Greys In The Grand National: The grey horses to watch in 2021

Neptune Collonges was the last grey horse to win the Grand National in 2012.
Neptune Collonges was the last grey horse to win the Grand National in 2012.

Steve Chambers takes look at the chances of all the greys entered for the 2021 Grand National at Aintree, while remembers some memorable grey winners...

Many have tried to conquer the world's greatest steeplechase, but only three grey horses have tasted victory in the legendary Grand National at Aintree. The Lamb was the first to taste victory in the Merseyside marathon way back in 1868 and for good measure duly notched up a second victory three years later in 1871. Just under a century after and the Fred Rimell-trained Nicolaus Silver bound to glory in the 1961 National, while the most recent grey to reign supreme was the Paul Nicholls-trained Neptune Collonges, who reeled in the desperately unlucky Sunnyhillboy to land glory in the 2012 renewal.

Now, let's turn our attentions to the 2021 Grand National, and which grey horses will be tackling the historical National Hunt challenge, and the glut of greys will be spearheaded by the multiple Grade 1 winner Bristol De Mai, and he is likely to be joined by an excellent supporting cast.

Here, we pick out all the greys entered for the Grand National on April 10, and duly assess their chances.

Grand National Odds

No.2 Bristol De Mai - 25/1

Nigel Twiston-Davies knows what it takes to win the Grand National having saddled Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002) to victory in the race, and the Naunton handler is set to unleash the classy, multiple Grade 1 winner Bristol De Mai, who sits at the top of the weights. A three-time winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, the ten-year-old will be arguably the classiest horse taking their chance in the 2021 renewal, and if he takes to the unique test of a National, then he has to stand a huge chance at around the 25/1 mark.

Placed in a Cheltenham Gold Cup in his younger days, Bristol De Mai swerved that Cheltenham Festival test this season, as the Grand National was to be his port of call at the end of the 2021 Jumps campaign, and he showed when runner-up to Native River in the Cotswold Chase at Sandown in February, that he still has significant ability at the top level, and he is set for his first handicap assignment since he bounded to a 22-length win in the 2017 Peter Marsh at Haydock. Dubbed a soft ground Haydock specialist by some, Bristol De Mai will have quicker conditions to contend with Aintree this year, while he steps up markedly in trip. But, with real, proven top class form, he stands a fine chance if producing his best on the big day.

Grand National Grey
Bristol De Mai silk

Bristol De Mai

Pulled Up

No. 8 Lake View Lad - 40/1

Owner Trevor Hemmings has a fine record in the Grand National having seen three of his horses - Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011), Many Clouds (2015) - taste victory in the great race, and the veteran businessman will unleash an exciting grey in the shape of Lake View Lad. Hemmings' National charge maybe led by the red-hot favourite Cloth Cap, but in Lake View Lad he has an able deputy, who has some smart form in the book, and will attract some significant each-way support at his current odds of 40/1.

Pulled up in the 2019 Grand National, Lake View Lad is back for a second crack at the race, and since that effort he showed his class when landing a shock 16/1 win in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree in December 2020. However, the 11-year-old failed to kick on from that effort, and was a distant fifth behind Native River in the Cotswold Chase in February, while he was no match for the aforementioned Cloth Cap at Kelso in early March.  He will need to show a lot more spark to feature here, but having landed a Grade 2 victory last season, he has shown he can perform to a high level, and if he's on a going day then has to be respected.

Grand National Grey
Lake View Lad silk

Lake View Lad

Fell

No. 13 Tout Est Permis - 80/1

Hugely progressive in his younger days, Noel Meade's Tout Est Permis built on a fine win in the Troytown at Navan by going on to win a Grade 2 at Thurles in January 2019. However, having finished in mid-division in the 2019 Irish Grand National the eight-year-old has continued to find life tough and is bidding for his first victory in over two years when he lines up in the 2021 National.

A decent third placed finish in the 2020 Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival showed he can perform to a decent level, but he's struggled to replicate that fine hurdles effort over fences, and this season he's really struggled. A ten-length fourth behind Acapella Bourgeois in the Bobbyjo Chase in February highlighted his need to improve, while he was a faller last time out when well fancied to claim victory at Down Royal in mid-March. Now, set for a return to the track at Aintree, Meade's raider is rightly available at huge odds, at the time of writing, and it's hard to see him playing any sort of role on current form.

Grand National Grey
Tout Est Permis silk

Tout Est Permis

Pulled Up
Grand National Tips

No. 40 Farclas - 33/1

Denise Foster's Farclas will be attempting to emulate the mighty Tiger Roll by winning the Triumph Hurdle and then later in his career go on to win the Grand National. A winner of the 2018 Triumph Hurdle, Farclas has since become a top notch staying handicap chaser, and with a low weight to carry at Aintree (10-3) then he is a fascinating contender at 33/1, and lines up after a decent run at the Cheltenham Festival.

No match for the well-backed The Shunter in the Paddy Power Plate at Cheltenham earlier in the month, Farclas pulled over three lengths clear of the rest of the field to show that he could still be ahead of the handicapper, and with lots of experience in top notch handicap chases then he is an eye-catching Irish contender. Third in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, the seven-year-old then returned to that venue and ran a creditable fourth in another competitive event. Yet to win over a distance further than two and a half miles, stamina issues are a significant worry, and like many that have tried he may just fail to see out the trip, and with no seven-year-old having won since 1940 then he faces a stern test to land the prize.

Grand National Grey
Farclas silk

Farclas

lost

Other Potential Grey Runners

With a maximum field of 40 horses permitted to run in the Grand National, the remaining four grey horses entered for the race will need some horses to be scratched if they are to get a run. Number 49 on the latest list of entries is the John McConnell-trained Some Neck (50/1), who was last seen finishing a creditable third behind Tiger Roll in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, while No. 52 Fagan (100/1) was last seen winning at Newbury for Alex Hales, but had previously been pulled up in the Scottish Grand National, when trained by Gordon Elliott, so it's hard to see him playing a role, should he make the cut.

The final two greys have next to no chance of making the final list of 40 Grand National Runners with No. 61 Flying Angel (125/1) and No.64 Achille (50/1) both needing a boatload of horses to be taken out before they get a chance. Flying Angel, who was a Grade 1 winner of the Manifesto Novices' Chase back in 2017 has failed to kick on from that win, and is well out of form, while Achille would be an interesting contender as he was a fine runner-up to Lord Du Mesnil in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park earlier in the year, but is destined to miss the cut.

Grand National Runners
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