Aintree set for new Ruler in 2017
Mouse Morris and Rule The World bucked many Aintree trends with their Grand National win in April.
Rule The World became the first novice to win the great race in 58 years, ensuring an out-pouring of emotion for the popular Irish trainer in the process.
The horse had not been without his problems during his career and owners Gigginstown House have confirmed that Rule The World has now been retired from racing.
Having twice fractured his pelvis in the past, connections felt the fairest thing was to allow the nine-year-old to enjoy his well-earned retirement in rude health.
The name of Rule The World is therefore a notable absentee in the ante-post market for the 2017 Aintree Grand National.
However, the name of Many Clouds features at odds of 33/1 with 32Red Canada to become the first horse in over 40 years to regain the Grand National crown.
In times gone by, the Grand National was perhaps perceived as something of a lottery.
Changes to the fences at Aintree have ensured this is no longer the case and students of the formbook now like to get involved in the Grand National puzzle earlier than ever before.
While this year's hero will not be back to defend his crown, there are already plenty of interesting contenders in the market to succeed him.
Much of the build-up to this year's race centred around 2015 winner Many Clouds.
Oliver Sherwood's charge had been in rude health after his Aintree win, putting up admirable performances at Aintree and Cheltenham as well as a pleasing win at Kelso on his road back to Merseyside for a repeat bid.
Things did not go according to plan for Many Clouds at Aintree in this year's Grand National but, at just ten-years-old, he will be a relatively young horse in national terms next spring and should be well placed to give it another big tilt.
It definitely would appear foolish at this point in time to write off Many Clouds' hopes of becoming the first multiple winner of the Grand National since the iconic Red Rum.
Likewise, it seems hard to imagine that trainer Kim Bailey will not be reflecting positively on the efforts of The Last Samurai in his first experience of the Grand National.
He was right up with the pace throughout the race and tussled for the lead for most of the final circuit only to be collared by an expertly-timed run from Rule The World and rookie jockey David Mullins in the closing stages.
With the benefit of that experience behind him and another year of maturity in his favour, The Last Samurai could be one to keep onside for the Grand National in 2017 and he is 25/1 with 32Red for Aintree joy next spring.
Another one worth noting from this year's race is the Enda Bolger-trained Gilgamboa, in the colours of leading owner JP McManus.
Previously a Grade One winner over fences, he acquitted himself very well over the national course this time around and, as an eight-year-old, has the potential to come back and figure prominently again over the coming seasons.
Victory for Rule The World provided Ireland with its first Grand National winner in nine years at Aintree.
The Emerald Isle could be set to unleash a sparkling challenge in 2017.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Cause Of Causes – already a two-time Cheltenham Festival winner – was one of those left looking in from the outside in this year's National as he was not able to secure a place in the 40-runner field.
Also racing in the colours of McManus, the presence of Cause Of Causes, 40/1 with 888Sport, at Aintree next April is a thrilling prospect.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect in the 2017 Grand National at this stage, however, is Willie Mullins' Don Poli, currently 20/1 with Unibet for next year's Aintree race.
He has repeatedly run with enormous credit in esteemed company but seems to just lack the pace required to be a winning chaser at the highest level.
What Don Poli does not lack is stamina. A solid jumper with apparently endless reserves of energy, the four-mile plus test at Aintree looks to be tailor-made for this horse and he could have a real chance of helping his owners, Gigginstown House Stud, land back-to-back renewals of the great race.
Back-to-back Aintree wins would no doubt leave Gigginstown supremo Michael O'Leary purring with delight!