Grand National 2023: Corach Rambler wins after protesters force race to start late

Last modified: 05: 31 PM GMT+0

Corach Rambler justified favouritism to win a Grand National briefly disrupted by animal rights activists under a fine ride from Derek Fox

Grand National report

The favourite Corach Rambler won a dramatic Grand National on and off the course on Saturday after disruption on the track from animal rights activists resulted in the race going off late.

News of a fatality: On a day when the Grand National was disrupted by animal rights activists, Hill Sixteen, trained by by Sandy Thomson and ridden by Ryan Mania, has been put down following his nasty fall at the first fence.

Lucinda Russell: “He was very close to not making the ride,” says Russell of her jockey, Derek Fox, who had to be cleared by a doctor to ride in the Grand National. “He had a terrible fall off a horse that’s normally a very good jumper but fell at Wetherby nine or 10 days ago. He hurt his shoulder.

“I had a very surreal conversation with him at the start of the week, asking him what he wanted to do. Obviously he wanted to ride Ahoy Senor [beaten into second by Shishkin in the Mildmay Chase at Aintree on Thursday] but we decided that, actually no, Corach Rambler had a great chance in the National.

It was hard for him to sit out Ahoy Senor but I think he’s made the right decision. He didn’t want to hurt himself before the National. I’m so pleasedc he was on it because he knows Corach so, so well. He’s just a fabuloius, fabulous jockey.”

Lucinda Russell speaks: “Yes it is a bit different,” says the winning trainer, upon being asked by ITV Racing’s Ed Chamberlin how this win compares to that of One For Arthur six years ago. “Scu [Peter Scudamore] does a lot of work with this horse so it’s very important for us that its safe and he jumps well. He just loved the fences, he loved everything about it. It’s very personal this one. I’ll always remember One For Arthur but this is very special.”

Seventeen finishers: A total of 17 of the 39 starters finished the Grand National, with 22 failing to complete the course. Some fell, others unseated their riders and quite a few were pulled up.

Grand National - snap report

Corach Rambler was a superb winner of the Randox Grand National for trainer Lucinda Russell and jockey Derek Fox.

Successful at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, the nine-year-old was kept out of trouble throughout after starting as the 8-1 favourite, in a race that was delayed by around 15 minutes after protestors from Animal Rising got on to the track.

He jumped into the lead over the last and pulled away when passing the elbow, holding off a closing Vanillier with Gaillard Du Mesnil third and last year’s winner Noble Yeats running a gallant race under his big weight in fourth.

It was a second victory in the world’s greatest steeplechase for Russell and Fox, after One For Arthur in 2017. (PA Sport)

Corach Rambler returns to the winner’s enclosure: With his jockey brandishing a saltire, the winner returns to a rapturous reception and immediately gets stuck into a nearby trough of water, as assorted racecourse staff sluice buckets of cold water over his head, neck and back. He’s earned that drink.

Derek Fox: “I can’t believe it, to be honest,” says the jockey who’s just won his second Grand National in an interview with ITV Racing. “He’s a phenomenal horse and he’s been so lucky for me. It’s a blessing that I ever got the leg up on him on that first day.”

Any moments of doubt? “He normally gets held up a wee bit but today he just jumped out and travelled everywhere so, I just let him bowl away. He’s electric to jump, the cleverest horse. He’s so intelligent. My only concern would be if he was in front for too long but that wasn’t the case. I was just doing the steering, to be honest.”

Derek Fox throws water over Corach Rambler to cool down his winning steed.
Derek Fox throws water over Corach Rambler to cool down his winning steed. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


Grand National result

  • Corach Rambler (D Fox) 8/1 (fav)

  • Vanillier 20/1

  • Gallard Du Mesnil 10/1

  • Noble Yeats 10/1

  • The Big Dog 12/1

Corach Rambler wins the Grand National

Corach Rambler, a favourite earlier in the week, wins the Grand National for Scottish trainer Lucinda Russell and her partner in business and life, Peter Scudamore. Fox had to pass the doctor to take this ride but showed no signs of ill health or discomfort as he piloted his mount to victory.

Corach Rambler wins the Grand National.
Corach Rambler wins the Grand National. Photograph: Steven Cargill/


Mister Coffey has a four-length lead over The Big Dog with Corach Rambler in third as they go over the second last … Corach Rambler leaps into the lead at the last and leads into The Elbow by six lengths. Corach Rambler wins the Grand National under Derek Fox for trainer Lucinda Russell!


