We attempt to pick the winner of the Aintree Grand National!

We attempt to pick the winner of the Aintree Grand National!

It's without a doubt the biggest race of the horse racing calendar, and in a sense it's the most unpredictable.

The 2016 Aintree Grand National takes place at 5:15 this evening, and Andrew from Beat News and Sport has been analysing who could be the leading runners and riders for the 4 and a quarter mile contest.

Here's a rundown of who Andrew thinks could be in the mix:



A couple of things that should be noted is that the market is not always the biggest indicator of who will win, as 4m2f is always a different beast to the 3m+ contests most of the runners would compete in throughout the season.

Take a look at the last three winners - Many Clouds 25/1, Pineau Du Re 25/1 and Aurora's Encore at 66/1

That tells you a lot. The horse that wins could literally come from anywhere, like Aurora's Encore did when the form was against him. Having said that, there was a lot of word for Many Clouds last year, which makes the 25/1 price he came in at look very generous.

With all of that in mind, these are the horses I think could win the big race.



Many Clouds 8/1

I know this might be seen as an easy option considering he opened the day as the favourite AND is the defending champion.

However, this horse looks to be the most likely back-to-back National winner we'll see for a long time.


His form this season has been strong. He was a 4L second to Don Poli in the Betfred Chase at Aintree just before Christmas. Don Poli has since gone on to win the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown as well as placing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March and in the Melling Chase earlier this week, only to be beaten by Don Cossack and Cue Card respectively, and both of those horses are arguably two of the best in training.

He followed up that 2nd with another one this time behind Smad Place at Cheltenham, and then was a very impressive 10L winner over Unioniste in the 3mile race at Kelso last March.

That form says a lot about the horse. He was a very good winner here last year and his form has continued into this season. He really looks like a winner again, and his owner has a rich history of winners in this race, as does jockey Leighton Aspell, who takes the mount again.


Ucello Conti 20/1

This horse looks an improver.

Brought over from France where he ran much shorter, he has had two good runs on heavy ground over 3 miles in Ireland this season, finishing 2nd at Leopardstown and 3rd at Gowran Park.

The solid performances over the heavy ground suggest that he could be suited by further, and we already know that he's a good stayer and could have a part to play over the National fences today.

The booking of Daryl Jacob as the jockey is also a key point here, as Gordon Elliott will be aiming for a Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National double following Don Cossack's win in the former.


Sir Des Champs 25/1

Okay, this one is a bit of a long shot, however the class is there for Sir Des Champs to win this.

He looked like a force to be reckoned with when finishing second in the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, before injury kept him off the track for a very long time.

The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old is a natural stayer, and while it remains to be seen if he will get the National distance after such an injury-disrupted career, if there's any horse who can do it then look no further. It is a big 'if' though, so bear that in mind.

Besides, it wouldn't be completely out of the question. Look at how My Tent Or Yours performed in the Champion Hurdle this year in his first race in nearly 2 years. It takes a horse of real class to pull something like that out of the bag and Sir Des Champs has that class.

The jockey booking is interesting as well. Ruby Walsh was supposed to ride, but a fractured wrist means Nina Carberry takes the mount, and what a story it would be if Sir Des Champs can pull a win out of the bag for a jockey the racing world universally loves like Nina, especially when she wasn't supposed to be riding.

Written in the stars?


Black Thunder 66/1

The form is completely against him, especially over the last 12 months, however there's one element that could give him a chance.

His jockey, Sam Waley-Cohen.

Now, I know he's not the best jockey in the world, but he does have a good record in this race. Back in 2011 he finished second on Oscar Time, in a year where he was aiming to complete the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National double.

Not only that but, out of all the current jockeys, Waley-Cohen is also the most successful jockey around the National fences. He has 6 wins in various races (including Rajdhani Express in the Becher's Chase last year) but has yet to win the big one.

Black Thunder himself was a promising stayer when he was a novice, and wasn't running too badly at the Welsh National earlier this year when he unseated his rider (who wasn't Sam Waley-Cohen, by the way).

Bear in mind he would need to improve a lot to claim a win, but another thing to note is that Robert Waley-Cohen bought him so Sam could have a ride in the National, and clearly saw him as having the best chance of the horses available.

By the way, just another thing to note, Black Thunder won't be wearing the colours in the picture above, he'll be wearing the orange and brown silks of Robert Waley-Cohen


Those are the 4 horses I believe could be in the mix for the 2016 Crabbies Aintree Grand National for 2016.

Let us know who you think will win the race and why?