In the world of National Hunt racing, the Grand National stands as the ultimate test of skill, courage, and strategy.

As the prestigious event edges ever closer on April 13, anticipation mounts not only for seasoned trainers but also a group of ambitious handlers poised on the brink of their first taste of Grand National success.

In this article, we delve into the stories of these determined individuals, each with a unique journey and a burning desire to etch their name into the annals of racing history.

Gavin Cromwell

Now a formidable force in National Hunt racing, Irish handler Gavin Cromwell appears to be a Grand National-winning trainer in waiting.

The County Meath-based trainer went close in last year’s Aintree showpiece, with Vanillier finishing second to Corach Rambler by just over two lengths.

The grey horse will lead Cromwell’s charge again this year and is the 10/1 third favourite if you’re looking to bet on Grand National 2024.

Limerick Lace is another likely runner for Cromwell and is priced at 20/1, while 66/1 shot Malina Girl still holds an entry. 

Christian Williams

With prior wins in the Midlands Grand National, the Welsh Grand National, and the Scottish Grand National, Christian Williams knows what it takes to win this kind of contest. 

However, he has not had as much luck in the Aintree showdown. There is a chance that could change this year though, as Kitty’s Light is being well-backed in the market. 

The eight-year-old won the Scottish Grand National last year and, despite not having a win this campaign, is now as short as 12/1 in the Aintree racing betting odds

Kitty’s Light is Williams’ only entry in the Grand National, but he looks nicely handicapped at 10-6 and could have a decent chance. 

Martin Brassil

Another trainer who has proven a thorn in the side of Ireland’s big yards in the last couple of seasons, Martin Brassil doesn’t shy away from the challenge. 

His Fastorslow stunned dual Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs not once but twice in the last 12 months, and now Brassil is aiming for the Grand National with Panda Boy. 

Despite boasting just one win in nine steeplechases, which came at Punchestown in May 2022, the eight-year-old has been backed into 12/1 from as far out as 20/1. 

That’s likely due to his respectable performances of late, which include a second-place finish in a Listed Extended Handicap Chase at Leopardstown in December. 

Brassil also holds a second entry with Desertmore House at 33/1. 

John McConnell

John McConnell is another Irish trainer with high hopes of winning his first Grand National at Aintree this year. 

McConnell is no stranger to winning in Merseyside, saddling Fennor Cross a Premier Handicap at last year’s Grand National Festival. 

However, the Irishman has his sights firmly set on the biggest race of the meeting, and Mahler Mission is in the top 10 of the betting at 14/1. 

Raced just twice this season, the eight-year-old has finished runner-up on both occasions — chasing home Thunder Rock in the Listed Intermediate Chase at Carlisle and Datsalrightgino in a Premier Handicap at Newbury. 

Top point-to-point trainer Tom Ellis, who could saddle 20/1 chance Latenightpass, Gary Moore (Nasalam, 33/1), Ben Pauling (Shakem Up’Arry, 33/1), and Dan Skelton (Galia Des Liteaux, 40/1) are some of the other notable handlers who could score a first Grand National success.