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.

The Grand National is our annual horse race that stops the nation. It’s set apart from all other races because of the unique nature of the fences that the forty warriors and their brave jockeys encounter.

First run in 1839, it is a handicap steeplechase over an official distance of about 4 miles and 2½ furlongs, with horses jumping 30 fences over two laps. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe, with a prize fund of £1 million.

The course over which the race is run features much larger fences than those found on conventional National Hunt tracks.

Many of these fences, particularly Becher’s Brook, The Chair and the Canal Turn, have become famous in their own right and, combined with the distance of the event, create what has been called “the ultimate test of horse and rider.”

It is estimated that 500 to 600 million people watch the Grand National in over 140 countries.

Karl has listed all forty participants for the feature race of the 2023 Aintree Festival and have assessed their chances individually with a rating out of five stars.

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.

Five of the last ten winners of the Grand National had used Cheltenham as a stepping stone to glory.

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.

Ireland have won three of the last five renewals of the race and it wouldn’t be the most earth-shattering news were if they were to do so once again.

Below are selected runners who hold entries for the Grand National 2023. Karl Hedley will provide some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.


Trainer: Ted Walsh; Jockey: Mark Walsh

Has run with great credit in the race in the past finishing third in 2021 and runner up last year.

He has carried on in fantastic form this year accumulating in a win at Navan last month where he put seven lengths between himself and the re-opposing Velvet Elvis.

He has an extra stone to carry this time around which may cause him bother after going more than four miles.

Impossible to rule out based on previous performances but it would be some feat if he were to do it as only Red Rum has carried such a large weight to victory and that was in 1974.

Star Rating: **


Trainer: Emmett Mullins; Jockey: Sean Bowen

Has been prepped perfectly for this with some big runs this season including a good fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Galopin Des Champs last time.

He won the Many Clouds Chase here earlier in the season too and despite a massive rise in the weights since last year’s victory, he has to feature high on any shortlist.

He is still only an eight-year-old and he could emulate Tiger Roll by winning back to back renewals.

His season has been geared all around this and Sean Bowen on board once more, he will have a huge role to play given luck in running.

Star Rating: ****


Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Davy Russell

Won a Grade Three chase at Navan on his seasonal reappearance before his form fell off a cliff edge with disappointing runs at Down Royal and Leopardstown.

His trainer shook things up and primed him for a tilt at this by taking in the Cross-Country race at the Cheltenham Festival.

He ran well for a long way in that race finishing second to stablemate Delta Work, and that may be where his future lies.

Being back in a race of this nature looks a step beyond what he is capable of and better value lies elsewhere.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill Jr

Ran well at this meeting last season where he finished a good second to Ahoy Senor in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

He has been running well at the highest level this year and his only indifferent performance came last time out when only finishing 6/9 in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

He is a solid three-mile performer and that last run suggested that he has maybe had a hard-enough season.

There are no guarantees of him seeing out this extra mile and more and he looks one to be one to avoid today.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Peter Fahey; Jockey: Aidan Coleman

He was in the process of running a big race at the Dublin Racing Festival when coming to grief two from home.

Prior to that he had shown some excellent form wining the Munster National and the Troytown Chase before being placed in the Welsh Grand National just after Christmas.

If he is over those exertions from Leopardstown his form puts him right in the thick of it here. He is vastly experienced in these types of races and is one to keep on the right side of.

Star Rating ****


Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Danny Mullins

Won a Grade One novices’ chase at the back end of last season. He made his seasonal reappearance at Gowran park back in February and turned in a very laboured effort finishing 3/4 to stablemate Janidil.

That performance in no way screamed Grand National winner in waiting and his general lack of experience will find him out in a race of this nature.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Keith Donoghue

Warmed up for this nicely by seeing off stablemate Galvin in the Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham. He was a good third in this last year where he was placed off a one-pound higher mark.

He will know a lot more about these fences this time around and no surprise if he proves too good for this opposition.

