National Hunt fans, it is time to rejoice – jump racing is back. Be prepared for plenty of talk relating to the Cheltenham Festival in the coming months, but our primary attention is on the 2018 Grand National at Aintree.
This year’s winner, ONE FOR ARTHUR, will miss the race after suffering a season-ending injury, but there are still plenty of top contenders in the mix for Grand National glory. Here are just four who take our fancy…
The 8-year-old was well handicapped for this year’s edition and he finished a gallant fourth after a superb trip around the Aintree course. Nigel Twiston-Davies will be expecting to see his gelding go up in the weights and a slightly harsh judgment from the handicapper could affect Blaklion’s chances.
With a place already under his belt in this race and a second in the Haydock Park trial event back in February, Blaklion will almost certainly be aimed at the Grand National again. Expect another standout jockey booking if he runs; Noel Fehily could be set to take the ride for the second year in a row.
CAUSE OF CAUSES
Cause of Causes is somewhat of a Cheltenham Festival specialist. Gordon Elliott has trained him to three wins in three different races but a stab at Aintree’s showpiece could be on the cards in 2018. Jamie Codd, arguably the best amateur jockey in the business, will be confident of successfully navigating the tricky Merseyside track if allowed to ride.
Elliott will play his cards very close to his chest in the coming months so expecting leaked information on Cause of Causes’ future plans may be a little naïve. This nine-year-old is a real superstar and his versatility could see Elliott go down a different path. Keep an eye out for any concrete news on his progress.
One of racing’s true personalities. Don Poli is a stayer and he should last the trip if he gets his preferred conditions. Gigginstown will send a fair few horses to the National but Bryan Cooper will be keen to partner up with his old friend for a shot at the big one. As of October 6, he is a 33/1 shot to do the business.
In the coming months, expect plenty of tipsters to nudge you in the direction of Don Poli – he could be Elliott’s biggest contender. Horse racing fans can now get the latest news and odds, including accumulators and ante-post markets. If Don Poli heads to Aintree, he will be right in the mix.
Remember the name. Sizing Codelco knows how to win in big fields and that is a massive plus for his form. Last time out, he defeated 12 rivals to land the Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase at Punchestown and it would take a brave man to back against him on that effort after he finished over three and a half lengths clear.
Having form over the National fences is important and Sizing Codelco’s win in April’s Handicap Chase should stand him in good stead to challenge in 2018. Colin Tizzard is focused on winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup but Sizing Codelco can spearhead his yard’s Aintree assault.