Grand National
Overpriced early Grand National contenders: 5 horses to watch in the ante-post market, according to Racing Post.

Overpriced early Grand National contenders: 5 horses to watch in the ante-post market, according to Racing Post.

The Irish handicapper raised him 10lb after that, although he has since dropped one of those after two runs down the fields at Leopardstown and Naas. With prospective National contenders needing six runs over fences to qualify for the big one, those two efforts have done the job in ensuring he meets the criteria for Aintree.

The Kerry National form has a tasty look to it too, with a host of classy names behind him including Thyestes Chase winner Ain’t That A Shame and Stumptown, who is joint-favourite for the Ultima Handicap Chase after bolting up at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. What more could punters want?

An Irish-English National double is rare to find but I Am Maximus could well have a live chance of achieving it in 2024. He started the season with a surprise win in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in December before shaping with real promise on his next two outings behind Galopin Des Champs – including in the Irish Gold Cup last time.

The eight-year-old could well be saving his best for a longer distance, as displayed by his hard-fought victory in the 27-runner Irish National. Although it’s tricky predicting what Mullins and Gordon Elliott will do with their multiple entries, he certainly shouldn’t be written off.

The 11-year-old has won two of his three starts over the Grand National fences, scoring in both the Grand Sefton and the Topham Chases in the 2021-22 season. On his other effort over the fences he fell at the sixth in the Becher Chase.

He made a fine return from a 430-day absence when winning a 2m4½f handicap chase on the Mildmay track in December, and if he does not run in the Grand National make sure to keep him on side for the Topham instead. However, he has already shown his aptitude over these fences, having not finished out of the frame in the last three runnings of the Foxhunters’ Chase – a race he won two years ago.

He has thrived since switching to the Skelton yard and trying the cross-country chase route, including impressing at Cheltenham in December, and it is clear that unusual disciplines bring the best out of him. He’s not been injured which suggests connections are happy with his Irish mark of 147 with a view to Aintree.

He was sold as part of the Andrew and Gemma Brown dispersal sale and went to Eddie O’Leary for €215,000 with Gordon Elliott the purchaser, so he was clearly keen to keep hold of the eight-year-old. Racing Post have got the best offers, all in one place.

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