The national championship

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What date is the Grand National 2016?
It is almost time for the biggest race on Britain's sporting calendar. Forty horses will go for glory in the Crabbie's Grand National this afternoon.

Aintree Racecourse What time does it start?
A bit later than usual this year. The race has been moved back an hour from its usual time in an effort to allow more punters to watch it live - specifically, the thousands of sports fans who are otherwise detained between 3pm and 5pm at football games. The start time is 5.15pm.

What TV channel is showing it?
The race will be shown live on Channel 4, with coverage fronted by Clare Balding, with radio coverage on BBC Five Live. In 2015, 8.9m viewers watched the race on the channel. There will also be live coverage throughout the day at telegraph.co.uk/sport.

Which horses are eligible?
The Grand National is open to seven-year-olds and upwards which have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a chase of three miles or more and which have a a rating of 120 or more according to the British Horseracing Authority.

What history could be made?
Many Clouds is bidding for immortality in the Grand National. The nine-year-old will carry top weight in the Aintree spectacular as he bids to become the first dual winner since the one and only Red Rum in the 1970s.

Trainer Oliver Sherwood could not be happier with his stable star's preparation, which was rounded off with a spring-heeled victory at Kelso last month, but admits it would be beyond his wildest dreams if Many Clouds makes history.

"I'm feeling very relaxed, chilled and happy with my horse, " he said. "All we can hope for now is some luck in running and what will be will be.

"As I've said before, Kelso was the first time I think he's been 100 per cent fit, so it's been pretty much automatic gear for him since then. We've just kept him mentally straight.

"He's had a couple of pieces of work to keep him ticking over. I personally think he is coming right at the right time. He looks and feels the exact same horse as 12 months ago. I don't feel he has improved and he certainly hasn't decreased in any way. The talking is very nearly done and at the moment, we're still living the dream."

Leighton Aspell is also bidding for National history by becoming the first jockey to win three consecutive renewals, having also landed the 2014 running aboard Pineau De Re.

Sherwood said: "It would be a marvellous achievement for Leighton as it's never been done. His confidence is sky high at the minute and he is very confident in the horse, too, which always helps - especially in a National."

Who are the celebrities tipping?

Alan Smith

I've got to go for The Romford Pele, a horse named after my old Arsenal teammate, Ray Parlour. If the 9 year-old can run as well as Ray, he should stand a chance.

Will Greenwood

The Last Samurai - because it is epic Tom Cruise. And Cruise is the finest runner/actor you ever see. Most actors look like they are made of wood when running. Cruise looks like an Olympic Sprinter.. therefore Last Samuri will run like Tom Cruise and sprint past everyone at the elbow!

Form watch
MANY CLOUDS: 11-10fav (11-8) Jumped well, led 3rd, clear before last, easily, won at Kelso 2m 7f lst chs (1) sft in Mar beating Unioniste (11-4) by 10l, 7 ran.

SILVINIACO CONTI: 2-1fav (11-7) Tracked leader, led before 2 out, drew clear approaching last, impressive, won at Ascot 2m 5f chs G1 (1) sft in Feb beating Dynaste (11-7) by 20l, 8 ran.

FIRST LIEUTENANT: 10-1 (11-10) Held up, moderate 7th at 7th, progress from before 10th, 6th into straight, soon no extra and eased, pulled up before last, in a race won by Carlingford Lough (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) hvy in Feb, 10 ran.

WONDERFUL CHARM: 15-2 (11-12) Held up on outside, headway approaching 10th, chased clear leader (winner) 4 out, no impression, stayed on same pace, 2nd of 8, 17l behind Aachen (9-9) at Cheltenham 3m 2f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) sft in Dec.

BALLYNAGOUR: 20-1 (11-7) Held up behind, hampered 8th, headway when hampered again 4 out, driven to chase leaders after next, kept on same pace, never on terms, 7th of 22, 14l behind Empire Of Dirt (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Mar.

O'FAOLAINS BOY: 40-1 (11-10) Led to 3rd, with leader, led again 1th, headed 4 out, outpaced by front trio when left 3rd next, soon ridden, lost place 2 out, soon weakened, 7th of 9, well behind Don Cossack (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.

GILGAMBOA: 28-1 (11-10) Mid-division, headway approaching 8th, outpaced before 3 out, 5th 2 out, no impression, stayed on same pace, 5th of 15, 10l behind Vautour (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m 5f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.

ON HIS OWN: 50-1 (11-10) Chased leaders to 7th, mid-division, struggling 13th, soon behind, no danger after, 8th of 9, well behind Don Cossack (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk
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