Three Trainers With Live Chances of a Second Grand National Win in 2019
29 March 2019
To have one Grand National winner in your career as a jumps racehorse trainer is fortunate, but trying to climb the mountain that is the 4m 2f marathon at Aintree again takes real luck.
Some handlers in the British and Irish National Hunt scene have managed to miraculously triumph a couple of times in the world’s most famous steeplechase. See Nigel Twiston-Davies and Gordon Elliott for inspiration.
Which trainers have live chances this year of emulating their exploits and saddling a second Grand National winner? Well, these three handlers in particular…
County Carlow trainer Willie Mullins must be buzzing after finally breaking his hoodoo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He had saddled six runners-up in the big race at the Cheltenham Festival before but won it at last courtesy of Al Boum Photo.
Mullins also has a serious hand to play at Aintree and he’s expected to send several across the Irish Sea to Merseyside. His team is headed by Rathvinden – one of the main Grand National 2019 tips on Betting. Betfair at 12/1 – who bloomed relatively late in his racing career.
The 11-year-old won the National Hunt Chase as a novice last year and made a victorious return to action in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. Fellow veteran Pleasant Company is back for what he hopes is a lucky third tilt at the Aintree fences, having improved from ninth in 2017 to a gallant runner-up only 12 months ago.
A diminishing head separated Pleasant Company and the Grand National winner Tiger Roll last year. He has again been trained specifically for the race at 28/1 – seven times the price of a horse he is now 2lb better off with for that agonisingly narrow defeat.
Dual Leinster National winner Pairofbrowneyes and Up For Review, who are both 1o-year-olds, are other Mullins mounts that are guaranteed a run at Aintree. They are 28/1 and 33/1 respectively in the Grand National 2019 betting. With four set to line-up, he has every chance of winning this race again.
One of the great things about the Grand National is the fact that it’s a handicap run over a gruelling long-distance event and spruce-covered fences, which are a great leveller. You don’t have to be a high-profile trainer to win it and so Yorkshire handler Sue Smith proved in 2013 when she saddled Auroras Encore to a shock victory.
“And that’s how I won the 2013 Grand National”……”I’ll tell you now, 2019 is going to be a Vintage year!” #AurorasEncore #VintageClouds #GrandNational #GrandNationalWinner #SSRacing 🐎 pic.twitter.com/GvMcbLDxWF
— Sue Smith Racing (@suesmithracing) 22 March 2019
Her exploits some six years ago clear caught the eye of the modern era’s leading Grand National owner Trevor Hemmings, who has the nine-year-old grey Vintage Clouds trained at her stables. Connections were unlucky to miss the cut at Aintree with this horse last year, but he looks highly likely to make the 40-runner field this time around.
Vintage Clouds has had the Grand National as his season target. Although pulled-up in the Welsh equivalent at Chepstow over Christmas, returned to form when second in a valuable staying handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.
He is 14/1 ante-post with most bookmakers and that is a prominent place in the Grand National betting. Vintage Clouds looks set to be very low in the weights for the race and the less he has to carry on his way round Aintree, the better.
Dr Richard Newland
Speaking of Grand National surprises, Dr Richard Newland sprung one in 2014 when French import Pineau De Re won. He has a similar type in mind for the race this year in Abolitionist. Like Vintage Clouds, he looks virtually certain to get in, especially as many of the Irish horses have entries in their own Grand National to consider.
Abolitionist is the same age as Pineau De Re was when he landed a major gamble on Merseyside. Bookmakers aren’t taking him lightly or any chances and rate him a 33/1 chance to follow suit and win at Aintree.
Here’s a curious fact for you; Abolitionist made his debut in the same bumper as wonder mare Annie Power, who went on to win the Champion Hurdle. He was fourth that day and years later placed third in the Irish Grand National of 2017, behind Our Duke.
Newland is training him for the English equivalent now and having worked his magic with Pineau De Re, this Irish import also goes off a very lightweight. Again, that puts Abolitionist at a distinct advantage over most of the other 39 runners.