5 Early Contenders For The 2018 Grand National

The thoughts of ante post punters have already turned to the 2018 Randox Health Grand National. There has already been significant movement with regards to next year's odds on the betting exchange for the Aintree showpiece.

If a long-term investment in the ante post Grand National betting appeals to you, then check out our five early contenders for the 2018 renewal of the 40-runner spectacular.

Blaklion

Nigel Twiston-Davies has had some rotten luck towards the end of 2016/17 season, seeing his horses shape well in the closing stages of valuable races only to be pipped in the run-in or at the post. Blaklion was a notable example when fourth to One For Arthur in the Grand National.

Noel Fehily produced him to take up the running four out, but it was a move that came too early as Blaklion was headed before the last and even lost third place in the final yards. All the horses that finished ahead of him were carrying less weight, though, so that told in the closing stages.

If connections pitch Blaklion at the Grand National again, a more conservative ride could easily see him improve on fourth, though. Whether the handicapper will be kinder to this horse, however, remains to be seen. Odds with some bookies about Blaklion are matched on the betting exchange.

Minella Rocco

Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco was at one stage favourite for this year's Grand National before connections withdrew him from contention.

Trainer Jonjo O'Neill and owner JP McManus were smart enough to know seven-year-old horses have a poor record in the world's most famous steeplechase. The last winner of the Aintee showpiece who was that age came way back in 1940!

O'Neill may now train Minella Rocco especially for a crack at the 2018 Grand National, as he will be eight then and two of the last three victors have been that old. He is also better value on the betting exchange than backing him with the bookies.

Minella Rocco definitely stays the marathon trip of the Randox Health Grand National, as he is a former winner of the 4m National Hunt Chase for novices at the Cheltenham Festival. If he achieved that as a six-year-old, then he must be a clear contender at Aintree next year if entered.

Our Duke

Irish Grand National winner Our Duke stepped up to 3m 5f to land the Fairyhouse feature race at the Easter Festival so well, that he should get the trip of the extended 4m 2f of the Aintree equivalent. Regular rider Robbie Power and trainer Jessica Harrington boasted some hugely strong form at the business end of the 2016/17 National Hunt season too.

If they are able to jockey and coach a similar performance out of Our Duke come April 2018, then he will surely be prominent again. Running in eye-catching fashion on the outer at Fairyhouse, he took up the running approaching four out, asserted himself two flights from home and stayed on well for a comfortable 14-length victory over Bless The Wings – a horse five years his elder.

That rival was also a short-head runner-up in the Irish Grand National in 2016 and received 16lb from Our Duke, so that adds up to a most taking display. There is a massive difference in price on the betting exchange to the odds available through the bookies for this horse in the 2018 Randox Health Grand National.

Vicente

Dual Scottish Grand National victor Vicente fell at the first in the Aintree equivalent, but bounced back to to retain his crown at Ayr. Those two wins over 4m are to his huge credit and taking a tumble so early on Merseyside tells us precious little about his credentials.

Paul Nicholls has trained a Grand National winner before in Neptune Collognes, so he know what it takes. Vicente looks the type that would benefit from schooling over the unique fences or getting a run at Aintree over the National course in the Becher Chase this coming autumn.

Although there are other trials with merit, both the 2017 Grand National winner and sixth went in the Becher plus a number of other useful sorts who failed to complete. Vicente's recent purchase by new owner Trevor Hemmings will surely see him aimed at Aintree, and there's value on the betting exchange which reflects that.

Native River

Although finishing third behind Minella Rocco and Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was arguably a disappointing end to his 2016/17 campaign, Native River scooped a number of valuable prizes beforehand.

Those included the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. His most taking display came in the latter when he took up the running at the tenth fence and Native River made the rest. Colin Tizzard's charge was cruising, despite a 4lb penalty and carrying top-weight, and value for much more than the winning margin.

A mammoth distance is no problem for Native River, and it is perfect plausible that owners Brocade Racing could request he be trained with the 2018 Grand National in mind. Once again, a substantially better price can be found on the betting exchange for this horse.

