Its the dubbed the ‘best race in the world’ is the Grand National, I arent overly fussed by the race itself probably because i’ve never got a win it, came close last year getting the 2nd, 3rd and 5th mind.. I’m certainly going to get stuck in to this behemoth of a meeting though! Get in.
Manifesto Novice Hurdle:
Top Notch heads affairs here trading at 6/4 on the back of his impressive run behind Yorkhill in the JLT at Cheltenham where he was closing all the way to the line, a repeat of that run here will certainly make him very hard to beat, Daryl Jacob will more than likely be on board for Nicky Henderson. Cloudy Dream up next in the market at a general 4/1 Malcom Jefferson, this is a horse that has never finished outside the top three in all of his three runs including a very good run when several lengths behind Altior in this years Arkle at Cheltenham, I certainly wouldn’t put another big run past him here and the same goes for Paul Nicholls who was maybe a little disappointing when fourth in the JLT but if he bounces back to the same kind of form we saw him in when winning at Ascot in Christmas he could be a big player at 6/1. Nicholls has also got Frodon to go in this at the moment, he’s won an impressive seven out of twelve starts for the champion trainer and like stablemate Politologue could be a big player at 13/2 respectively. Road To Respect is also down to go in this following his win in the Brown Advisory Plate and could be another good each way player at a very backable 8/1. All that being said I can see Top Notch being hard to beat here though, it’s certainly a very competitive affair mind and a case could be put for the majority, but Top Notch edges it for me.
4 Y-O Juvenile Hurdle:
This years four year old Juvenile Hurdle race is headed by Triumph Hurdle winner Defi Du Seuil at short odds of around 4/9. He’s that price because he has won all six of his starts for Phillip Hobbs including a romp in the Triumph at the festival. There’s not much at all to oppose him with here either, and I mean if your feeling a bit fruity and fancy a lump on something at a short price this looks to be the option. Divin Bere is likely to be the main threat if he goes, he was sent off favourite for the Fred Winter at the festival and was only beaten a neck in the end. He certainly looks to be a decent each way price at 7/1, Noel Fehily will likely be partnering him again for Nicky Henderson. Landofhopeandglory was fifth behind Defi in the Triumph and could certainly run into a place here at 11/1. I can’t really see past the favourite in this one though, he’s done everything right this season and i’ve backed him in every run as you may well of seen in earlier posts this year. Defi Du Seuil should take this.
One of the big ones of the meeting is the bowl and it was won quite emphatically last year by Cue Card and the bookies make him the 15/8 favourite to repeat the feat here. To be honest, it’s quite common knowledge that i’m not a massive Cue Card fan and his performance in this years Gold Cup didn’t do anything to change that view. He was on and off the bridle before falling at the same fence again and it didn’t look as though he was going to be challenging unlike the previous year. That being said you could argue that this year’s line up for this is a little weaker than last year however there are still some big players in the including Gigginstowns Empire Dirt who was arguably pretty disappointing at the festival. Bristol De Mai ran alright in the Gold Cup when finishing seventh and I am a fan of this horse however I don’t really know what to make of him this year. He appears to of been disappointing a few times now barring that Haydock romp. If Silivinaco Conti can find any part of his old self he could be a big one, he trades at a general 8/1. He ran a great race when a neck behind Cue Card in third in the King George on Boxing Day. I am finding it difficult to find anything solid to take Cue Card on with though. It’s a bit out there but I think Aso ran a blinding race behind Un De Sceaux at Cheltenham back in third at a big price. He’s a big price again in this and it’s arguably no stronger of a race than the Ryanair a repeat of that run might see him run into a place again, however there’s no only seven runners declared which would mean only two places. If Cue Card is anywhere near his best though he should take this. Very difficult race to get my head around though.
