The big day is finally here, and the waiting is almost over. Having been over in Aintree for two days it’s nice to have my first rides of the meeting on Grand National Day and to be back aboard Tiger Roll in the big one itself.
My wife Edelle came over for the Cheltenham meeting where I drew a blank, so she has stayed at home with the kids this time!
Listen, it’s a huge day and it’s easy to say that we jockeys treat it like any other race, but the truth is the Grand National is the world’s most famous horse race.
It’s a race every jockey dreams of just riding in, let alone winning, and luckily all my dreams came true aboard a special horse last year.
Here are my thoughts on Tiger Roll’s chances this time and my other rides on Grand National Day…
CHOSEN MATE (2.25pm Aintree)
My first ride of the meeting comes in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle where I ride Chosen Mate for Gordon (Elliott).
He is one we have always liked at home and deserves to take his chance in a race like this.
Whether he is good enough stepped up in trip and company remains to be seen, but we hope he will go well.
If I’m honest the race is a bit hotter than we thought it might be with both Brewin’upastorm and Angels Breath in against us.
I suppose Brewin’upastorm is the one on his Cheltenham form, but Angels Breath is definitely a smart one.
ORNUA (3.00pm Aintree)
I’m thrilled to have been asked to ride Ornua for Henry De Bromhead although Thursday’s rain wouldn’t have helped his chances as he is a proper good ground horse.
Lalor could be the one to beat coming back to the track he seems to go well at if you can forgive him his Cheltenham blip.
Us And Them ran a cracker at Cheltenham looking beaten before staying on to go close, he’s hard to rule out too.
TIGER ROLL (5.15pm Aintree – Grand National)
Things don’t really feel any different to last year other than the fact that an awful lot more people now know who Tiger Roll is!
It’s going to be a really tough task winning the race again as the tacky ground is a concern, not to mention the fact that he has a good deal more weight to carry.
However, he has been in terrific form this season and gave me a great feel when I popped him over some fences the other day.
He is fast and low at his fences, but clever with it too.
I’ve had plenty of disappointments in this race in the past so I’m level headed and will just go into this year’s race with a clear head.
This is a brand new race with the slate wiped totally clean.
I need luck on my side and what happened last year is irrelevant in my mind.
When I retire, I can look back on last year and reminisce, but while I’m still riding it’s about living in the moment and I just have to concentrate on the job in hand.
As for dangers in the race, it’s impossible to single out anything really as you can make a case for at least half of the 40 runners.
I suppose Willie’s (Mullins) Rathvinden looks the most obvious danger on paper as he looks to have been specifically trained for the race.
He won the four-miler at Cheltenham a few years ago and is a good jumper.
Last year’s runner-up Pleasant Company would have a big chance on last season’s form if he bounced back.
Gordon (Elliott) saddles a really strong team and Jury Duty is certainly one that ticks a lot of boxes.
Another who can go well is Dounikos who surprised me a bit the last day.
He has a good man in the saddle, jumps well and will like the ground.
DAVY’S MESSAGE TO STARSPORTS.BET READERS
STAR SPORTS EXCLUSIVE: Our brand ambassador DAVY RUSSELL discusses all things TIGER ROLL with ALASTAIR DOWN from the Racing Post. Tiger Roll bids to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back to back Grand Nationals on Saturday and he’s a warm favourite to do so. Davy recalls how his association with the equine legend began – and of course the magical memories from 12 months ago.
If you have a question for Davy drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll try and include in the next blog…