Willie Mullins’ best chances at winning a second Grand National


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Despite his wealth of success in National Hunt racing on both sides of the Irish Sea, with a laundry list of major Grade 1 triumphs in Ireland and a record 94 Cheltenham Festival winners, the Grand National hasn’t been as kind to the Closutton colossal.

Mullins has just one victory in the National to his name, with Hedgehunter delivering that win way back in 2005. It’s not for the want of trying though, the 66-year-old has come close on occasions — with Burrows Saint registering a top-four finish in 2021 and Pleasant Company finishing second by a neck to Tiger Roll in his maiden success in 2018.

As the 2023 renewal of the marathon contest rapidly approaches, Mullins has some solid claims in the ante-post Grand National betting at the time of writing. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at two of the Irish handler’s best chances to take the trophy back to County Carlow with him this year.

Gaillard Du Mesnil

The third favourite to win the Grand National at general odds of 10/1, Gaillard Du Mesnil has been in impressive form so far this season. The seven-year-old was second to Mighty Potter in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse on reappearance in December before landing the top-level Novice Chase at Leopardstown later in the month.

He placed again in a Grade 1 in February, this time coming home in third behind old rival Mighty Potter and Adamantly Chosen back at Leopardstown. Gaillard Du Mesnil was back in the winner’s enclosure last time out though, winning the Grade 2 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase under Patrick Mullins at the Cheltenham Festival.

Grey horses don’t have the best record in the National, with just three previous winners of the historic race. However, Gaillard Du Mesnil has displayed fine staying ability over long distances — particularly in that aforementioned Cheltenham contest over 3m6f — and should have no issues over 4m2½f. He also has a handy allocated weight of 11-0.

Speaking about Gaillard Du Mesnil, Mullins said: “Gaillard Du Mesnil (11st) is a novice in name, (but) he’s a second-season novice. He eventually broke his maiden at Christmas, winning a three-mile Grade One novice at Leopardstown and that’s good form.

“He jumps and stays and will probably go to Cheltenham first and, all being well, have a good crack at the National after that.”

Mr Incredible

A horse Mullins has spoken about very highly in the build up to the National, Mr Incredible has had his price cut in half for the marathon race in recent weeks — shortening from 25/1 to around 12/1 after finishing third in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

He stayed on strongly after hitting the last over that three-mile and two furlongs trip in that race though and also proved that his ability over longer distances to keep on well and finish second behind Iwilldoit in a Premier Handicap at Warwick in January. The step up to the National distance could suit Mr Incredible and a weight of 10-4 is also generous for the seven-year-old.

On the seven-year-old’s chances, Mullins said earlier this year: “Mr Incredible (10st 4lb) is a nice horse and that run at Warwick puts him right in there – I think he has a nice weight for the National too.”