Rachael Blackmore wins Grand National on Minella Times – as it happened

Last modified: 05: 25 PM GMT+0

Rachael Blackmore pulled away from the pack on Minella Times to become the first female jockey to win the Aintree classic

Here’s Greg Wood’s report from Aintree.

Here’s your final finishing positions.

1 Minella Times 11-1
2 Balko Des Flos 100-1
3 Any Second Now 15-2
4 Burrows Saint 9-1
5 Farclas 16-1
6 Blaklion 50-1
7 Discorama 16-1
8 Jett 80-1
9 Cabaret Queen 80-1
10 Shattered Love 33-1
11 Alpha Des Obeaux 80-1
12 Hogan’s Height 100-1
13 Acapella Bourgeois 20-1
14 Sub Lieutenant 50-
15 Class Conti 66-1

Minella Times ridden by Rachael Blackmore wins the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase.
Rachael Blackmore celebrates her victory on Minella Times. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


The news is that Bryony Frost has been taken to hospital after falling from Yala Enki. And that the Long Mile, ridden by Luke Dempsey for Philip Dempsey, sadly perished.

Fifteen horses finished the race in total but here’s where your money went.

  • Ami Desbois brought down
  • Anibale Fly pulled up
  • Ballyoptic refused
  • Bristol De Mai pulled up
  • Canelo fell
  • Chris’s Dream unseated rider
  • Cloth Cap pulled up
  • Definitly Red pulled up
  • Double Shuffle fell
  • Give Me A Copper pulled up
  • Kimberlite Candy pulled up
  • Lake View Lad fell
  • Lord Du Mesnil pulled up
  • Magic Of Light unseated rider
  • Milan Native pulled up
  • Minellacelebration unseated rider
  • Mister Malarky pulled up
  • Ok Corral pulled up
  • Potters Corner pulled up
  • Takingrisks pulled up
  • Talkischeap pulled up
  • The Long Mile pulled up
  • Tout Est Permis pulled up
  • Vieux Lion Rouge fell
  • Yala Enki unseated rider

Receiving the prize for the winning owner, JP McManus, is AP McCoy, still fully involved in the operation and who won the race for JP in 2010 on Don’t Push It.

Henry de Bromhead, who trained the first and second, with Balko des Flos coming in at 100/1, speaks.

It’s just brilliant. A lot’s down to Rachael today, and I am just delighted. A super ride, she hardly left the rail and it’s brilliant to get tt for the McManuses. Balo was amazing, and Aidan [Coleman] was amazing. It feels amazing. It’s the stuff you dream of. She’s brilliant, isn’t she? They broke the mould when they made her. She’s brilliant.

Henry de Bromhead, the trainer of Minella Times, also won the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham but that must have capped the lot.

Rachael Blackmore and Trainer Henry De Bromhead celebrate with the trophy after riding Minella Times to victory.
Rachael Blackmore and Trainer Henry De Bromhead celebrate with the trophy after riding Minella Times to victory. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

🏆 History in the Grand National@rachaelblackmor becomes the first female rider to win the £750,000 Randox Grand National aboard Minella Times @AintreeRaces

A 1-2 for @HenrydeBromhead too 👏 pic.twitter.com/RRIsIdKFjA

— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 10, 2021


Rachael Blackmore, the winning jockey, speaks.

I just cannot believe it He was an absolutely sensational. By god, what Henry de Bromhead does with these horses. I just can’t believe it. This is unbelievable. He was just incredible. I was trying to wait as long as I could. When we jumped the last and I asked for a bit, he was there. I don’t feel male or female, I don’t even feel human. I feel unbelievable.

Aintree 5.15 result

1 Minella Times (Rachael Blackmore) 11-1
2 Balko Des Flos (Aidan Coleman) 100-1
3 Any Second Now (M P Walsh) 15-2
4 Burrows Saint (Mr P W Mullins) 9-1

40 ran

Rachael Blackmore in the winners enclosure after victory on Minella Times in the Grand National.
Rachael Blackmore gives Minella Times a congratulatory pat in the winners enclosure. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


The first ever female winner of the Grand National! And as it always is, that was such a well-judged race from Rachael Blackmore. After Cheltenham, and this, there can be no doubt that she is the best jockey in the business. Henry de Bromhead has also had a golden year.

Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times pass the winning post to claim their historic victory.
Rachael Blackmore celebrates as Minella Times passes the winning post. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


Rachael Blackmore and Minella Times make history!

Over the Melling Road they go and Cloth Cap has been pulled up. Jett is being closed on by Burrow Saints, and Balko des Flow. But Minella Times is right up there, with Rachael Blackmore riding. She gets to the Elbow and is five lengths clear and she is going to do it!

Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times (right) leads from Balko des Flos and Any Second Now to claim their historic victory in the Grand National.
Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times (right) leads from Balko des Flos and Any Second Now as they gallop towards the straight. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times pass the winning post to claim their historic victory.
Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times pass the winning post to claim a historic victory. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


Jett remains well clear with six to jump as he clears the Canal Turn. Cloth Cap asked to close him down. Sub Lieutenant is pulled up with four to jump. Jett still streaking clear.

Jett still clear by seven lengths from Cloth Cap and Burrows Saint after Becher’s. Bristol de Mai well back.

Jett is staging a break for the border, in the style of Crisp. Mister Malarky is pulled up at the back of the field just before the 18th, as is Taking Risks. Cloth Cap is in second.

Jett leads from Lord Du Mesnil after the 14th. Yala Enki is up there, too. Cloth Cap is still in there, with Jett miles clear as they take the Chair. Potters Corner makes a mistake as there are two fallers at the back.

Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times (right) clear the Chair.
Rachael Blackmore on Minella Times (right) is in the field that clear the Chair. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


Becher’s now, and they all clear it. Foinavon sees Jett lead them all out, and over Valentine’s, too. Cloth Cap is up there. Minella Celebration is a faller as is Double Shuffle and Any Second Now is badly hampered.

Lake View Lad falls at the first, and Cloth Cap is the early leader at the second. Annibale Fly is out the back. Magic of Light throws off her rider at the third.

And they're off...

The first race in two years, and it’s edgy out there. The horses are asked to turn round and come back again. And at the second time of asking, off they go...

The runners in the Grand National line up for the start in front of empty stands except for a few owners.
The runners in the Grand National line up for the start in front of empty stands except for a few owners. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


The jockeys try to find their chosen starting position as the race nears. A few stragglers join the throng late on.

Here’s the National Anthem, sung by Laura Wright, up in the Lord Derby Stand.

The riders head out of the changing rooms, the Irish contingent led out by Patrick Mullins, who will be riding Burrows Saint for his father Willie as an amateur. Covid protocols mean the jockeys have to come from different dressing rooms, and then the photograph of all them is taken before they mount their horses in the paddock.


Three women jockeys in this race, Rachael Blackmore is on Minella Times, Tabitha Worsley rides Sub Lieutenant with Bryony Frost, who rode Frodon to winning this season’s King George, aboard Yala Enki.

For the record, JP McManus has seven runners in the race while the Gigginstown team of the O’Leary brothers have five.

5:15pm - Randox Grand National Handicap Chase odds

  • Cloth Cap – 6/1
  • Any Second Now – 10/1
  • Burrows Saint – 11/1
  • Minella Times – 12/1
  • Mister Malarky – 14/1
  • Takingrisks – 16/1
  • Magic of the Light – 16/1
  • Farclas – 18/1
  • Kimberlite Candy – 20/1
  • Potters Corner – 22/1
  • Acapella Bourgeois – 22/1
  • Discorama – 25/1
  • Anibale Fly – 25/1
  • Bristol De Mai – 28/1
  • Defintly Red – 33/1
  • Give Me A Copper – 40/1
  • Shattered Love – 40/1
  • Talkischeap – 40/1
  • Yala Enki – 50/1
  • Chriss Dream – 50/1
  • Sub Lieutenant – 50/1
  • Class Conti - 66/1
  • Milan Native – 66/1
  • Canelo – 66/1
  • The Long Mile – 66/1
  • Class Conti - 66/1
  • Lord Du Mesnil - 66/1
  • Lake View Lad – 50/1
  • Double Shuffle – 66/1
  • Sub Lieutenant – 50/1
  • Milan Native – 66/1
  • Cabaret Queen – 80/1
  • Alpha Des Obeaux – 80/1
  • Ok Corral – 80/1
  • Ballyoptic – 80/1
  • Jett – 100/1
  • Balko Des Flos – 100/1
  • Ami Desbois – 100/1
  • Hogans Height – 125/1
  • Tout Est Permis – 125/1
  • Latest odds from Oddschecker

The horses are in the paddock, and with 40 runners the traffic is heavy as the horses circle. The tension and noise is not quite what it would be were racegoers allowed into Aintree.

Here’s the favourite, currently on offer at 6/1 and ridden bv Tom Scudamore. Jonjo O’Neill Junior rides Mister Malarky for Colin Tizzard, who saddles up his final Grand National horse before he hands over the reins to Joe, his son. It’s a family affair, this National Hunt game.

Cloth Cap in his box at @AintreeRaces pic.twitter.com/finTgZmLJs

— Jonjo O'Neill (@JonjoONeill) April 10, 2021

Greg Wood has been through all 40 runners.

And has tipped Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now to win.

The biggest story would undoubtedly be Rachael Blackmore following up her glorious Cheltenham with the biggest race of all.

