Karl Hedley entered the Racing Post ‘Search for A Tipster’ competition in 2006 and beat 6000 others to win the title of Top Tipper. Below he gives us his thoughts on this year’s Grand National runners.

Despite the shortened distance and recent adjustments to the fences, the Grand National maintains its status as the premier horse race of the year.

Today’s National champions must exemplify elegance and agility, with younger contenders increasingly taking the spotlight amidst a field of ever-improving competitors.

A strategic, frugal approach to jumping proves advantageous over the updated obstacles, and recent editions have produced unforgettable narratives, from Tiger Roll’s consecutive victories to Rachael Blackmore’s historic triumph aboard Minella Times.

Additionally, the retirement of amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen atop the seven-year-old Noble Yeats, owned by his father Robert, the former chairman of Cheltenham racecourse, adds another poignant chapter to the race’s storied history.

Below, Karl has listed all 34 participants for the feature race of the 2024 Aintree Festival.

What To Look For In A Runner

Noble Yeats was the first seven-year-old to win last year since Bogskar landed the prize in 1940 and between 2004 and 2021, every winner has been aged between eight and eleven years of age.

You certainly want a horse that can jump and is generally consistent. Any runner with more than three falls is usually one to avoid.

There are other races that tend to give a good guide to this contest and they include the; Scottish Grand National, Becher Chase, Premier Kelso Chase, Ladbrokes Trophy, Betfred Classic, Irish Grand National and the Cheltenham Cross Country Chase.

Ideally, you want a horse that has built experience over the larger obstacles with six of the last twelve winners having run between ten and fourteen times over fences.

Like last year the Irish dominated so many of the races at Cheltenham. The scores will be a bit closer at this meeting, but there is so much strength in depth to the Irish form that I fully expect the Irish to continue their domination.

1. NOBLE YEATS

Trainer: Emmet Mullins; Jockey: Harry Cobden

Noble Yeats has shown promise in previous races but has struggled with form in his recent outings.

Despite past successes including when winning this race in 2021, his recent form raises concerns about his ability to be competitive off this weight.

2. NASSALAM

Trainer: Gary Moore; Jockey: Caoilin Quinn

Nassalam has shown promise in previous races but has struggled with form in recent outings.

Despite finishing fourth in the Grand Sefton and winning the Welsh Grand National a couple of months later he has since suffered a lapse in form.

He is handicapped to the hilt and despite favourable ground conditions he looks vulnerable.

3. COKO BEACH

Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Jordan Gainford

Coko Beach has demonstrated staying power over 3 miles 4 furlongs, delivering strong performances in major handicaps in Ireland and the UK this season.

However, his previous Grand National appearances have been disappointing to say the least, failing to maintain an early lead and eventually pulling up.

With a need for a change in tactics, his approach to this year’s race remains uncertain and with a sketchy record around here, better value lies elsewhere.

4. CAPODANNO

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Keith Donoghue

Capodanno has shown prowess on heavy ground in hurdles, with notable victories including a Grade 2 win at Cheltenham back in January.

Despite a lack of consistency in jumping, he delivered a commendable fourth-place finish in a Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month.

Although he struggled in last year’s National, his potential to stay the distance remains open to question and there are just too many doubts about him.

5. I AM MAXIMUS

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Paul Townend

I Am Maximus has demonstrated stamina in previous races including when wining the Irish Grand National last year, but he has struggled with jumping and respiratory issues since.

A lack of experience over these fences is a big negative and his stamina limitations could well be exposed here.

Has a top jockey on board and represents a top yard so he has to be considered.

6. MINELLA INDO

Trainer: Henry De Bromhead; Jockey: Rachael Blackmore

Minella Indo is a previous Cheltenham Gold Cup winner who has since been enjoying life over the Cross Country fences.

He has struggled with form in recent outings though, but ought to enjoy the bottomless ground on offer here.

He has the assistance of Rachael Blackmore in the saddle and the yard has won this race before so he definitely has strong each way claims.

