Grand National - At The Races

Grand National Runners Guide

    Guide to the world's most famous race by Gary O'Brien.

We've asked Gary O'Brien to take a close look at the runners for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National. Below you'll find his analysis of every horse, together with up to three video form clips from the ATR archive.

Gary has graded each horse's chance on a scale of 1-5, with just one horse given top marks. The scale can be interpreted as:

1 star: No hoper. 2 stars: Hard to fancy. 3 stars: Each-way chance. 4 stars: Leading win contenders. 5 stars: Gary's win selection.

To get started, just click on the name of any horse below or to see all horses at the same time click the Expand All button.

Horse profiles

Thunder And Roses

  • 10-y-o; gelding
  • Breeding: Presenting - Glen Empress (Lancastrian)
  • Trained by: G Elliott
  • Last Race: Galway, 3 Aug 2018 19:55
  • Result: PU/20, towards rear, slight mistake 6th, pushed along in rear after next, detached soon after halfway, behind and pulled up after 5 out
  • View full form

Unpredictable character who enjoyed his finest hour in the 2015 Irish National and has run well in several big handicaps in the intervening period. Badly out of sorts of late though, and has fallen on his last two starts.

Video Form
3 Aug 2018:
20 Jul 2018:
28 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:
10 Mar 2018:

Blaklion

Fourth last year after travelling powerfully for a long way, the former RSA Chase winner is 9lb higher this time following his easy victory in the Becher Chase here in December. However, he had a very hard race at Haydock last time, since when he has undergone wind surgery, and while likely to give supporters a good run for their money he may just be vulnerable late on once more.

Anibale Fly (FR)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Assessor - Nouba Fly (Chamberlin)
  • Trained by: A J Martin
  • Last Race: Aintree, 14 Apr 2018 17:15
  • Result: 4/38, hampered 1st, mid-division towards outside, took closer order 13th, hit 5 out, chased leaders after 3 out, outpaced in 4th next, soon ridden, kept on and just lost out in duel for 3rd final 110 yards, no impression with front pair
  • View full form

Has already landed one valuable handicap in his home country this season, and following a disappointing effort in the Irish Gold Cup (fell two out when beaten) he returned to form with a vengeance when third to Native River at Cheltenham. Officially 9lb well in as a result, he must have a major chance.

Video Form
4 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
2 Dec 2017:
4 Nov 2017:
25 Apr 2017:

The Last Samuri (IRE)

  • 10-y-o; chestnut gelding
  • Breeding: Flemensfirth - Howaboutthis (Oscar)
  • Trained by: K C Bailey
  • Last Race: Aintree, 14 Apr 2018 17:15
  • Result: PU/38, behind, hampered 6th (bechers), hampered again 15th (chair), struggling 23rd (2nd canal turn), tailed off when pulled up before 5 out
  • View full form

Second to Rule The World two years ago, he was well beaten off a much higher rating last year. Has run well in all four outings this season, including when chasing home Blaklion in the Becher, but likely to come up short again here.

Video Form
4 Mar 2017:
5 Nov 2016:
5 Mar 2016:
28 Nov 2015:

Valseur Lido (FR)

Grade 1-winning chaser who has been well below his best in four starts since returning from a year on the sidelines this term. Looks badly handicapped on that evidence, though always the chance that this unique test could revive him.

Video Form
1 Aug 2018:
29 Mar 2018:
17 Feb 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
28 Dec 2017:

Total Recall (IRE)

Has understandably been a big fancy for this ever since landing the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury in November. An easy winner over hurdles next time, he was in the process of running a big race when falling three out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and seems sure to make his presence felt if settling early on.

Video Form
25 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
8 Oct 2017:
26 Feb 2017:
22 Jan 2017:

Alpha Des Obeaux (FR)

Very useful hurdler/chaser at his best but has had his issues and isn’t the easiest to predict these days. He is however generally a sound jumper and should give Rachael Blackmore a good first ride in the race.

Video Form
15 Nov 2018:
14 Oct 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
25 Jan 2018:
28 Dec 2017:

Perfect Candidate (IRE)

Admirable veteran who was notching his seventh career success when scoring at Cheltenham in November. Well beaten when pulled up off just 2lb higher here last year though and hard to see him faring much better now.

