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Celebrities Back Grand National Horses

January 31, 2020

- Grant Whittington

The 2020 Randox Health Grand National will be held on Saturday the 4th of April. The National Hunt race is always a thrill to watch, thanks to the challenging course that includes larger-than-usual fences, and the talent that its £1 million purse attracts. Us mere mortals are not the only ones who think so either; a lot of celebrity owners are getting in on the action this year.

Tiger Roll Remains Likeliest Winner

One of this year’s 18 entries trained by Gordon Elliot, Tiger Roll is looking to be the first horse in history to land a hat trick of Grand National titles, after winning in both 2018 and 2019. The Irish thoroughbred was an early favourite to take home his third Grand National victory when he won at Aintree 12 months ago.

Injury has since derailed his campaign, and it’s still not known whether he will return to the Cheltenham Festival to defend his cross-country title that he won by an incredible 22 lengths last year. However, insiders remain confident in the Gigginstown Stud-owned champion’s chances of winning the most famous steeplechase in the world for the third successive time and he is the current market leader with odds of 5/1.

Tiger Roll Not Undefeatable

Tiger Roll may be looking like the strongest contender right now, but he is not without any competition. In addition to the 17 other Gordon Elliot horses, Ireland has a further 27 entries into this year’s race, and the list of 105 sprinters also includes two who were trained in France.

One For Arthur, who won the Grand National in 2017 and placed 6th in 2019, could well be able to give him a run for his money. Among the other serious contenders are Native River and Sizing John who came first in the 2018 and 2017 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup. Only two horses have ever taken the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year, so their riders have history-making motivations similar to Tiger Roll’s.

Big-name celebrities, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Dame Judy Dench and Rugby legend Jonathan Davies own some of the year’s most exciting contestants. Ferguson owns Giver Me A Copper, while Dame Judy is proud co-owner of As De Mee.

An injury forced As De Mee to miss the 2018 renewal, and kept him away from the track until November 2019. Now he seems to be making quite a comeback, having done well on both starts this winter and weighing in at 6lb lower this time. Having won the 2016 Grand Sefton, he has already proven that he knows his way around the Aintree fences, and his April 4th performance should be very memorable.

Ferguson’s Giver Me A Copper shares trainer Paul Nicholls with As De Mee, so while these celebrities might be in friendly competition with each other, if either horse won it would be a good day for Nicholls. The former Manchester United manager’s horse is co-owned by television star Jeremy Kyle and others, and proved himself by winning the Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase. Since then, they’ve had an Aintree victory in their sites.

A Field of Strong Competitors

While Dench and Ferguson are hoping for their first taste of National Hunt success in 2020, this is something that Jonathan Davies has already gotten to experience. Potters Corner, the horse he co-owns with All Star Sports Racing, came first in the Welsh National race at Chepstow in December 2019.

Prestigious as this is, it is not, of course, the Grand National and a win there would surely also delight Davies. In fact, for him it might be especially meaningful, since the day after he’ll be turning 32. With so many strong contenders, the finish line will be hotly contested. Time will tell which horse and jockey will actually come out on top at Aintree this year.

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