In his prime he was a multiple Grade One winner and given luck in running he looks sure to play a significant role in this race

Star Rating ****


Trainer: Anthony Honeyball; Jockey: Jonathan Burke

Won a Grade Three handicap chase at this meeting last year but has failed to shine in any of his subsequent races.

He was well and truly put in his place by Noble Yeats here back in December and he just looks to have fallen out of love with the game at the moment.

He is still twelve pounds higher than that last win and he is passed over given his current form too.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Jessica Harrington; Jockey: Sean O’Keeffe

The yard has had an unusually quiet year but this eight-year-old has given them hope as he has been so consistent this season.

As a result, the handicapper is taking no chances and has raised him three-pounds without him even gracing the winners’ enclosure this season.

He showed a liking for this course when fourth to Al Dancer here in the Grand Sefton back in December and if he can put it all together he would have place possibilities.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Mikey O’Sullivan

Was bitterly disappointing when last seen finishing 4/8 to Kemboy in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse back in February.

Whilst he is a good stayer at trips of up to three miles, this extra mile and a quarter may come as a bit of a shock to him.

With no experience of these fences to fall back on he looks particularly vulnerable.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Harry Cobden

Usually a very consistent horse and he was rewarded for that by winning a trial for this at Punchestown back in February.

The handicapper has raised him nine pounds for that success, but there is no reason that he will not run his race. He was eighth in this last year off a five-pound lower mark.

He comes here in much better form now and he could just sneak a place if things go his way.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Martin Brassil; Jockey: JJ Slevin

Was last seen wining a race at Down Royal back in March where he justified favouritism to beat the re-opposing Roi Image and Burrows Saint.

He gets into this race off the same mark as last year and arguably in better form.

With experience of these fences now under his belt, he can potentially run a better race this time around and has solid place claims.

Star Rating ****


Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Paul Townend

Was a very fortunate winner of the amateur’s race at Cheltenham a few weeks ago, but you have to jump to win races and he did just that.

This same trainer and jockey landed the Irish National earlier in the week, so they have to command respect and Paul Townend would have had the pick of any of the Mullins runners here.

He has some top-class form coming into this and no surprise to see him towards the top end of the market. He stays all day and has to come right into the reckoning.

Star Rating *****


Trainer: Joseph O’Brien; Jockey: Luke Dempsey

Has been on the go all season and signs of fatigue were obvious as he trailed in 4/4 behind Janidil at Gowran Park in the Red Mills Chase.

He has been given a couple of months away from the track to freshen him up. This isn’t the type of race where you would want to be starting off in.

Makes limited appeal without previous knowledge of the track.

Star Rating *


Trainer Dan Skelton; Jockey: Harry Skelton

He proved that he had enough in the locker to win a competitive renewal of the Coral gold Cup at Newbury back in November and warmed up for this when only just touched off in a listed race at Kelso last month.

Is an out and out stayer and will revel in these testing conditions. He has shown good form at flatter tracks when picking up wins at Sandown and Exeter also.

This would be a real family affair if this eight-year-old were to go in here and he has more claims than most.

Star Rating ****


Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Adrian Heskin

Withdrawn on Grand National day with trainer Gordon Elliott advising lameness as the reason.


Trainer: Joe Tizzard; Jockey: Brendan Powell

Has not won any race in the last two and a half years and pulled up in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.

Prior to that he was a gallant runner up to The Two Amigos in the Welsh National on bottomless ground and he will encounter similar conditions here today.

If over his last run and back on song, he would command respect.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: John Hanlon; Jockey: Jody McGarvey

Has been very slowly working his way back into some kind of form, but would have to work a miracle to reverse recent form with Velvet Elvis.

He has won with underfoot conditions, so he will not want the ground to dry out too much.

This looks a grade above the level he usually competes at though and it would be a shock if he troubled the judge.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Patrick Griffin; Jockey: Felix De Giles

Was not seen at his best when 7/8 here in the Liverpool Hurdle last season on what was only his third run.

Since then he has struggled to win but did hint at a return to form at Down Royal behind the re-opposing Longhouse Poet last time.