The Guardian’s Tom Jenkins is at Aintree and has been capturing the action.

So, under 45 minutes to go until the big one.

Here’s the first Grand National I recall, not least because of the hitherto unheard and fruity language used by my father as Corbiere stormed home. Then, being packed into the car so that he could head down to the bookmakers on Sunderland Street, Macclesfield.

Such are the sweet memories that the world’s greatest steeplechase can conjure. Other great winners I recall fondly though backed only the last one, and the second time out: West Tip, Party Politics, Esha Ness (?!), Papillon, Don’t Push It and Tiger Roll.


One of Harry Cobden’s relatives has been speaking about the injury he sustained in that earlier fall.

News on Harry Cobden. I’ve just heard from his mum that Harry has had full body scans, there are no major breaks but fractures to face. He will be going for more scans later. We will know more later.

— Beth Fuller (@beth_fullerr) April 10, 2021

The stewards inquired into the disappointing performance of Paisley Park, the winner of the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle earlier in the season, who was pulled up entering the straight in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle.

Emma Lavelle, Paisley Park’s trainer, said that she could “offer no explanation for the gelding’s performance, other than [he] ran flat”. The track’s veterinary officer also reported that a post-race examination of Paisley Park during routine testing “failed to reveal any abnormalities”.

David Bass, the winning jockey in the 4.15 speaks.

That’s brilliant for the team. This is a cracking little hose and he deserves that. I didn’t get there too soon for once. He jumped brilliantly. That was only his fifth run over fences. He’s so neat through the air. This is great for the owners. They’re really loyal to us.

Aintree 4.15 result

1 Happygolucky (David Bass) 11-4 Fav
2 Johnbb (J J Burke) 9-1
3 Spiritofthegames (Harry Skelton) 7-1

13 ran

Happygolucky wins the 4.15!

Top Notch joins Johnbb at Lalor drops back. Plenty of chances. Happygolucky goes clear, with Johnbb in second and Spiritofthegames third and Calipso Collonges fourth. Top Notch and Lalor pulled up before the end. The favourites are flying in today for the punters.

4.15 Betway Handicap Chase

Kilfilum Cross and Lalor continue to lead them going into the final circuit and the back straight. Their leads slowly ebbs to the rest but at five out they jump clear. Top Notch is in fourth, and looking comfortable. Lalor leads with three to jump.

4.15 Betway Handicap Chase

Top Notch sits in midfield as Kilfilum Cross and Lalor lead. Johnbb is in fifth, with 11 fences to go. Cloudy Glen catches up the rest of the pack but is still the back marker with nine to jump.

4.15 Betway Handicap Chase

Over the fences they go, with HappyGoLucky and Johnbb taking it up after the first. Lalor and Johnbb share the lead after the third. Cloudy Glen sits all the way out the back. Kilfilum Cross is up there now.

Unfortunately, Sam Brown is a non-runner, having been stung by an insect on the ride to the track. The horse’s pilot was due to be Harry Cobden, stood down for the day after that earlier fall so that’s an ill-fated pair.

Nicky Henderson has been speaking about Shishkin after his win in the Maghull Novices Chase.

It’s always difficult after Cheltenham to know how much to do with them. Obviously they are fit, but the team have done great because they came here in pretty good nick. Both are very good novices though, they’ve had pretty nearly perfect seasons. Nico said he could have done with a lead for longer. Gumball usually goes a solid gallop, but he didn’t today. He’s a very laid-back horse and at home you don’t see the speed you see on track. He’s got a wonderful temperament and I suspect he was just getting lonely. Fair play to the second, though. It’s amazing how quick he gets to the other side of a fence, it’s a very effective technique but it is a bit unusual. He won’t go to Punchestown, doing the two is difficult, doing the three, you need to be Sprinter or something, who did it one year. You’d like to think it will be the normal two-mile route next year, and I’d like to think Altior is at Sandown in two weeks. If they meet next year, they have to meet. It’s amazing we’ve gone from Sprinter to Altior and this lad is going the right way the whole time.

🗣 "It's nice to have that problem."

Altior & Shishkin could clash at some point next season according to @sevenbarrows

Henderson is hoping we'll see Altior in a fortnights' time at @Sandownpark too 👀 pic.twitter.com/czUCipeHUf

— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 10, 2021

4.15 Betway Handicap Chase odds

  • HappyGoLucky – 7/2
  • Top Notch – 8/1
  • Spiritofthegames – 9/1
  • Snow Leopardess – 10/1
  • Fagan – 12/1
  • Cloudy Glen – 12/1
  • Hold The Note – 14/1
  • Johnbb – 14/1
  • Lalor – 18/1
  • Ofalltheginjoints – 22/1
  • Calipso Collonges – 28/1
  • Mr Whipped – 40/1
  • Kilfilum Cross – 40/1
  • Latest odds from Oddschecker

4.15 Betway Handicap Chase preview

Probably not a race that to get too involved with when the National itself is just an hour away – get bets on for the big one instead if you haven’t already – but the lightly-raced Sam Brown makes some appeal on his handicap debut. He has not been out since his seasonal debut in November, but that was a very decent run behind Imperial Aura, who improved again to win a Grade Two chase at Ascot next time.

