Rebecca Curtis will be buying Willie Mullins a drink if Joe Farrell wins the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
Last season’s Scottish National winner was not guaranteed a run in Saturday’s £1 million showpiece until Mullins decided at the last minute that he would keep Pairofbroweyes back for the Irish version.
That meant the 40th and final spot was taken by Joe Farrell, who has been the buzz horse in the ante-post market this week – and having been available at 50-1 on Monday, he is as low as 12s in a market still dominated of course by strong favourite Tiger Roll.
“It’s brilliant news,” said Curtis.
“We didn’t think we had a chance of getting in before his last run, but he went up in the weights for that, and without it he wouldn’t have got in. He went up seven or eight places.
“He ran really well at Newbury. He takes two runs to get fit and he was carrying a lot of weight that day, so I was really pleased with him.
“Obviously as a Scottish National winner, he’s proven over nearly the trip – one of his assets is he stays very well, and now all we need is a bit of luck.
“He’s pretty versatile with ground, but I suppose his best form has tended to be on nicer ground.
“It would be some fairytale if he wins, having not been sure he was even going to get in, that’s for sure.”
Tiger Roll is bidding to become the first back-to-back winner of the race since the great Red Rum completed the feat back in 1974.
He is one of 13 runners for trainer Gordon Elliott, whose team also numbers last year’s third Bless The Wings, the well-fancied Jury Duty and the 2018 Irish Grand National victor General Principle.
Rathvinden leads the Mullins squad, and will be ridden by Ruby Walsh, with 2018 runner-up Pleasant Company aiming to avenge his head defeat for the master of Closutton.
Walsh explained his decision to ride Rathvinden.
He told Racing TV: “He has 11st, which is a nice weight.
“He won the Bobbyjo, won last year’s four-miler at Cheltenham, and he’s in good form – so I sided with him.
“He beat Ms Parfois in the four-miler, with Jury Duty in behind, so it’s solid form.
“He’s a safe jumper who stays – but he’s won over shorter, so he’s got pace.
“He ticks a lot of boxes – but you still need a lot of luck.”
Cheltenham Gold Cup runner up Anibale Fly carries top weight for trainer Tony Martin, with the Trevor Hemmings-owned pair of Vintage Clouds and Lake View Lad also prominent in the betting.
Champion jockey Richard Johnson has yet to the win the National and he will team up with the Philip Hobbs-trained Rock The Kasbah as he tries to end his luckless run.
Becher Chase winner Walk In The Mill, 2017 Grand National hero One For Arthur and Step Back – for Gold Cup-winning trainer Mark Bradstock – are other names to note.
In a late twist on Thursday evening, owner Philip Reynolds revealed Mall Dini had picked up an injury and would miss the race, meaning first reserve Just A Par, trained by Jimmy Moffatt, gets a run.
Reynolds was speaking after his Moon Over Germany had won at Aintree in the Mall Dini colours.
He said: “I heard just a few minutes before Moon Over Germany ran that Mall Dini has got a leg injury.
“I said to Rachael (Blackmore) just before the race started that I needed a pick up, big time. I’ve wanted a runner in the National for a long time and this has happened on the eve of the National.”
The remaining three reserves are The Young Master, Isleofhopendreams and Exitas, who will join the field should there be any further non-runners before Friday’s 1pm deadline.