The Grand National is on the horizon and the big question on everyone’s lips is who is going to win the marathon contest? Not that the favourite in the Grand National odds is often anything to go by, but that title belongs to dual Ultima Handicap Chase winner Corach Rambler ahead of this year’s renewal — while 2022 victor Noble Yeats, Delta Work, Any Second Now and Longhouse Poet make up the top five of the betting.
Just outside of those market leaders, there are two interesting entries for 10-time Cheltenham Festival Top Trainer Willie Mullins. The Closutton handler hasn’t won the National since his maiden success with Hedgehunter in 2005, but he has two solid claims with Mr Incredible and Gaillard Du Mesnil — who come in to the betting at 12/1 and 14/1 respectively.
Both have their red flags when looking at the trends for the storied race, as they are both seven years of age (Noble Yeats is the only seven-year-old to win the National since 1940), while Mr Incredible has just seven runs over fences and is yet to even win over 3m1f+ — a feat which 12 of the last 17 winners had on their CV before landing the prestigious prize.
Matters are perhaps worse for Gaillard Du Mesnil, as grey horses are very poorly represented in the Grand National roll of honour. In fact, just three grey thoroughbreds have managed to successfully navigate the testing Aintree fences and reign supreme in the National — The Lamb (1868 & 1871), Nicolaus Silver (1961) and most recently Neptune Collonges in 2012.
There are a number of theories as to why grey horses have a poor record in the Grand National, some crazier than others, but you could argue that it is down to nothing more than low representation on their behalf. Therefore, all it would take is one standout grey to prevail and Gaillard Du Mesnil certainly has the ability on paper despite his age.
Looking at the key trends for the race, there are plenty of boxes that the Mullins-trained horse ticks. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top criteria that Gaillard Du Mesnil meets.
- 12 of the last 14 winners were making their Grand National debut
- 14 of the last 26 were 14/1 or shorter
- 12 of the last 12 won over 3m1f at least once, most recent win was over 3m6f
- 11 of the last 23 were trained in Ireland, including the last four winners on the trot
- Seven of the last 15 ran at the Cheltenham Festival
- Six of the last 11 either won or finished second in their last race
- 3 of the last 13 were French-bred
- Never fallen — only two of the last 25 winners have fallen more than twice
On the basis of the stats, you can rule out Noble Yeats, Delta Work, Any Second Now and Longhouse Poet as they have already featured in the National among many other things, while Mr Incredible doesn’t tick many boxes either. Therefore, on trends alone, Gaillard Du Mesnil is one of the top contenders and his form is credible too.