The Grand National has a habit of producing surprise winners. In hindsight the horse's potential for victory in the world's toughest stayer's race always seems crystal clear. However, it's not quite as easy picking out the rough diamonds from the Grand National field to identify a potential winner.
Here's our pick of five dark horses who could cause an upset at the 2016 Grand National.
After a couple of good results in standard chases Wonderful Charm's spent four seasons competing in handicaps, with the odd unsuccessful tilt at a high profile chase thrown into the mix. While he's managed to win or place in 10 of his 14 career chases, he's never won over a distance greater than 21 furlongs. That said he did manage a second place over 26 furlongs last time out, and will be travelling considerably lighter at Aintree. With this kind of profile and youth on his side he can't be ruled out as a prospect for an upset.
Ballynagour's most significant achievement over fences was his victory in the Byrne Group Plate at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival. Since then he's been routinely switched between hurdles and fences, and his last win was achieved over hurdles in May of 2015. In the 2015 Betfred Bowl he pushed Silviniaco Conti very close while carrying 11-7, which suggests that the 11-2 he'll have onboard in the Grand National is likely to see him in contention over the final mile of the race.
On His Own
On His Own's record shows some promising signs. In his six wins over distances of 24 furlongs or more he achieved those victories by six lengths or more on all but one occasion. His most recent win, in a handicap chase at Cork, saw him finish 15 lengths clear of the field. Don't read too much into his recent finish at the back of the field in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He'll be travelling 9lbs lighter on Grand National day and competing against a less impressive field. On His Own should be in the mix in the final furlongs and could challenge for the win.
Rocky Creek is something of a Grand National veteran, and will be competing in the race for the third time in 2016. His best performance in the race was a 5th place in 2013 while carrying 11-5, so the lighter handicap he'll carry this year could see him enter contention. He finished second behind Gold Cup winner, Don Cossack, in a race at Down Royal earlier this season, so he's still a top quality horse on his day. Unlikely to be awed by the occasion he's well poised to make a challenge for the title.
The Druid's Nephew
While wins have been a rarity for The Druid’s Nephew in his chase career, the ones he has achieved stand him in good stead for the Grand National. In 2015 he ran out a winner in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase over 25 furlongs at the Cheltenham Festival. A month later he fell in the Grand National, but has since built himself towards some form, finishing second in a handicap chase at Doncaster last time out. One of the few established stayers in the field, we can expect him to be in the mix over the final furlong if he jumps well. A decent each-way option at his price.