Another short priced hot put heads this years Aintree Hurdle is in Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’air trading at a general 2/5. I was strongly against him at the festival and he made me look a right mug in all fairness when winning in style under yet another cracking Noel Fehily ride. My Tent Or Yours followed him home that day to grab himself a second consecutive second place in the Champion Hurdle having finished behind Annie Power in 2015, that was a great run and 10/1 might turn out to be a great price for him to give the favourite something to think about again here. Identity Thief started the season well in Ireland but it kind of all fell apart over fences so he’s reverted back to hurdles for Henry De Bromhead, he’s also 10/1 for this. The New One didn’t really make an impact again at the festival when fifth in the Champion Hurdle but he has won two valuable races at Haydock and Cheltenham this year and he’d be my one to to battle it out with My Tent Or Yours as the main danger Buveur D’air. Rashaan has been running well in Ireland and actually beat Apple’s Jade at the start of the season, he’s 40s for this and it seems a big ask. Obviously a repeat of the Champion Hurdle run would see Buveur D’air hard to oppose here though and would almost certainly see him win. I imagine a lot will double him up with Defi Du Seuil.
Red Rum Handicap Chase:
A testing handicap this is and my fancy for this is down to go in several races at the minute and might not even turn up so if you do back him go Non Runner No Bet as he might not turn up making this whole paragraph completely pointless. Said selection is Paul Nicholls Le Prezien. I was convinced he’d be there or thereabouts in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham however before finishing a disapointing eighth. Before that run he’d never been out of the top three and gave Yorkhill a real scare here last year when finishing just behind him. I’m giving him another chance here though if he does go in this, he trades at around 9/1 and I certainly think he’s good enough to get into the frame. Sam Twiston-Davies will likely be partnering him. Another Paul Nicholls runner who is quetionable whether he’ll turn up is San Bendento. He’s in fine form winning his last three however the last of those wins came at Ascot on Sunday so its likely he wont turn up here, if he does he’s currently 16/1 which is a monster price.
Two horses head affairs in this years Foxhunters and its On The Fringe and Pacha Du Polder. The previous got the better of things at the festival but On The Fringe was given a bit of a task as he was placed very far back. Taking nothing against Pacha Du Polders victory whatsoever but I will be backing On The Fringe to reverse the form here as he isn’t a legend in these kind of races for no reason. He currently trades at around 15/8 and it’s likeley that Jamie Codd will be riding.
Top Novice Hurdle:
Nicky Hendersons River Wylde heads affairs in this and he was one of my each way selections in the Supreme Novices at the festival when coming home in third which is easily the best recent form on show here. He’s up against the highly rated Moon Racer though who before being pulled up in the Champion Hurdle has never finished outside the top two, winning six. I don’t think he should’ve gone down the Champion Hurdle route and the question is how much has he recovered from that run giving River Wylde the edge. Mount Mews and Lough Derg Spirit are both looking very progressive and certainly can’t be ruled if they go for this instead of the Mersey as both are in a rich vain of form but i’d be going for River Wylde to take this. A very competitive affair again though.
Mildmay Novices Chase:
Another Nicky Henderson horse heads affairs in the Mildmay in Might Bite. He was my Lay of the festival for the RSA and he did more or less everything within his power to lose following going over ten lengths clear to then nearly run into the main stand and hand Whisper victory. A loose horse did get him back on track though and he managed to somehow still win. He was impressive despite that and if he has stamped all of that out of his game on the day for this he’ll be very hard to peg back. Whisper looks to be the main danger again as he’s second in the betting at a general 4/1. Might Bite is certainly the one to beat though and will be my selection this time, that’s if he doesn’t fancy like running into the grandstand.
I am massively upset that Un De Sceaux hasn’t showed up here for this as I was all up for watching him demolish this field again, which he would of done. Colin Tizzards Fox Norton now heads affairs in the market as the 3/1 favourite on the back of just being edge out by Special Tiara in the Champion Chase at the festival. That form obviously makes him the one to beat. God’s Own and Uxizandre obviously can’t be ruled out either but i’m going to take a chance on Sub Lieutenant here. He was closing all the way to the line on Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair and I think he has a strong chance to go one better here. He currently trades at around 7/2.
