Willie Mullins targets second Grand National victory

Photo © Jeff Griffith

Willie Mullins won the Aintree Grand National in 2005 with Hedgehunter and came within a head of a second success when Pleasant Company just failed to catch Tiger Roll in 2018. He went close again when Rathvinden finished third in 2019. Burrows Saint was prominent in the Grand National betting when the race was abandoned due to the pandemic last year. The same horse will spearhead the Mullins team for the 2021 renewal on April 10th.

Burrows Saint provided Mullins with his first ever win in the Irish Grand National in 2019 when given an inspired ride by Ruby Walsh. Plans for Aintree had to be shelved 12 months’ ago but the eight-year-old is reported to be in great shape after a good run at Fairyhouse in February. His name features prominently among Grand National ante-post tips and he is currently around 16-1 for Aintree.

Mullins was reluctant to run the son of Saint Des Saints on heavy ground but his hand was forced by the extremely wet winter. In the circumstances, the gelding did well to finish second to stable companion Acapella Bourgeois when beaten less than five lengths. The horse will now be kept ticking over and his trainer is confident that the better ground will suit him in the spring.

Acapella Bourgeois books Aintree ticket

Acapella Bourgeois is eleven years old and Mullins freely admits that he may be past his best. He was a high class novice and he finished third in the Irish National won by Burrows Saint. He finished runner-up to stable star Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year’s Day and won the Bobbyjo Chase in February. He is currently rated a 33-1 chance for the Aintree Grand National.

Brahma Bull has failed to finish in his last two starts at Tramore and Gowran Park. The ten-year-old had finished a good second to Minella Indo at Navan in November and would have an each-way chance if able to recapture that level of form. The son of Presenting has won three of his eight races over fences but is currently a big outsider at around 50-1 for the Grand National.

Class Conti given good racing weight in National

Class Conti races in the familiar two-tone green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, owners of Grand National top weight Bristol de Mai. Class Conti is a nine-year-old son of Poliglote and ran a good trial when third in the valuable Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January. He then contested the Leinster National at Naas where he finished a one-paced fourth under a big weight. Both races were in heavy ground so connections will probably be hoping for some ease in the ground on April 10th.

The Irish may have dominated the Cheltenham Festival but it is the British-trained Cloth Cap who heads the early Grand National betting at 6-1. He was an all-the-way winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy in November and has since followed up in fine style at Kelso. The nine-year-old has yet to tackle Aintree’s notorious fences and will also need good ground to produce his best form. From a handicapping point of view, he will race off a 14lbs lower mark than his official rating.

Other horses to catch the eye include Any Second Now and Kimberlite Candy, both owned by JP McManus. Any Second Now is trained by Ted Walsh who trained Papillion to win the National in 2000. He bounced back to form when winning over two miles at Navan in March and was a Cheltenham Festival winner in 2019. Kimberlite Candy has twice finished runner-up in the Becher Chase at Aintree so is proven over the obstacles. His biggest success came in the Warwick Classic Chase last year and he is trained by Tom Lacey at Ledbury in Herefordshire.

By Harvey Mayson

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