The 2016 Grand National has drawn a much classier field than we've become accustomed to in this punishing stayer's chase. Entries to the 2016 edition of the Grand National include a number of horses with multiple Grade 1 wins, and little experience in either handicaps or long distance stayers races.
We can therefore expect to see the 2016 Grand National characterized by two things. The first of these is a betting market tilted towards horses with high ratings and wins in Grade 1 chases. The second is a high rate of attrition amongst these horses in the actual race, as humbler but more experienced handicap stayers come to the fore.
Here's our pick of the five horses who we believe have the right stuff to challenge for the Grand National title in 2016.
Triolo D'Alene has already got a couple of big handicaps under his belt, having won the Topham Chase at Aintree and Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in 2013. Since then he's struggled with his form and heavier weights, but was back to his best at Kempton in January when he took a small field by 49 lengths after being dropped down to 11 stone. This is good news for his fans as he'll carry an equivalent weight into the Grand National. A proven stayer in top class handicaps, he's as good an option as you'll have for the 2016 Grand National.
Holywell is a handy stayer who has achieved some good results in both Grade 1 chases and handicaps in his career, including a win in the Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree in 2014 and a Grade 3 win in that year's Cheltenham Festival. He also placed in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last time out, and considering he finished second in that race carrying almost a stone more than he'll carry in the Grand National, he looks a definite title candidate and one of the horses to add to your betting slip for this race.
A win in the 2014 Irish Grand National sets Shutthefrontdoor apart from other entries in the Grand National. He also finished in 5th place at last season's Grand National. As a result of these performances he saw himself carrying top weight in his last two chases, which led to him being pulled up last time out. With a dry patch behind him his handicap has dropped below the 11 stone mark, and he'll carry less weight in 2016 than he did in either of his previous National performances. All told, not a horse you can afford to ignore in the 2016 Grand National.
Goonyella is one of a handful of horses in the 2016 Grand National field with a major stayer's title beneath his belt. In fact he has two, having taken the Midlands Grand National Chase in 2015 and a 30 furlong chase at Punchestown in 2013. The weight he'll carry in the Grand National is somewhere between what he carried in those two races, which suggests he should stay well. He also has some form going for him, finishing 2nd in a 24 furlong handicap at Naas last time out. One of the dark horses in the field, he's a good each-way option.
In eight starts over fences Morning Assembly has finished outside the places just twice. This included his most recent outing at the Cheltenham Festival, where he finished 4th in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap. He's not yet won over stayer's distance, but will be favoured by a relatively light handicap compared to what he carried last time out. At age 9 there's definitely space for him to still improve as a stayer. Not a bad option if you feel like taking a gamble on a long shot.