand National.
“I haven’t spoken to the owners about future plans yet but I am sure that he will have a good holiday and we will bring him back for next autumn.”
Despite a good run and a second place finish at Cheltenham, the conditions were not on Easysland’s side.
Trainer David Cottin added: “The was a notable question mark this year with the ground, the better ground was certainly not to our advantage but it suited Tiger Roll, unlike last year.
“We all know how good Tiger Roll is, he’s a champion.
“Looking back on last year and the heavy ground, it probably knocked the speed out of Tiger Roll and it suited us.”
How That Changes The Odds
Without a shadow of a doubt, Easysland would have been the most experienced long-distance chaser running in the National this year. Had he won at Cheltenham again his odds would have plummetted.
Instead, it has left the door open for many of the other runners who wouldn’t have been able to beat him.
As such, odds for Cloth Cap dropped from 6/1 to a meagre 9/2 over the weekend. This is incredibly, if not outrageously, short for the Grand National.
To put it into perspective, Tiger Roll went off at 4/1 in 2019 – and he had already won a Grand National!
Since 1973 there have been eight favourites to win the race. The shortest was Tiger Roll on 4/1 but all of the others were at least 7/1.
The Other Top Weight Runners
You may remember that Easysland was only one of three horses given top weight this year. The other two are Santini and Bristol De Mai.
So will they run and keep the weights as is or will we see a couple of more defections throwing everything up in the air?
Santini ran in the Gold Cup but clobbered a fence early on and had to be pulled up. That could work in his favour for the Grand National 2021. If he came out of the race in good health he will still be fresh for Aintree.
However, if trainer Nicky Henderson decides to let him rest and recover if needed, then he too could be the next to get withdrawn.
Bristol De Mai is interesting. A Nigel Twiston-Davies trained runner, he skipped Cheltenham, last seen running at Sandown in February. He was second over three miles and after his previous win at Haydock looks set to take his chances on April 10th.
But before we all think it’s a done deal, remember that this is Bristol De Mai’s fourth Grand National entry and yet he has never run in it. Will that all change in 2021?
The second scratching stage takes place tomorrow so more will be revealed then as we countdown to the Grand National 2021.
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