The 2020 Grand National takes place at Aintree Racecourse just outside the British city of Liverpool on Saturday, 4 April.
As the world’s most famous steeplechase for racehorses, it is also the acid test for a thoroughbred. There are 30 fences covered in spruce of varying heights and style for the equine athletes and their jockeys to clear around a marathon distance of four-and-a-quarter miles (about 6,900 meters).
Who are the horses to follow on the road to the Grand National? Let’s take a look.
Will Tiger Roll try for Aintree treble?
Will he or won’t he be back on Merseyside? That’s the big question about Tiger Roll, the plucky Irish raider based at Gordon Elliott’s County Meath stables who has landed Grand National glory in each of the last two years.
Once described as a rat by his owners, this lion-hearted horse has excelled when faced with the unique demands of this particular racetrack. The Grand National is a handicap with special weights allotted to the animals running in it.
As Tiger Roll has won the race twice, he is sure to be carrying close to if not topweight in 2020. That, coupled with a minor setback that has caused him to miss the Christmas period, means Gigginstown House Stud may decide not to return to Aintree.
Only horse racing legend Red Rum has won the Grand National three times, but not even he managed it in consecutive years. If lining up, then Tiger Roll is sure to be shorter than his ante-post price of 15/2 favorite with Betfair in a historic bid for sporting immortality.
Double Becher champion Walk In The Mill another track lover
There are trials of sorts for the Grand National. One of the key ones, the Becher Chase (also a handicap) takes place over the course in early December and the last two editions have been won by Walk In The Mill.
Although the race is a mile short of the Grand National distance, Robert Walford’s stable star also finished fourth behind Tiger Roll in the big one itself. He clearly loves the track and that repeat Becher success marks him down as an obvious contender.
Even though a maximum field of 40 runners contests the Aintree showpiece, connections of Walk In The Mill were worried about him getting into it last year. They don’t need to have any concerns about that now and can fully plan for going better, so don’t be surprised to see this horse among Grand National tips at futures odds of 20/1.
Burrows Saint has serious potential for the future
Not many racehorses at the age of just six win the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse over the Easter holidays – just four in fact after 1970. Burrows Saint could be something special in staying steeplechases, then, for County Carlow trainer Willie Mullins.
Come the 2020 Grand National, he’ll be a seven-year-old and that youngest age bracket has the worst record over the Aintree fences. He already defied prevailing trends in Ireland, so why not confound critics in England?
It will be fascinating to see what crack handler Mullins is training Burrows Saint for. Aintree Grand National glory is an obvious long-term target after staying more than 5,800 meters to win the Irish equivalent so young and odds of 20/1 reflect that.