We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Mahler Mission could come up trumps for trainer John McConnell and jockey Ben Harvey. PA/Alamy Stock Photo

Three Grand National tips to take a chance on in today's big race

Johnny Ward picks out three of the Irish hopefuls that could land today’s big race at Aintree.

IT HAS CHANGED significantly in recent years, but the Grand National still retains its status as the biggest horse race of them all.

A reduced field of just 34 go to post this afternoon at the earlier start time of 4pm, and it’s hard to argue against the fact that the Aintree showpiece has become a much classier race over the years.

British authorities recognised that the Grand National’s fatality rate needed to change and acted accordingly. Ten years ago, the solid wooden fence cores were replaced with more forgiving plastic, which reduced the drops on some of the iconic fences – particularly Becher’s Brook and the Canal Turn – and made the race much less of a test.

But for all of the tinkering, Sulekha Varma, Aintree clerk of the course, opined this week that the changes have “(helped) the great race retain all of its magic”.

That is very much up for debate — but what is not in question is that better, faster horses now win this race.

Ireland, staggeringly, has 26 of the 34 runners this afternoon – and if you’re still looking for inspiration before having a bet on the race, here are three of the best Irish hopes to take a chance on.

BoyleSports is paying six each-way places – no bad thing with the smaller-size field.

All prices correct at the time of writing.

aidan-kelly-on-limerick-lace-wins Limerick Lace is one of five contenders in JP McManus's green and gold. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Limerick Lace (10/1)

JP McManus is strongly represented with five runners of the 34, including I Am Maximus and Meetingofthewaters, who both feature prominently at the head of the betting.

But the pick is for another of the quintet in green and gold. Limerick Lace, a mare who scored for the excellent Gavin Cromwell at the Cheltenham Festival last month, is far from guaranteed to last the marathon four miles two furlongs distance, but at least we know she loves really demanding terrain.

She looked better than ever at Cheltenham, and also ran a cracker on Navan’s stamina-sapping track to finish second in the Troytown in November, giving rise to hopes that she will have enough left in the tank to see out her race. Whisper it: like her brother Inothewayurthinkin, she may still be improving.

She’s ridden by the wily Mark Walsh, who is bidding for his first win in the race.

mahler-mission-ridden-by-james-bowen-clears-a-fence-before-going-on-to-win-the-albert-bartlett-river-don-novices-hurdle-at-doncaster-racecourse-picture-date-saturday-january-29-2022 Can Mahler Mission continue his impressive record of top-three finishes? Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Mahler Mission (14/1)

With the rain we have had, it was a great relief that this unique and spectacular festival commenced Thursday on going described as “soft, heavy in places”. Ideally, the ground would not want to get any deeper for Mahler Mission – but positives abound regarding the mount of Ben Harvey.

This horse has made 13 starts and has only finished outside the first three on two occasions. One of those two exceptions actually enhanced his reputation; that came in the amateurs’ novice chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2023, when he still seemed to be travelling best when falling two out.

His only run this season, in a gruelling Welsh National in early December, was remarkable. He reportedly lost both front shoes, and still beat every rival with the exception of the winner, Datsalrightgino.

Mahler Mission has oodles of class and is a straightforward ride – and crucially, travelled easily through the Welsh National, where the fences are arguably tougher than the ones he will face at Aintree today.

jonathan-moore-on-foxy-jacks-comes-home-to-win Foxy Jacks will hope to bring more Grand National glory for trainer Mouse Morris. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Foxy Jacks (28/1)

When Mouse Morris won this race in 2016 with Rule The World, his 33/1 outsider had never won a chase before landing the biggest one of all. His runner this time around, Foxy Jacks, is also a generous price and looks a little underestimated in the betting.

Foxy Jacks has run once over the National fences before, but fell in the Topham Chase in 2022. One very positive pointer is that since then — like dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll — he has really taken to Cheltenham’s cross-country course, so he should do better than on his previous visit.

Morris has been sweet on the horse in recent weeks and the fact he skipped Cheltenham (where the cross-country race was called off) can only be in his favour.

Little-known rider Gavin Brouder partners his quirky steed once again – and if the magic of the Grand National still prevails, this is a story worth a few quid.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel