Grand National runners 2019: horse-by-horse betting guide

We give our verdict on all 40 runners for the world’s most famous horse race and pick the top four to back on Saturday

Anibale Fly (Age 8, weight 11st 10lb)

Finished best of all when second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the best run of his career. Third in last year’s Gold Cup on his way to running fourth in the National. Another big effort is possible but it’s hard to see him doing better this time, not least because he has had just three weeks to get over Cheltenham, rather than last year’s four. Has a bit more weight to carry and only 4lb better off with Tiger Roll, who beat him 11 lengths last year.

Valtor (10, 11st 6lb)

Bought out of France with this race in mind in November but his preparation has not been ideal. Stunned everyone by winning easily at Ascot in December, which sent him up the weights by 12lb, and then his wheels fell off at Cheltenham in January, when he was pulled up after hanging and jumping to his right. If a left-handed circuit is uncomfortable for him, he’s not going to like the Canal Turn. If that was just a bad day, this exuberant little horse could be dangerous once more, though his jumping is far from faultless.

Tiger Roll (9, 11st 5lb)

Hugely and deservedly popular, his victory in this race last year being just one high point among many, including four Cheltenham Festival victories. Not the biggest but has proved neat and nimble, notably when stepping around a faller at Becher’s Brook. On the other hand, he was low at some fences and it might only take one mistake to ruin his chance. One view of his form is that he has struggled under big weights, so it might make a difference that he carries 11st 5lb this time, rather than 10st 13lb a year ago, when he just barely held on. His Festival win last month was, on the ratings, the best performance of his career by some margin and has an obvious chance of becoming the first dual winner since Red Rum.

The moment Davy Russell heard that he won last year’s Grand National on Tiger Roll.
The moment Davy Russell heard that he won last year’s Grand National on Tiger Roll. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Outlander (11, 11st 4lb)

Three times a Grade One winner but not since 2017 and some way below his best this season, especially in his most recent two starts. Would ideally like soft ground, so Thursday’s rain a help. Probably doesn’t want to go much beyond three miles, leaving him a mile short here.

Don Poli (10, 11st 3lb)

A Cheltenham Festival winner in 2014 and 2015 and third in the Gold Cup three years ago, when his plodding style earned him the nickname ‘Don Slowly’. Even slower since returning from 22 months off with a tendon injury and yet to run to anything like his old form this winter. A revival is possible and the handicapper has given him some encouragement, dropping him to 10lb below his peak rating. But more likely to be lapped than to win.

Go Conquer (10, 11st 3lb)

Strong-travelling front-runner took a step forward for his latest change of stable in the summer and produced his best effort yet when landing the Great Yorkshire Chase by six lengths in January. His two most significant wins have come when he was allowed to set a sustainable pace and unlikely to get that luxury this time. Doubtful his stamina will hold up unless he shows unaccustomed restraint.

Mala Beach (11, 11st 2lb)

Beat 20 rivals to win the Troytown in late 2017 the last time he was tried in a handicap, very relevant experience here. Lightly raced since and did not reappear until January, presumably with this as his sole target for the year. His handicap rating looks a bit stiff. Thursday’s rain was very timely for him.

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Minella Rocco (9, 11st 1lb)

Beat Native River to win the four-miler at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival and was a running-on second in the Gold Cup two years ago, when a stronger early pace might have helped. Has since been suffering from Big Horse Syndrome, setbacks and wind problems conspiring to keep him from showing his best form. His rating has dropped 11lb, which would make him attractive if he could suddenly return to his peak but that seems a long shot. Pulled up before halfway at the Cheltenham Festival.

Lake View Lad (9, 11st 1lb)

Tough stayer, won two of the North’s quality handicaps in December, the Rehearsal Chase and the Rowland Meyrick. Stayed on well to be third at the Cheltenham Festival, off the same handicap mark as he has for this race, looking as though the extra mile here would help. Easy to like.

Pleasant Company (11, 11st 1lb)

Got within about an inch of winning this last year, when storming home but narrowly failing to catch Tiger Roll. Meets that rival on 2lb better terms and clearly capable of winning this if everything goes right. On the other hand, he has been beaten in the last two Nationals and is now 7lb further up the ratings on a career-high mark at the age of 11. No show in two outings this winter but has surely been aimed at this since last April.

