“This is beyond words. It’s a fairy-tale, it’s a fantasy, and I’m just full of love, and happiness and gratefulness. I always wanted to go out on a high, and I thought Thursday was going to be that high. It doesn’t get better than this, and that’s it now – out!”
Those were the words of Sam Waley-Cohen as he led unlikely winner Noble Yeats to victory in the Grand National last year. It was a momentous occasion for the jockey, who won his first major race in front of the returning Aintree crowds, after 2021’s festivities were forced behind closed doors and the year before cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, fans were there to witness first-hand one of the greatest moments in the National’s recent history, with Noble Yeats winning despite odds of 50/1.
Indeed, the National is known for outsiders writing their names in the history books and the form guide tends to go out of the window once the action commences. Those assessing this year’s Grand National betting will know they can’t rule out any outsiders, and this year Noble Yeats comes in as one of the favourites, hoping to join an exclusive list of horses to win successive Grand Nationals.
The Emmet Mullins-trained eight-year-old has since won three of his last five races and a fourth-place finish in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham was encouraging enough for those hoping he can join the likes of Tiger Roll and Red Rum as multiple Grand National winners. However, the route won’t be straightforward. With that in mind, read on as we look at the factors Noble Yeats will have to consider if there is any chance of him winning a second National at Aintree.
A new jockey
After last year’s win Waley-Cohen decided to call time on his career in the saddle, therefore leaving Mullins with the task of replacing him. After one race with James Reveley, it was Sean Bowen who has garnered the most success aboard Noble Yeats. The pair have raced four times, and have been successful at Aintree before in the Many Clouds Chase at the end of last year. It will be interesting to see if they have found the right chemistry in time for the National, as there were plenty of good signs at Cheltenham.
One of the notoriously challenging parts of winning the National is negotiating the plethora of fences throughout its gruelling course. Many previous winners have fallen victim to ‘The Chair’ and Becher’s Brook over the years and while lightning may strike twice you do wonder how much luck can be involved throughout two runs, as so many horses have come up short at the tough fences down the years. Keep an eye out on the 8th and 24th to see if Noble Yeats is still in contention.
While Noble Yeats has considerable odds, coming in at 8/1 in the antepost betting, he still faces plenty of competition. Lucinda Russell-trained Corach Rambler is in top form after his win at Cheltenham in the Handicap Chase, while the likes of Any Second Now and Delta Work boast plenty of experience in Grade 1 racing, with the latter a seasoned winner at both Aintree and Prestbury Park, picking up the Cross Country Chase for Gordon Elliott. Rest assured, the showpiece on April 15 is bound to be entertaining.