Can you believe that it’s already almost upon us? The clock is ticking down to the 2020 Grand National, and it barely seems 5 minutes since the previous one. Could it be that old(er) age is making the years feel shorter for me. Well existential crisis aside, let’s hope my mind and body can stand up to what’s bound to, once again, be a heart pounding and enthralling encounter. There is history in the making to be had this Grand National (with Tiger Roll going for his third Grand National victory in a row) and so that always adds an extra element of excitement into the mix. In the run up this year’s National, let’s take a look at the current favourites with bookmakers, and their claim to being up to the task.
Currently 6-1 favourite, and understandably so, this Irish bred thoroughbred takes the top table when it comes to Grand National tips. Tiger Rolls credentials go without saying and so many punters can’t see past him. Winner of the previous two Grand National races, it was inevitable that the Michael O’Leary owned horse would attempt a record breaking three in a row. It’s not often that records are broken in a race with so much history, and so it was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. The odds are justified based on the fact that we already know that Tiger Roll has what it takes, and its recent performances have given us no reason to believe otherwise. Trainer Gordon Elliot has now even confirmed that “all being well” the ten year old will remain in training after the Grand National, and so this may not be the Swansong that some viewed it to be. The National of course is never a formality so time will tell if it’s a record breaking effort, or a race too far.
A 12-1 shot in mid February, Native River has been there, done that and got the t-shirt (or at least the saddle!). Welsh Grand National winner in 2016, Denman Chase in 2017, 2018 and 2020 and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in 2018. The only prize missing from the endless list of accolades is however quite a notable one, The Aintree Grand National. Trained by Colin Tizzard and with £1,000,000 in earnings to his name, many had been willing Native River on to take the National. There are unknowns, he’s a great jumper but would he be able to take to the taxing National hurdles? Owner Garth Broom also sounded a word of warning recently, saying that the immediate priority for the chaser is a second Cheltenham Gold Cup win. Broom cautioned that if he pours everything into that performance, he may not have enough in the tank going forward.
As it turns out, he may have had a point about pushing his luck. As, hot off the press today, it emerged that Native River has been withdrawn from the Gold Cup due to injury (and hence the Grand National too). This season ending tendon injury is no doubt just one of the many twists and turns that we’ll see in the run up to the 2020 Grand National. This should shake up the markets.
Also at odds of 12-1 is Burrows Saint. The Irish Grand National winner has had an impressive season and his display in Fairyhouse last April more than spoke for itself as did the recent Punchestown performance. The 7 year old looks to have plenty of gas in the tank and no shortage of ability. A versatile character racing off his Irish mark of 156, there’s plenty of reasons to think Burrows Saint should be in the running. It might, though, be worth keeping your powder dry in anticipation of a prep race over the fences. Depending on his performance that may inform your betting decisions.