Tiger Roll, right, just holds off Pleasant Company in last year’s Grand National.
Tiger Roll, right, just holds off Pleasant Company in last year’s Grand National. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Ballyoptic (9, 11st 1lb)

Stamina won’t be a problem for this fella, who stayed on strongly to be a very close second in last year’s Scottish National and looked as though he was going past Joe Farrell at the line. Won a Grade One at Aintree in his novice hurdle days and bits of his form suggest he’s very fairly weighted. Fell when tried over these fences in December but the ground might not be as testing this time and he may jump better as a result. Disappointing at Haydock when last seen but trainer reports him in better heart now.

Dounikos (8, 11st)

A marathon like this could be just what he needs, judging by his powerful finish to win at Punchestown when stepped up to three and a half miles. Been raised another half a stone for that win, however, and lacks the experience over fences that most of his rivals here will have. Was a late faller on his previous start at Gowran. Jack Kennedy booked to ride, which suggests that he is the most fancied of the Gordon Elliott contingent, barring Tiger Roll.

Rathvinden (11, 11st)

Looked all over a National type when cruising through the four-miler at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, finding extra when needed to go past Ms Parfois close home. Confirmed that impression at Punchestown last April, when he lacked the necessary speed for three miles but flew home for fourth. Won the Bobbyyjo just after the weights for this were set and now 8lb well in. Short on experience, having had just one run over fences since his novice season, but a good run seems likely.

One For Arthur (10, 11st)

Impressive winner of the 2017 National but little has gone right for him since, starting with a tendon injury that sidelined him for a year. Has managed to unseat his jockey in both starts since his return, though he was threatening to run on into the argument when making his blunder last time. Pleased connections with a schooling session at Carlisle recently and fairly weighted if he can be brought back to his best, but his preparation has not gone nearly so smoothly as when he won.

Rock The Kasbah (9, 10st 13lb)

The autumn has generally been the best time to catch this one, six of whose nine wins have been in October or November, perhaps because that’s when he gets the dry ground he likes. Ran a fair race to be second in last April’s Bet365 Gold Cup, albeit 13 lengths behind Step Back. Now 4lb higher, having won at Cheltenham in November, and a suspicion that this will be beyond him.

Warriors Tale (10, 10st 13lb)

Stamina came up well short in this race last year, when he faded from second Valentine’s and was pulled up before the second-last. Now 4lb higher and Thursday’s rain will ensure that endurance is tested again. Won December’s Grand Sefton, a shorter race over these fences, but seemed to prove the limits of his stamina when failing to complete over three miles the next month.

Regal Encore (11, 10st 12lb)

Quite a promising introduction to these fences when staying on into eighth in the 2017 National, when the waiting tactics were possibly overdone. Coped well with the course and proved his stamina. A third in the Ladbrokes Trophy later that year also suggested he is the right type. Has had a light campaign and likely to be fitter for his third at Ascot when last seen. Contender.

Magic Of Light (8, 10st 11lb)

Has improved a stone this season but wins have come in races restricted to mares. When tipped into hotter races in her most recent two starts, she has struggled to cope and jumping errors have crept in. Now has her stamina to prove as well.

A Toi Phil (9, 10st 11lb)

Has several Grade Two wins to his name but never seemed an obvious National candidate. Has tried three miles but all eight of his wins have been at distances well short of that. Form in handicaps does not suggest his rating is especially lenient. Will be a head-scratcher if he comes home in front.

Jury Duty (8, 10st 11lb)

Attempting a possibly unprecedented double, having won the Grand National Hurdle at a New Jersey racetrack in October. Probably didn’t need to be at his best that day and this is a lot tougher but he may be improving, to judge by his recent defeat of a more fancied stablemate, Mala Beach, at Down Royal. He’s 6lb well in on that effort but it was essentially a two-horse race. On the rest of his form, his stamina is doubtful.