Mister Coffey leads over the Canal Turn with a three lengths over Coko Beach, while the Big Dog is in third … they’re approaching the third last …


Noble Yeats gets a couple of reminders while Dunboyne is pulled up … the runners and riders are sent past a fence, where green screens are in ominous evidence … Coko Berach makes a terrible mistake but Harry Cobden somehow stays on board … there are 23 horses still running … Delta Work unseats and Eva’s Oskar both unseat … while Coko Beach still leads …


Mister Coffey leads them past the grandstand followed by Coko Beach with Corach Rambler quite prominent … the field hasd been thinnned out considerably thanks to a lot of fallers. Cape Gentleman is pulled up … they’re racing towards The Chair … Sam Browne is a faller at that one …


Fury Road, Hill Sixteen, Darasso and the Big Breakaway are among several early fallers at the first two fences. Coko Beach leads over Becher’s Brook as they jump it for the first time. Lifetime Ambition is in second place as the field is led by several looose horses ... Longhouse Poet is a faller at the Canal Turn …


Randox Grand National (4m2.5f)

To a huge roar from the stands, the 39-strong field sets off on its traditional cavalry charge to the first fence. Cloudy Glen played up at the start, forcing Supple to ask the riders to take a turn which further delayed the start. Finally, they set off …

Runners and riders gather for the start
Runners and riders gather for the off. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA


Bruce Millington tweets: It’s difficult to disagree with anything t former editor of the Racing Post says here.

I fundamentally admire people who get off their backsides to protect animals from cruelty, but targeting the Grand National is just an ego trip. There are loads of animals in genuine need of help but these magnificently cared-for horses are not among them.

— Bruce Millington (@brucemillington) April 15, 2023

Grand National imminent

The bell goes, a signal for the jockeys to mount their horses. Here’s hoping they all involved come back safe and sound and are not put at any additional risk by the antics of the protestors who claim to care for the horses so much. They start making their way down to the start, where starter Gerry Supple is standing on his rostrum. The traditional parade has been dispensed with.

Grand National to start after delay

The site of Aintree racecourse is massive and police continue to try to prevent protestors from clambering ovder the two-mile perimeter fence that surrounds it. They’ve made arrests, confiscated ladders and are now being helped by locals. The horses have returned to the parade ring and a huge cheer goes up as the jockeys exit the weigh room. Back in the betting ring, Noble Yeats is the new 8-1 favourite.


The runners are going back to the pre-parade ring

On ITV, AP McCoy is in particularly spiky form. “These people don’t want it explained to them,” he says, when Mick Fitzgerald explains how well thoroughbred racehorses are treated. “They have their own minds made up and that’s the sad thing about it, you know what I mean. I don’t think we should be justifying to any of these.

“They don’t deserve it, they actually do not deserve any justification. Horses have a purpose in life, just like us all. Unfortunately when people go to work, sometimes bad things happen that you don’t want to happen. A hundred years ago, everybody had a horse, it was how they got around. They were working horses.

“Let’s bring out 20 horses and give them one each and see how they get on. What are they going to do? Bring them home and put them in their garden?”

AP McCoy: “They’re attention-seekers,” says the former champion jockey of the protestors on ITV Racing. “They’re attention -seekers and we’re giving them attention. Most of them have never even been in a stable.”

It’s worth adding that peaceful protest is absolutely fine but this is beyond the pale. In delaying the race, these animal rights activists are forcing the horses to walk endlessly around the paddock as the sun beats down on their backs. “They know why they’re here,” says Nicky Henderson of the horses. “They know they’re about to go racing and to keep them in this atmosphere, it’s not fair on them.”


Grand National delayed amid protests

Two protestors have been prevented from handcuffing themselves to the outside wing of the Canal Turn, while a couple of others are being dragged away from the second fence after attemptiong to glue themselves to it. The horses are being held in the parade ring, while the jockeys have been told to sit tight in the weigh room.

“Come and see the way these horses are looked after,” says ITV Racing frontman Ed Chamberlin. “Come and see the six star luxury they live in and the love with which they are treated.”

Protesters attempting to get into the course at the perimeter fence.
Protesters attempting to get into the course at the perimeter fence. Photograph: ITV/PA


Several protesters break into course

Protest watch: A number of animal rights activists, some of them wearing pink T-shirts bearing an “Animal Rising” slogan, continue their attempts to climb the fence surrounding the course and gain illegal entry. Some have been arrested, some are chatting with police and a couple have made it on to the track and are hunkered down by one of the fences. It’s possible – and I’m speculating here – that they might have glued or chained themselves to it.

Police officers respond to Animal Rising activists attempting to invade the race course.
Police officers respond to Animal Rising activists attempting to invade the race course. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA


Protestor alert: Armed with ladders, protestors are attempting to get over the fence surrounding the racecourse and at least one has made it. He’s currently face down on the grass, having been apprehended by a couple of policemen.

Parade ring: Having been saddled in the compartive tranquility of the pre-parade ring, with its dizzying array of boxes, the horses are now being led around the parade ring so the racegoing public can admire their fancies. In a few minutes, the bell ring signalling the jockeys to come out, meet and greet their mounts’ connections and get the leg up before they canter down to the start. Darasso, which I got in the pub sweepstake, is “looking a little tetchy” according to ITV’s Alice Plunkett. Gah!

