The Grand National takes place today at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool as is customary for the world’s greatest steeplechase.
The race is the highlight of the annual three-day horse-racing meeting, which normally hosts thousands of spectators – though this year’s edition of the event has been held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year’s Grand National was cancelled, also owing to the effects of Covid-19, with a virtual version of the race taking place instead.
Last year’s CGI horses will be replaced by the real thing here, with Bristol De Mai heading a maximum field of 40 but the strongly-fancied Secret Reprieve only a second reserve at this stage. Ante-post favourite Cloth Cap will aim to give Trever Hemmings a record fourth win in the race following the successes of Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds – and his trainer Jonjo O’Neill is chasing his second National, having won with Don’t Push It.
Rachael Blackmore, Tabitha Worsley and Bryony Frost will all seek to become the first female winner of the race, with Blackmore aiming to top an incredible year on Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Times.
Follow live updates from the 2021 Grand National below:
HANDICAP CHASE FINAL CLASSIFICATION
1 Happygolucky (David Bass) 11-4 Fav
2 Johnbb (J J Burke) 9-1
3 Spiritofthegames (Harry Skelton) 7-1
HAPPYGOLUCKY WINS THE HANDICAP CHASE
Happygolucky breaks away as they clear the last fence, and the favourite wins!
Johnbb takes second while Spiritofthegames claims third.
Another favourite, another winner!
Kilfilum Cross leads but it is a close race.
11 fences to go and we are heading towards the home straight.
HANDICAP CHASE IS UNDERWAY!
HANDICAP CHASE NEXT
Happygolucky is the favourite at 5/2, while Snow Leopardess and Johnbb are close behind at 15/2.
Who will take the win? The race will start shortly.
‘TOP END’ THYME HILL
“To get on a horse like him, he is top end.”
Tom O’Brien claims he ‘will never fill Richard’s boots’ but admits pride after winning a third Grade One event at Aintree.
A DIFFERENT GRAND NATIONAL FOR 2021
The Merseyside track Aintree would normally welcome 70,000 spectators for the world’s most famous jumps race, the Grand National.
Instead, the 2021 edition of the event will go ahead with just jockeys, trainers, owners, staff and a limited number of media in attendance.
Strict Covid-19 protocols are in place, and Irish-trained runners have been stabled at Haydock Racecourse while police have stepped up patrols around the meeting.
Grand National jockeys traditionally visit patients at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on the eve of the race – this obviously did not go ahead this year.
A sad reminder of the state of the world, but the 2020 meeting was cancelled. At least we get some racing this time around.
THE FAVOURITES ARE DELIVERING
CAN BLACKMORE DO IT?
It is more than 70 years since the film National Velvet, in which Elizabeth Taylor played the female jockey who was first past the post in the Grand National, only to be disqualified on a technicality.
It would be awesome to see Rachael Blackmore get the win today, but there are plenty of others that could steal the headlines.
“Bryony’s got a chance. Rachel Blackmore’s got a very good chance. She’s been riding at the top of her game,” 11-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls said.
“It’d be really good for the sport if one of the girls did win the National. They’re more than capable of winning it.”
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