Top Notch,
a course winner over hurdles, and Kim Bailey’s Happygolucky are other likely types, with the latter attracting plenty of support after a close second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham.


3.35 Aintree result

1 Thyme Hill (T J O’Brien) 5-2 Fav
2 Roksana (Harry Skelton) 7-2
3 Thomas Darby (J W Kennedy) 28-1

15 ran

Emma Lavelle, Paisley Park’s trainer, told ITV just there that her horse is “absolutely fine”. He ran no sort of race but has had a hard season, and had a hard season last year. Thyme Hill looked the class horse in the race, with Roksana running a real cracker and unlucky to lose. Should they have risker her in the Stayers’ at Cheltenham? In hindsight, that looks a winnable race for her.

Winning jockey Tom O’Brien speaks.

This is a lovely horse for the Hobbs team. He didn’t make Cheltenham but Philip got him right for today, well done to him. He’s uncomplicated. I chatted to Richard this morning; he said there’s not a lot to say, other than to ride a simple race. He’s a lovely horse.

What a win for Tom O’Brien, riding for Philip Hobbs now that Richard Johnson has retired. We await news of Paisley Park who was never travelling.

Thyme Hill wins the 3.35!

3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

Roksana and Thyme Hill up there, Thyme Hill chasing her down, and he just gets there. Tom O’Brien pumps the air in delight. What a beautifully timed run from Thyme Hill!

T. J. O’Brien riding Thyme Hill (second right) races to win the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle.
T. J. O’Brien riding Thyme Hill (second right) races to win the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle. Photograph: Peter Powell/Pool/AP


3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

Thyme Hill is running OK, while Paisley Park drops to the back of the pack, and is pulled up. That’s sad. Plenty of chances with two hurdles to go.

3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

Vinndication keeps ploughing through the fences while Emitom sits off him. The lead is massive with six hurdles to go, 12 lengths. The pack closes in on Emitom. This a chaotic exhibition of frontrunning by Vinndication.

3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

Emitom and Vinndication take a huge lead over the chasing pack with ten hurdles to go, though there is a long way to go. It’s a quick pace, and surely unsustainable. Thyme Hill sits in seventh, just off Paisley Park.

3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

In pre-race, AP McCoy says Paisley Park is the best staying chaser out there, and looks in better form than at Cheltenham. Let’s see how the battle with Thyme Hill goes. If indeed this is a shootout between the pair. Over the first, Paisley Park rises in fifth place and moves closer to the front in fourth.

3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) odds

  • Thyme Hill – 5/2
  • Paisley Park – 10/3
  • Roksana – 5/1
  • Lisnagar Oscar – 11/1
  • Diol Ker – 11/1
  • Third Wind – 20/1
  • Vinndication – 22/1
  • If The Cap Fits – 25/1
  • Thomas Derby – 25/1
  • Indefatigable – 28/1
  • On the Blind Side – 33/1
  • Décor Irlandais – 33/1
  • Emitom – 50/1
  • William Henry – 50/1
  • Call Me Lord – 80/1
  • Latest odds from Oddschecker

3.35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) preview

This looks like being the “decider” between Thyme Hill and Paisley Park, the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner, as their head-to-head currently stands at one win apiece so far this season.

Thyme Hill was off the mark early on with a victory in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November, but Paisley Park turned the tables – by a neck – in the Grade One Long Walk at Ascot a month later. This is a first visit to Aintree for Thyme Hill, but Paisley Park was successful in a handicap over two-and-a-half miles here back in October 2018, at the start of a seven-race winning streak which culminated in his famous victory in the staying division’s championship event at the Festival.

Thyme Hill was ruled out of this year’s Festival just a few days beforehand with a minor muscle problem while Paisley Park came up short in an attempt to become the first horse ever to win back the Stayers’ crown. It could be argued that this track might not play to his strengths but the quickening ground may be more to his liking, and a fascinating head-to-head is in prospect (with Roksana far from out of it either on her form in a Grade Two over three miles at Ascot in February).


My Drogo looks the pick of the British novice hurdlers after that impressive win at Aintree. His owners, interviewed on ITV Racing after the horse’s impressive success, said they will definitely send the gelding chasing next season. It would be no surprise to see him win the Marsh Chase at the Cheltenham next March and then be aimed at the Gold Cup the following year.

