The 2013 Grand National is just hours away and On His Own heads the betting for the Aintree showpiece.
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The nine-year-old was travelling ominously well when falling at Becher's on the second circuit in last year's race, and the 2013 version has, as they say, been the plan since. He advertised his well-being by winning over an inadequate trip over hurdles last time and he looks a worthy favourite for a race his trainer last won with Hedgehunter in 2005.
The news that Tony McCoy will take the ride on Colbert Station has seen that horse's odds shorten over the past 24 hours and with just hours to go until the big race, he is as short as 9/1 with some bookmakers. For a nine-year-old, he's relatively inexperienced over fences but he jumped well when winning the 28-runner Paddy Power Chase last Christmas and it's easy to see why AP has decided to take the ride and he must go well.
Sunnyhillboy was beaten just a nose by Neptune Colonges here 12 months ago and the 10-year-old is back for another crack at the race along with the third and fourth-placed horses, Seabass and Cappa Bleu respectively. The former horse was leading at the elbow in last year's race until his stamina ran out in the final few yards and has caught the eye in two runs this season, while Cappa Bleu is following the same prep as in 2012 and ran well on his latest start at Ascot. All three must have place prospects again.
Gordon Elliott landed the National in 2007 with Silver Birch and he looks to have another likely candidate in Chicago Grey, who was brought down in last year's race. He's caught the eye in a couple of runs this season and has reportedly been schooling well over National-style fences at home.
The British challenge is strengthened by the presence of Teaforthree, who showed he had the requisite stamina when winning the four-miler at Cheltenham, and Becher Chase runner-up Join Together, who represents last year's winning trainer Paul Nicholls.
Nicholls also runs Harry The Viking and What A Friend, who are both part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ballabriggs, Imperial Commander, last season's Cross Country Chase winner Balthazar King - who will like the drying ground - Rare Bob, Soll, Treacle, Big Fella Thanks and three-time Topham Chase winner Always Waining are others to consider in what is a typically open renewal.
The full list of runners and riders for the 2013 Grand National:
1 Imperial Commander – Sam Twiston-Davies
2 What A Friend – Sam Thomas
3 Weird Al – Timmy Murphy
4 Quel Esprit – Paul Townend
5 Big Fella Thanks – Denis O’Regan
6 Roberto Goldback – Barry Geraghty
7 Seabass – Katie Walsh
8 BallaBriggs – Jason Maguire
9 Sunnyhillboy – Richie McLernon
10 Teaforthree – Nick Scholfield
11 Across The Bay – Henry Brooke
12 Join Together – Daryl Jacob
13 Colbert Station – Tony McCoy
14 Forpadydeplasterer – Andrew McNamara
15 On His Own – Ruby Walsh
16 Joncol – Robbie Power
17 Balthazar King – Richard Johnson
18 Cappa Bleu – Paul Moloney
19 Oscar Time – Sam Waley-Cohen
20 Always Waining – Tom O’Brien
21 Tatenen – Andrew Thornton
22 Treacle – Andrew Lynch
23 Saint Are – Dougie Costello
24 Swing Bill – Conor O’Farrell
25 Lost Glory – Mark Walsh
26 Chicago Grey – Paul Carberry
27 Quiscover Fontaine – David Casey
28 Rare Bob – Bryan Cooper
29 Harry The Viking – Ryan Mahon
30 Becauseicouldntsee – Martin Ferris
31 The Rainbow Hunter - Aidan Coleman
32 Mr Moonshine – Peter Buchanan
33 Mumbles Head – Jamie Moore
34 Auroras Encore – Ryan Mania
35 Ninetieth Minute – Slippers Madden
36 Tarquinius – Wilson Renwick
37 Any Currency – Ian Popham
38 Major Malarkey – Tom Scudamore
39 Soll – Mark Grant
40 Viking Blond - Adam Wedge