On the close of play on Friday evening, JP McManus had seen his lowest return of winners at the Cheltenham Festival in six years.
The 70-year-old has seen plenty of success at the Gloucestershire course over the years, with his first Festival success coming almost 40 years ago.
But he only had a sole success at this year’s meeting in the form of Nicky Henderson’s Chantry House, who landed the Marsh Novices’ Chase on early Thursday afternoon.
However, the Limerick native experienced a reverse in fortunes 24 hours later, when Time To Get Up justified favouritism in the Midlands Grand National, getting up in the final strides to secure victory at Uttoxeter.
It continues the strong run of form the Irish owner has produced in handicaps this season, with wins coming in the Leinster National, the Matheson Chase, the Ladbrokes Hurdle and the Leopardstown Handicap Chase since the beginning of February.
McManus will be aiming to continue that run into the biggest handicap steeplechase of them all – the Grand National.
The owner has seen success in this race once before – when AP McCoy rode Don’t Push It to success in the 2010 renewal for Jonjo O’Neill.
The famous silks of green and yellow will be boldly present on the Aintree turf, with the Irish owner holding 11 entries for the 2021 edition currently.
French talent Easysland was registered as top-weight for the contest, but it was announced yesterday by trainer David Cottin that the 2020 Cross Country Chase winner will not be making the trip to Liverpool next month.
Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now is McManus’ best chance of success in terms of a betting perspective, with the Webster Cup Chase winner sitting as the second favourite with a 12/1 price tag.
Becher Chase runner-up Kimberlite Candy has the benefit of experiencing the unique Aintree fences and could be an interesting contender for Tom Lacey, while Minella Times has produced two strong efforts in large handicap fields in Ireland this season for Henry De Bromhead.
Anibale Fly made his seasonal reappearance in the Bobbyjo Chase last month and looked as if he needed the run for Tony Martin, while Nicky Henderson’s Ok Corral was found to be lame after being pulled up in the Ultima last week and will want to bounce back here.
Rowland Meyrick winner Canelo has been a consistent performer for Alan King and has caught the eye with his fluent jumping ability, hinting at each-way value if he can stay the distance.
Philip Hobbs’ Jerrysback possesses entries in both the British and Irish Grand National, while Tim Duggan Handicap Chase winner The Long Mile represents Philip Dempsey’s yard.
Meanwhile, at the lower end of the weights, Paul Nolan’s Fitzhenry and Hobbs’ Musical Slave round off the Irish owner’s entries into this year’s contest.
McManus holds a strong hand of contenders for this season’s National Hunt showpiece, with a good chance of landing glory for the second time in this contest.