"My Drogo looks a cracking chasing prospect and is about the best British-trained novice hurdler this term"@RowleyfileRRR, suitably impressed with the Skelton's latest Grade 1 winner!

— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) April 10, 2021


Aintree 3.00 result

1 Shishkin (Nico de Boinville) 1-8 Fav
2 Funambule Sivola (Charlie Deutsch) 14-1
3 Gumball (T J O’Brien) 16-1

5 ran

Shishkin’s jockey Nico de Boinville speaks, and it’s full steam ahead for next season’s Champion Chase

We were going very steady. The one thing is that he stays and I didn’t want to turn it into a sprint. He is doing everything we ask of him over two miles. Over a stronger gallop he will be better. The way the race was run at Cheltenham, that was him at his best. Today I had to do the donkey work and find the jumps. He was very slick.

Shishkin wins the 3.00!

3.00 Maghull Novices’ Chase

Nico de Boinville not having it all his own way on Shishkin but the class is telling with two to go. Funambule Sivola gives chase in case of an error. Shishkin gets it done but there were questions to be raised about that performance. He seemed to lack a bit of concentration but he completes the Cheltenham and Aintree double.

Nico de Boinville on Shishkin win the Maghull Novices Chase.
Nico de Boinville on Shishkin win the Maghull Novices Chase. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


3.00 Maghull Novices’ Chase

Shishkin speeds on, Gumball behind him. Nico de Boinville trying to keep a curb on him, and they take a huge jump over the fifth last. The lead is three lengths.

3.00 Maghull Novices’ Chase

And off they go. Gumball with the early pace, and Shishkin sitting wide and out of danger in second. He makes an almighty leap and then goes level with the leader. He does jump left a tad.

Shishkin time: a classic of the “this horse cannot lose” genre. There will be severe nerves in the Henderson camp, and Nicky Henderson really does get nervous when his horses are running. Once stood next to him at Sandown watching Might Bite ride at Haydock on the screens. There was a forcefield of “don’t come near me” around him.

The news on Harry Cobden is not good, he’s been taken to hospital and stood down for the day. That’s desperate luck, and Sean Bowen will now ride Give Me A Copper for the Paul Nicholls team. Jonjo O’Neill Jr will be OK to ride Mister Malarky after being involved in that fall during that last hurdle race.

Confirmation of rider changes:

Race 6: 33 Give Me A Copper now ridden by Sean Bowen
Race 7: 16 Stage Star now ridden by Bryony Frost

— BHA Press Office (@BHAPressOffice) April 10, 2021


3.00 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) odds

  • Shishkin – 1/7
  • Funambule Sivola – 16/1
  • Gumball – 18/1
  • Elvis Mail – 18/1
  • Longhouse Sale – 33/1
  • Latest odds from Oddschecker

3.00 Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1) preview

The second-favourite here, Funambule Sivola, is a 16-1 shot in a field of five, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about Shishkin’s complete dominance of the two-mile novice chasing division this year.

He is the biggest star in British jumping at the moment – the only real star, in fact, given the current overwhelming superiority of Irish-trained National Hunt horses – and he is likely to set off at around 1-10 – a return of an extra 10p for every pound staked.

He looks sure to be only the third horse since 2003 to go off at 1-7 or shorter for a Grade One event in Britain after Altior (in the Clarence House at Ascot in 2019) and Sprinter Sacre (Maghull Novice Chase, 2012), who were also saddled by Nicky Henderson, Shishkin’s trainer.

Anything but another facile victory to give British jumps fans something to look forward to in the autumn will be the most bitter disappointment of the season.

2.25 Aintree result

1 My Drogo (Harry Skelton) 5-4 Fav
2 Minella Drama (B S Hughes) 12-1
3 Guard Your Dreams (Sam Twiston-Davies) 28-1

12 ran

Harry Skelton speaks, after that win on My Drogo.

We’re a long way off, but he is a horse with a lot of ability; he’s progressed all year. The owners want him to be the best possible chaser. It’s quite remarkable what he’s done. Keeping the lid on him is the main thing.

That closes the the gap in the jockeys’ championship to two between Harry Skelton and Brian Hughes. We await news of Harry Cobden and Jonjo O’Neill Jr after that heavy fall. Both ride in the National later.


My Drogo wins the 2.25!

2.25 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

With three to go, Ballyadam leads, and then stops. My Drogo takes it up and speeds to the last, and goes miles clear. He looks one hell of a horse, a tank. A big win for the Skeltons, ahead of Minella Drama.

My Drogo ridden by Harry Skelton clears the last before winning the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
My Drogo ridden by Harry Skelton clears the last before winning the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Pool/PA


2.25 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

Ballyadam continues to sit off the front. My Drogo sitting back and wide, seemingly waiting to pounce. Rachael Blackmore struggling to stop Ballyadam taking it up. Lucky One falls, and takes down Harry Cobden and Jonjo O’Neill Jnr.