He needs to build on that again and he has shown significant improvement since going chasing. The handicapper has kept him on the same mark but lacking the experience of most of his rivals, he may have to make do with just getting around this time.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Noel Meade; Jockey: Kieren Buckley

Had no answers when thrashed by the re-opposing Coko Beach in a trial for this race.

Anything beyond three miles just seems to knock the stuffing out of him so he cannot be guaranteed to last home.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Joseph O’Brien; Jockey: Shane Fitzgerald

Has endured a woeful season and has pulled up in two of his last four starts.

What he will make of these fences is anyone’s guess but likely to be a case of same old story.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Donald McCain; Jockey: Theo Gillard

Looked to be very much in need of his most recent run following the guts of a year away from the track.

He has developed into somewhat of a Perth specialist and has won six times at the Scottish venue.

Unfortunately for him this is a very different test and whilst he certainly knows where the winning post is, he has no previous experience around here.

He has never been tried beyond three miles, so there are stamina concerns too.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Gavin Cromwell; Jockey: Sean Flanagan

Another runner who seems to have been around forever, but he is still quite lightly raced.

He produced his best run of the campaign when chasing home Kemboy in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse back in February.

He is well handicapped on the best of his old form and he will relish any further deterioration of the ground.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Thomas Gibney; Jockey: Darragh O’Keefe

Didn’t get off to the best of starts this season as he trailed in some fifty-seven lengths behind The Big Dog at Limerick on what was his first run of the year.

He then pulled up in two consecutive races indicating that all was not well with this seven-year-old gelding. He was given a short break and Thomas Gibney clearly worked the oracle on him.

He bounced right back to record a first win in almost a year when he beat Minella Crooner at Fairyhouse by a little under four lengths.

Another decent effort was made last time when put in his place by Any Second Now. Needs to find something to trouble the best of these.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Henry De Bromhead; Jockey: Rachael Blackmore

Showed significant improvement to win like a heavily punted odds-on shot should do when beating subsequent winner Macs Charm at Gowran Park last month.

A step up in trip may well unlock further improvement from this lightly raced nine-year-old gelding.

Henry De Bromhead can ready them for the big day and he and Rachael Blackmore landed this very race with Minella Times back in 2021.

Not a forlorn hope but still lacks a good bit of experience compared with others.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Lucinda Russell; Jockey: Derek Fox

Ran an incredible race at Cheltenham to win a competitive renewal of the Ultima Chase and gets in here off the exact same mark.

He has won around this track before too as he landed a decent handicap when beating Sail Away by over three lengths back in October 2021.

This has been mapped out for him for a long time and the trainer and jockey landed this race with One For Arthur in 2017.

He wouldn’t want the ground to be too testing but otherwise he is another lively contender.

Star Rating ****


Trainer: Ciaran Murphy; Jockey: Simon Torrens

He remains incredibly high in the ratings despite the mediocre form that he has been in for quite a lengthy period of time.

He has not won any race in over two years and it is difficult to see him faring any better here.

He trailed home some thirty-six lengths behind Kemboy at Fairyhouse in February and that is about as good as he is.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Brian Hayes

Was unlucky when brought down in a race won by Real Steel at Leopardstown back in December. He soon got over those exertions went close at Warwick in a Grade Three race for Brian Hayes at the turn of the year.

He was then given a two-month break with a view to coming here. In preparation for this he took in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham, where he put himself spot on to contest this finishing only five lengths or so behind Angels Dawn.

Whilst it will take another significant step forward, he is open to improvement and clearly stays well.

Another useful arrow for Willie Mullins to fire.

Star Rating ****


Trainer: Nicky Henderson; Jockey: Nico De Boinville

Mister Coffey always seems to run his race but ultimately he always finds at least one too good.

Nicky Henderson has never won this prize and it is hard to see him doing so with this eight-year-old gelding.

He was well put in his place by Gaillard Du Mesnil at Cheltenham last time and it will be difficult enough to reverse that form as well and prove himself against improving sorts too.

Star Rating **


Trainer Venetia Williams; Jockey Charlie Deutsch

Pulled up last time out in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham but prior to that has run a decent race at haydock to finish third in the Grand National Handicap Trial.

