"Tony McCoy's tale of woe in the race has been well documented. It hardly makes you want to back their representative, Don't Push It (22/1 bet365) but the ten-year-old has plenty going for him."(credit: Paolo Camera
A look at four of the top British trainers with fancied runners in this year's Grand National...
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The champion trainer has never won the National and of his 44 runners over the past 18 years, only two have made the frame - Royal Auclair, runner-up in 2005, and My Will, who finished third last year. The latter, a 40/1 chance with Stan James, is back for another crack this year and has to come into the reckoning off a 2lb lower mark, although he won't have the assistance of Ruby Walsh this year and his best chance may have gone.
Instead, Walsh has elected to ride Big Fella Thanks (best price 10/1 bet365 as of Friday evening), who performed with great credit last year when finishing sixth as a novice and, with 10st 12lb to carry, looks nicely treated this time. But will he take to the National fences for a second time? Not all horses do and Walsh has admitted it was a tough call choosing Big Fella Thanks over a host of others he could have ridden.
Nicholls' third runner, Tricky Trickster (18/1 bet365), has stamina in abundance as he showed when winning the 4m National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last season, but has to put a poor run in the Gold Cup behind him. Even if we forgive him that run, he might not yet be battle-hardened enough for the National and it's 70 years since the last winning seven-year-old (Bogskar 1940).
Verdict: Nicholls is long overdue a National but will have to wait another year.
Pipe, successful with Comply Or Die in 2008, could have many as five runners this time with Comply Or Die (22/1 Sportingbet) back for a third crack having finished runner-up to Mon Mome last year. He's finished unplaced in his two races since but ran well for a long way at Cheltenham last time and you just know he'll come alive at Aintree when fitted with the blinkers that have been on for the last to years.
Timmy Murphy, his partner in the last two Nationals, has a difficult decision to make as he also has the option of riding The Package (12/1 bet365), who ran an excellent Festival second last time (would have won in another couple of strides) and is officially 6lb well-in here. Whether he will stay the marathon trip remains to be seen but the way he races and jumps makes you think he will.
Pipe is also set to be represented by Madison Du Berlais (66/1 bet365), who fell at the Canal Turn in 2008 but is generally a safe jumper; Piraya (150/1 Ladbrokes), who came good at Warwick two outings ago but cannot be seriously fancied on his overall form; and Pablo Du Charmil (200/1 Blue Square), who has looked best over trips short of 3m.
Verdict: Comply Or Die is proven around here and another top-four slot looks a distinct possibility.
The Gold Cup-winning trainer has twice tasted success at Aintree with Earth Summit (1982) and Bindaree (2002) and his runners can never be discounted, although it takes a slight stretch of the imagination to see either Beat The Boys, Irish Raptor, Ballyfitz or Ollie Magern winning.
Surely, his best chance lies with last year's Scottish National winner Hello Bud (40/1 bet365), who has been running well over trips too short or on ground too deep for him and has dropped a few pounds as a result (set to carry 10st 6lb). If we get a dry week - the forecast is encouraging in that respect - it's not hard to imagine him going well as he jumps impeccably and the course will suit his front-running style.
Verdict: Hello Bud could nick a place at decent odds.
O'Neill had an awful record in the race as a jockey and has yet to win it as a trainer, while stable jockey Tony McCoy's tale of woe in the race has been well documented. It hardly makes you want to back their representative, Don't Push It (22/1 bet365) but the ten-year-old has plenty going for him.
A winner of a a valuable handicap chase on Grand National day last year, he showed he had the necessary stamina for this when running Galant Nuit (getting 25lb) to a half a length over 3m3f110 yards at Cheltenham in November. The further they went that day, the stronger he looked and, providing he can negotiate the first few fences, he will be staying on better than most.
O'Neill's other representative, Can't By Time (40/1 Coral), is much harder to fancy as he has looked best over much shorter (won over 2m 4f this season) and fell in this race last year.
Verdict: Don't Push It (22/1 bet365) will get the strong handling he needs and has a big chance.