As most column inches regarding the Grand National have been dedicated to AP McCoy’s mission to close his career in style on Shutthefrontdoor, this overemphasis has seen the media miss out on a number of other ‘you couldn’t make it up’ human interest stories that would sure satisfy any Hollywood scriptwriter. In this article we hope to readdress the balance disproportionately set in the 19-time champion jockey’s favour.
The nature of horse racing and such big fields means that it is inevitable that a father, a mother or brother will be pitted against (or put their hopes in) a son, a daughter or sister. This season’s Grand National is no different.
A win for Night In Milan would see father and son team Keith and James Reveley as the first parent-child, trainer-jockey combination to win the National since Papillon was first past the post for Ted and Ruby Walsh back in 2000. Also looking to achieve this feat are Robert and Sam Waley-Cohen with Oscar Time.
Youngster Sean Bowen takes the ride on Paul Nicholls’ Mon Parrain, he in competition with his father’s Scottish Grand National winner Al Co, that entrant being ridden by Denis O’Regan. Similarly, Paul Carberry takes the ride on Cause of Causes for Gordon Elliott, going up against his sister, Nina Carberry, who is aboard First Lieutenant. Whilst Michael Scudamore saddles Monbeg Dude, his brother Tom will be hoping he’s on the winner as he takes the ride on David Pipe’s Soll.
The last time a 17-year-old jockey won the race was back in 1938 though this is something the aforementioned Sean Bowen will be looking to do aboard his charge. He will hope experience counts for nothing as he goes up against the likes of 40-year-old McCoy and Paul Carberry, aged 41.
In terms of horses, the Waley-Cohen’s Oscar Time (14) would be the oldest winner since Peter Simple in 1853 with Tranquil Sea potentially the first 13-year-old victor since 1923.
At the other end of the age scale, both Unioniste and Cause of Causes will be hoping to break the duck of seven-year-olds, a losing streak that stretches back 55 years.
The late withdrawal of Karen McLintock’s Carlito Brigante means that just Rebecca Curtis (Bob Ford) and Emma Lavelle (Court By Surprise) are left to try to add their names to the roll call of women trainers who have scooped the Grand National. They look to follow in the footsteps of two-time winner Jenny Pitman, Venetia Williams and Sue Smith.
Nina Carberry aims to be the first female jockey to ever lift Grand National trophy.
Should Ballycasey take the plaudits tomorrow, Ruby Walsh will be the first three-time National winner since Brian Fletcher (Red Alligator 1968 and Red Rum 1973, 1974), Ernie Piggott being the only other three-time winner. This would put Walsh just two behind leading jockey George Stephens.
The owners of Alvarado, the Ruckers, have seen their horses place in the last six renewals of the Grand National. Could he give them their first ever winner?
Whilst Pineau De Re could become the first two-time winner since Red Rum, should Royale Knight win for last year’s winning trainer, Richard Newland would become the first handler since Fred Winter (Jay Trump 1965, Anglo 1966) to win consecutive Nationals with different horses.
Finally, can The Rainbow Hunter give Kim Bailey his second victory in the race 25 years after his first (Mr Frisk 1990)?