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Nostalgia and fairy-tale finishes will be all the talk as the Crabbie’s Grand National gets underway on Saturday.
While 40 horses will take to the starting line, most eyes will be on Tony McCoy and his horse, Shutthefrontdoor. While the words, “as you leave”, may have been omitted from the name, the Jonjo O’Neill trained horse is an apt selection for the legend, set to retire at the end of the season.
McCoy and the 8 year old horse are amongst the favourites for the title and having won the Irish Grand National last season they will be full of confidence.
Favourite he may be, however McCoy, who hinted that he could retire on the spot if he won, has played down the odds.
“I think he’s a ridiculous price. Any number of horses are as well-handicapped, if not better handicapped, like The Druids Nephew and Cause Of Causes, while Rocky Creek is probably the horse on form who should be favourite” The jockey told William Hill Radio.
“But hopefully Shutthefrontdoor has got a good chance.”
Sentiment and sport have little in common however and there are plenty of challengers ready to disappoint McCoy and his fans.
Lord Windermere and Many Clouds lead the Irish charge and they are the current favourites with Unioniste, Rocky Creek, First Lieutenant and Balthazar King next in the standings.
The aforementioned The Druids Nephew, trained by Neil Mulholland, is aimed to emulate the efforts of Seagram.
Back in 1991, the David Barons horse, ridden by Nigel Hawke, became the last horse to win the three-mile handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the National in the same season, something that the Aidan Coleman ridden horse will hope to achieve.
Of the outsiders, Al Co is an intriguing prospect. The 10 year old, bidding to become the first Welsh Grand National winner in 110 years won the Scottish Grand National last April at 40/1 showing that he can manage big field long distance race.
While Godsmejudge, another Scottish National winner, and Cause Of Causes are two others to keep an eye on.
Caughtoffside Selection : Soll @ 20/1