One Line Guide To The Grand National Runners

It's that time of year again; the form books are out and we are all trying our best to pick a winner in the Grand National. However, if you don't have the time to run through every runner's recent form, then worry not. Our guest writer has a one-line guide to each of the 40 runners in the prestigious race.

In such a big field, there is something for everyone – from in-form runners to rank outsiders – no matter what you are looking for, it is there. So, without further ado, here is our one-line guide to the Grand National.

Best of luck with whoever you pick!

1. The Last Samuri – Last year's second place finisher and strong runner in Becher Chase last December – this horse has definite chances.

2. More of That – A stop-start career for a horse who was beaten by less than lengths in the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year.

3. Shantou Flyer – Fell in a four-miler at Cheltenham and is among the outsiders in the race.

4. Perfect Candidate – Has proven stamina but 6lb rise from Exeter win may prove too costly.

5. Saphir Du Rheu – Impressive in Gold Cup and during recent Kelso race – tough to overlook.

6. Roi Des Francs – Blinkers helped this horse in his last run, but he doesn't seem to be running well for Gordon Elliot.

7. Wounded Warrior – Pulled up in the last run and would need a lot of luck to compete in this field.

8. Wonderful Charm – Produced an impressive run in the Foxhunter at Cheltenham, but this run may prove to be just a little bit too soon.

9. Tenor Nivernais – Questions over stamina which will have to be answered on April 8th.

10. Blaklion – Fifth in the Hennessy looks good on paper and this horse is among the favourites.

11. Drop Out Joe – Doesn't work well on soft ground, so rain could put chances out of their misery.

12. Le Mercurey – Poor at Kelso last time out, but excellent before that – an inconsistent horse that could do well if at its best.

13. The Young Master – Sixth at Cheltenham and a winner of last year's bet365 Gold Cup and both of these facts suggest that he may be among the contenders.

14. Cause of Causes – Has won at the last three Cheltenham festivals and has stamina to burn – definite and clear chances.

15. Regal Encore Avoid – has been pulled up in three of his last four races.

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16. Vieux Lion Rouge – David Pipe's Grand National chances rely on this horse, who looks to be primed to hit form on the day.

17. Definitely Red – Excellent at Wetherby and Doncaster but may struggle with the jumping.

18. Ucello Conti – Was fine in last year's race – but will need to improve massively to be competitive.

19. Double Shuffle – A good horse, who may struggle to stay the journey.

20. Houblon Des Obeaux – Past his best, thus it would be a massive shock if it was among contenders.

21. Pleasant Company – Was excellent winning the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse and has been lightly raced since – definitely worth a look.

22. One For Arthur – Proven stamina and Lucinda Russell has primed this horse to run an excellent race at Aintree on April 8th.

23. Ballynagour – Off-kilter since unseating rider a year ago and looks far too inconsistent to back.

24. O'Faolains Boy – Injury has set this horse back a distance, so it would be a big surprise if it was in the winner's enclosure at the end of the big race.

25. Highland Lodge – Ran well in the Becher Chase in December and may be a good each-way contender.

26. Bishops Road – Loves the soft ground and may do well if it rains on the day.

27. Lord Windermere – Not the same horse that he was a few years ago – was hammered in last two races.

28. Saint Are – Second place behind Many Clouds a few years ago and looked good for a while last year – this could be the race where it hits the big time.

29. Vicente – Won the Scottish National last year, but its form since has been worrying.

30. Just A Par – Another hit and miss horse, who may perform well on the day, but probably won't.

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31. Measureofmydreams – No, this horse is simply not good enough.

32. Raz De Maree – A stayer whose best years are probably behind him – best watched.

33. Stellar Notion – The handicapper hasn't been nice to this horse and there are also questions over its stamina.

34. Rogue Angel – It won the Irish National last year but has been awful since – big improvement needed.

35. Cocktails at Dawn – Was defeated by 78 lengths in the race earlier this term – not a great horse – probably not even a good horse.

36. Thunder and Roses – Irish National winner two years ago and looks to be getting back to his best form – worth a punt.

