Grand National 2024: The Main Contenders

Grand National 2024: The Main Contenders

With the Cheltenham Festival now in the books for another year, the focus switches north to the Merseyside venue of Aintree, as thoughts turn to the 2024 edition of the Grand National Chase on the 14 April. The fences may have been reined in a little in recent years, but the 30 obstacles - including the iconic Becher’s Brook and The Chair - still provide the stiffest jumping challenge of the season. Throw in the marathon trip of 4m2½f, and the Grand National remains a race unlike any other.

With all of the major trials and prep races now run and the final field beginning to take shape, we take a look at the main contenders for glory, using analysis presented by

Corach Rambler – 5/1 with LiveScoreBet

Out on his own at the head of the market – and the only runner available at a single-figure price in many lists – is the reigning champion Corach Rambler, who bids to claim the spoils for Scotland.

Derek Fox will again take the ride aboard the ten-year-old who came home 2¼l clear in 2023. He’s 13lb higher in the handicap this time, which makes life tougher, but is 3lb well in on ratings, having run a tremendous trial to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Proven at the track and arriving on the back of a near-career-best effort, he has plenty in his favour.

I Am Maximus – 10/1 with BetUK

The Willie Mullins-trained I Am Maximus leads the charge for the all-conquering Irish. This son of Derby winner Authorized provides a thrilling showdown between Grand National champions, having landed the Irish equivalent of the race at Fairyhouse.

Going in the green and gold of JP McManus, this eight-year-old is yet to experience the Aintree fences but boasts a touch of class, having mastered Arkle Chase runner-up Found A Fifty in the Grade 1 Drinmore Chase in December. Warming up with a 14-length romp in the Bobbyjo Chase, he boats sound claims of handing Mullins a second success in the race.

Vanillier – 11/1 with BetMGM

Looking back at the 2023 edition of the race, Corach Rambler may have come out on top, but no horse was finishing better than Gavin Cromwell’s Vanillier. 12 lengths down at the last, that deficit stood at just over two lengths at the line. Twelve months on, he is proving popular in the market as he bids to go one better in 2024.

Vanillier is up 4lb in the handicap this year but is 9lb better off with Corach Rambler. That gives him a chance of turning the tables, but he will need to improve on his efforts so far this season, including when 14 lengths behind I Am Maximus last time. That said, his proven ability over the fences counts for plenty, and there are few better at readying one ahead of a big target than Cromwell.

Panda Boy – 12/1 with LiveScoreBet

Adding further strength to the Irish challenge is the Martin Brassil-trained Panda Boy. Going in the colours of the Old Pals Partnership, this one has long looked the type to be suited by this assignment and appears to be running into form at just the right time.

Catching the eye when staying on for fourth in a competitive event at Leopardstown, he also boasts solid form over a marathon distance, having finished fifth behind I Am Maximus in the 2023 Irish Grand National. He’s 4lb better off with that rival under these conditions, which brings him into contention if handling these unique obstacles.

Meetingofthewaters – 14/1 with BetUK

In a carryover from the Cheltenham Festival, Willie Mullins looks to hold the strongest hand in the Aintree showpiece. If I Am Maximus doesn’t get the job done, the lightly raced Meetingthewaters could be the one.

Also going in the famous JP McManus silks, this son of Court Cave is almost completely unexposed in this sphere, but this race has been mentioned as his major target for the season. With that in mind, he was a big eyecatcher at the Cheltenham Festival when rallying to take third in the Ultima Handicap Chase over 3m1f. Getting in off a mark of 147, he’s 2lb well in and has a nice racing weight of 10st 4lb.

Kitty’s Light – 16/1 with BetGoodwin

With wins in the Midlands Grand National, Welsh Grand National, Scottish Grand National, Eider Handicap Chase, and bet365 Gold Cup, Welsh handler Christian Williams is a man to fear in these marathon chases, and now he has his eyes on the biggest one of all.

The horse to fly the Williams flag at Aintree is Eider, Scottish Grand National, and bet365 Gold Cup winner Kitty’s Light. Despite all those achievements, Kitty’s Light is still only eight years old and, in common with Meetingofthewaters, warmed up for this with a decent effort in the Ultima. 1lb below his career-high rating, and with no issues in the stamina department it's easy to imagine him running a big race.

Kitty Looks Purrfect for a Place

It’s hard to fault the claims of Corach Rambler on the back of that excellent Cheltenham outing, but those odds of 5/1 are a little skinny for our liking in a race where so much can go wrong.

The best bet amongst the more fancied contenders is an each-way punt on national specialist Kittys Light. He does need a few to come out with only 34 going to post this year, but he should make the cut and can take that bottomless stamina into the frame, at least.

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