He is lightly campaigned this season and although he is an eleven year old, there isn’t much mileage on the clock. Interesting.

7. CORACH RAMBLER

Trainer: Lucinda Russell; Jockey: Derek Fox

Corach Rambler boasts a victory on heavy ground on his rules debut and has performed well at successive Cheltenham Festivals.

He enjoyed a memorable win in this race last year and his recent run in the Gold Cup made it look as thought this race would be ideal once more.

Despite his commendable third-place finish on his latest outing, questions remain about his ability to handle the increased weight this time around.

Derek Fox is a two-time winning Grand National jockey and he is back on board today, the pair look sure to make the frame.

8. JANIDIL

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Jody McGarvey

Janidil has shown promise on heavy ground but has struggled with form in his more recent outings most notably when second last in the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham.

There will be easier races for him down the line, but this looks a stretch too far.

9. STATTLER

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Patrick Mullins

Stattler has shown promise in his previous races but has struggled with form in recent outings.

He was a fair fourth to Coko Beach in a cross country chase at Punchestown back in February, but that was probably the highlight of his year to date.

He looks on the downgrade and is readily passed over.

10. MAHLER MISSION

Trainer: John McConnell; Jockey: Ben Harvey

Mahler Mission is best known for his relentless front-running tactics.

He will relish every bit of this testing ground just as much as he did when seemingly cruising to victory in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in 2023.

He ultimately fell two from home with the race at his mercy. If he goes off like a scalded cat mistakes will creep in and he may not finish.

Ben Harvey will have to get him to settle.

11. DELTA WORK

Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Jack Kennedy

Delta Work was victorious in the 2022 Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham but has done very little since.

He warmed up for this with a forgettable run in the Boyne Hurdle back in February, just to blow the cobwebs away.

His trainer says he has been working well and having won the race on numerous occasions, Gordon Elliott is a hard man to ignore.

Live each-way prospects at best.

12. FOXY JACKS

Trainer: Mouse Morris; Jockey: Gavin Brouder

Foxy Jacks scored on his seasonal reappearance in a Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in November when beating old rival Latenightpass.

He has put in the odd inconsistent performance though and suffered a fall in the Topham over these fences.

Despite his trainer having landed this race previously, this ten-year-old could be out of his depth.

13. GALVIN

Trainer: Gordon Elliot; Jockey: Sam Ewing

Connections will be hoping he gets further than the first fence this year having fallen there last season.

He once looked as though he had the world at his feet but his form has tailed off badly.

He struggles to feature in cross country races so this should prove an impossible mission.

14. FAROUK D’ALENE

Trainer: Gordon Elliot; Jockey: Donagh Meyler

Farouk D’alene ran well in a Pertemps Handicap qualifying race back in December and has since fallen into his old inconsistent habits.

He was pulled up last time out which hardly inspires confidence.

He has only had seven starts over fences and a bit more practice may be required.

15. ELDORADO ALLEN

Trainer JOe Tizzard; Jockey: Brendan Powell

Eldorado Allen is now without a win in over two years. The ten-year-old grey gelding was last seen pulling up behind Chianti Classico in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

Much more is required here for him to even hit the frame.

His last two visits to this track did not go well for him and hard to imagine a change in luck here.

16. AINT THAT A SHAME

Trainer: Henry De Bromhead; Jockey: David Maxwell

Aint That A Shame landed a decent race when taking the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park earlier in the season beating the re-opposing Glengouly by over two lengths.

This is his first run back since and his overall mileage is fairly low.

His trainer is respected but his jockey will have you tearing at the eyes as he is not the strongest in a finish. Intriguing runner.

17. VANILLIER

Trainer: Gavin Cromwell; Jockey: Sean Flanagan

Vanillier was last year’s brave runner-up and he returns for another piece of the action.

He was doing all of his best work in the closing stages and only just failed to claw back Corach Rambler.

If brought into play earlier and if enjoying smooth passage, he is well capable of another big performance.