Shantou Flyer (IRE)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Shantou - Carrigmorna Flyer (Bob Back)
  • Trained by: Richard Hobson
  • Last Race: Aintree, 14 Apr 2018 17:15
  • Result: PU/38, mid-division, hit 3rd, hampered 8th (canal turn), close up 13th, lost 19th, weakened 24th (2nd valentines), behind when pulled up before 5 out
  • View full form

Pulled up after being hampered here twelve months ago, he made a slow start to the current campaign but has been in great form since the turn of the year. His close second in Cheltenham’s Uiltima Handicap Chase was his fourth in a row and, 4lb well-in as a result, he could go well at a price.

Video Form
27 Jul 2016:
17 Jun 2016:
26 Apr 2016:
14 Feb 2016:
29 Nov 2015:

Tenor Nivernais (FR)

Fine servant to his connections down the years but he has shown nothing in two starts so far this season and was well beaten off the same mark here last year. Easily overlooked.

Video Form
27 Jan 2018:

Carlingford Lough

  • 12-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: King's Theatre - Baden (Furry Glen)
  • Trained by: J E Kiely
  • Last Race: Listowel, 14 Sep 2018 16:20
  • Result: F/6, tracked leaders, 5th halfway, pushed along after 8th, closer in 3rd after 3 out, soon ridden and no impression when fell next
  • View full form

Multiple Grade 1 winner over fences but has looked in decline this season and has never given the impression that his jumping technique would be suited to this test. Handicapper has at least relented but not difficult to overlook.

Video Form
14 Sep 2018:
28 Dec 2017:
10 Dec 2017:
4 Nov 2017:
19 Oct 2017:

Delusionofgrandeur (IRE)

Useful handicapper in his own grade but surely out of his depth here.

Video Form
2 Nov 2017:
27 Feb 2016:
28 Nov 2015:

Tiger Roll (IRE)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Authorized - Swiss Roll (Entrepreneur)
  • Trained by: G Elliott
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 16 Nov 2018 15:00
  • Result: 4/7, chased leaders, pushed along briefly 20th, outpaced 5 out, ridden into 4th before last, kept on, not reach leaders
  • View full form

Diminutive gelding who was winning at the Cheltenham Festival for the third time when capturing the Cross-Country Chase last month. His trainer used that race as a springboard to National glory with Silver Birch and this one has obvious prospects too if his sometimes suspect jumping holds up.

Video Form
16 Nov 2017:
30 Oct 2017:
19 Oct 2017:
17 Apr 2017:
31 Oct 2016:

Regal Encore (IRE)

Talented but enigmatic performer who was a never-threatening eighth behind One For Arthur last year. He warmed up for this by bagging a valuable contest at Ascot in February after the weights had been released and looks a lively bigger-priced contender.

Video Form
30 Apr 2016:
14 Dec 2015:

Vieux Lion Rouge (FR)

Enjoyed his finest hour when winning the 2016 Becher Chase but his stamina has appeared to give out after showing up well in the last two editions of this, finishing seventh and sixth respectively. Hasn’t been in great form this season either so hard to see him getting much closer.

Chase The Spud

Winner of the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last year, he followed up at Haydock on his seasonal bow in November but has been pulled up in both starts since and is probably too high in the handicap now.

Video Form
24 Feb 2018:
6 Jan 2018:
18 Mar 2017:
28 Mar 2016:
9 Jan 2016:

Warriors Tale

Has progressed well in the last year or so and only went down narrowly in valuable handicaps at Newbury and Doncaster on his last two starts. Career high mark makes life tough but he remains open to improvement. ***

Video Form
27 Jan 2018:

Seeyouatmidnight

Talented chaser whose form includes a third in the 2016 Scottish National and a defeat of Bristol De Mai at Carlisle later that year. Recently purchased by the Thompsons of Cheveley Park, but hard to know how much ability he retains after just two outings in the last 22 months.

Video Form
27 Feb 2016:

Gas Line Boy (IRE)

Belied his big odds when running a blinder in fifth last year after being hampered on a couple of occasions and will once again have the assistance of Aintree specialist Robbie Dunne. Seems better than ever this season, highlighted by his win in the Grand Sefton in December, and despite his advancing years looks to hold sound claims.

Video Form
1 Jul 2018:
14 Sep 2016:
26 Jun 2016:
30 Apr 2016:

The Dutchman (IRE)

Hit-and-miss since joining Colin Tizzard this season, landing the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January before pulling up in the Grand National Trial back at the Lancashire track a month later. Found to have burst blood vessels that day, he looks to have plenty of weight here.

