Richie McLernon got within a nose of winning the Randox Health Grand National when he was denied aboard Sunnyhillboy by Neptune Collonges back in 2012, but he can finally go one better when getting the leg up on Regal Encore at 33/1.
The 10-year-old, trained by Anthony Honeyball, has had a lovely Grand National prep, starting a year ago when he hunted round for eighth in the big race, never looking like getting involved but gaining essential experience of the famous fences.
Now he’s been around before I’d expect him to be ridden more prominently and, despite his form reaching a new level this season, he’s allowed to race off the same mark of 150 as last year.
Left on that number after a superb third place in the Ladbrokes Trophy (gets a 9lb pull for a nine-length defeat by Total Recall, one of the favourites for this), Regal Encore was pulled up at Ascot just before Christmas but bounced back to winning form at the same track just after the National weights were published.
That win over old rival Minella Daddy showed that he’d improved in the past year, that he’s in the form of his life and that he has no issues with testing ground. It also means he’s 4lb well-in for the National and he looks to have the right mixture of talent and being on the right side of the handicapper.
Second in the Champion Bumper in the first part of his career, he had a profile of a horse that might be considered a disappointment considering his early promise, but he looks to finally be in a place where he can land the biggest of pots.
Tip: Regal Encore (33/1)