Grand National day. For those of us that live and breathe the game, this day can be an emotional rollercoaster. Excitement, worry, elation, frustration, relief. In amongst all of it, don't forget one key truth. After the naysayers fire their arrows at our sport in the pursuit of…

— Kevin Blake (@kevinblake2011) April 15, 2023

Three protestors arrested before start of racing

Police have arrested three people at Aintree racecourse ahead of the Grand National. A 25-year-old woman from London was detained outside the venue at about 11.20am on Saturday while a man was arrested around 30 minutes later. They were both arrested on suspicion of conspirapy to cause public nuisance. Another woman, aged 33, was arrested earlier on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance.

One non-runner in the Grand National: The Gordon Elliott-trained Escaria Ten has been withdrawn from the field, which means we’ll have 39 runners and riders going to post.

Grand National betting

  • Gaillard Du Mesnil 9/1

  • Corach Rambler 9/1

  • Delta Work 10/1

  • Aint That A Shame 10/1

  • Mr Incredible 11/1

  • Noble Yeats 14/1

  • The Big Dog 14/1

  • Any Second Now 16/1

  • Capodanno 16/1

  • Les Milos 16/1

  • Galvin 20/1

  • Our Power 20/1

  • Vanillier 22/1

  • Back On The Lash 22/1

  • Longhouse Poet 25/1

  • Lifetime Ambition 25/1

  • Velvet Elvis 25/1

  • Roi Mage 28/1

  • Coko Beach 28/1

  • Mister Coffey 33/1

  • The Big Breakaway 40/1

  • Cloudy Glen 40/1

  • Fury Road 40/1

  • Evas Oskar 40/1

  • Dunboyne 50/1

  • Hill Sixteen 50/1

  • Born By The Sea 50/1

  • Gabbys Cross 50/1

  • Enjoy Dallen 50/1

  • Minella Trump 50/1

  • Carefully Selected 66/1

  • A Wave By The Sea 66/1

  • Sam Brown 66/1

  • Recite A Prayer 80/1

  • Fortescue 80/1

  • Diol Ker 80/1

  • Darasso 100/1

  • Francky Du Berlais 100/1

  • Cape Gentleman 100/1

Your guide to the runnmers and riders

Here, in case you missed it earlier, is Greg Wood’s definitive horse-by-horse guide to all the horses running in this year’s Grand National.

Grand National (5.15pm) preview

Heavy rain on Friday on ground that had been watered overnight saw the official going on the Grand National course changed to soft – from good-to-soft – and while it has been drying steadily today and is back to good-to-soft on the hurdles and chase courses, there are still soft patches on the National circuit.

That raises an additional query about those whose ability to produce their best form – or even improve on it - at Saturday’s marathon trip was already in doubt, and also about those with the heaviest burdens to shoulder this afternoon.

Ain’t That A Shame, the mount of Rachael Blackmore, sits in the first category and has drifted a little in the betting this morning out to 11-1, while Noble Yeats, who has 11st 11lb to carry in his bid to win for the second year running, was the 8-1 second-favourite on Thursday morning but is right out to 16-1 now.

Any Second Now, the top weight with 11st 12lb, and Galvin (11st 11lb) are also on the drift, while the one for money this morning has been Willie Mullins’s Gaillard Du Mesnil, who is close behind Delta Work and Corach Rambler at the top of the market.

They are but three of the 20 or 25 runners whose connections will fancy their chances, but the one I’ll be looking out for above all is Vanillier, who has plenty to recommend him at around 20-1.

He is a horse with proven Grade One-winning quality, albeit over the smaller obstacles in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham two years ago, and was the best horse at the weights in the Bobbyjo Chase last time, when he gave Kemboy, a top-class chaser, 10lb and went down by just half a length.

He has an ideal racing weight of 10st 6lb and could have too much class for rivals like Le Milos and Our Power, who could emerge as the pick of the home-trained contingent. Sam Brown, at around 66-1, could also be worth a second look if you want to back one at a huge price, as he was a ready winner of the other handicap chase on this card last year and has some other snippets of form that suggest he could run well.

WIlliam Hill Handicap Chase (4.15pm) result

  • 1. Midnight River 15-2

  • 2. Bowtogreatness 12-1

  • 3. Kinondo Kwetu 10-1

William Hill Handicap Chase (4.15pm)

Away they go in the Handicap Chase, run over a distance of 3m 1f. The grey Eldorado Allen makes the early pace, which seems quite slow … Darren’s Hope doesn’t seem to have any hope as a series of jumping errors have left him at the back of the field … Eldorado Allen continues to bowl along in front, jumping superbly for now and about 12 lengths separate first from last … Darren’s Hope is pulled up … Beauport Falls, bringing down Coconut Splash … over the last they go with Bowtogreatness in the lead but he has to settle for second behind Midnight River and Harry Skelton, who struggled to find a gap but eventually came to win with a late run.