Jury Duty, nearside, beats Mala Beach in a recent race at Down Royal.
Jury Duty, nearside, beats Mala Beach in a recent race at Down Royal. Photograph: Pat Healy/

Noble Endeavor (10, 10st 10lb)

Just two runs in the past two years, thanks to injury problems. Some limited promise in his 10th place finish at Cheltenham but asking a lot for him to recover the best of his old form in a race as demanding as this. Looked a possible National type when winning the Paddy Power at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting of 2016. Still half a stone above the rating he had that day.

Monbeg Notorious (8, 10st 10lb)

May be unsuited by this left-handed track, as he jumped to his right several times at Naass when last seen. A big improver last season, peaking with an easy win in the Thyestes. Shot up the weights as a result and well beaten in all four handicaps since, including last year’s Irish National. The Naas run was his best of the season so far, for all that he had to be driven from an early stage. Needs to improve again.

Ramses De Teillee (7, 10st 9lb)

Excellent effort to be second in the Welsh Grand National, despite a late blunder. Only seven, younger than every National winner since 1940, so this may come at least a year too soon. It wasn’t clear, at the end of his recent races, that he particularly wanted the extra three-parts of a mile that he’ll face here. Likeable and improving.

Tea For Two (10, 10st 9lb)

Dual Grade One winner now figures on a tasty-looking handicap mark, a stone below his peak rating. The biggest achievement of his career was at Aintree in spring, albeit not over the National fences, when he beat Cue Card in the 2017 Bowl. A close third in the King George at the end of that year. Has found it harder at the top level since then and seemed to be losing interest but showed up well until unseating in Cheltenham’s cross-country last month. Fair chance if taking to this course.

Lizzie Kelly with Tea for Two at his stables.
Lizzie Kelly with Tea for Two at his stables. Photograph: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

Mall Dini (NON-RUNNER)

The best maiden chaser around just now, but won’t have a chance to improve on that dubious label after being withdrawn from the race owing to a leg injury.

Step Back (9, 10st 7lb)

“He’s always a worry because of his appallingly delicate feet,” his trainer said recently, not what you want to hear about your National horse. Ran away with the Bet365 Gold Cup last spring but fired up the weights for that and has been well held in two runs this winter, jumping to his right on one occasion, which would be a problem here. Needs to show a bit more restraint this time. Not the biggest and might not enjoy any hurly-burly.

Ultragold (11, 10st 7lb)

Has a fine record over these fences, having won the Topham twice and been placed in both the Grand Sefton and the Becher. Now connections feel they have to have a go at the big one but they’re well aware that his stamina may not last four miles. Also, he’s 6lb higher than for his most recent win and comes from a stable that has been short of winners in recent weeks.

Blow By Blow (8, 10st 6lb)

Won a Grade One bumper race and was a Cheltenham Festival winner over hurdles last year. Seemed likely to make a chaser but his novice season has been disappointing. Jumping errors are to be expected but he has needed driving at times and hasn’t beaten a single rival in his last three starts. On a handy mark for when he gets his act together but this is an enormous question to ask.

Up For Review (10, 10st 6lb)

Seemed to show the limits of his stamina at Cheltenham, fading after cruising into contention over a distance a mile short of this race. Third in the Thyestes on his first run for eight months was a fine effort and has the talent if he can sustain his effort for longer. Lightly raced for a 10-year-old, having had just seven runs over fences, which could count against him here.

Singlefarmpayment (9, 10st 6lb)

Lots of ability but has somehow contrived to not win a race since 2016 and the suspicion is that he is not much of a battler. Has been beaten by a head or less in three races over the past two years. Can take a hold, which would undermine his chance of seeing out this distance. Easy to imagine him getting involved, especially if enlivened by the sight of these fences, but a risky proposition. Named after an EU subsidy, so of interest to coincidence-backers.

Vieux Lion Rouge (10, 10st 6lb)

Has finished seventh, sixth and ninth in this over the past three years, showing an admirable consistency and an aptitude for the fences but also seeming to prove repeatedly that he can’t quite see out four and a quarter miles. Has dropped 4lb since last year and been wearing a tongue tie this season, which may help, and his stable is coming into form. But pulled up in his last two races, having never been pulled up in 15 previous races over fences, and his best days seem behind him.