2.25 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

They get under way over their 11 hurdles for the 2m 4f race. Llandinabo Lad takes up the early pace. Pipesmoker starts like a train yet drops all the way back. Ballyadam is towards the front with My Drogo sitting well back.

For this 2.25 novice hurdle, the favourite, My Drogo, in the Skelton team almost certainly took his name from Game of Thrones. Ballyadam, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, was a distant second in the Supreme at Cheltenham and is second fav.

PA Media report on that opening race.

Hometown Boy overcame a bad mistake at the last flight to win the opening race on National day, the EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle. It was a victory which completed a notable feat by trainer Stuart Edmunds, who had also won the final race on Friday with Rowland Ward. Hometown Boy very nearly fluffed his opportunity - because having taken up the running in the back straight and moved clear of a hugely competitive field, he dived at the final hurdle and stumbled on landing.

But Jockey Ciaran Gethings was alert to the danger, picking his mount up to win by three lengths as the 6-1 favourite - from 11-1 runner-up J’Ai Froid and Tea Clipper in third.

Edmunds, who had taken the last race on Friday with Rowland Ward, said: “To be fair this was a long-term (plan). We wanted to come here, but wanted a prep run so went to Kempton beforehand.

“It was a bit of a gamble as he was also in over two and a half-miles, but we thought there were one or two more speedier types in there. He galloped through the line, though, and he couldn’t pull him up.

“I couldn’t repeat what I was thinking at the last! If he was a tired horse his legs would have gone to jelly.”

He added: “There’s nothing else for him this season and I think he’ll be a nice novice chaser next season - he’s schooled plenty over fences at home.”


2.25 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) odds

  • My Drogo – 13/8
  • Ballyadam – 11/4
  • Deal Deal – 6/1
  • Minella Drama – 12/1
  • Pipesmoker – 18/1
  • Llandinabo Lad – 20/1
  • Adrimel – 25/1
  • Jay Bee Why – 28/1
  • Guard Your Dreams -33/1
  • Straw Fan Jack – 40/1
  • Lucky One – 50/1
  • Striking a Pose – 66/1
  • Latest odds from Oddschecker


2.25 Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) preview

A dozen go to post – Ballybegg is an absentee from the initial declarations – and it’s another chance to pick between a horse that ran well at the Cheltenham Festival and another that missed the meeting altogether.

, last seen when finishing a distant second to Appreciate It in the Supreme Novice Hurdle, the first race at the Festival, couldn’t really be said to have had a hard race there as it was over as a contest from a long way out.

All the same, My Drogo took his form to a new level – and clocked a very strong time while not being asked a serious question – at Kelso in early March, and while that was a lesser race on paper, it looks like the stronger form.

Dreal Deal, who missed the Festival due to issues with a fungal infection in Ronan McNally’s yard, is another interesting runner as he attempts to complete a seven-timer on the Flat and over jumps which started with a win off just 84 at Navan in September.

Result in the 1.45 at Aintree

Hometown Boy (C Gethings) 6-1 Fav
J’Ai Froid (M Kendrick) 11-1
Tea Clipper (Rachael Blackmore) 8-1
14-1 Ashtown Lad 4th

19 ran


Hometown Boy wins the first race!

1.45: EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle

Hometown Boy takes it up, before Jai Froid steps in front. One Night In Milan is pulled up, and Hometown Boy surges back out in front, and at the last he smashes the fence. He hangs on to win, and holds off Jai Froid. That money came for the winner. Gambled landed. Tea Clipper came third, then came Ashtown Lad and in fifth it looks like Whirling Dervish.

Ciaran Gethings on Hometown Boy wins The EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle.
Ciaran Gethings on Hometown Boy wins The EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle. Photograph: Steven Cargill/racingfotos.com/Shutterstock


1.45: EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle

Barnavidduan continues to lead them out into the last ten furlongs, with Hometown Boy in close order, and then One Night In Milan. Ten lengths covers a tightly packed field.

1.45: EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle

Some late money comes down for Hometown Boy who goes off at 6/1. At the first hurdle, Kid Commando takes a tumble, ditching Aidan Coleman with him. Vision des Flos is out the back early on. Barnavidduan leads them out in the preliminary stages and past the stands as they pass them for the first time.


The first race is preceded by two minutes of silence for Prince Philip. The flags at Aintree are at half-mast.

EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) odds

  • Come on Teddy – 6/1
  • Tea Clipper – 8/1
  • Champagne Platinum – 8/1
  • Hometown Boy – 9/1
  • Barnavidduan – 10/1
  • Jai Froid – 11/ 1
  • Whirling Dervish – 11/1
  • Ballybegg – 12/1
  • Ashtown Lad – 14/1
  • Kid Commando – 20/1
  • Stoney Mountain – 22/1
  • Reserve Tank – 25/1
  • Tommy Rapper – 33/1
  • Uknowhatimeanharry – 40/1
  • Vision Des Flos – 66/1
  • Earlofthecotswalds – 66/1
  • One Night In Milan – 66/1
  • Latest odds from Oddschecker

1.45: EFT Systems Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) preview

A tricky little puzzle to kick off the afternoon at Aintree as even with three non-runners, there are still 19 runners going to post and few can be dismissed with any confidence.

Tea Clipper and Come On Teddy head the betting, having both finished third in white-hot handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival last time out (the Coral Cup and the Pertemps Final respectively) while Champagne Platinum, who was close up in fifth place in the Pertemps, is also prominent in the market.

Anyone who prefers to focus on horses that skipped last month’s Festival is likely to be circling around Hometown Boy and J’Ai Froid, both winners at a lower level last time out, while Whirling Dervish is interesting as the only Irish-trained runner in the field. Irish dominance has not been as complete at Aintree as it was at Cheltenham – they have the Punchestown Festival at the end of the month to think about, after all – so it would be another tweak of the English noses if Johnny Levins’s runner came home in front. Champagne Platinum is a tentative pick as this track may suit him a little better than Cheltenham, but it’s as open a race as the meeting will see this side of the National itself.

And good luck as they cross the Melling Road and I hand over to colleague John Brewin ...

Will those of us who have resisted backing the favourite Cloth Cap look silly around 5.30pm when he romps home. He’s clearly the best-handicapped horse in the race but no one in the tipping brigade wants to back the market leader in the Grand National and that’s why none of the newspaper tipsters are putting him up today. Timeform ratings give Cloth Cap a clear edge and what’s more he’s the safest jumper on their stats too ...

Cloth Cap and Tom Scudamore pictured winning the bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso.
Cloth Cap and Tom Scudamore pictured winning the bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso. Photograph: Dan Abraham/Rex/Shutterstock

We’re doing everything virtually these days ... and that means you can pick up your Grand National day racecard even though you’re not at the track ...

All eyes will be on @AintreeRaces tomorrow afternoon as the world’s most famous steeplechase takes centre stage at 5.15pm.

Click here to download your official racecard for the 3rd day of the Aintree Festival 👇https://t.co/7mX0G8mzCV pic.twitter.com/KLizrhKD2H

— Weatherbys Racing Bank (@Weatherbys_Bank) April 9, 2021

It couldn’t happen could it?

If anyone is interested in the 50/1 about an Irish-trained 1-2-3-4 that I mentioned on the Opening Show, it is available with the Betfair Sportsbook and Paddy Power in their specials markets. Here are my selections for the Grand National. #itvracing pic.twitter.com/Uljf9A337h

— Kevin Blake (@kevinblake2011) April 10, 2021

The late Rose Paterson has been remembered at the track this morning. Paterson has been inducted as an Aintree Legend, joining distinguished figures from the jump racing world including Ginger McCain, Sir Peter O’Sullevan and Jenny Pitman. Aintree’s late chairman was honoured in a short ceremony at the racecourse on Saturday morning. Rose’s family were joined by those in attendance at Aintree for Randox Grand National Day outside ‘McCoy’s’, where a plaque bearing her name was unveiled in the Hall of Fame. Rose had a longstanding presence at Aintree, serving as Chairman from 2014 before her death in June of last year.

An emotional moment as our late chairman Rose Paterson is inducted into the Official Hall of Fame as an Aintree Legend 👏

With a contribution from @thelaurawright 👀#GrandNational pic.twitter.com/r5vD7vXAdB

— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) April 10, 2021


The big story out of today’s race would be a win for a female jockey, and Cheltenham Festival champion rider Rachael Blackmore in particular. It’s been fascinating watching the price of her mount contract. Available at 40-1 when the weights came out in February, Minella Times was 14-1 at the beginning of the week and has been clipped regularly since it was confirmed thee jockey of the moment would ride. The Henry de Bromhead-trained runner is now clear 9-1 second favourite and Rupert Adams of William Hill spoke for all the betting firms when he said in the Sun this morning: “The bottom line is if Minella Times get beaten we will be set for a good National.”

Bryony Frost is riding Yala Enki in the race while Tabitha Worsley is on Sub Lieutenant and a grandnational.org.uk spokesperson said: “It’s the ladies supporting the ladies as 70% of bets placed on one of the three women jockeys riding in the National are placed by female punters.”