37. Gas Line Boy – The handicapper has probably killed this horse's chances.

38. Goodtoknow – Plenty of stamina, but slow.

39. La Vaticane – Won at Doncaster late last year but not at best when in Cheltenham last month.

40. Doctor Harper – Not in great form and doesn't look at home in bigger races.

Sweepstakes Kit

Jockeys Named For The Grand National

With only mere days to go until the world's greatest steeplechase comes under starters orders, the jockeys are being booked and the lucky ones are even getting to choose who they want to ride for the Grand National 2017.

Below is the full list of all of the jockeys booked for the big race!

To the amazement of many, the standout absence so far is Richard Johnson, the UK's leading jockey this season.

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Will Irish Eyes Be Smiling In The Grand National?

After a comprehensive 19-9 spanking of the British by the Irish at the Cheltenham Festival, all eyes will shortly be focusing on the Grand National meeting at Aintree, but who will take the big one? With last year’s winner of the Grand National Rule The World retired, can any other Irish trained runners step up to the mantle or will the “home team” taste glory once again in the Aintree marathon?

Extra intrigue has been added to Grand National result this year as there is the small matter of the British trainer’s championship boiling up into an interesting climax. A victory for Paul Nicholls or Nicky Henderson in the race will all but seal the title.

The ten-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls could have five runners in next week’s Grand National as he attempts to put up a robust defence of his title. At the time of writing, Nicholls has narrowed down the prize money deficit behind Henderson to £75,000.

Nicky Henderson has never won the National despite having 37 previous attempts at it and his sole representative, Cocktails At Dawn is an 100/1 chance. The suspicion is that the trainer’s title will not be decided upon the outcome of the Grand National itself but by the supporting races at the Aintree meeting and the season ending finale at Sandown Park.

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So who are the leading British and Irish runners this year then? Let’s take a look through those heading the market in the betting along with some interesting outsiders.

The British Hopefuls

Vieux Lion Rouge (10/1)
He further boosted his claims for Aintree glory when he outbattled Blaklion in a terrific duel in the Grand National Trial Handicap at Haydock Park. His last visit to Aintree was a successful one, when he beat Highland Lodge in the Becher Chase back in December and he was just ahead of the 2016 Grand National runner-up, The Last Samuri. Last year he was sent off a 66/1 chance for the race and faded on the second circuit to finish in seventh place.

Definitly Red (10/1)
An impressive winner of the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day before unseating jockey Danny Cook in the Peter Marsh at Haydock, Brian Ellison's charge was a wide-margin winner of the Grimthorpe Chase last time out putting himself right in the Grand National picture. He has been schooling over National-style fences at Ellison’s Malton stables.

Blaklion (12/1)
Blaklion is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies who has two previous winners in Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002). Noel Fehily, who won the Champion Hurdle and the Champion Chase at the recent Cheltenham Festival, is a rare but astute booking for Twiston-Davies.

More Of That (12/1)
Jonjo O’Neill’s horse ran a steady yet uninspiring race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but O’Neill quietly fancies him for this. Write O’Neill and McManus off at your peril as both are keen to emulate Don’t Push It’s victory back in 2010.

One For Arthur (14/1)
Derek Fox was in the saddle for One For Arthur's wins this season at Kelso and most recently in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January and he will be aboard again on April 8th. There has only been one Scottish-trained winner of the Grand National, when Rubstic carried Maurice Barnes to victory in 1979. Lucinda Russell has a live chance of taking the prize back to north of the border.

The Last Samuri (16/1)
He was the runner-up in the race twelve months ago and is hoping to go one better a year later. Kim Bailey’s runner has had the perfect preparation going into this year’s showpiece and although he is much higher in the weights this time around he looks the sort to play a big part in the finish again.

Saphir Du Rheu (28/1)
Saphir Du Rheu is a class animal and probably Paul Nicholls’ best chance in the race. He was one of the outsiders in the field in the Gold Cup but ran a cracking sixth lengths fifth to Sizing John. He won the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at the 2015 Aintree Festival and appears to be back in love with jumping again.

