The crowds are back and the 2022 Grand National at Aintree on Saturday (5.15pm, ITV) promises to be a memorable one. Irish trained horses dominated in the 2021 National and the Emerald Isle is strongly represented again.
Gordon Elliott saddles seven runners this year. Delta Work is the most fancied of them at 10/1 and deserves support as the class horse in the race with five grade one wins to his name. He was last seen depriving his more illustrious stablemate Tiger Roll of a winning swansong in the Cheltenham Cross Country race at the festival. Run over three miles six furlongs on heavy ground, stamina was not an issue for him and he coped with the non-standard obstacles providing hope that the National fences should not bother him.
That win was his first since he took the Irish Gold Cup in 2020 and suggests he is in good order after a number of mediocre efforts. Owned by Gigginstown, this nine-year-old son of Network will be partnered by Jack Kennedy and has to be seriously considered. The caveats are that he might prefer softer ground than he is likely to encounter and he is usually ridden wide for racing space. The hurly burly of a cavalry charge might not play to his strengths.
His stablemate Run Wild Fred (16/1) also carries the Gigginstown colours, they will be worn by Davy Russell who partnered Tiger Roll to both his Grand National victories and is a massive boost to any horse’s chances in this race. Run Wild Fred found only Freewheelin Dylan (50/1) too good in the Irish National last year and was the runner-up in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. This eight-year-old son of Shantou is super consistent and hasn’t finished worse than second in his past seven runs. That means he is not well-handicapped but at 16/1 with Russell’s assistance he looks a very viable each-way prospect.
The same could be said of Escaria Ten at 14/1 whom Elliott saddles for the McNeill family. Most recently he was tried in blinkers for the first time and was narrowly beaten in the Bobbyjo Chase at the end of February. The race has often provided useful pointers for the National and Escaria Ten finished 42 lengths ahead of Willie Mullins’ Burrows Saint (25/1) who started as the Bobbyjo favourite but weakened.
Elliott’s other Bobbyjo runner was Gigginstown’s Coko Beach (50/1) who was beaten 60 lengths after running out of steam two from home. He usually has the stamina for further but perhaps the race came too soon after his more creditable effort in a Grand National trial two weeks earlier. Coko Beach finished fourth, beaten seven lengths over three and a half miles on heavy ground. The race was won by his stablemate Death Duty (40/1) who carries the same silks.
Gigginstown are also represented by Samcro (50/1), a former star with issues that led Elliott to build him a special stable designed to provide maximum air flow. He will appreciate decent ground but cannot be relied upon. Elliott’s final representative is more interesting, Mount Ida (33/1), an eight-year-old daughter of Yeats. She was very disappointing at the Cheltenham Festival but won there in 2021 over a three and a quarter miles. Her tendency to jump to the right is not going to help her chances but she is partnered by the very capable Denis O’Regan who will use his experience of the hunting field to navigate the safest path for her.
Henry de Bromhead saddles two including the current National title holder, Minella Times, for JP McManus who will be ridden again by Rachael Blackmore. Currently one of the 2022 Grand National betting market leaders at 9/1, he has been raised 15lb and has failed to complete in his two starts since his victory. He fell at Punchestown in December and was last seen pulling up at Leopardstown in early February. De Bromhead and Blackmore are a formidable team but supporting him this time at such a short price takes a major leap of faith.
De Bromhead has secured the services of Robbie Power for Poker Party (80/1) who pulled up in the Cross Country race at Cheltenham. Power has National form, winning it on Silver Birch, but looks unlikely to gain a second win. Poker Party returned from an absence of almost two years this season and has been beaten 48 and 100 lengths in his two completions this season.
Willie Mullins saddles four for Ireland this time but seems to have less potent ammunition than usual. Burrows Saint (25/1) is the most fancied of his quartet and he has to overcome his Bobbyjo flop. Now a nine-year-old, this French-bred son of Saint Des Saints, enjoyed a dream run in the National last year and did not quite get home. He finished fourth, beaten nearly 30 lengths under Patrick Mullins. Paul Townend will partner him in the pink silks of the Riccis.
Agusta Gold (66/1) comes into the National on the back of a more encouraging effort, he was second in a modest three and a quarter mile chase at Down Royal in March having pulled up in his previous two runs this term. On a good day he can stay three and a half miles but stable jockey Townend appears to prefer the chances of Burrows Saint so Danny Mullins will ride him.
Brian Hayes takes the ride on Brahma Bull (80/1) for Mullins and the Riccis. This eleven-year-old son of Presenting is bred to enjoy good ground but faded badly in the 2021 Irish Grand National and is not always the best jumper. He was last seen unseating Hayes in the Cheltenham Cross Country race. Class Conti (100/1) completes the Closutton contingent. He was beaten 130 lengths in the National last year and his form this season gives little cause for optimism. Sam Twiston-Davies will partner him for the first time.
Smaller scale Irish trainers may have more realistic hopes, notably Ted Walsh who saddles Any Second Now, the recent Bobbyjo Chase winner, for McManus who also bred him. This ten-year-old son of Oscar survived a major blunder and was horribly hampered in this race last year but was only beaten eight lengths into third. He was the most obvious hard luck story and, although raised 7lb, stands a good chance of bettering his position this time under Mark Walsh. Ted’s only Aintree runner to date, Batcio, outran his odds of 25/1 to finish second in the Topham. Any Second Now is a very solid each-way prospect.
Martin Brassil saddled Numbersixvalverde to victory in 2006 and is not without a chance of gaining his second National win with Longhouse Poet (16/1). He was an impressive winner of the Thyestes in late January and stayed on in a style that suggests he could cope with a longer distance. This eight-year-old son of Yeats has never fallen or raced outside Ireland. Brassil is a friend of Ted Walsh’s and took Longhouse Poet for a schooling session over his ‘Aintree’ fence. Brassil has a decent record with his rare runners at Aintree and this may not be a wasted journey.
The stunning grey mare Snow Leopardess is the most fancied English runner at 10/1. Trained by Charlie Longsdon for her well-known owners and breeders, the Fox-Pitts, she has won all her three starts this season. She was spectacular over these fences when taking the Becher Chase in December. A mare has not won the National for years but very few have tried. She is likely to attract plenty of support on the day but her chances would probably be helped by soft ground.
Last year’s hot Grand National favourite Cloth Cap (25/1) will be happy with conditions. Trained by Jonjo O’Neill for the late Trevor Hemmings, a wind issue reportedly stopped him last year. He has had a wind op but is yet to regain his past form. If the tongue tie that is being tried for the first time works he could have a better chance than his price suggests.
Colin Tizzard’s Fiddlerontheroof (16/1) is another tongue tie wearer who is fancied by some to run well. He stayed on strongly after trouble in running in a 21-runner three and a quarter mile handicap at Newbury in November, giving hope that he could handle further. He was last seen finishing second having lost a hind shoe at Ascot in February, beaten by Henry Daly’s Fortescue (20/1). The eight-year-old Fortescue is no forlorn hope either. He seems to be progressive and is a decent jumper who has built a good partnership with Hugh Nugent but cannot benefit from his usual 5lb claim here.
2022 Grand National Betting Tip
This is a hugely competitive renewal, considered by some as a better quality race than last year. Delta Work is a class act but the demands of this race may not play to his strengths. Run Wild Fred seems a more reliable prospect from the Elliott yard each-way at 16/1 with the wily Davy Russell on board.
Any Second Now looks a very solid each-way prospect but we have to look for a more generously priced runner and Martin Brassil’s promising LONGHOUSE POET is our pick each-way at 16/1 with Bet365 for the 2022 Grand National.