99 Go Forward for the 2019 Grand National


horse racing

Last year’s winner Tiger Roll is the headline act among the 100 remaining contenders, following last week’s scratchings’ deadline, for the £1-million Grand National 2019 at Aintree.

Tiger Roll, trained by Gordon Elliott, defeated Pleasant Company by a head in 2018 and the nine-year-old is aiming to become the first multiple winner of the National since the legendary Red Rum (1973, 1974 & 1977).

Tiger Roll currently heads the betting with all the main bookmakers following an impressive victory in the Grade Two Boyne Hurdle at Navan on February 17th.

Gordon Elliott still has 21 entries involved going forward, the most of any trainer. His team also includes the 2018 Irish Grand National winner General Principle and the recent Punchestown Grand National Trial victor Dounikos.

Last season’s National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden heads the nine Willie Mullins-trained runners after scoring decisively on his seasonal reappearance in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on February 23rd.

Ireland’s champion Jump trainer, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, has also left in Up For Review who was an eye-catching third in the Thyestes Handicap Chase on his latest start.

More Irish interest in the great race is brought to us by last year’s fourth Anibale Fly (Tony Martin), who was second in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last month, and Cheltenham Festival scorer Mall Dini (Pat Kelly).

This season’s Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard) is the shortest-priced British-trained contender at around the 20/1 mark. Elegant Escape is due to to run next in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is also set to feature the Grand National top-weight Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies).

The 2017 Grand National hero One For Arthur (Lucinda Russell), who was unable to defend his crown last year due to injury, and who missed a recent engagement at Kelso, heads straight to the race.

Blaklion finished fourth behind One For Arthur in 2017 and was a leading fancy last year, only to be brought down at the first fence. The 10-year-old, formerly trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, recently joined trainer Philip Kirby after being purchased by Darren & Annaley Yates.

Blaklion ran with promise on his final start for Twiston-Davies when fifth over hurdles in a Pertemps Network Final qualifier at Haydock Park on February 16th.

Kirby said: “Blaklion has been great since arriving at the yard – he seems very straightforward.

“We have not done any fast work with him, but all of his steady work has been great and he seems very happy with himself.

“We are going to finalise a plan over the coming days. He has entries at Cheltenham but, although nothing is certain at this stage, I would probably say he won’t go given the way the ground is going to be.

“He looks fairly handicapped for the Grand National and is entitled to go there with a fair chance.”

Just 99 now go forward to the next scratchings stage as it was revealed today that The Last Samuri has been retired.

Time was called on the career of the 11-year-old who was a gallant runner-up in the 2016 renewal of the greatest steeplechase on earth.


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