Houblon Des Obeaux (50/1) & Tenor Nivernais (40/1)
Venetia Williams fields two runners in the iconic contest eight years on from her 100-1 success in the race with Mon Mome. Houblon Des Obeaux was fourth in the Midlands National and has always been viewed as a National horse by Williams. Tenor Nivernais is a fairly solid jumper who should take to the fences. Williams certainly has two interesting outsiders this year.

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The Irish challengers

Cause Of Causes (14/1)
Won at the Festival for the third year in a row but they are his only wins in last four years. He ran 8th to Many Clouds in the 2015 renewal but his win to run ratio is a worry.

Pleasant Company (14/1)
Trainer Willie Mullins expressed the belief that there was more to come from the lightly raced nine-year-old after he won the Bobby Jo Chase at Fairyhouse. He will be partnered by Ruby Walsh again which will probably contract his price somewhat come the off.

Ucello Conti (16/1)
On paper he looks to be the best of the Irish hopes and is trained by the in-form Gordon Elliott, just like Cause Of Causes. Sixth in the race last year, he had a great run in the Becher, just tiring slightly after the last. He was second in the Thyestes and had another good run in the Leinster National. Elliott won the Grand National in 2007 with Silver Birch and would dearly love to mark that 10th anniversary with another victory in a season that everything he touches turns into gold.

Raz De Maree (25/1)
Raz De Maree is a two-time Cork National winner and a former Munster National winner. He ran Native River to a length and three-quarters second in the Welsh Grand National. Trainer Gavin Cromwell swerved the Eider Chase with him due to the heavy ground that day and he has been a very carefully plotted horse. Expect a big run from the twelve-year-old.

Stellar Notion (33/1)
The odds keep tumbling on this Henry De Bromhead trained runner. From 100/1 to 66/1 to now 33/1, Stellar Notion has gone overlooked as a serious contender but this season proves he can definitely keep up and finish better than some of the more well known runners. He faired better than cause of Causes, Ucello Conti and Rogue Angel at Leopardstown in the Paddy Power Chase, was second in the T McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National Handicap Chase and placed second last time out. His ability to go the distance may be in question but with last year's winning jockey, David Mullins, on board he's definitely in good hands.

The Last Samuri Top Weight As 70 Go Forward

At the latest stage of Grand National 2017 deflections, Carlingford Lough, who was set to carry top weight for the event, has been ruled out due to injury. He is just one of nine that were withdrawn today including Alelchi Inois, Foxrock, Maggio, Vic’s Canvas, Ziga Boy, The Romford Pele, Straidnahanna and Sizing Coal.

Ziga Boy, Vica Canvas and Maggio have all suffered setbacks this week while others such as Foxrock are being pointed at the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday April 16th instead.

With the JP McManus owned Carlingford Lough no longer in the picture it is left to last year's second place finisher, The Last Samuri, to take up the mantle as top weight. He will now run off 11-10 with all other runners also seeing their weights increase by 1lb.

While that may not be great news for the connections of The Last Samuri, today's deflections have opened the door for Gas Line Boy, Goodtoknow and La Vaticane, who happens to be the only mare potentially running this year.

With the Grand National 2017 only days away, there is only one final declaration stage which is at 10am on Thursday, April 6th, when 40 declared runners and four reserves go forward. The reserves can be brought in for any non-runners by 1pm on Friday, April 7th.

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Of course with nothing set in stone it is still possible that more potential runners will not declare this week but don't worry if you fancy backing them at good odds as both Paddy Power Bookmakers and Betfair are both Non Runner No Bet which means you will get your money back if you bet on horse that ultimately does not run in the Grand National 2017. And, like everything else, there are terms and conditions so make sure you read them!!

Both are also paying out to FIVE places giving you an extra chance to walk away with some winnings.

For the full list of Grand National 2017 odds just click here.