18. MR INCREDIBLE

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Brian Hayes

Mr Incredible ran a perfectly good trial for this when finishing runner-up in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in heavy ground.

He looked desperately unlucky in this last year as his saddle slipped at a crucial stage and giving Bryan Hayed no chance of staying on board.

He will have gained invaluable experience all the same and no surprise if he makes the frame this time around.

19. RUN WILD FRED

Trainer: Godron Elliot; Jockey: Thomas Hamilton

Run Wild Fred often lives up to his name as his runs are purley inexplicable.

He had looked a good horse at one stage, but one chase win in twenty career starts sums him up.

He will have more finish in front than behind him and his jockey looks to be in for a torrid time.

20. LATENIGHTPASS

Trainer: Tom Ellis; Jockey: Gina Andrews

Latenightpass has successfully switched into the Cross Country division and gained a first win in that sphere back in December at Cheltenham.

He was given a prep for this by going to Haydock where he was well beaten as expected in Grade 2 company.

He is generally a consistent sort but may this may just come at the right time in his career and may well give this husband and wife trainer and jockey a memorable day.

21. MINELLA CROONER

Trainer: Gordon Elliot; Jockey: Kevin Sexton

Minella Crooner looks regressive and has not enjoyed the best of seasons.

Has lots to find on form and pulling up in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham was hardly inspiring anyone to back him for this.

Looks way out of his depth and others have better chances.

22. ADAMANTLY CHOSEN

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Sean O’Keeffe

Adamantly Chosen returned to winning ways when beating Roi Mage by 14l at Down Royal just last month.

That was his first positive run in almost eighteen months, so the fact that he went so well merits respect here.

He was never an easy ride in the past and Sean O’Keefe probably has his work cut out for him here but no surprise to see them running on through beaten horses at the end.

23. MAC TOTTIE

Trainer: Peter Bowen; Jockey: James Bowen

Mac Tottie is fully comfortable at trips of in and around 2m4f, but this massive hike in distance is a massive unknown.

He was pulled up over shorter than this in the Welsh Grand National and this looks even more competitive.

His yard has a fascinating association with this track and their record in the Topham is admirable.

The same cannot be said about this race though and he is readily dismissed from calculations.

24. CHEMICAL ENERGY

Trainer: Gordon Elliot; Jockey: Danny Gilligan

Chemical Energy has been a massive disappointment over the last couple of years.

He looked promising when taking a three horse race at Cheltenham in October 2022 beating the likes of Mahler Mission.

He has certainly not carried on his form in the same manner as the runner up, who will likely reverse that form here today.

Not an obvious choice and looks to have a lot on his plate.

25. LIMERICK LACE

Trainer: Gavin Cromwell; Jockey: Mark Walsh

Limerick Lace has been all the rage prior to racing and could cost the bookies a significant fortune.

Owner JP McManus has several entered here but when asked which of his he fancied, this was his pick and the public were wise to that.

She acts well on this desperate ground and has already secured three wins over fences this year.

She is still very inexperienced but Noble Yeats proved that seven-year-olds cannot be forgotten about and she rates as a danger to all.

26. MEETINGOFTHEWATERS

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Danny Mullins

Meetingofthewaters is an intriguing contender as it is clear that he just oozes a bit of class.

He put in a solid round of jumping to finish third on his most recent start behind Chianti Classico in the Ultima Handicap at Cheltenham.

He seemed to appreciate the return to three miles on that occasion, so the extra mile here could well see yet further improvement.

Running in the familiar colours of JP McManus and partnered by Danny Mullins, this is a seven-year-old with a big future.

27. THE GOFFER

Trainer: Gordon Elliot; Jockey: Sean Bowen

The Goffer run some solid races in handicap company, but his last run at Cheltenham saw him beaten almost a distance.

This race is likely to come far too soon after that and he just couldn’t be anywhere neat the top of any shortlist.

Others preferred.

