The Grand National at Aintree often produces a fantastic storyline in the sport, from Bob Champion’s famous success in 1981 to Tiger Roll defending his crown in 2019.
Here is a look at some of the potential storylines we could see in the 174th renewal of the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Rachael Blackmore to Be Queen of Aintree Again
Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore is used to breaking records in the sport. Last year in the Grand National, she became the first woman to ride the winner of the race when she partnered Minella Times to success in Liverpool.
Blackmore goes into this year’s Grand National Meeting on the back of an excellent Cheltenham Festival. She had success in the Champion Hurdle, Turners’ Novices’ Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup. Once again, she was the first female jockey to win the latter.
Minella Times has best Grand National odds of +3100 this year, as he bids to defend his crown. Back-to-back victories in the race for Blackmore would cap off what has been another fantastic season.
Amateur Sam Waley-Cohen Has a Strong Chance with Noble Yeats
The last amateur jockey to win the Grand National was Marcus Armytage in 1990. He was not only successful on-board Mr Frisk, but the pair also broke the course record. Their time of 47.80 seconds still holds up today as the fastest in Grand National history, despite the distance now being 342 yards shorter.
Sam Waley-Cohen will be hoping he becomes the latest amateur jockey to win the Aintree feature when he rides Noble Yeats in the race this year. His father, Robert Waley-Cohen, purchased the horse earlier this year in order for his son to partner it in the marathon contest.
Although Waley-Cohen is an amateur, he is a very capable rider. He won the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup onboard Long Run. The qualified dentist has an excellent record over the Grand National fences. He has been successful six times on the course, while in 2011, he was second in the Grand National on Oscar Time.
Mullins Win Would Help Title Challenge
The National Hunt Trainers’ Championship could go right down to the wire this season as four men all have a realistic chance of success. Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Dan Skelton and Willie Mullins are the four trainers still in contention for the title.
Given there is £1 million in prize money available in the Grand National, victory for one of the four contenders could help shift the title in their favor. Victory in the race for Mullins would be huge as he is based in Ireland, so he only sends his horses across to the UK for the major prizes.
Mullins has five entries in the Grand National at the latest stage of declarations, including Burrows Saint. The chaser ran an excellent race in 2021 when he finished fourth. He goes into the race year with strong claims.
Hopefully, this year’s race at Aintree produces another contest to savor. It has all the makings of being one of the best renewals for a number of years.