It’s been a very busy few weeks on the National Hunt circuit. First we had all the fun and excitement of the Cheltenham Festival. And as soon as that had ended we moved straight on to the next declaration stage of the Grand National 2019.

So with just two weeks until the Aintree spectacular, how are things looking on the National scene?

Without a doubt the most talked about aspect of this year’s race is the participation of Tiger Roll. With his sterling winning performance in the Glenfarclas Chase his odds tumbled from around 10/1 to as little as 5/1.

Then connections muted the idea that he may not actually return to Aintree and instead go for the Irish National. However, it wasn’t very long before trainer Gordon Elliott confirmed that he would indeed be returning to defend his Grand National crown.

Great news for the fans of the race, and of Tiger Roll, not such good news for those who hadn’t yet backed him. That is because his odds on the Grand National market dropped even further, with some bookmakers offering as little as 7/2 on the win. To add insult to injury, some of those odds are still ante-post!

So with little or no value available on Tiger Roll, punters have been looking elsewhere. Many will capitalise on the option of using free bets for Grand National 2019 as they narrow down their selection from the 81 runners who are still in contention. Backers can find offers like welcome bonuses from bookmakers such as BetVictor and Bethard to take advantage of. Ms Parfois ran a blinder in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter last weekend and is definitely worthy of consideration at odds of 25/1. Mares historically don’t fare very well in the Grand National but few have the stamina that Ms Parfois possesses. Trainer Anthony Honeyball is very pleased with her form so she could upset the Tiger Roll party!

This is also the point when the jockeys start getting booked and confirmed. Trainer Philip Hobbs has already advised that Richard Johnson will be on board Rock The Kasbah. Can they finally get their first ever Grand National win in 2019? They have been so close so many times and at odds of 20/1 it’s almost worth the punt.

Unfortunate news for jockey Bryony Frost though. Frost, who made the headlines last week when riding Frodon to victory in the Ryanair Chase, fell off Midnight Bliss at Southwell on Monday. It was then confirmed at the hospital that she has broken her collarbone and has been ruled out for the next few weeks. That means she will miss the opportunity to race in the Grand National on April 6th.

But one person who will definitely have plenty of representation is Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. Dominating this year’s entries, he still has 19 runners in contention. That is a whopping 23% of the entries. 13 of them are already guaranteed a spot with the potential for a few more to squeeze in depending on the next declaration stage. But aside from that, he still trains 32.5% of the current top 40 potential Grand National runners!

So why would Elliott dominate the entries? Because if he wins, he takes home £500,000, which is approximately €582K. And while it doesn’t add to his tally in terms of the Irish Trainers Championship, it certainly buys a lot of credibility! Though that won’t effect Willie Mullins as he bids for another title.

And trainer Willie Mullins isn’t without his chances either. He still has six possibilities, although only four are likely to make the final cut. But amongst them is Rathvinden, the second favourite in the race behind Tiger Roll.

On general odds of 10/1, Rathvinden has only had one run this season so his form is looking like a closely guarded secret. Despite that, there is plenty to like about the 11-year-old.

We know he can win at 4m because he won the National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham last season and he won the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time out. So he has form, stamina, fluid jumping and a decent weight. If he pips Tiger Roll to the post then the Irish Trainers Championship is almost a done deal for Mullins.

So it looks like it’s all to play for in the 2019 Grand National. But he will reign victorious? We will just have to wait and see.