The countdown to the 2022 Grand National is already underway as trainers begin to plot their route to the showpiece event at Aintree next spring.
Last year’s race made history, with Rachael Blackmore becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National aboard Minella Times.
The combination are amongst the favourites with the bookmakers at Horse.bet for a repeat performance, although winning the race back-to-back is never easy.
Read on as we take a closer look at four of the main contenders for glory in the 2022 Grand National at Aintree.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead is eager to win the race for a second successive year, but history could well be against him and Blackmore achieving the feat.
Tiger Roll’s victory in 2019 was the first time a horse had defended the Aintree title since Red Rum recorded the second of his three wins in 1974.
Minella Times carried just 10st 3lbs in last year’s race, but will most likely be amongst the top weights for the 2022 renewal.
He is now rated 162 by the handicapper in England, and it would be a major surprise if there is not something better weighted in the race.
Any Second Now
Any Second Now finished third at Aintree last year, eight and a quarter lengths behind Minella Times having carried six pounds more.
Trainer Ted Walsh is expected to have another crack in 2022 and the revised weights should give his horse every chance of reversing the form.
Walsh and his son Ruby teamed up to win the 2000 National with Papillon, and he has likened Any Second Now to that horse.
He also trained Seabass to finish third in the National in 2012, so knows what it takes to get horses ready to run a big race at Aintree.
Secret Reprieve was an impressive winner of the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in January 2021 and was entered for the Aintree equivalent.
However, he failed to make the cut to leave ante-post punters and trainer Evan Williams extremely frustrated at their misfortune.
The seven-year-old has not run since taking the Welsh marathon, but is expected to attempt to defend his crown at Chepstow before a tilt at the big one.
Secret Reprieve needs give in the ground to show his best form and could be worth backing at Aintree if conditions are favourable.
The 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has long been thought of as an ideal type for the National and this could be the year he goes for it.
Former jockey Mick Fitzgerald nominated Santini as one to watch this season, and he is a very good judge of horses.
The nine-year-old has left Nicky Henderson’s yard to join Polly Gundry’s small-scale operation in Devon and the change of scenery could do him a world of good.
Santini spent his younger years with Gundry before moving to Henderson’s stable and may well be revitalised by coming under her watchful eye once again.