Grand National 2021: all Saturday’s latest news and tips at Aintree – live! | Sport

Good morning from an empty Aintree, where the 173rd Grand National will be run on Saturday afternoon with a handful of owners in the grandstand and not a single paying spectator anywhere on or around the two-mile circuit. Tiger Roll is an absentee too, having ended up in a Grade One on Thursday’s card when a run at a third National was there for the taking.

But if that sounds like a poor imitation of what this race should be, consider this: it did not happen at all last year, so we should be grateful to have a race at all. Oh, and there were only 16,000 or so in to see Red Rum’s third National victory, when it looked like Aintree was about to be turned into a housing estate. This year will soon be a distant memory when normality is restored.

This is a National to be positive about simply because it’s happening. It may look somewhat underwhelming without the usual crowds, but they will be watching at home and itching to return. And while the betting shops are shut until Monday, there are still several ways to get bets on this year’s race, which is as thick with potential plotlines as ever, even without the Tiger in the running.

Cloth Cap is still a clear favourite on Saturday morning though on the drift slightly as backers look for alternatives, out to 11-2 from a general 9-2 yesterday, while Minella Times, the mount of jockey-of-the-moment Rachael Blackmore, is 10-1 along with Burrows Saint, whose rider, Patrick Mullins, registered his first win over these fences on Friday and is a late replacement after Paul Townend suffered an injury.

Any Second Now is an 11-1 shot while Takingrisks, a veteran from the Nicky Richards yard and former winner of the Scottish equivalent, seems to be winking at quite a few backers on Saturday morning and is down to a top price of 16-1 having been available at 40-1 on Friday.

One point that all bookmakers are keen to stress is that this is very much a day to get your bets on early. Their websites tend to creak a little even on a Grand National day when betting shops are open, so their IT departments are likely to be as exhausted as the participants at the close of play today. It is easy enough to set up an account with your betting firm of choice, but not when the horses are already circling at the start.

So make your selections – there’s a runner-by-runner guide here if you need any background but you may do just as well getting your dog/cat/budgie to help out. Get the money on early (and use a firm offering “Best Odds Guaranteed” if you are worried about the price drifting out before the off), then start counting down the hours and minutes to the most spectacular and compelling horse race of them all.

Grand National interactive


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