The Grand National happens in less than two weeks. It comes at the back of British-trained horses being whipped by their Irish counterparts in the Cheltenham Festival. The Irish-trained horses scooped 23 of the 28 races. Horse racing punters can follow Grand National bookmakers here to discover the best bookies. The festival will start on Thursday, April 8. The best part of the festival is the Grand National itself. The home team boasts a strong favourite in Jonjo Oneill’s runner Cloth Cap.
Race Scheduling Gives British Runners An Upper Hand
There is no denying that the Irish have a strong hand in the National itself. However, it is unlikely that their Cheltenham winners will be trying to double up at Aintree in some of the main races because of race scheduling.
The Grand National Festival kicks off less than three weeks after the Cheltenham Festival. It might not be too much to ask some of the Irish runners to come over and compete again. However, the Punchestown Festival, regarded as the peak of Irish Hunt season, begins two weeks after Aintree. This might prevent the top Irish races from competing in Aintree.
This gives the British horses a free run at winning the top prizes at Aintree next week.
Thursday – Liverpool’s NHS Day
The first day will have four Grade 1 races. They include:
- Manifesto Novices’ Chase
- Doom Bar Anniversary 4yo Juvenile Hurdle
- The Bowl
- The Aintree Hurdle
The first day will also feature the Foxhunters Hunter Chase, raced over the Grand National fences.
Horses of Cheltenham Gold Cup quality will compete in The Bowl race. Previous races have been won by runners like Might Bite, Siviniano Conti and Cue Card. Kemboy, trained by Willie Mullins, won the last renewal in 2019. After his poor performance at the Gold Cup recently, it is not clear whether he will defend his crown.
The leading runners will be Native River and Frodon, who finished fourth and fifth in the Gold Cup. Aintree’s Hurdle is four furlongs longer than the Cheltenham Hurdle, but it attracts the best and fastest hurdlers in the country because it is flat and less demanding.
Friday – Ladies Day
The second day of the Festival will also see another four Grade 1 races contested. They are:
- Top Novice’s Hurdle
- Mildmay Novices’ Chase
- The Melling Chase
- The Sefton Novice’s Hurdle
The National fences will also be in action in the Topham Handicap Chase. The highlight of the day in terms of quality will be the Melling Chase. Some chasing’s superstars that have won the race in recent years include Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded and Moscow Flyer.
Saturday – Grand National Day
The Grand National is undeniably the feature race on Saturday. There is also three Grade contests happening on Saturday, including:
- Mersey’s Novices’ Hurdle
- The Novices’ Steeple Chase
- The Liverpool Hurdle currently referred to as the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle because of sponsorship.
Who Is The Favourite?
Currently, Cloth Cap is the bookmaker’s favourite to win the 2021 Grand National. Others include Any Second Now and Burrows Saint. Minella Times, expected to be Rachael Blackmore’s mount in her quest to become the first female jockey to win the National in the race’s history.
Grand National Race Conditions
They will run the race over a trip of 4m2f and 74 yards. Only horses that have finished in the top four of any steeplechase over a distance of 2m7f and 100 yards or more can take part. The horses must also have taken part in three steeplechases, rated at least 125 and aged at least seven years. The horses will jump 30 fences, including the Becher’s Brook, famous for its steep landing. A maximum of 40 races will compete in the race.