Here is how the full list of 70 entries now stack up:

  Horse Age Wgt Owner Trainer
1) THE LAST SAMURI (IRE) 9 11-10 Paul & Clare Rooney Kim Bailey
2) MORE OF THAT (IRE) 9 11-06 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
3) SHANTOU FLYER (IRE) 7 11-05 Carl Hinchy Rebecca Curtis
4) PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE) 10 11-05 ISL Recruitment Fergal O’Brien
5) SAPHIR DU RHEU (FR) 8 11-05 The Stewart Family Paul Nicholls
6) ROI DES FRANCS (FR) 8 11-03 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
7) WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE) 8 11-02 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
8) WONDERFUL CHARM (FR) 9 11-02 Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat Paul Nicholls
9) TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR) 10 11-01 Boultbee Brooks Ltd Venetia Williams
10) BLAKLION 8 11-01 Simon Such & Gino Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
   
11) DROP OUT JOE 9 11-01 The Jesters Charlie Longsdon
12) LE MERCUREY (FR) 7 11-00 Patricia Thompson Paul Nicholls
13) THE YOUNG MASTER 8 10-13 Dajam & The Old Masters Neil Mulholland
14) CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) 9 10-13 J P McManus Gordon Elliott IRE
15) REGAL ENCORE (IRE) 9 10-13 J P McManus Anthony Honeyball
16) VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR) 8 10-12 Professor Caroline Tisdall & John Gent David Pipe
17) DEFINITLY RED (IRE) 8 10-12 Phil Martin Brian Ellison
18) UCELLO CONTI (FR) 9 10-12 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Gordon Elliott IRE
19) DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) 7 10-12 Crossed Fingers Partnership Tom George
20) HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR) 10 10-12 Jennifer Blackwell Venetia Williams
   
21) PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE) 9 10-12 Malcolm Denmark Willie Mullins IRE
22) ONE FOR ARTHUR (IRE) 8 10-11 Two Golf Widows Lucinda Russell
23) BALLYNAGOUR (IRE) 11 10-11 Allan Stennett David Pipe
24) O’FAOLAINS BOY (IRE) 10 10-11 Trembath, Hyde, Outhart & Hill Rebecca Curtis
25) HIGHLAND LODGE (IRE) 11 10-11 Patricia Thompson James Moffatt
26) BISHOPS ROAD (IRE) 9 10-10 Alan Halsall Kerry Lee
27) LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) 11 10-10 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
28) SAINT ARE (FR) 11 10-10 David Fox Tom George
29) VICENTE (FR) 8 10-10 Trevor Hemmings Paul Nicholls
30) JUST A PAR (IRE) 10 10-09 Paul Barber & the late Graham Roach Paul Nicholls
   
31) MEASUREOFMYDREAMS (IRE) 9 10-09 Gigginstown House Stud Noel Meade IRE
32) RAZ DE MAREE (FR) 12 10-09 James Swan Gavin Cromwell IRE
33) STELLAR NOTION (IRE) 9 10-09 Roger Brookhouse Henry de Bromhead IRE
34) PENDRA (IRE) 9 10-08 J P McManus Charlie Longsdon
35) ROGUE ANGEL (IRE) 9 10-08 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
36) COCKTAILS AT DAWN 9 10-08 Robin Geffen & Sir John Ritblat Nicky Henderson
37) THUNDER AND ROSES (IRE) 9 10-07 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
38) GAS LINE BOY (IRE) 11 10-07 The Three Graces Ian Williams
39) GOODTOKNOW 9 10-07 Burling Daresbury MacEchern Nolan Potter Kerry Lee
40) LA VATICANE (FR) 8 10-06 Ms Maria Bukhtoyarova David Pipe
   
41) DOCTOR HARPER (IRE) 9 10-06 The Johnson Family David Pipe
42) BLESS THE WINGS (IRE) 12 10-05 Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor Gordon Elliott IRE
43) KNOCK HOUSE (IRE) 8 10-04 Tim Leslie Donald McCain
44) SAMBREMONT (FR) 7 10-02 Shanakiel Racing Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
45) VIVA STEVE (IRE) 9 10-02 Paul & Clare Rooney Fergal O’Brien
46) POTTERS CROSS 10 10-02 Conyers, O’Reilly, Roddis, Zeffman Rebecca Curtis
47) BENBENS (IRE) 12 10-02 Sarah Such & Gino Paletta Nigel Twiston-Davies
48) POLIDAM (FR) 8 10-01 Simon Munir/Isaac Souede Willie Mullins IRE
49) MILANSBAR (IRE) 10 10-01 Robert Bothway Neil King
50) LAMB OR COD (IRE) 10 10-01 Terry Warner Philip Hobbs
   
