On the eve of the brand new jumps season 2023/24, it’s always good to have a few antepost horses in your portfolio for the major Festivals, and in this article I’m suggesting a couple of selections for the Aintree Grand National.

You may even find the same picks featuring in the early Cheltenham betting odds at some point. For future reference, this article was compiled on 18th September 2023.


Irish-bred horses have always enjoyed considerable success at Aintree.

There have been 25 winners of the race trained in Ireland since the first Grand National back in 1839 and many of those have won the Irish version of the contest prior to arriving on Merseyside.

The Willie Mullins-trained I Am Maximus landed the Irish Grand National on Easter Monday 2023.

Spectators were treated to an absolutely stunning ride from Paul Townend who understandably received all the plaudits.

In an unbelievable climax to the Fairyhouse feature, the 8-1 shot I Am Maximus came out of clouds with an incredible late surge to pass long-time leader Defi Bleu to take top honours.

It was actually Townend’s first ever Irish Grand National triumph and only the second for Mullins – his first being Burrows Saint in 2019.

I Am Maximus will be an eight-year-old next April and I am pretty sure Mullins will campaign him with a view to running in the Aintree marathon.

His current odds of 25/1 look very fair and as the season progresses, if all goes to plan, I can see those odds shrinking all the time.


Trainer Gavin Cromwell said immediately after the Grand National 2023 that he would return to Aintree with Vanillier after the grey finished in second place behind Corach Rambler in the 175th renewal last April.


Sent off a 20-1 shot on the day, jockey Sean Flanagan was gradually running down the idling Lucinda Russell horse with every stride, but it sadly turned out to be a bridge too far for him at the end and he went down by a honourable two and a quarter lengths at the line.

Cromwell said to journalists afterwards:

“You have to be happy. Coming back next year will definitely be the plan, absolutely. He might not be as well weighted, but he will benefit for the experience.”

Vanillier will be a nine-year-old next April and this Martaline-gelding is sure to thrive in these staying events in both Ireland and the UK.

He’s highly likely to contest the Bobbyjo Chase again at Fairyhouse in late February, but before that we’re probably going to see him in Grade 1’s at Leopardstown and Punchestown.

The grey was Cheltenham Festival winner when landing the 2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, but it took a little while for him to adjust to fences.

His runner-up spot in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse marked his arrival in the jumping sphere and Cromwell set his sights on going to Aintree, as he will do again this season.

Grand National Tips Summary

The antepost betting market for the Grand National is always at its most generous in September and October before the jumps season gets underway properly.

Will either of our two picks lift the Aintree trophy in 2024? Remember to revisit this page next April to find out.

*NB - betting on horse racing online in the antepost markets carries a degree of risk*

Grand National Race Schedule

The Grand National Festival takes place at Aintree every April. The annual spectacle of betting, horseracing and socialising will take place over three days from Thursday April 11 to the feature race on Saturday April 13.

This historic race spans 4 miles and 514 yards, whilst 30 thrilling jumps are negotiated in all. With a prize pool of £1 million, it’s a very lucrative contest to win.

Calculator for bets

A global audience of 600 million from 140 countries, and a crowd of over 70,000 spectators at Aintree on the day pay witness to this amazing jumping spectacle.

This year 34 of the finest horses and jockeys will gear up for the ultimate challenge in British horse racing. Horses and jockeys alike will have to face and overcome the famous fences such as The Chair, Canal Turn, and Becher’s Brook in order to achieve Aintree glory.

Here’s what you can expect on each of the three days:


  • 1.45pm – The Manifesto Novices’ Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 1 (2m4f)

  • 2.20pm – The Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1 (2m1f)

  • 2.55pm – The Aintree Bowl Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 1 (3m1f)

  • 3.30pm – The William Hill Aintree Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1 (2m4f)

  • 4.05pm – The Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase (2m5f)

  • 4.40pm - The Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 3 (2m)

  • 5.15pm – The Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat (Grade 2) (2m1f)


  • 1.45pm – The Air Charter Services Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 1 (3m1f)

  • 2.20pm – The William Hill Handicap Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 3 (2m4f)

  • 2.55pm – The TrustATrader Top Novices’ Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1 (2m½f)

  • 3.30pm – The My Pension Expert Melling Chase (Grade 1) (2m4f)

  • 4.05pm – The Randox Supports Race Against Dementia Topham Chase (Grade 3) (2m5f)

  • 4.40pm – The Winners Wear Cavani Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1 (3m½f)

  • 5.15pm – The Abersoch Land and Sea Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (2m ½f)


  • 1.20pm – The Bridle Road Handicap Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 3 (3m½f)

  • 1.55pm – The Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1 (2m4f)

  • 2.30pm – The William Hill Handicap Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 3 (3m1f)

  • 3.05pm – The JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle (Class 1) Grade 1 (3m½f)

  • 4.00pm – The Randox Grand National Steeple Chase (Grade 3) (4m2½f)

  • 5.00pm - The Maghull Novices’ Steeple Chase (Class 1) Grade 1 (2m)

  • 5.35pm - The Weatherbys Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) (2m1f)

Previous 10 Grand National Winners

  • 2023 - Corach Rambler 8/1

  • 2022 - Noble Yeats 50/1

  • 2021 - Minella Times 11/1

  • 2020 - No Race

  • 2019 - Tiger Roll 4/1

  • 2018 - Tiger Roll 14/1

  • 2017 - One For Arthur 14/1

  • 2016 - Rule The World 33/1

  • 2015 - Many Clouds 25/1

  • 2014 - Pineau De Re 25/1

  • 2013 - Auroras Encore 66/1

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Steven is a sports and horse racing enthusiast and is a member of the Horseracing Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) in the United Kingdom.

He is a regular visitor to Paris Longchamp for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a lifelong fan of the Aintree Grand National, a subject he writes about 52 weeks of the year. Last year he reached the impressive milestone of attending the last 30 renewals of the Grand National.