Intriguingly without the shops being open this could be the biggest betting day ever for the National. A BritishGambler.co.uk spokesman said: “If predictions are correct, this weekend’s Grand National will mark the most bet on horse race on record and in the last 48 hours, an impressive 38.6% of wagers have been on Rachael Blackmore.”

Rachael Blackmore walks back after finishing unplaced on Notebook in the Melling Chase on Friday.
Rachael Blackmore walks back after finishing unplaced on Notebook in the Melling Chase on Friday. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


If you fancy Definitly (sub’s nightmare) Red for the National ... take note ... he’s got a new man on top ... one with a great Aintree pedigree as Ryan Mania won the big race on Auroras Encore in 2013

JOCKEY CHANGE: Ryan Mania replaces Henry Brooke aboard Definitly Red in the Grand National pic.twitter.com/nqNffiPWYO

— Racing Post (@RacingPost) April 10, 2021

Non-runners list

Welcome to Grand National day ... here are the horses to cross off on your newspaper or digital racecard as they’re not turning up at Aintree today:

1.45pm - Eft Systems Handicap Hurdle

10 Corrieben Reiver (Going)

13 Southfield Harvest (Self Certificate, Lame)

15 Polish (Vet’s Certificate, Lame)

2.25pm - Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

3 Ballybegg (IRE) (Double Declaration)

4.15pm - Betway Handicap Chase

4 Ramses de Teillee (FR) (Self Certificate, Going))

6.20pm - Weatherbys Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

2 Brave Kingdom (FR) Going)

8 Go Dante (Vet’s Certificate, Lame)


Going good-to-soft at Aintree

The going at Aintree remains good-to-soft after further watering overnight, and good in places on the Mildmay course, ahead of what is expected to be a bright and sunny but also breezy day in Liverpool.

Sulekha Varma, the clerk of the course at Aintree, will be officiating for her first Grand National following the abandonment of last year’s meeting, reported this morning that 6mm of water was applied to the entire course.

“We just felt it was drying out,” she said. “By the end of the day yesterday, we were left with no choice really. We’re not running the Grand National until 5.15 so it does have the scope to dry out a little bit but still be safe and still have a good cushion on it.

“We’ve had no complaints, everyone is very, very pleased with it and the ground staff have done a great job. They were out here until half past two in the morning, and even when the morning frost came in and I’m very proud of what they’ve achieved.”

Following the news on Friday of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death, there will be a two-minute silence before racing at Aintree, and also at the day’s other four meetings at Chepstow, Lingfield Park, Wolverhampton and Newcastle. Flags at Aintree will also be flying at half-mast.


Good morning from an empty Aintree, where the 173rd Grand National will be run on Saturday afternoon with a handful of owners in the grandstand and not a single paying spectator anywhere on or around the two-mile circuit. Tiger Roll is an absentee too, having ended up in a Grade One on Thursday’s card when a run at a third National was there for the taking.

But if that sounds like a poor imitation of what this race should be, consider this: it did not happen at all last year, so we should be grateful to have a race at all. Oh, and there were only 16,000 or so in to see Red Rum’s third National victory, when it looked like Aintree was about to be turned into a housing estate. This year will soon be a distant memory when normality is restored.

This is a National to be positive about simply because it’s happening. It may look somewhat underwhelming without the usual crowds, but they will be watching at home and itching to return. And while the betting shops are shut until Monday, there are still several ways to get bets on this year’s race, which is as thick with potential plotlines as ever, even without the Tiger in the running.

Cloth Cap is still a clear favourite on Saturday morning though on the drift slightly as backers look for alternatives, out to 11-2 from a general 9-2 yesterday, while Minella Times, the mount of jockey-of-the-moment Rachael Blackmore, is 10-1 along with Burrows Saint, whose rider, Patrick Mullins, registered his first win over these fences on Friday and is a late replacement after Paul Townend suffered an injury.

Any Second Now is an 11-1 shot while Takingrisks, a veteran from the Nicky Richards yard and former winner of the Scottish equivalent, seems to be winking at quite a few backers on Saturday morning and is down to a top price of 16-1 having been available at 40-1 on Friday.

One point that all bookmakers are keen to stress is that this is very much a day to get your bets on early. Their websites tend to creak a little even on a Grand National day when betting shops are open, so their IT departments are likely to be as exhausted as the participants at the close of play today. It is easy enough to set up an account with your betting firm of choice, but not when the horses are already circling at the start.

So make your selections – there’s a runner-by-runner guide here if you need any background but you may do just as well getting your dog/cat/budgie to help out. Get the money on early (and use a firm offering “Best Odds Guaranteed” if you are worried about the price drifting out before the off), then start counting down the hours and minutes to the most spectacular and compelling horse race of them all.

Grand National interactive


John Brewin, Tony Paley and Greg Wood at Aintree

The GuardianTramp

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