Davy Russell's retirement confirmed

Twice a Grand National-winning jockey on Tiger Roll, Davy Russell has just confirmed that today will definitely be his last day in the saddle as a professional jockey. The Corkman originally hung up his boots and whip before Christmas but came out of retirement to ride for Gordon Elliott at the Cheltenham Festival when Jack Kennedy broke his leg.

As the Festival didn’t go particularly well for him, he decided to carry on indefinitely rather than go out on a sour note after a couple of high profile second-placed finishes, but has just told the Aintree crowd that today will be his final day’s racing.

Davy Russell wins today’s Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle on board Irish Point.
Davy Russell wins today’s Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle on board Irish Point. Photograph: David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA


William Hill Handicap Chase (4.15pm) betting

  • Beauport 6-1

  • Shakem Up’arry 6-1

  • Midnight River 7-1

  • Eldorado Allen 8-1

  • Nassalam 8-1

  • Coconut Splash 9-1

  • Gold Cup Bailly 12-1

  • Kinondo Kwetu 12-1

  • Bowtogreatness 14-1

  • Castle Robin 14-1

  • Kapga De Lily 14-1

  • Karl Phillippe 14-1

  • Darrens Hope 16-1

  • Daily Tiger 25-1

  • Handsworth 40-1

Racegoers cheer their fancies home at Aintree.
Racegoers cheer their fancies home at Aintree. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


Greetings one and all. We’ve one race and just over an hour to go until the Grand National’s scheduled start at 5.15pm (BST). It’s currently 10-1 the field for the big one, with Delta Work, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Ain’t That A Shame and Corach Rambler all co-favourites.

And now, as they approach the Melling Road so to speak, it’s over to my colleague in the trilby Barry Glendenning … enjoy the National (and hope some of you back the winner).

There is some sad news to report following press reports that Dark Raven, a runner in the Mersey Novice Hurdle earlier, had to be put down after a fall in that race.

Terribly sad news at @AintreeRaces - RIP Dark Raven

💚 Our thoughts go out to his connections.

— Sporting Life Racing (@SportingLife) April 15, 2023

William Hill Handicap Chase (4.15pm) preview

This handicap chase is almost as competitive as the National itself, with all but three of the 15 runners priced up at 16-1 or shorter. There are no end of possibilities to consider, but the best recent form on offer is Shakem Up’Arry’s excellent run into third in the Plate at Cheltenham last month, and he probably deserves a chance to back it up.


Big crowd at Aintree.
Big crowd at Aintree. Photograph: Adam Vaughan/EPA


Liverpool Hurdle (3.35pm) result

1st Sire Du Berlais 8-1
2nd Marie’s Rock 5-1
3rd Flooring Porter 3-1f

Sire Du Berlais surges home to win the JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle

😲 What a sensational performance!#ITVRacing | #GrandNational | @gelliott_racing

— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 15, 2023


Liverpool Hurdle (3.35pm)

And they’re off … Flooring Porter is prominent in the early stages … and settles into the lead with Dashel Drasher not far behind … Champ and Sire Du Berlais are towards the back. Meet And Greet is just behind the leaders … Flooring Porter extends his lead a little as they pass the post with a circuit to go … and the leader ratchets up the pace on the far side … going to be a good test of stamina for sure … Dashel Drasher is trying to get nearer and Marie’s Rock is closing … Marie’s Rock is going well … but Sire Du Berlais comes good with this strong test and after not travelling well, takes the lead and kicks clear for victory.

"I thought I might have a little squeak here, and then he started passing horses and just kept going" 🗣 Mark Walsh

Some showing from Sire Du Berlais#ITVRacing | #GrandNational

— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 15, 2023


Aintree stops to remember Hillsborough

Sir Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush laid a wreath in the paddock to honour the 34th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. That was followed by plenty of applause to remember the Liverpool supporters who lost their lives that day while You’ll Never Walk Alone is heard among some sections of the crowd.

🕊 We pause to remember the 97

Lost but never forgotten#ITVRacing | #GrandNational

— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 15, 2023


Oddspedia market movers (3.35pm race)

Home By The Lee – 6/1 into 7/2
Flooring Porter – 6/1 into 5/1

The popular Davy Russell, who rode Irish Point to victory in the Mersey Novice Hurdle, will certainly be missed if this is indeed his last day in the saddle.

🗣 "My wife stressed me that I needed to get back and not finish on the note I finished on."@_Davy_Russel_ is set to bow out from the saddle today. A final G1 winner for the jockey courtesy of Irish Point

Lovely words for wife Edelle & @gelliott_racing too 👏

— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 15, 2023

Liverpool Hurdle (3.35pm) betting

  • Flooring Porter – 7-2

  • Home By The Lee – 4-1

  • Maries Rock – 4-1

  • Champ – 7-1

  • Dashel Drasher – 8-1

  • Sire Du Berlais – 9-1

  • Meet and Greet – 18-1

  • Monmiral – 22-1

  • Brewinupastorm – 33-1

  • Proschema – 50-1

  • Full betting here at Sportsbook Review.

A racegoer with a Liverpool FC tattoo at Aintree.
A racegoer with a Liverpool FC tattoo at Aintree. Photograph: Jon Super/AP


Liverpool Hurdle (3.35pm) preview

The first, second, fourth and fifth horses home in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham are all in the field for this three-mile Grade One, and the shortest of that quartet in the betting is, perhaps a little surprisingly, Home On The Lee, who was fifth. He was less than four lengths behind the 33-1 winner, Sire Du Berlais, however, and lost ground with a bad mistake at the fourth last before staying on strongly all the way to the line. Marie’s Rock, who will be running over three miles for the first time, is also prominent in the betting, but was distinctly disappointing in the Mares’ Hurdle last month, while Champ is a fresh horse after missing Cheltenham. He also won after a 230-day layoff in November so he could be the value at around 7-1 to beat several rivals that had hard races at the Festival.


Tiring at halfway.
Tiring at halfway. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images


Winners, losers, racegoers, protesters and horses are all in evidence as Guardian and Observer photographer Tom Jenkins captures the essence of Aintree this week in a great series of snaps.

Mersey Novice Hurdle (3.00pm) result

1st Irish Point 5/1
2nd Kateira 14/1
3rd Hermes Allen 3/1f

Davy Russell & IRISH POINT 🔥

Winners of the @TurnersLtd Mersey Novices' Hurdle 👏#RandoxGrandNational

— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) April 15, 2023


Mersey Novice Hurdle (3.00pm)

And they’re off … Hallwood and You Wear It Well are among the leaders … Stony Man already struggling … Letsbeclearaboutit is prominent too with a circuit to go now … Authorised Speed has moved up to second place … Cool Survivor is a faller … Irish Point comes to take the lead under Davy Russell and kicks clear for a victory with the jockey winning on what could be his final day’s racing!


Mersey Novice Hurdle (3.00pm) betting

  • Dark Raven 10-3

  • Hermes Allen 7-2

  • Irish Point 13-2

  • You Wear It Well 13-2

  • Letsbeclearaboutit 17-2

  • Springwell Bay 9-1

  • Authorised Speed 12-1

  • Kateira 12-1

  • Cool Survivor 16-1

  • Crambo 16-1

  • Blow Your Wad 25-1

  • Uncle Bert 66-1

  • Hallwood 80-1

  • Stony Man 150-1

Nigel Farage backs a loser. Good!
Nigel Farage backs a loser. Good! Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images


Oddspedia market movers (3.00pm race)

Hermes Allen – 4/1 into 3/1
Irish Point – 8/1 into 6/1

Mersey Novice Hurdle (3.00pm) preview

The second of the card’s Grade One events, and much more competitive than the novice chase with 15 runners declared and at least 10 going to post with some kind of chance. Hermes Allen, the beaten favourite in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, is a slightly uneasy market leader, and will need to settle better than he did at the Festival to have a significant chance. That leaves Dark Raven, at around 4-1, looking like a more attractive bet as he steps up in trip following a good run behind Marine Nationale in the Supreme Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham. That form was franked when Inthepocket, who finished fourth, landed a Grade One here on Friday.


Trainer Henry Daly (left) and his wife watching Moon Hunter in the 2.25pm race. He wasn’t placed!
Trainer Henry Daly (left) and his wife watching Moon Hunter in the 2.25pm race. He wasn’t placed! Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm) result

1st West Balboa 9/2f
2nd Pounding Poet 50/1
3rd Mill Green 14/1
4th Good Time Jonny 11/2

WEST BALBOA wins so well 😮‍💨

The @Village_Hotels Handicap Hurdle did not disappoint 👏#RandoxGrandNational

— Aintree Racecourse (@AintreeRaces) April 15, 2023


Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm)

And they’re off … Glimpse Of Gala and Outlaw Peter are the early leaders … Gatsby Grey is right at the back … Party Business, last year’s winner, makes a mistake towards the rear … Henry’s Friend has settled in midfield having looked very keen at the start … Mexico and Itchy Feet are prominent with a circuit to go … Dallas Des Pictons is in big trouble already … Au Fleuron makes good progress as they approach the fourth-last … Good Time Jonny makes a move … plenty in with a chance … West Balboa takes the lead at the last … and kicks clear for a very smooth win … plus we get the famous ‘aeroplane’ celebration from jockey Harry Skelton as he passes the post.