Video Form
25 Feb 2017:

Pleasant Company

Very lightly raced for a horse of his age, he was apparently in with every chance when a blunder at Valentine’s second time stopped him in his tracks twelve months ago. Hasn’t shown a great deal in two starts this time around but better ground on Saturday could help his cause.

Video Form
25 Jan 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
25 Feb 2017:
26 Jan 2017:
30 Apr 2016:

Ucello Conti (FR)

  • 10-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Martaline - Gazelle Lulu (Altayan)
  • Trained by: G Elliott
  • Last Race: Aintree, 14 Apr 2018 17:15
  • Result: U/38, prominent on inside, left in lead 6th, (bechers), headed 19th, tracked leader, blundered 23rd (2nd canal turn), lost place but in touch when blundered and unseated rider 4 out
  • View full form

Likeable ex-French gelding who was a creditable sixth two years ago and was again running well when unseating at Becher’s on the second circuit on his second attempt. Highly encouraging reappearance behind the well-handicapped Anibale Fly at Leopardstown but must rebound from an abject display in Gowran Park’s Thyestes Chase in January.

Video Form
25 Jan 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
12 Mar 2017:
26 Jan 2017:
27 Dec 2016:

Saint Are (FR)

  • 12-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Network - Fortanea (Video Rock)
  • Trained by: T R George
  • Last Race: Aintree, 14 Apr 2018 17:15
  • Result: B/38, in touch, blundered 8th (canal turn), blundered and lost place 14th, towards rear when brought down 15th (chair)
  • View full form

Aintree regular who has been placed in two of the last three Nationals, most recently when third to One For Arthur. Hasn’t featured in either of his two starts this time around, but no surprise if he leaves those efforts behind and gives another good account of himself.

Video Form
22 Feb 2017:
9 Oct 2016:
24 Feb 2016:

Walk In The Mill (FR)

  • 8-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Walk In The Park - Libre amour (Lost World)
  • Trained by: Robert Walford
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 16 Nov 2018 12:40
  • Result: 3/11, mid-division, mistake and dropped towards rear 8th, struggling 15th, ridden after 3 out, left modest 4th 2 out, stayed on into 3rd after last, no chance with clear pair
  • View full form

Last seen pulling up in the Peter Marsh Chase won by The Dutchman, he had been in good form prior to that. However this will be an altogether different test for him.

Video Form
5 Dec 2015:

Raz De Maree (FR)

Sprightly veteran who stays forever and added another big prize to his career haul when capturing the rescheduled Welsh National at Chepstow in January. Saved for this since, he will appreciate any rain and could well improve on his eighth in 2014 when trained by the late Dessie Hughes.

Video Form
4 Nov 2018:
14 Oct 2018:
6 Jan 2018:
5 Dec 2017:
5 Nov 2017:

I Just Know (IRE)

Proved that stamina is one of his strong suits when landing the Yorkshire National at Catterick over 3m6f in January but was hit hard by the handicapper as a result and must compete off 14lb higher here. Also worrying that he was pulled up on the Mildmay course here last year the only time he raced in a big field over fences.

Video Form
17 Mar 2018:
9 Jan 2017:
4 Nov 2016:
11 Feb 2016:
11 Dec 2015:

Virgilio (FR)

Another to have undergone wind surgery since last seen in public, and it will need to have worked the oracle as he rather lost his way in the winter after showing good form as a novice.

Video Form
1 Jul 2018:
16 Dec 2017:
7 Oct 2016:

Baie Des Iles

Likeable mare who is generally a bold jumper and stays well, as she showed when recording the last of her six victories in Punchestown’s Grand National Trial in 2017. Arrives here on the back of a fine third in the same race two months ago, and the form stood up well in the Irish equivalent at Fairyhouse. Should give Katie Walsh another good spin over the big fences.

Video Form
4 Nov 2018:
11 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
26 Nov 2017:
25 Feb 2017:

Maggio (FR)

Impressive 50/1 winner of the handicap chase on the Mildmay course on National day in 2016, he has been quite lightly raced since but has shown glimpses of his old sparkle this term. Could surprise a few once more.

Video Form
19 Mar 2018:
18 Feb 2018:
28 Dec 2016:
20 Oct 2016:
16 May 2016:

Pendra (IRE)

Talented performer but obviously not the easiest to train, as he has been seen just twice since trailing home here two years ago. Handicapper has relented a little but difficult to have much faith in him after an underwhelming belated return at Cheltenham.

