The Grand National is right around the corner as horse racing fans gear up for an exciting conclusion to the jumps season. The four-mile race, contested at Aintree racecourse, is a massive date on the sporing calendar, with millions tuning in all around the country to watch one of the most competitive races of the year.
The unpredictability of the race is what makes it so unique, with so few of the initial starting horses actually making their way to the finishing line. Aintree’s fences can cause carnage, and the conditions on the day can decide whether a horse pulls up or writes their name in the history books.
A large part of their success in down to the jockey. It’s a role that can sometimes go unappreciated as far as the National is concerned but a good performance from them, alongside the right training and preparation, is so essential for a horse to win the prize money as well as the bragging rights. With that in mind, let’s discuss the jockeys to look out for ahead of this year’s Grand National.
Let’s start with last year’s national winner — ‘The Queen of Prestbury Park’ Rachael Blackmore. The Irishwoman made history last time out as the first female jockey to win the National, doing so aboard Minella Times.
While the Henry de Bromhead-trained nine-year-old will certainly have his work cut out for him, you have to consider the Blackmore factor when betting on Grand National 2022 and just by looking at her win with A Plus Tard in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, you know Blackmore still means business. As well as the National, she’s booked to ride on 11 other horses including Lady Excalibur for Allan Jones in the Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
It’s been a decade now since Daryl Jacob won the 2012 Grand National with the French-bred Neptune Collonges, and the Irishman is surely due a good performance having bounced around trainers and working freelance in the ten years since he last tasted victory at Aintree. He’ll be aboard Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Good Boy Bobby as an audacious 28/1 shot, but given Jacob’s experience, he’s certainly one to keep an eye out for, having navigated his way through Aintree’s treacherous hurdles before and come out on top.
It’s hard to look past someone as good as Davy Russell as far as the National is concerned. The Irishman is a two-time winner, but will be without the legendary Tiger Roll once again after disagreements over weights led to his final run coming at Cheltenham a few weeks ago.
It wasn’t the swansong everyone thought it would be for the 2018 and 2019 winner, but with Gordon Elliott keen to rebuild his reputation after missing last year with a ban, there’ll be little time for sentiment. Russell is racing with Run Wild Fred, a 20/1 shot who was narrowly beaten in a Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, but has shown he can consistently compete with previous Grade One winners, which makes him a real threat come the latter stages of the race, especially with such an experienced jockey aboard.