Move aside Rachael Blackmore!
Move aside Rachael Blackmore! Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images


Oddspedia market movers (2.25pm race)

West Balboa – 7-1 into 11-2
Gatsby Grey – 20-1 into 14-1

That’s one way to keep your paper open at the right page.
That’s one way to keep your paper open at the right page. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm) betting

  • Good Time Jonny 5-1

  • West Balboa 6-1

  • Mexico 15-2

  • An Tailliur 8-1

  • Party Business 8-1

  • Mill Green 12-1

  • Outlaw Peter 12-1

  • Au Flueron 14-1

  • Gatsby Grey 14-1

  • Henrys Friend 16-1

  • Vina Ardanza 16-1

  • Bardenstown Lad 20-1

  • Moon Hunter 22-1

  • Erne River 25-1

  • Starzov 28-1

  • Glimpse Of Gala 33-1

  • Itchy Feet 33-1

  • Pounding Poet 33-1

  • Regarding Ruth 50-1

  • Dolphin Square 66-1

  • Gaelik Coast 66-1

  • Dallas Des Pictons 100-1

All human life is here.
All human life is here. Photograph: David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA

One thing never changes, thankfully … ITV have carried on the tradition of using Carl Davis’s theme from the film Champions, which I must watch one day!

That theme gets me every single time!

I never tire of hearing Carl Davis' Champions Theme - which is good given how often it's played!#GrandNational

— Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) April 15, 2023

Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle (2.25pm) preview

A complete contrast to the opener with 22 runners declared for a handicap over three miles. It’s a beautiful spring day here in Liverpool and the going is now good-to-soft on the hurdles course, but this will still be a thorough test and I fancy Dan Skelton’s mare West Balboa to rise to the challenge. She is one of the least exposed runners in the field, with just four races in the book, and while this is her first run beyond two miles and five furlongs, she very much looked as if the extra distance would suit at Kempton last time. She found more in the final strides to get back up after being headed just after the last, which shows an excellent attitude, and her narrow margin of victory means that she has been raised just 5lb for that win.


Police presence building at Aintree.
Police presence building at Aintree. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Maghull Novice Chase (1.45pm) result

1 Jonbon 2-11 f
2 Marvel De Cerisy 15-2
3 Fusain 40-1


Maghull Novice Chase (1.45pm)

And they’re off … Marvel De Cerisy leads from Jonbon in the early stages, makes an awful mistake but stays upright. Jonbon closes the gap as they head out for the final circuit. Fusain is at the back of the four runners. Calico is third. The leader is not all that fluent at the fences and Jonbon comes upsides him. Fusain is tailing off and has no chance. Jonbon takes the lead going well. Calico is in pursuit. Jonbon is asked to go clear and jumps the last well unlike Calico who falls. Jonbon is an easy winner … and Calico is up which is good news.

🙌 Calico OK after his fall at the final flight @AintreeRaces | @harryskelton89 | @DSkeltonRacing

— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 15, 2023


Maghull Novice Chase (1.45pm) betting

  • Jonbon (Aidan Coleman) 2-9

  • Marvel De Cerisy (Rachael Blackmore) 7-1

  • Calico (Harry Skelton) 12-1

  • Fusain (Brian Hughes) 22-1

Say cheese!
Say cheese! Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

Hot favourite Jonbon is ready for the fight in the first race though the Racing TV paddock expert says he looks a bit edgy. The channel’s form expert Martin Dixon agrees but says: “It wouldn’t concern me too much as he’s been there and done it.”

Jonbon checking out of the stables ahead of the first @AintreeRaces 🐎#GrandNationalFestival @sevenbarrows

— British Horseracing Authority (@BHAHorseracing) April 15, 2023


Oddspedia market movers (1.45pm)

Marvel De Cerisy – 14/1 into 13/2
Calico – 20/1 into 12/1

Peaking early?
Peaking early? Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images


Maghull Novice Chase (1.45pm) preview

A Grade One event – the highest level of the sport – to kick off on Grand National afternoon, but not a race that will appeal to many punters as Jonbon, the runner-up in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham last month, is long odds-on to beat just three opponents. Some brave souls may be tempted to lay him on an exchange, on the basis that horses that run big races at Cheltenham have a habit of running below form at Aintree, but Nicky Henderson’s chaser has so much in hand on the book that he could be a stone below his best and still win comfortably.


Racegoers looking at the recent Grand National winners board in the Lord Daresbury stand before racing at Aintree.
Racegoers looking at the recent Grand National winners board in the Lord Daresbury stand before racing at Aintree. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Three arrested over ‘over potential co-ordinated disruption’

Three people were arrested in connection with potential co-ordinated disruption at Aintree Racecourse as animal rights activists gathered outside the track before the Grand National Festival’s final day.