Buywise (IRE)

Mercurial character who chose a good day to end a long lean spell when swooping late in the Veterans’ Series Final at Sandown in January. Got around in his own time two years ago and is 6lb lower now but his tendency to make mistakes is an obvious concern.

Video Form
9 Dec 2017:
30 Jan 2016:

Childrens List

Inexperience has to be a huge worry for this eight-year-old, who only made his debut over fences in December and was pulled up on his handicap bow at Punchestown in February. Trainer’s runners always worthy of respect but this is surely too big a task.

Video Form
14 Jul 2018:
11 Feb 2018:
8 Oct 2017:
31 Dec 2016:
3 Dec 2016:

Lord Windermere

The 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero is not the force of old but he was far from disgraced here last year, beaten just under thirty lengths into seventh. He fell in the Becher Chase on his only subsequent start though, and the percentage call is to look elsewhere.

Video Form
28 Apr 2018:
25 Feb 2017:
28 Dec 2016:
24 Nov 2016:

Captain Redbeard (IRE)

Consistent gelding who obtained some potentially valuable experience of the Aintree fences in the Grand Sefton in December. Comes here on the back of a hurdle win at Ayr but his jockey’s inexperience and inability to use his claim are clearly negatives.

Video Form
31 Jan 2016:

Houblon Des Obeaux (FR)

Tremendous money-spinner who showed there was still life in him when winning a Veterans’ Series qualifier at Sandown in November. However he was never a factor here in 2017 and it’s hard to imagine things being any different this time.

Video Form
24 Feb 2018:
29 Jan 2018:
18 Mar 2017:
27 Dec 2016:

Bless The Wings (IRE)

Grand old campaigner who gained a popular success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in December. He has also been placed twice in the Irish version but it’s hardly ideal that he will have had just twelve days to recover after being pulled up in this year’s edition.

Video Form
26 Apr 2018:
2 Apr 2018:
3 Dec 2017:
5 Nov 2017:
29 Apr 2017:

Milansbar (IRE)

Gelled well with big race jockey Bryony Frost when making off with the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick in January and again emerged with credit when second in the Midlands National last month. This prominent racer can be expected to give supporters a good run for their money.

Video Form
17 Mar 2018:
24 Feb 2018:
6 Jan 2018:
9 Dec 2017:
25 Feb 2017:

Final Nudge (IRE)

Fair handicap chaser who has seemingly had his limitations exposed in recent starts and would be 3lb lower if the handicapper could calculate the weights now.

Video Form
5 May 2018:
6 Jan 2018:
18 Mar 2017:
1 Feb 2017:
17 Dec 2016:

Double Ross (IRE)

Admirable old-timer who was in the process of running a fine race when a slipped saddle forced his rider to pull up after Valentine’s second time in 2016. Put some disappointing efforts behind him with a gallant fourth in Cheltenham’s Kim Muir Chase last month and no surprise to see him show up well again.

Video Form
14 Oct 2018:
15 Oct 2017:
9 Oct 2016:
30 Jan 2016:

Road To Riches (IRE)

  • 11-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Gamut - Bellora (Over The River)
  • Trained by: N Meade
  • Last Race: Down Royal, 31 Aug 2018 18:40
  • Result: 7/10, prominent early, soon chased leaders, dropped to mid-division halfway, pushed along briefly 9th, slight mistake 4 out, soon ridden towards rear and no extra, weakened
  • View full form

Formerly very smart chaser who hasn’t been the same since a crunching fall in the 2016 Punchestown Gold Cup. Hard to see his fortunes taking a turn for the better here.

Video Form
31 Aug 2018:
3 Aug 2018:
11 Feb 2018:
27 Dec 2017:
13 Sep 2017:

Gary's Verdict

Grand National 2018

Conditions may well be a bit softer than ideal but nevertheless GAS LINE BOY appeals as the value bet for this year’s Randox Health Grand National. An excellent fifth to One For Arthur twelve months ago, Ian Williams’ veteran looked better than ever when winning the Grand Sefton in December and has been freshened up since his creditable third in Sandown’s Veterans’ Final a month later. Gold Cup third Anibale Fly, one of several who are officially well-in, is feared most along with the progressive Total Recall while Regal Encore could do much better than last year’s eighth with that valuable course experience behind him.

  • 1. GAS LINE BOY
  • 2. Anibale Fly
  • 3. Total Recall
  • 4. Regal Encore