Analysis: Four things we learnt from the 2018 Grand National

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Sat 14 Apr 2018

Watch a full video breakdown of the 2018 Randox Health Grand National from Nick Luck, Steve Mellish and Jonathan Neesom and read four things we learnt from the great race at Aintree on Saturday.

By Geoffrey Riddle

IRISH EYES SMILING AGAIN:

The finish to the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday provides further evidence that the current balance of power in National Hunt racing very much lies across the Irish Sea.

Between them Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins had 15 winners at the Cheltenham Festival last month and the raiding party claimed no less than 17 of the 28 races in the Cotswolds overall. Willie Mullins gave Racinguk.com his own thoughts as to why this was the case after the Festival, and the the Irish domination continued in the Aintree marathon.

Elliott's Tiger Roll and the Mullins-trained Pleasant Company were separated by a head and were followed in by the winner's veteran stablemate Bless The Wings and Tony Martin's Cheltenham Gold Cup third Anibale Fly.

That means that five of the first six horses home were Irish-trained with Milansbar and Bryony Frost standing in the way of Road To Riches.

It is thought to be the first time that all of the first four horses across the line were trained in Ireland. It was the 26th Irish-trained winner of the Randox Health Grand National.

ELLIOTT PROVES NATIONAL TREASURE:

It is 11 years since Silver Birch provided a fresh-faced and little-known 29-year-old named Gordon Elliott with victory in the world's most famous steeplechase.

Wind the clock forward a decade and the master of Cullentra is now firmly established among the training elite and looks well placed to be crowned champion in his homeland for the first time later this month, likely toppling the rampant Willie Mullins.

In the last five weeks Elliott has taken the top trainer award at the Cheltenham Festival, won the Irish Grand National for the first time with General Principle - pipping a Mullins runner by a nose - and claimed Aintree glory for a second time with Tiger Roll. The frighteningly powerful Elliott juggernaut continues to gather pace and shows no signs of letting up any time soon.

GOLDEN GIRL FROST DOES HERSELF PROUD:

The wait for a female jockey to win the Grand National goes on. Katie Walsh, who achieved the highest-ever finish by a female rider when third aboard Seabass in 2012, was joined by National debutants Rachael Blackmore and Bryony Frost in this year's race and all looked to have sound claims of being involved in the finish.

Blackmore's chance went when Alpha Des Obeaux fell jumping the Chair second time round, while Walsh and Baie Des Iles came home last of 12 finishers. Frost, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season which has included a Grade One success with Black Corton, fared comfortably the best of the trio aboard Milansbar.

Neil King's charge raced prominently and with real zest for much of the way and while he was unable to throw down a serious challenge from the home turn, he boxed on admirably to finish fifth. Yet again, Frost proved herself more than capable of doing the job given the chance and fair enough - he father, Jimmy won the race on Little Polveir in 1989.

NO HORSE DIED IN THE GRAND NATIONAL ONCE AGAIN:

The last two Grand National deaths came in 2012, when According To Pete was brought down and broke his upper leg and Gold Cup winner Synchronised tragically broke his right leg.

There were 37 horses who returned home unscathed, although Saint Are is still with racecourse vets at the time of writing but is reported to be in a stable condition.

There were a few niggles.

Shantou Flyer reportedly had , had a breathing problem. Seeyouatmidnight was lame on his left fore and Milansbar was lame on its left hind. Anibale Fly, who was fourth, Carlingford Lough and Welsh National winner Raz De Maree all suffered from post-race heat stress. The Veterinary Officer further reported that Chase The Spud, who was pulled up, bled from the nose.

But that is to be expected jumping 30 fences over 4m 2 1/2f. With Charlie Deutsch also reported to be in good shape, all 38 jockeys were given a clean bill of health. It is to be celebrated.

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