Grand National on course for just seven British runners – the fewest in Aintree history

Sam Waley-Cohen riding Noble Yeats - Grand National on course for just seven British runners – the fewest in Aintree history
Last year’s Grand National featured just 13 British runners - Getty Images /Alan Crowhurst

Just seven British horses could contest this year’s Randox Grand National – a number which would represent a record low for the biggest race in this country.

Last year’s National featured just 13 British runners yet with the 2024 staging reduced from 40 to 34 on welfare grounds, domestic interest is likely to be reduced further still following the confirmation of weights yesterday. Just seven in the top 34 are trained this side of the Irish Sea and three of those, Threeunderthrufive, Dusart and Le Milos are not guaranteed runners. The handicapper, Martin Greenwood, may well be right in describing the entry as “strong on quality” but it has certainly highlighted the paucity of British staying chasers.

Last year had 27 Irish entries and the same number will likely race at Aintree again this year. Liverpool? The Jockey Club should look at holding the weight’s lunch in Dublin next year. At the moment the Gina Andrews-ridden family hunterchaser Latenightpass, who has been first and second over the fences, is the last horse guaranteed a run but, of course, plenty of horses will drop out between now and the 48 hour declaration stage.

To match last year’s 13-strong field, British trainers would require a near-miracle to occur. The 13th British-trained entry does not arrive until Empire Steel, 55th in the list of entered runners that features an overall all-time high 56 from Ireland. And it will be the Irish-trained King George winner Hewick who is set to carry top weight of 11st 12lbs in 176th running of the Grand National on April 13.

Last year’s winner Corach Rambler gets in on a tasty 11st 2lbs but instead of receiving 1lb from the runner up Vanillier, ante-post favourite at this stage, the Scottish gelding now has to give him 8lbs for his two and a quarter length win. Greenwood reckons a rating of 144 should be enough for a horse to make the cut, which means Chambard, another horse successful over the fences for Lucy Turner, should get in to give us two female amateur ridden runners.

The Christian Williams-trained Kitty’s Light, the Eider-Scottish National-Bet365 Gold Cup winner last season, should get in as should the horse the handicapper picked out as interesting, the Martin Brassil trained Panda Boy. The days of Michael O’Leary kicking off about Tiger Roll’s weight are long behind us.

I would, however, have been a bit surprised if I were Gary Moore to see Nassalam, the wide-margin Welsh National winner in atrocious ground, allotted 2lbs more than Corach Rambler, a two-time Ultima Chase and National winner. “I’d have liked him to be given a bit less [weight] but it could be worse,” said Moore, whose first National runner it will be, yesterday. “I did send in an email stating my facts, that while he did win very, very well nothing has come out of the race and won since and he’d want to be winning that race if you were even thinking of entering him in the National.

“He overachieved and they underachieved – that’s my thinking. But I guess you need to be that high to get in. I’ve never had a Grand National runner before and I’m actually looking forward to training a horse for it. He had a little break and now we’re starting to try to bring him along slowly. He probably won’t need the ground to be really heavy over four and a half miles.”

Speaking about Corach Rambler’s weight, Lucinda Russell said: “I’d say that’s in line with our expectations. We’re sort of prepping him for the National but the Gold Cup comes first. Winning the National is incredibly addictive. When you win it the first time it’s fabulous, when you win it the second time you want three and you think ‘we can do it again’! It’s obsessive!

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