51) CLOUDY TOO (IRE) 11 10-01 Formulated Polymer Products Ltd Sue Smith
52) VYTA DU ROC (FR) 8 10-00 Simon Munir & Isaac Souede Nicky Henderson
53) STREETS OF PROMISE (IRE) 8 10-00 Gempro Michael Scudamore
54) BEEVES (IRE) 10 9-13 Paul & Clare Rooney Jennie Candlish
55) ROYALE KNIGHT 11 9-13 Chris Stedman & Robert Corsan Dr Richard Newland
56) LESSONS IN MILAN (IRE) 9 9-12 Trevor Hemmings Nicky Henderson
57) ALFIE SPINNER (IRE) 12 9-12 Alan Beard & Brian Beard Kerry Lee
58) EMPEROR’S CHOICE (IRE) 10 9-12 The Bellamy Partnership Venetia Williams
59) DARE TO ENDEAVOUR 10 9-11 Aidan J Ryan Eric McNamara IRE
60) SILVER MAN 10 9-11 John Wardle Jo Hughes
   
61) FATHER EDWARD (IRE) 8 9-11 Fergus Wilson David Pipe
62) SAMINGARRY (FR) 10 9-11 Nigel Hawke Racing Club & Partner Nigel Hawke
63) ALVARADO (IRE) 12 9-10 William & Angela Rucker Fergal O’Brien
64) MILBOROUGH (IRE) 11 9-10 Helen Cross Ian Duncan
65) THE CRAFTY BUTCHER (IRE) 10 9-09 P Byrne/P W Mullins/D Ryan/I Madigan Willie Mullins IRE
66) WALDORF SALAD 9 9-09 Alan Parker Venetia Williams
67) KATENKO (FR) 11 9-08 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams
68) FEDERICI 8 9-07 Jon Glews Donald McCain
69) GONE TOO FAR 9 9-06 Fergus Wilson David Pipe
70) RACING PULSE (IRE) 8 9-06 Carl Hinchy Rebecca Curtis

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Le Mercurey Hoping To Emulate Party Politics

The 1992 Grand National winner, Party Politics, was an absolutely outstanding horse and won a Grand National that was both competitive and entertaining, even by the Aintree race's high standards. Thus, it is easy to see why there is so much attention being paid to Le Mercurey.

Just like Party Politics, the horse in question was bought just before the showcase race by Patricia Thompson. The fact Le Mercurey will be sporting the same colours as the '92 winner has certainly caught the eye of many punters.

Thompson, who owns Cheverly Park Stud with her husband David, has proved that she has an eye for a great horse. That being said, many would argue that her latest buy's chances are more obvious than previous efforts.

Le Mercurey came in just behind the 2015 hero Many Clouds at the course in December and has also finished second to Gold Cup challenger Native River in recent times. Le Mercurey was also in the places when warming up for the big race at Kelso last month.

Trainer Paul Nicholls discussed the horse's chances for the April 8th spectacle at length in his blog with Betfair. The star trainer believes that Mrs Thompson may have another star on her hands.

He said: “Mrs Thompson bought Party Politics a few days before he won the race in 1992 and I’m hoping she strikes lucky again. Le Mercurey has run really well several times this season including when narrowly beaten by Many Clouds at Aintree last December.”

Mr Nicholls, who already has a Grand National winner in Neptune Collognes (2012), went on to explain why star jockey Sam Twiston-Davies will be taking on another ride in the big race.

He added: “He was ridden there by Sean Bowen who keeps the mount as Sam Twiston-Davies has chosen another of mine, Saphir Du Rheu, who finished a close fifth in the Gold Cup earlier this month.”

Only time will tell if Twiston-Davies' able deputy will be able to step up to the mark, but if he is not, many still think that the winner will be Nicholl's trained.

