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Can Snow Leopardess end the curse of the greys in the Grand National?

If you were to ask an experienced jump racing fan for advice when making your all-important selections for the Grand National, they’d likely tell you to avoid any grey horses at all costs. If you were to scratch the surface, you’d quickly understand why though.

In fact, to say grey horses have a poor record in the prestigious race would be a massive understatement. The reality is that just three grey horses have won the National in its lengthy 183-year history, with 33/1 shot Neptune Collonges, trained by 12-time British Champion trainer Paul Nicholls, the latest to do so.

A decade has passed since Daryl Jacob landed that historic win in 2012, however, and you really have to delve into the archives to find his pre-successors — rewinding the clock to 1961 for Nicolaus Silver’s victory from 28/1 before going back a further 90 years before that, as The Lamb won the 1868 and 1871 renewals, respectively.

Several have been pipped to the post over the years, with Sunny Bay held in second in 1997 and 1998 while What’s Up Boys and King Johns Castle suffered the same fate in the 2002 and 2008 renewals of the National.

With a new year comes fresh hope though, and Snow Leopardess is currently flying the flag as the leading contender for the greys in the Grand National betting odds.

The Charlie Longsden-trained horse has had a fine season so far this year, and as a result, is fourth in the marathon race’s ante-post market at 14/1. After winning on her seasonal reappearance at Bangor-on-Dee in November, beating Windsor Avenue over the line by almost three lengths in a Handicap Chase, Snow Leopardess secured arguably the most notable victory on her CV — one that could easily sway your selection choice.

Indeed, we probably haven’t given you much reason to have a small flutter on grey horses in the National thus far. But a notable victory in the Grade 3 Becher Handicap Chase over the National fences at Aintree in December is often a good indication that a horse has what it takes to win, or at least stay the distance in the gruelling, four-mile, two-and-a-half-furlong contest.

Snow Leopardess incredibly made it three for three this season last time out as well, winning the Listed Mares’ Chase over three miles at Exeter back in February, and is arguably going into the National as one of the most in-form entries.

Being a grey and a mare, another thing not entirely in her favour — as just 13 female horses have won the National — mean the odds are stacked against the 10-year-old. But there are plenty of important trends that back up her case, like the must-have three runs in a season, plenty of experience over fences, lots of stamina and a rating within the right range.

Off 10-08 as well, reasonably lighter than the 11-8 she carried around Exeter to victory last time out, this is a horse that has every chance of having a good run at Aintree. At seemingly generous odds of 14/1, Snow Leopardess definitely seems like a decent each-way shout!

Huynh Nguyen

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