28. ROI MAGE

Trainer: Patrick Griffin; Jockey: James Reveley

Roi Mage was firmly put in his place by Adamantly Chosen at Down Royal last month and would need a great deal to go his way in order to reverse a double digit beating.

The booking of James Reveley is a positive one as he has won on him before.

He was a solid seventh in this last year and did get around in his own time.

If he does the same again or slightly better, I imagine connections will be thrilled.

29. GLENGOULY

Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Michael O’Sullivan

Glengouly started the season well enough with two fine seconds at both Limerick and Gowran Park in listed and Grade 3 races respectively. He was given a short break and sent to Cheltenham just last month.

There the wheels finally fell off the wagon and he trailed home at the back of the pack beaten almost fifty lengths.

On that basis he is passed over here as much more will be required in order to have a say in the finish.

30. GALIA DES LITEAUX

Trainer: Dan Skelton; Jockey: Harry Skelton

Galia Des Liteaux represents a top yard that can do very little wrong in handicaps at present.

She absolutely loves it when the mud is flying and she should be fully at home under these conditions.

A step back to three miles last time would not have been in her favour so no surprise to see her upped so dramatically in trip here.

She could well surprise a few off a low weight.

31. PANDA BOY

Trainer: Martin Brassil; Jockey: JJ Slevin

Panda Boy has been a model of consistency in Irish handicaps this season and wasn’t beaten too far in two good Leopardstown races most recently.

He does have something to find with I Am Maximus based on their clash in the Irish Grand National last year, but he is a classy and consistent performer.

His jockey is looking to complete the Irish/English National double and he could just be on the right one yet again.

32. EKLAT DE RIRE

Trainer: Henry De Bromhead; Jockey: Darragh O’Keeffe

Used to act on heavy ground and started favourite for a big 3m2f handicap at Newbury in November 2021 but pulled up on that occasion.

He has only shown limited ability since including when second in a four-runner race this February.

He pulled up at Cheltenham last month and ought to be outclassed once more.

34. KITTY’S LIGHT

Trainer: Christian Williams; Jockey: Jack Tudor

Kitty’s Light sneaks in at the foot of the handicap and he is a particularly talented stayer.

He has won countless staying chases including the Gold Cup at Sandown, the Scottish Grand National as well as an Eider chase in what has been an amazing career so far.

There are doubts about him getting home on the ground but he stays well and gets weight from all of his rivals.

No surprise to see him go close if the rain stays away.

Key Trends

  • 3 of the past 15 winners were having their first start in the race
  • 21 of the past 29 winners were aged 8-10
  • 19 of the past 24 winners were Irish-bred (this includes 11 of the past 13)
  • 15 of the past 27 winners returned at 14-1 or shorter
  • 13 of the past 18 winners had won over 3m1f+
  • 11 of the past 24 winners were trained in Ireland (this includes 4 of the past 5)

Grand National Tips

Defending champion Corach Rambler returns this year after an impressive performance in the Gold Cup.

Despite being 3lb better in the weights, concerns linger over his ability to handle a 13lb rise and challenging conditions.

Willie Mullins and JP McManus field a formidable team with Irish National victor I Am Maximus and Ultima third-placer Meetingofthewaters.

I Am Maximus, boasts a Grade 1 novice win at Fairyhouse, enters the fray after a convincing triumph in the Bobbyjo Chase.

While Aintree tends to favour unconventional contenders, his adaptability remains uncertain. Meanwhile, Mullins’ stablemate, a Leopardstown Paddy Power winner, could emerge as the top choice.

However, it’s McManus’ LIMERICK LACE who stands out, aiming to become the first mare since 1951 to clinch victory.

With a stellar season, including a win at the Cheltenham Festival, and a solid performance in the Troytown, she holds strong credentials, especially given her brother’s improvement in stamina.

Other contenders likely to attract attention include Mr Incredible and Minella Indo.

Top 3 predicted finishing order:

Limerick Lace
Mr Incredible
Minella Indo

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