Valseur Lido (10, 10st 6lb)

Lots of top-class form to his name, including the time he unseated at the last when seemingly on the point of winning the Irish Gold Cup in 2016. Missed most of 2017 after fracturing a cannon bone and not at quite the same level since, though many excuses could be made. Travelled strongly around the inner in last year’s National and nothing was going better at the fourth-last, but he tired from the home turn. Now he’s 12lb lower and may stay better on a less testing surface, though Thursday’s rain unhelpful in that regard. Interesting, though likely to belt a fence at some point.

Vintage Clouds (9, 10st 4lb)

Very game, dour stayer who might be the ideal type. Fourth in last season’s Welsh National and then third in the Scottish version. Seems to have been helped by a wind operation in January, judging by his plugging-on second at the Cheltenham Festival, which means he’s 5lb well in. If pace is required, he doesn’t have any, but perhaps this will be the race where he hits the front at the last and keeps on rumbling while the others flag.

Vintage Clouds, right, running second in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month.
Vintage Clouds, right, running second in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters

General Principle (10, 10st 4lb)

Winner of last year’s Irish National and now reunited for the first time since with the jockey who rode him that day. Had a degree of luck in that five-way battle and might have been third if the others hadn’t got in each other’s way. Has only run to that level once this season but that came in his only opportunity at a marathon distance and no surprise if he finishes well again here. Thursday’s rain should help.

Livelovelaugh (9, 10st 4lb)

Lacks experience, having had just three runs out of novice company, and particularly over marathon trips. Has not been seen to best effect in a handful of runs at three miles or further and looks up against it here. Only win over fences so far has been in a beginners chase at Cork.

Walk In The Mill (9, 10st 4lb)

Career best when powering home to win the Becher Chase here in December. A 7lb rise in the weights was reasonable and he has had a couple of spins over hurdles in preparation for this. Not a strong traveller and might struggle to hold his position at times but should finish well if he’s close enough.

Folsom Blue (12, 10st 4lb)

One last chance of glory for this old stager, who got his first win in 2011. Has been fourth, fourth and fifth in the Irish Grand National over the years and was going well in the Scottish version when brought down six from home one year. Not at his best this season and a disappointing favourite for the Midlands National last month, though he did fly home when it was all too late. Not sure he’ll love these fences or having 39 others around him.

Captain Redbeard (10, 10st 3lb)

Managed to lose his jockey at the smallest fence on the course last year and it may be telling that he has failed to complete the course both times he faced 20 runners or more. Warmed up for this with a couple of good runs at Kelso and capable of a respectable effort.

Bless The Wings (14, 10st 3lb)

Now 14 and trying to become the oldest National winner since 1853. Remarkable effort to be third last year, having been pulled up in the Irish National just 12 days earlier. Gets to run off the same rating this time, though jockey bookings suggest he has slipped down the pecking order of his trainer, Gordon Elliott, and his last two efforts have been poor.

Joe Farrell (10, 10st 2lb)

Fine jumper, finally made good on early promise when winning twice last spring, clinging on to his lead in the Scottish Grand National by a nose from Ballyoptic. Injured himself while schooling in the autumn, leading to a delayed return to the track and two runs in March to get him fit for this. While that’s not ideal, his run two weeks ago was a career best on ratings and he’ll be dangerous in this if getting a run.

Just A Par (12, 10st 2lb)

Won the Bet365 Gold Cup in 2015 and the Greatwood Gold Cup a couple of years later, in his days with Paul Nicholls. Missed 18 months and now back with Jimmy Moffat. Showed little on his first run for his new yard, at this course in December, and a leap of faith required to see him getting involved now.


1 Rathvinden

2 Joe Farrell

3 Tea For Two

4 Walk In The Mill

Patrick Mullins celebrates after riding Rathvinden to victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Patrick Mullins celebrates after riding Rathvinden to victory at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Photograph: Steven Cargill/

Author’s note, 9am Friday: In view of 12mm of rain on Thursday at Aintree, rather more than was expected, the going-related comments have been updated for these horses: Outlander, Mala Beach, Ballyoptic, Warriors Tale, Valseur Lido, General Principle, Isleofhopendreams.


Chris Cook

The GuardianTramp

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