by ANNIE DALE IT’S been almost 60 years since a mare won the Grand National, but there a few of the fairer sex with the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on their agenda in 2019. Toughness and stamina are attributes which certainly aren’t confined to male racehorses, so here are four mares who could line up on Merseyside come Saturday, April 6th.
Gordon Elliott has trained two Grand National winners in his illustrious career already. One of many from his County Meath yard who could enhance that record is Shattered Love.
The eight-year-old is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who have triumphed twice in the last three years in the Aintree showpiece. Although she hasn’t won since landing the JLT Novices’ Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, Shattered Love is by legendary Flat stayer Yeats and her stamina shouldn’t be in doubt.
Connections do have the alternative option of the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse over Easter, but she is higher in the weights there than the English equivalent. Betfair, who are paying six places on the race, are offering 50/1 about Shattered Love turning up on Merseyside.
One mare who has proven she can stay four miles-plus is Ms Parfois. Trained by Anthony Honeyball, the eight-year-old was a gallant half-length runner-up to Rathvinden, one of the Aintree tips from Betting.Betfair for the Grand National, in a novice chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
She is now set to meet the Irish raider from Willie Mullins’ stable on 1lb better terms. That gives Ms Parfois every chance of turning the National Hunt Chase form around, despite both horses being lightly-raced since. You can back her at 25/1 for the big one at Aintree.
Although only sixth in the valuable Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury when she returned to action this season, Ms Parfois excelled under a big weight in her Grand National prep run, the Midlands equivalent at Uttoxeter. Her jumping was excellent and she finished a fine second to Potters Corner.
Magic Of Light
If she can cut out jumping errors, then the Jessica Harrington-trained eight-year-old Magic Of Light also has claims of going well at Aintree. This daughter of another prominent Flat stayer Flemensfirth contested a key Grand National trial in Ireland, the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse, won by Rathvinden, but came down in the back straight.
Magic Of Light has since finished seventh in another Grade 3 race at Cheltenham in behind leading Aintree fancies Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad. She’ll be meeting the Trevor Hemmings-owned duo on the same terms come the National, but looks unexposed stamina wise.
Regular jockey Robbie Power knows what it takes to win this race after partnering Silver Birch to glory on Merseyside, for Elliott, back in 2007. Magic Of Light looks overpriced at 50/1 for the Aintree showpiece but is another with an Irish Grand National entry if connections opt to stay at home.
Baie Des Iles
The last mare to complete the Aintree course with its spruce-covered fences was Baie Des Iles in 2018. She trailed in 12th and 89 lengths behind plucky winner Tiger Roll, but will race off a 3lb lower rating if the eight-year-old gets into the 40-runner field again this season.
That is not certain as Baie Des Iles would need 15 horses above her in the weights to forfeit their entries. She has one crucial advantage over the other mares if allowed to take her chance; the experience of running in the Grand National.
Trained by Ross O’Sullivan, who is married to top Irish jockey Ruby Walsh’s sister Katie, Baie Des Iles is sure to have learned a lot from her previous run around Aintree. Should she make the cut, then the 50/1 price with Betfair looks very generous indeed as she was returned in last year’s Grand National at 16/1.