The final declaration stage for the 2023 Grand National has passed, and barring any non-runners withdrawn tomorrow or Saturday morning a full field of 40 will line up at Aintree.
Ultima Handicap Chase winner Corach Rambler is likely to start as favourite, while reigning champion Noble Yeats will have to defy a 14lb weight rise from his famous victory in 2022.
Another Cheltenham Festival winner in March, Delta Work, will complete the top three in the betting market.
Some 27 of the 40 confirmed runners will be looking to take the title and the £500,000 top prize back to Ireland, with Gordon Elliott – who boasts the likes of Delta Work, Galvin and Fury Road in his squad – saddling six of the entries.
Beyond the favourites, those tipped to do well over the 4m 2f stretch at Aintree include Mr Incredible, who finished third in the Kim Muir Cup at the Cheltenham Festival carrying 12st – he will be down to 10st 4lb on Saturday, while Longhouse Poet will drop 4lb in weight after finishing sixth in the Grand National 12 months ago.
For those favouring horses for courses, Any Second Now – who has finished second and third in the Grand National in recent years – is available to back at 14/1, and bookmakers have already described a victory for JP McManus’ horse as the ‘worst possible result’ despite the eleven-year-old carrying top weight.
McManus is a two-time Grand National winning owner and his horse I Am Maximus won the Irish National on Easter Monday.
“He might be off top-weight, but Any Second Now would be the worst result in the book for us, while two of the horses that finished behind him in last year’s National – Longhouse Poet and Delta Work – would also be very costly,” said William Hill’s Lee Phelps.
One of the most popular fixtures on the National Hunt calendar, the Grand National meeting is set to come up trumps for Aintree and Liverpool as a whole over the coming weekend.
Research has found that around £60 million will be pumped into the local economy over the course of the three days, with hospitality and leisure providers the primary benefactors.
But other sectors, including hairdressers and nail salons also feel the benefit, with extended opening hours to thank for their above-average takings.
Crowds returned to the Grand National for the first time in three years in 2022 following the pandemic, and studies found that an extra £60.1 million was spent in Liverpool businesses during the festival when compared to the other Thursday-Saturday periods in April.
The figures are similar to the uptick to the local economy in Cheltenham when the Festival rolls around each March. The four-day extravaganza saw an additional £274 million pumped into the coffers of local businesses in 2022.
The true success of the Grand National Festival will be dictated somewhat by the weather. And while there’s rain and high winds expected today and tomorrow, for the Grand National itself cloud and occasional sunny spells will boost the temperature to a not-too-shabby 13 degrees.