Grand National 2021 Fact Files
Any Second Now
Any Second Now is now 10/1 second favourite for the Aintree Grand National after his Grade 2 win at Navan in the Webster Cup.— Bar One Racing (@BarOneRacing) March 13, 2021
📱 Aintree National betting | https://t.co/U69WguFjpfpic.twitter.com/EonT2cOBbg
The nine year old has some top form on his CV, winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, and has taken a slightly unorthodox route to Aintree, warming up with a clear cut victory in a Grade Two contest over two miles at Navan on March 13.
While not the traditional preparation for the four and a quarter mile race, Katie believes Any Second Now’s speed could stand him in good stead at a crucial point in the race.
She said: “Dad isn’t afraid to run his horses over a shorter trip to sharpen them up. The question then becomes whether they’ll stay, and I definitely think that as the National has changed, you do need to be able to travel easy within yourself for the first mile and a half.
“I think the way it’s gone in the past 10 years or so you definitely need to travel early over the first mile and a half and not too many horses come out of the pack any more. You’d like to think that he’d be able to travel early.”
Katie’s brother Ruby, who rode Papillon to victory for his father at the turn of the millennium, added that the changing style of the race ought to suit Any Second Now, who has impressed him with his speed.
He said: “He’s a lot quicker horse than I thought he was. He was good at Navan on his last start and dad does like to drop them back in trip before they go to wherever their intended target would be.
“I think the reason the National has changed a bit is not the fences, it’s the fact that there are no loose horses in the National anymore. Aintree have taken those out with the safety measures, but without loose horses on the front end of the field, there is no reason for anyone to slow down.
“When you had six or more loose ones at the front of the pack, you had to second guess the loose ones and so everyone slows down, and that’s the difference. I can see why Cloth Cap is favourite for that reason, watching him at Newbury and Kelso, his style of racing is what will suit. He will probably be hard to beat but Any Second Now is in great nick.”
Asked who he would choose, given the field of 40 to pick from, Ruby added: “I’d ride Any Second Now. I still think my greatest day in racing was riding the Grand National winner for my dad, and if I had a chance to repeat that, that’s the reason I’d be riding him.”
Ruby still has a strong association with the Willie Mullins yard and provided an update on the well-fancied Burrows Saint, who he feels will be suited by better ground if the rain stays away.
He said: “He was a good winner of the Irish National as a novice in 2019 and then went to France to run in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. He raced a bit keenly in Auteuil and then he was aimed at the Grand National.
“Obviously Covid came and 2020 didn’t exist, but that’s where he’s been aimed again. He’s had three runs this season and ran better at Fairyhouse in the Bobbyjo Chase than his previous two runs and he’s going the right way. He’s definitely a better horse on better ground.”
Rachael Blackmore’s stunning success at The Festival™ supporting WellChild has put female riders in the spotlight more than ever before, which is something Katie Walsh is delighted by.
And she revealed that she would have no qualms with a female rider beating her effort to finish third on Seabass in the 2012 Grand National – which remains the best effort in the race to date from a female jockey.
She said: “That wouldn’t even cross my mind to be honest with you. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who’s finished the best place in the National and personally I’d love to see Rachael win it.
“Rachael was phenomenal at Cheltenham and it was great TV. She was brilliant – take male or female out of it – she was absolutely super and I suppose the picture has changed really quickly.
“I was on Seabass in 2012 and people didn’t really believe it could happen, but now it feels as though it’s a matter of when (a female jockey will ride the Grand National winner).
“It’s a great day for whoever wins it and it’s a great race to be involved in, so may the best man win – male or female.”