A 33-year-old woman from the London area was arrested in the Greater Manchester area on Saturday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance, Merseyside Police said.

A 25-year-old woman from London and a man were arrested outside the racecourse later on Saturday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance.

The force said: “Merseyside Police has been working with The Jockey Club and other partners to keep people safe during the Grand National Festival.

“We are aware of some people planning to protest at the event. This has been factored into our plans. We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but criminal behaviour and disorder will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”

It comes after climate and animal rights group Animal Rising announced plans to scale fences and enter the track – with up to 300 activists – to prevent the race from starting. PA Media

Animal rights banners on show at Aintree.
Animal rights banners on show at Aintree. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

The protest is building and there are now over 70 people outside crowding around the animal rights banners according to press reports.

Police on duty estimate Animal Rising numbers to be between 70 and 80.

— Dave Yates (@thebedfordfox) April 15, 2023

Protest latest: Claudia Penna Rojas, a spokesperson for Animal Rising who was quoted in Greg Wood’s report earlier, has been arrested according to the organisation.

Claudia, one of our spokespeople, has just been arrested, for speaking out about the cruelty that is about to unfold on the track at Aintree. Thank you for trying to protect the horses Claudia. Please sign our petition to Cancel the Grand National 📷

— Animal Rising (@AnimalRising) April 15, 2023


Tiger Roll is back! The dual Grand National winner, who didn’t deserve his owner (don’t get me started), is at the track today in the parade of previous winners.

A great sight!

— PA Racing (@PAracing) April 15, 2023


The biggest change on the track itself over the years have been the fences, from the hugely formidable obstacles in the post-War years to the smaller versions today. In 2012 the wooden core of many of the 16 fences were replaced with a more flexible plastic for safety reasons, while a number of fences have been reduced in height slightly over the years and the landing areas have been levelled off. This year there’s another alteration with the take-off boards, guard rails and the top boards of all hurdles and steeplechase fences in Britain now painted white and not orange.

Runners and riders during the Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree this week.
Runners and riders during the Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree this week. Photograph: David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA


Animal Rising falling short on numbers

There were more journalists than activists outside Aintree at 9.30am, when the group Animal Rising launched their protest action with the ultimate aim of stopping this afternoon’s Grand National going ahead.

The initial count of around 30 has risen over the last couple of hours to about 60, but that includes the annual demonstration by members of a different group, Animal Aid, and is still a long way short of the 200 to 300 that Animal Rising had said it was hoping to attract.

Claudia Penna Rojas, a spokesperson for the protesters, said a few minutes ago that they are still hoping the numbers will swell before the racing gets underway at 1.45pm.

“We’re going to be here throughout the day and people are travelling from all over,” Penna Rojas said. “We’ll see how the day goes but I remain optimistic that we’re really going to make an impact here today.

“We’re going to be demonstrating here this morning and at some stage we’re going to march. I’m confident that we will remain non-violent and that we can have some positive interactions with the public and get our message across.”

Animal rights activists protesting on the other side of the main road opposite the main entrance to the course before racing at Aintree.
Animal rights activists protesting on the other side of the main road opposite the main entrance to the course before racing at Aintree. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian


“I’m playing the King when he was the Prince of Wales in The Crown,” said actor Dominic West on ITV this morning and then to his surprise the band struck up with the national anthem. West talked about making the Red Rum story into a film but I couldn’t decide if it was probably in the offing or a flight of fancy.

The Prince of ITV Racing meets the Prince of Netflix. 👑

AND... they're playing his song! 🇬🇧 #ITVRacing | #TheOpeningShow | @chrishughes_22

— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 15, 2023


One certainty we can be sure of today is that the weather is going to be very good. It’s been a glorious sunny morning at Aintree and after a dry night the going on all three courses has been revised to Good to Soft, Soft in Places from Soft. The forecast is for a pleasant day, with plenty more sun.

1.45pm Maghull Novice Chase
1 Banbridge (Double declaration)

5.15pm Randox Grand National Handicap Chase
16 Escaria Ten (Vet’s certificate, lame)

A sunny day at the track!
A sunny day at the track! Photograph: David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA


Given it’s 50 years since Red Rum’s famous duel with Crisp in 1973, which Greg Wood wrote about the other day, there’s been plenty of film and pics of the greatest Grand National horse of all-time knocking about. But who’s this with him? Why it’s Dave Yates (in his early 20s), previously of this parish, and now Newsboy at the Daily Mirror.

Time to drag out my pic with Rummy. Haven't changed a bit.

— Dave Yates (@thebedfordfox) April 13, 2023


It’s worth taking time out to listen to these words on the “People’s Race” from the inimitable former Observer and Sunday Times scribe Hugh McIlvanney.

