The tape will go up for the Grand National on Saturday at 5.15pm, the latest it has ever started, in the hope of an even bigger TV audience than the 8m or so of recent years, and allowing sports fans to follow the race on their way home from Saturday afternoon matches.
1 The late show
Channel 4 is screening the great race for the last time before ITV takes over, and coverage will extend to nine and a half hours.
2 Cause Of Causes
Irish raider would be all the rage if he gets in the race, since he was the easiest winner at the Cheltenham Festival last month. But he needs 16 withdrawals if he’s to make the list of 40 runners and that seems unlikely.
3 Ruby’s choice
Ruby Walsh has won two Nationals but has yet to make up his mind who he will ride this time. The most fancied runners aren’t available, even to him, so his best option might be Boston Bob, now a 33-1 shot.
4 Richard Johnson
Finally on his way to being champion jockey after decades in the shadow of AP McCoy. The National is the last big race he has yet to win, his 19 losing rides being the most of any jockey that hasn’t won it. He is expected to be on Kruzhlinin at 25-1.
5 Willie Mullins
Trying to be the first jumps trainer for 60 years to win the British title from Ireland. His many runners at Aintree this week will include three or four in the National, which he won in 2005. Despite all his success, he hasn’t won a British handicap chase since that day.
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