FROM the office sweepstake to serious punters, the £700,000 John Smith's Grand National has a diverse history of triumphs and legendary exploits, all contributing to the spectacle that unravels over four-and-a-half miles tomorrow at Aintree.
Forty horses and jockeys go to post at 4.15pm and take their chances over the unique fences.
The nature of the handicap creates an open race with every horse carrying a weight that reflects his chances of winning; however, luck in running plays a part too.
Local hopes rest with Idle Talk, trained by Donald McCain of Cholmondeley.
The eight-year-old was bumped and unseated his rider at the fifth fence in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month.
The horse subsequently jumped round without his jockey, completing the course, and didn't have a hard race.
Speaking earlier this week, Mc-Cain said: 'He's good and working well. Everything is going smoothly, the more of this summer- like weather the better. He wouldn't want it heavy.'
As the dry spell continues, the gelding should have conditions to his liking.
Set to carry 11st 2lbs, Idle Talk, available at 16-1 with betdirect, has a good each-way chance to provide McCain with a victory that would set the seal on his first season as a trainer in his own right.
Tradition will be maintained tomorrow as stable manager Derek Thompson has reserved the same stable on the racecourse that was occupied by both of Ginger McCain's National winners, Red Rum and Amberleigh House, for Idle Talk
Simon, also an eight-year-old, has the profile that will attract support and goes into the race with two victories to his name this year and a break since a 10-length success at Kempton in February.
The negatives are that the ground may just be too quick for him and the only eight-year-old to win in the last 10 years was Bindaree in 2002.
There was no mistaking the optimism radiating from the owners of McKelvey when he won his National prep race over hurdles at Bangor-onDee last month.
Previously the gelding ran in the Becher Chase over the National fences at Aintree in November last year. Not disgraced to finish in sixth place behind Eurotrek, the gelding was staying on in the closing stages.
Trained all season by Peter Bowen for the Grand National after success in the Summer National at Uttoxeter and lightly weighted with 10st 4lb to carry, McKelvey, a 20-1 chance in the betting market, is selected to keep the mighty Irish-trained challenge at bay.
Detroit City is out to make amends for his Champion Hurdle defeat in the Baltika Aintree Hurdle. Afsoun finished a neck behind Brave Inca and Sublimity in the Champion Hurdle and has a winning opportunity here for trainer Nicky Henderson.
Racing at Aintree this afternoon is also top class. Well Chief comes under orders in the John Smith's Grade 1 Melling Chase.
The popular chestnut won on his first appearance at Newbury in February following a 22-month lay-off before falling at the second fence at Cheltenham last month. Normally a good jumper, this will be a thrilling event with other entries Fair Along and Monet's Garden sure to pile on the pressure.
State of Play ran a creditable race to finish sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He has the class to carry top weight to victory in the betfair.com Handicap Chase, a race he won 12 months ago for trainer Evan Williams.