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Five horses to back in this year's Aintree Grand National

RacingBy John Brennan
Aintree looking glorious ahead of the big meeting
Aintree looking glorious ahead of the big meeting

Here are five horses that I believe will do very well in the Aintree Grand National on Saturday. But before you wade in, remember that the very first Grand National in 1839 was won by a horse called Lottery – and nothing much has changed since!

Gallant Oscar 20/1
 
This horse won a valuable handicap chase at Punchestown at the end of last season and has been campaigned over hurdles since to protect his handicap mark. He has just 10st 8lb on his back and trainer Tony Martin is adept at getting a horse right for a target.

Don’t be worried about the fact that Barry Geraghty is not riding this JP McManus-owned horse, Gallant Oscar, given luck in running, has a big chance.
 
Morning Assembly 25/1
 
A high class novice steeplechaser two years ago, he finished third in the Grade One RSA Chase at Cheltenham, but missed all of last season through injury.

He has been brought back gently, again with this race in mind, and was an eye-catching fourth in a three-mile Cheltenham handicap last month that will have left him spot on for Saturday’s challenge. Having Davy Russell in the saddle will do Morning Assembly’s chances no harm at all either.
 
Sir des Champs 25/1 

This class horse is a double winner at the Cheltenham Festival, and was also second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup of 2013. But he has been hampered by injury since and thus gets into the race with a featherweight, for a steed of his quality, of just 10st 13lbs.

Very interestingly, Ruby Walsh has chosen to ride this horse from a number of options in the Willie Mullins stable. That’s a serious tip in itself.
 
The Druids Nephew 16/1
 
Five fences from home in last year’s race, The Druids Nephew was lobbing along in the lead before capsizing on landing after jumping a fence that rarely catches horses out.

Now it was a long way from the finish, but Neil Mulholland’s horse was going as easily, or even easier, as those who did contest the outcome. He’s back for another go, but is four pounds worse off with the favourite Many Clouds. So did he miss his big chance in 2015?

Saint Are 16/1

Many Clouds is all the rage for this year’s race as he bids to emulate Red Rum by winning back-to-back Nationals. But Saint Are was only a length and a half behind the winner 12 months ago, and he’ll be two pounds better off at the weights this time around.

Saint Are also made a bad mistake at Becher’s on the second circuit last year. With a clean round of jumping on Saturday, he has to have a big chance.