The trainer refused to dampen expectations, by adding: “All five of my National entries are in great form at home and they will all be suited by goodish ground on the day.”

Le Mercurey is priced at around 50/1 for the big race.

No Lost Cause For Punters

Much of the talk in the lead-up to Aintree has been about the horses that won't be making their way to the Grand National festival.

However we think this is a disservice to the challengers that are going to compete at the Liverpool racecourse, so we've decided to run through the Cheltenham performers who will take their place at the starting line on April 8th.

One such horse is Gordon Elliott's impressive Cause of Causes.

The nine-year-old is set to test itself at the Aintree spectacle after a fantastic win in the Cheltenham's Glenfarclas Chase. Gordon Elliott's yard is on fire this season and punters are banking on the trainer saddling up the winner in this year’s Grand National.

For good reason too, as Cause of Causes defeated some top horses on its way to victory at Cheltenham. These including the likes of Cantlow and Bless The Wings.

It also didn't just win the race, it won it with class, by defeating stablemate Bless The Wings by nine lengths. In fact, many observers believe Cause of Causes had much more in the tank when it crossed the finishing line.

If Cause of Causes does win it won't be Elliott's first success in the race. He won the National with Silver Birch ten years ago in 2007 and he will be hoping that years ending with ‘7' are lucky as we edge closer the race.

Elliott's horse isn't the only Cheltenham performer whose chances are fancied at Aintree. Wonderful Charm ran a great race to come second in the Foxhunters' Chase and Paul Nicholls will be hoping he can follow that up with a Grand National win.

Another Nicholls ride that did well at Cheltenham is Saphir Du Rheu. Despite not getting into the placings in the Gold Cup, Saphir Du Rheu was only beaten by six lengths and will have the ever-brilliant Sam Twiston-Davies onboard for the big race.

5 Types Of Punters You’ll See On Grand National Day

It's the one day in the racing calendar where almost everyone has a punt – from racing experts, to those folks who wouldn't know one end of a horse from the other. The Grand National race captures the imagination of the public like no other event in the world.

Here are just some of the punters you are sure to meet on the big day.

THE STUDENT

This person is convinced that they can whittle down the 40 runner field and pick a prized winner on April 8th. Their faith lies in numbers, facts and form. They see the National as a mathematical formula in which they can figure out an answer.

They also laugh at all those people who pick their horses based on the name and get insulted when novices state ‘it's all a lottery anyway.' This person can tell you the best age, weight and everything else to back – they'll probably even have a favourite colour silk based on how many jockeys have won while wearing it.

THE RANDOM RUNNER

This person is the antithesis of the above punter. They will drop a pen on the list of names and pick the horse on which it drops on, or choose a runner based on a funny name. This person has no time for form.

Very often they are novices in the horse racing game, but every now and again you get an expert who just enjoys the randomness of it all and thinks any horse can win the National.

THE SCATTER GUN

This punter doesn't put all their faith on just one horse. They will back as many as seven or eight to increase their chances on the big day. If you know somebody who backs like this, we would advise watching them during the race as they rip up docket after docket as each chance falls – it's almost as entertaining as the race itself.

This is the horse racing equivalent of buying all the tickets in a raffle in the hope you win. However, that's not how luck works so this punter often fails anyway.

THE TIP SEEKER

For weeks leading up to the April 8th race this person is seeking out any insider information they can possibly get. A tip here, or some advice there – they are like a Russian spy searching for intelligence.

They will be convinced they can covertly figure out who will win the race, by not by doing any form studying themselves. The most interesting thing about this punter is that they'll share every tip they receive apart from the best ones – the sneaky sh*ts!

THE SPECTATOR

This person doesn't bother backing, but enjoys the race as a sporting spectacle. They believe that punting will hamper their enjoyment of the entertainment, so just sit back and enjoy the view.

Inevitably, this person will tell you “I knew they'd win” after the finish. Also inevitably, this person will be talking absolutely rubbish!

Whichever punter you are, we hope you have a great day on April 8th and enjoy the world's greatest race. REMEMBER you can check out all the runners and odds here.