Who Will Avoid Cause of Causes’ Fate at 2019 Grand National?

American thoroughbred Cause of Causes knows the disappointment of missing out at the Grand National, finishing second in the 2017 version of the most prestigious jumps race in the world.

Gordon Elliott’s charge was a fine competitor during his career. He won multiple events at Cheltenham Festival, including the Cross Country Chase and National Hunt Chase. However, the major prize eluded him, finishing eighth in his first attempt in 2015.

Cause of Causes came closest two years ago at Aintree when he battled One For Arthur down the stretch. The American-bred horse failed to find the pace needed to close on his rival, losing out by four-and-a-half lengths.

The ten-year-old pulled up on his final outing at the Cross Country Chase last year, preventing him from competing one final time at the Grand National a month later. Cause of Causes never lived up to his potential at the elite race, although he is certainly not the only horse to have failed to rise to the occasion at Aintree.

We’ll now look at some of the contenders for the 2019 Grand National, including Mall Dini and last year’s runner-up Pleasant Company, who will be determined to avoid the fate of Cause of Causes at being the nearly-man at the prestigious event.

Mall Dini

The Irish-bred horse does have one major win under his belt during his career, although his recent form does not suggest that he is capable of mounting a charge at the National. However, he remains one of the leading contenders in the ante-post odds. Mall Dini’s one major triumph came at Cheltenham Festival in 2016 when he put forward a fine performance to win the Pertemps Network Final by three-quarters of a length ahead of Arpege D’alene.

Since then he has struggled to make an impact, finishing fifth and then second last season in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham Festival. Patrick Kelly’s charge pulled up at the Irish Grand National last season four fences before the end of the race, ending his campaign on a low note.

He was narrowly off the pace in his return to action at the Ecocup Ireland Beginners Chase at Punchestown. Mall Dini disappointed in his last outing at the Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park, placing down in sixth, failing to contend down the stretch. Kelly has plenty of work ahead of him to prepare his charge for the National.

Pleasant Company
Last season at the National, Pleasant Company almost stole the victory on the line. Tiger Roll appeared to have the race sewn up down the stretch, although he was tiring towards the climax. Pleasant Company made one late surge to attempt to snatch the race and a victory for Willie Mullins in the prestigious event. However, he just left it a second too late as the photo-finish confirmed that Elliott’s charge had edged him out. It was a fine performance from David Mullins in the saddle and the Irish-bred horse, who had been a 25/1 outsider for the crown.

Willie Mullins would have been hopeful that his charge would been able to build off the display, although it has not proven to be the case in the 2018/19 National Hunt season. Pleasant Company was named the favourite for the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle in Leopardstown in December, but he failed to find his rhythm and finished in a bitterly disappointing 15th place. The Irish-bred horse struggled again last time out at the Thyestes Handicap Chase, finishing 11th, proving that he has a long way to go before the National in April.

Minella Rocco

The Irish-bred horse is in the ilk of Cause of Causes and is in danger of failing to live up to his potential. He does have one major victory under his belt at Cheltenham Festival in the The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup in 2016 when he produced a fine display to defeat future Gold Cup winner Native River at the event. However, he was never able to kick on, finishing second behind Sizing John in the Gold Cup the following season after struggling to find his rhythm.

It was still a quality display, but not quite good enough to claim the crown. Injuries have stymied his career and he has not been the same competitor on the track since. None more so than the current term when he finished well off the pace in the Trial Cotswold Chase down in fifth, while he finished ninth in his last outing at Exeter in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle. It would be a surprise to see him contend for the triumph at the National.

General Principle
Elliott’s charge won the Irish Grand National last season with a fine performance at Fairyhouse last season. The Irish-bred horse had just enough down the stretch to close out the win by a head, edging out Isleofhopendreams on the line. It mirrored the result of the National as another horse trained by Elliott was able to beat a Willie Mullins competitor by the tightest of margins. However, since then General Principle has suffered from a poor run of results, beginning at the Troytown Handicap Chase when he finished down in 15th at the start of the new term.

He improved slightly at the Paddy Power Chase, although he was still a long way off from competing for the win in ninth. Elliott’s charge took a step forward at the Thyestes Handicap Chase, placing fifth in the event, facing off against a talented field. With Jack Kennedy in the saddle, he looked near his best in the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown. Even though he finished in third, it was still an encouraging performance for General Principle as prepares for a run at the Grand National.