Yesterday marked the announcement of the weights for the 2019 Grand National, the first time in 42 years that they have been announced in its hometown of Liverpool, set by Martin Greenwood, the Senior BHA Chase Handicapper. Heading the weights this year is Nigel Twiston Davies’ four-time Grade One winner Bristol De Mai, who will run off 11-10, the maximum weight allowed and a pound higher than what Many Clouds shouldered when winning the race in 2017. Despite that, the admirable grey has actually got off light here, running from five-pound below his official mark in order to prevent numerous runners being out of the weights. His presence off a mark of 168 certainly helps to push the rest of the field down the weights, last year’s top weight Blaklion rated just 161 on that occasion. There are just eight other horses carrying 11st or more, the second-highest four-pound lower than the top-weight, Anibale Fly running off a five-pound higher mark than when finishing fourth in the 2018 edition, although gets in three-pounds light on official ratings. Read our free Grand National tips on our Aintree betting tips page.
The aforementioned Anibale Fly is just one of six entries for J P McManus. Joseph O’Brien’s Irish Gold Cup winner Edwulf will face a tough task from 11-1, a two-pound higher rating than his Irish mark, as will Auvergnat. One of the more challenging assignments Greenwood revealed, he would have to run off a mark 152, despite winning the Paddy Power off 131 when last seen, given his higher rating over Cross-Country fences. Minella Rocco, who placed in the 2017 Gold Cup, and Regal Encore, who was a non-runner last year, would be interesting runners for connections if at their best from 10-11 and 10-8 respectively.
Market leaders Elegant Escape, the Welsh National winner, will run off 11-4, and Gordon Elliott’s Tiger Roll is rated nine-pounds higher this year than when winning the 2018 edition, allocated 11-1, having won last year’s off 10-13. Similarly prominent in the market is Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds who narrowly missed out on the race last year, but looks set to get in this year from 10st. Pat Kelly looks to have a decent hand at completing the Gold Cup-Grand National double with Presenting Percy heading the market for the former and Mall Dini near the head of the betting for Aintree’s showpiece off 10-4.
One For Arthur, who won the race for Scotland in 2017 off of 10-11, runs from a six-pound higher mark this year, although that actually enables him to run off 10-10, as does last year’s favourite Total Recall who was pulled up from 11-5 last year. The same yard’s Pleasant Company, who was denied by a head last year runs off the same weight of 10-11, despite being seven-pounds higher, and will head the Willie Mullins contingent alongside Rathvinden, a winner of the National Hunt Chase over four miles at Cheltenham, who will run off 10-10. Blaklion, the fourth in 2017 who was well-fancied for last year’s edition, is well-handicapped on past form, set to run off almost a stone less than he was tasked with last year, his mark falling five-pound since 2018. A similar story applies to fellow mainstays The Last Samuri, who placed in 2016 and Vieux Lion Rouge who has finished ninth, sixth, and seventh in the last three runnings off bigger weights.
Gordon Elliott has twenty-two entries at this stage, and he has announced his intention to have between ten and fifteen runners in the race. He intends to saddle, as well as last year’s winner, other classy sorts such as the Irish Grand National winner General Principle who would have to carry just 10st, and Dounikos who won an Irish Grand National Trial recently and gets into the race off 10-10. The Storyteller, Don Poli and Outlander are all Grade One-winners for the yard who would have to saddle over 11st if taking part. It would be no surprise, given the number of live chances that Elliott and Gigginstown have, were the winner to be wearing maroon and white once again. Other Grade One winners Royal Vacation and Tea For Two appear well-handicapped, running off 10-5 and 10-2 respectively, as does dual-Topham winner Ultragold, who has been tasked with 10-3 for Colin Tizzard.
There are 110 horses given official marks for this year’s race, the bottom weights being David Pipe’s Van Gogh Du Granit and Thomas Mullins’ Scoir Mear whose ratings of 127 would see the pair run from a long way out of the handicap from 8-11. With a maximum field of 40, the chances of the pair appearing certainly appear slim, with the 10-6 shouldered by five runners being the current bottom weight. Of course, there will be numerous defections in the coming weeks, and we are certainly no closer to knowing the final complexion of the race. Nevertheless, now that the weights have been revealed we can all start assessing the chances of those entered. Read our free betting tips page for daily selections on the build-up to the Grand National.