Only seven horses in the history of the Grand National have won the race in back-to-back years. Incredibly, Minella Times looks set to have a chance to add his name to that list at the 174th renewal of the steeplechase this year.
Minella Times, under the hands of Rachael Blackmore, prevailed in the race by just over six lengths in 2021. The Irish chaser finished the race strongly, taking advantage of one of the lowest weights in the field.
It is going to be much tougher for the defending champion this year as the official handicapper has given him an allocation which is 15lb higher than when he prevailed at Aintree.
Blackmore, who became the female winning jockey in the race in 2021, is set to remain loyal to the horse. She has had an excellent season, and it could get better for her at the Cheltenham Festival. The Irish rider is currently priced at +3oo in the latest Cheltenham odds, under the specials market, to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
De Bromhead’s Runner Will Need to Bounce Back at Aintree
The Grand National will be Minella Time’s third run of the season. He made his opening start of the campaign at Punchestown in the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. The Irish horse was a +6600 shot for that contest, so not a lot was expected from him, however, he was unable to complete the course, falling at the third last obstacle.
Minella Times did not perform much better on his most recent appearance in a Grade A handicap contest at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival. He had to carry top weight in that race, and it took its toll. Blackmore pulled him up just before the last fence.
De Bromhead remains hopeful that his horse will return to its best at Aintree. He has stated that his horse really enjoys it at the Merseyside course, so he is expecting much more from the 2021 winner when he lines up in the world’s most famous steeplechase.
Tiger Roll the Last to Fend Grand National Crown
In 2019, Tiger Roll became the seventh horse to successfully defend their Grand National crown when he prevailed at the end of the 4m2½f contest. Prior to his repeat success, you had to go all the way back to Red Rum in 1974 for the feat.
Unfortunately for Tiger Roll’s connections, he was denied a chance to become the first horse to win three straight consecutive Grand Nationals in 2020 as the race did not take place.
Just like in 2021, Tiger Roll’s owners have withdrawn their horse from the race this year as they do not feel the weight their runner has been given is fair. Rather than a run at Aintree, he will feature in the Cross Country Chase in what could be the final start of his career.
Victory for Minella Times this year would elevate him into a Grand National legend, just like Red Rum and Tiger Roll. The Aintree feature is very difficult to win, so to score on more than one occasion, would be a special achievement.
Minella Times is likely to be one of the 40 runners who will line up in the 2022 Grand National on April 9th. Over 70,000 spectators are expected to attend the meeting in what is one of the highlights of the National Hunt season in horse racing.