The Grand National at Aintree is the highlight of the racing calendar – and the most popular in the country.
Few other races capture the imagination of the public as much as this one. Each horse has its own romantic tale, and a victory puts it in the history books alongside greats such as Red Rum.
But with so many fences, including the notoriously tricky Beechers Brook, picking a winner is particularly difficult.
Here is a run-down of the five favourites for this year’s 2014 Grand National.
Teaforthree would be the first Welsh-trained winner since 1905. Based in Newport, Pembrokeshire and trained by Rebecca Curtis, he goes into the race as 9/1 favourite.
A victory would spark celebrations across Wales – the last Welsh-trained winner Kirkland was more than 100 years ago 1905. Kirkland was also based in Pembrokeshire, which could be a good omen for the Teaforthree.
Teaforthee also has good form in the Grand National National, with Jockey Nick Scholfield having ridden him to third in 2013.
“Every jockey, owner and trainer wants to win it because it is so hard to win. Even as Teaforthree going in as favourite, you need so much luck,’ Schofield told the BBC.
“It is not going to be a little trot around for him and the race is won. It is a hard, hard race and there is a lot of luck involved.”
Monbeg Dude 14 /1
Racehorses often have great stories behind them and Monbeg Dude is no different . The horse was bought by Mike Tindall and other rugby stars after a boozy meal.
Tindall, fellow rugby James Simpson-Daniel and trainer Nicky Robinson were having dinner with Michael Scudamore when they decided to visit the Cheltenham bloodstock sales.
They bought Monbeg Dude for £12,000 – far below what they were expecting to pay.
It was an ‘impulse buy’ and Tindall’s wife Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter, was ‘not happy’ but agreed to improve his jumping.
The work appears to have paid off, with Monbeg Dude winning the Welsh National in 2013 with jockey Paul Carberry.
Now being ridden by Nicky Robinsons brother, Tom, Monbeg Dude (who even has his own Twitter account @MonbegDude) is among the favourites. Perhaps a victory would encourage Zara to take up racehorse training.
Tidal Bay 14 /1
The 13-year-old would be the oldest winner since Sergeant Murphy in 1923. Not only is Tidal Bay the oldest, he’s also entering the race as the heaviest at a top weight of 11st 10lbs. That makes him the heaviest runner since Red Rum defended his crown in 1974 with 12st.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said: ”I was thrilled with the weight and it gives him a right chance because off top-weight he has run really well before. Look at his runs in the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Bet365 at Sandown.
”He ran well in the Welsh National in December and he’s two pounds lower. There he had 11 stone 12 pounds and the horses that beat him had 10 stone. ”
Long Run 14 /1
Long Run was the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner having beat racing legens Kauto Star and Denman.
The nine-year-old Won at Kelso in February in his first race for over a year with a six length victory over Knockara Beau.
The Nicky Henderson-trained horse has won the King George VI Chase twice and is the mount of amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, who is an experienced rider in the National.
Prince De Beauchene 25/1
Prince De Beauchene carries the hopes of Ireland to become the first Irish winner since Silver Birch in 2007. He is trained by Willie Mullins and has been preparing for the National since winning the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.
At 25/1 he’s a good outside bet, but could be risky having unseated his jockey at the National in 2011.
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