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With the big race edging closer, it’s time to take a look at some of the top trainers, the ones who’ll be turning up to Aintree mob-handed. Can any of the big-name trainers clinch of the sport’s biggest prizes in 2023?
There are so many excellent trainers in the National Hunt game now, though there are a select few who’re always expected to flourish. We’re talking Nicky Henderson, Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins. That trio are likely to have a handful of top horses running in the Grand National, so let’s take a look.
Willie Mullins hasn’t won the Grand National since 2005, when Hedgehunter got his nose in front, but he’ll have a handful of chances to change that on Saturday.
The leading charge for the Mullins stable must be Gaillard Du Mesnil, who turns up at Aintree following a commanding win over four miles at Cheltenham last month. That form is among the best on offer here, so we should not be surprised if he goes well.
Also likely to run for Willie Mullins is Capodanno, a horse that impressed at Punchestown a year ago, but has only been seen once since. Perhaps connections have waited with him patiently for a tilt at this.
Amongst other possible runners for Mullins is Mr Incredible, who finished third in a big handicap at the Cheltenham Festival, and Recite A Prayer, who has some solid staying chase form in the book.
For Gordon Elliott, who won the Grand National as recently 2019 with Tiger Roll, there’s a trio of serious contenders. Galvin is a prolific long-distance winner over fences, and arrives here having finished a strong second to Delta Work at Cheltenham recently. That horse is also trained by Elliott and having finished third in this race last season, is likely to put on a bold showing.
Fury Road is more of an unknown quantity for the Elliott stable now stepping up markedly in trip. He failed to land a blow in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, but this greater emphasis on stamina could unlock an improved showing.
Elliott’s national hopes don’t end there, oh no. He also has Escaria Ten, who successfully finished the Grand National last season, finishing a respectable ninth, as well as Coko Beach, who is a very interesting contender having romped home over just short of four miles at Punchestown in February. Do not be surprised if he makes his presence felt.
Nicky Henderson doesn’t have anywhere near as many chances as the pair above. In fact, he only has one runner entered, though history tells us that this shrewd handler can never be ignored.
Henderson’s only hope of winning this race for the first time will be Mister Coffey. The eight-year-old has become a very reliable runner in big-field staying handicaps, so we absolutely should not discount him.
He finished third behind Gallaird Du Mesnil at Cheltenham, travelling well for a long time. Perhaps this extra distance will help him find more at the business end.
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