The world’s most famous race doesn’t really need an extra storyline to sell it.
But the Crabbie’s Grand National has one this year – it will be the final time Tony McCoy will ride in the race and will finish his career as a 20-time champion jockey this season.
Indeed, he will finish it straight after the race if Shutthefrontdoor manages to give him a second National five years after Don’t Push It ended his long wait for a first.
His mount is set to be one of the shortest-priced favourites in the history of the race.
Sentimental punters will not look much further than a horse already trading at no better than 7-1 more than a week before the event.
Even though last year’s Irish Grand National winner has a fine profile, he has not run since November and really does not deserve his place in the market.
The horse who does is Rocky Creek, who bounced back to his best form following a wind operation and, just as importantly, after the weights were announced, he slammed a good field at Kempton in February by six lengths and more.
Had the handicapper had that line of form to work on he would have asked Rocky Creek to saddle top weight rather than 11st 3lb and he should head the market.
Paul Nicholls’ nine-year-old finished fifth in the race last year when looking a non-stayer at the extreme four miles, four furlongs trip.
But that gives him a similar profile to Hedgehunter, who took a tired-looking fall two out as an eight-year-old in 2004.
He returned a stronger horse a year later to win by an easy 14 lengths having been sent off favourite following a last-time-out win in February. Rocky Creek is just as rock solid.
Those looking for a bigger price could do worse than Saint Are, who has won over both hurdles and fences on Aintree’s Mildmay course and got round in the National (ninth) when only a seven-year-old in 2013.
He has been rejuvenated by the move to Tom George this season, was a staying-on third in the Becher Chase over three miles and two furlongs of the National course in December and hacked up last time out.
This is his time of year and odds of 33-1 make plenty of appeal.
The Grand National takes place on Saturday, April 11, at 4.15pm.
Paul Kealy writes for the Racing Post.