Annual tribute to the Grand National & Hugh McIlvanney ❤️

— Ed Chamberlin (@chamberlinsport) April 9, 2022


National protest arrest in Manchester

Merseyside police have issued a statement to reveal that a 33-year-old woman had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance in connection with potential co-ordinated disruption activities at Aintree.

The woman, from the London area, was arrested in the Greater Manchester area on Saturday morning, police said. A force spokeswoman said: “Merseyside police has been working with the Jockey Club and other partners to keep people safe during the Grand National Festival.

“We are aware of some people planning to protest at the event. This has been factored into our plans. We respect the right to peaceful protest and expression of views, but criminal behaviour and disorder will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly.”

About 30 animal rights protesters had gathered outside the track by 10am.

Animal rights activists hold banners at Aintree on Saturday morning.
Animal rights activists hold banners at Aintree on Saturday morning. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters


Our racing correspondent will be filing a more detailed report soon but it sounds like the proposed Animal Rising protest hasn’t attracted a lot of support … yet, anyway.

More journalists than protesters outside Aintree at the moment. #GrandNational

— Greg Wood (@Greg_Wood_) April 15, 2023


If your pin landed on No 16 in the Grand National, Escaria Ten, you’ll have to close your eyes and stick it in again as the horse is lame and won’t start. That means trainer Gordon Elliott will have just the five runners now!

Escaria Ten is a NON runner in the National. ❌

#ITVRacing | #TheOpeningShow

— ITV Racing (@itvracing) April 15, 2023


Hello and welcome to the greatest day of the racing year bar none. It’s the Grand National, the event that transcends the sport. Everyone has their own idea of what is going to win and most people will have a wager on this one day.

Personally, I loved the days before the British Horseracing Authority’s handicappers starting with Phil Smith started fiddling with the weights and we started to get 100-1 winners again as we did when Mon Mome won in 2009 and it became a much more open contest. What is true that the transformation of the National has been a brilliant success and Smith’s pledge when he took over the role as chief handicapper “to attract better-quality horses, make it more competitive and get as many horses as possible into the handicap” has worked and made the race, if anything, even more popular.

Today’s first race at Aintree at 1.45pm with the big race set to go off at 5.15pm. Stay with us here for all the latest news, opinion and best bets as we bring you the 2023 Grand National, the only Thoroughbred contest that actually merits the tag “greatest race in the world”.

The scene this morning at the entrance to Aintree.
The scene this morning at the entrance to Aintree. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters


Good morning from Aintree

Grand National day has dawned under a clear blue sky, the racecourse is preparing to welcome 70,000 spectators for the 175th running of the world’s most famous steeplechase, and an assembling group of up to 300 animal rights protesters begs to differ.

It remains to be seen whether the group Animal Rising will succeed in its aim of getting into Aintree shortly before the National’s off-time of 5.15pm BST and preventing the race from going ahead. I suspect that there is more chance that Cape Gentleman will win the National than there is of the race not taking place, and Cape Gentleman has, for practical purposes, no chance at all.

The racecourse and Merseyside police have also been forewarned by a Mail On Sunday investigation two weeks ago that it would be a good idea to strengthen any potential weak spots around the track’s perimeter, in case the demo planned to start at 9.30am is intended to divert attention from activities elsewhere.

But when an event is worth £500m to the sport, betting and the local economy, no one will be taking any chances. This is, after all, the Grand National, the only race that millions of Britons watch all year and one that has a rare appetite for hogging the headlines, whether it is for positive or negative reasons.

Police officers at Aintree early on Saturday.
Police officers at Aintree early on Saturday. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

The thing about the National is that it is such an exceptionally difficult race to win that the horse which eventually makes it into the winner’s enclosure almost inevitably comes with a decent story attached. A Grand National winner is the ultimate dream of pretty much every owner, trainer and rider in the game, and however much you try to win it, for the lucky few that do there is an inescapable sense that it was as much a case of their numbers coming up than the result of a well-conceived plan.

A rainy Friday has brought a subtle change to the profile of this year’s race, but it is still a ridiculously open event with only a handful of runners that can be (fairly) safely dismissed. A sudden, wild shift of luck can intervene at any stage, as generations of punters have learned.

At the time of writing, Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work is the narrow favourite at 9-1, with Ain’t That A Shame, the mount of fans’ favourite Rachael Blackmore, and Corach Rambler, the only British-trained runner in the top eight in the list, a point further behind on 10-1, but any one of half a dozen runners could set off at the head of the betting later today.

Picks for today’s ITV races are here, a runner-by-runner guide to the big-race field is here, and you can follow all the market moves, results, views and news, from both inside Aintree and on the streets outside, here on the blog as the day unfolds.


Barry Glendenning and Tony Paley, with Greg Wood at Aintree

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