Has form over long distances and will carry a lot less weight than usual but will need the going on the good side to have any real chance of making it around.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Sandy Thomson; Jockey: Ryan Mania

Has not won any race in almost three years and hard to envisage it happening here today.

He was firmly put in his place by the re-opposing Velvet Elvis at Kelso last time out and has forty-four lengths to find with that rival.

The handicapper is taking his time to drop him in the ratings and he needs reassessed badly.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Henry De Bromhead; Jockey: Peter Carberry

Any confidence that was had in Gabbys Cross departed when Rachael Blackmore ditched him in favour of Aint That A Shame.

Although he hinted at a return to form last time out to Espanito Bello, he was still beaten a dozen lengths.

All of his best efforts have come when there is plenty of rain around, but he still has a mountain to climb even if the heavens do open.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Willie Mullins; Jockey: Jack Foley

Has been in desperate form this season and sluggishly toiled in behind over seventy lengths behind Real Steal at Leopardstown just after Christmas.

This is likely to be a prep run for a summer jumping campaign and he can’t be recommended on any level despite his trainers’ excellent record in the race.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Tim Vaughan; Jockey: Alan Johns

Has run some very good races this season including when landing a decent Cheltenham handicap back in December.

He is often seen at his best when the mud is flying, so there can never be enough rain for this nine-year-old grey.

He ran over a similar trip to this when placed in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time out and it would be foolish to write him off completely. A likeable outsider.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Sam Thomas; Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

Has won back to back races on his two most recent starts and clearly goes well fresh. His jockey is looking to complete a remarkable double having won the Topham here yesterday on Bill Baxter.

The only doubts about him come from his stamina. He is a multiple three-mile winner, but the only time he was asked to go further, he failed to see out the trip.

If he stays he will be a big threat.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Gordon Elliott; Jockey: Jack Tudor

Ran a fair race at Cheltenham when beaten by Angels Dawn and the re-opposing Mr Incredible. Another that is seen to better effect when the ground is virtually bottomless.

He stays all day long and will be cutting through the pack when others have cried enough.

He just gives the impression that he has endured a hard enough year and this may be one step too far.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Peter Bowen; Jockey: Ben Jones

His form has completely tailed off this season and despite his trainer having a great record at this meeting, he cannot be considered in current mood.

Star Rating *


Trainer: Henry Daly; Jockey: Hugh Nugent

Has actually run some very good races in defeat this year. His biggest effort came at this track earlier in the season when he finished fourth to Ashtown Lad in the Becher Handicap Chase.

He has been dropped five pounds by the handicapper since so whilst he needs a lot of luck in running he has been given an outsiders chance.

If he can avoid any trouble, he is likely to be plugging on at the death.

Star Rating ***


Trainer: Martin Keighley; Jockey: Sean Flanagan

He is still only a nine-year-old and was last seen finishing pulled up in the Cross-Country chase that was won by Delta Work.

Prior to that he won a similar cross-country event over the same course and distance.

He will need to show rapidly improving form to get anywhere near the best of these and he will have brighter days ahead.

Star Rating **


Trainer: Paul Gilligan; Jockey: Philip Enright

Has been beaten a combined total of forty-five lengths in his last two races and has shown nothing since finishing runner up in a race at Listowel last summer.

Was well beaten in the Magners Plate at Cheltenham last time out and others looks to have far more solid credentials.

Star Rating *


DELTA WORK should prove a tough nut to crack given his fine third in this race last year.

He won his prep for this in the style that we were used to seeing back when he was a multiple Grade One winner.

Gordon Elliott is no stranger to winning this race as he has used the same race as a prep for Tiger Roll’s two recent wins in this showpiece.

There are plenty of others who make incredible appeal including Gaillard Du Mesnil who won last time out at Cheltenham.

His yard is enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment so it would be ignorant to dismiss his claims.

The Big Dog and Le Milos are decent handicappers and could well be bang there if luck is on their side.

Predicted Finishing Order


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