Sefton Novices Hurdle:
Tom George’s The Worlds End heads the market here at a general 11/4. He fell in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham when going into that in good form winning four of his five starts. I saw him win impressively at Haydock before that fall at the festival and if the fall hasn’t taken much out of him he should be there or thereabouts again here with Adrian Heskin on board. West Approach was pulled up in the stayers at the festival before running a very decent race in third behind Unowhatimeanharry at Trials Day. 11/2 is a good enough each way price to take for him on that run. Nicky Hendersons Constantine Bay is also in with an obvious shout. However i’m going to take a chance on Alan Kings Messire Des Obeaux if he goes in this instead of the Mersey, he ran very well third behind Willoughby Court and Neon Wolf at the festival and I think 7/1 is a very decent each way price for him to get into the frame.
Mersey Novices Hurdle
Yet another Novice race and this one is headed by Colin Tizzards Finians Oscar at 3/1. He’s very lightly raced but very highly rated and has won all three of his starts. His main danger looks to be Paul Nicholls Brio Conti who has won well in his last two of his outings and looks to have the experience on his side. The rest of the field still have question marks on who’s going to go where so it’s hard to pick a decent each way shout here. I am going to side with Finians Oscar though, I think there’s a lot more to come from him and I think he’ll just take this from Brio Conti on way to bigger and better things in the future.
Maghull Novices Chase
Now, there was many out there that believed Charbel had Altior in all kinds of mither in the Arkle at the festival. I do believe that Altior would of still gone on to collect victory but it wasn’t as straight forward as many expected as Charbel put in a mighty performance before falling and that’s why he’s the 11/10 market leader to take this. The horse who ended up second to Altior looks to be the main danger in Cloudy Dream. However I think a great each way bet is Ordinary World, he’s placed every time i’ve backed him this campagin at huge odds, he’s a lot shorter here at 7/1 but it’s a very decent price for him to get into the frame. I do think Charbel will take this but Ordinary World is my strong each way selection.
I think the biggest question in this one or more who will Barry Geraghty ride if Yanworth and Unowhatimeanharry do battle against one another for owner JP McManus. The market has just made Yanworth the 5/2 market prinicpal despite that shocking run in the Champion Hurdle. I do think he has been crying out to go up in the trip and I strongly believe he’s been campaigned over the wrong distance for some time now. However I am a huge fan of Unowhatimeanharry as he’s carried all before him in the lead up to the festival and wasn’t disgraced when finishing third in the Stayers. The two horses that finished above him that day are currently down to go to this also, another two that I’m a huge fan of in Nichols Canyon and Lil Rockerfella. The latter ran a huge race at 33/1 and never goes down without a fight and the winner Nichols Canyon is a multiple Group One winner which speaks for itself, neither can be ruled out again. Personally I will be backing Unowhatimeanharry just on mere loyalty alone as i’ve backed him in all of his runs for the past two seasons but i’m of strong belief that this trip will bring out the best in Yanworth.
Onto the big one itself. I mean, i’m not the biggest fan of the race if truth be told, I enjoy it and all that i’ve however never got a winner in it as I said at the beginning so i’m probably just being bitter. I always pick five solid selections and a couple of massive prices and I got 2nd, 3rd and 5th last year. I’m thoroughly hoping I can go one better this time but as we know absolutely anything can happen in this and most are more successful by just going off colours and names. I’ll start my proceedings of with Willie Mullins Pleasant Company. He won after giving an absolute peach of a ride by Ruby Walsh last time out over three miles on heavy going at Punchestown and looks to be one of Willie Mullins strongest fancies in quite a while in this, Ruby will be more than likely on board again and you can never rule these pair out as we well know. He’s ran in big fields earlier on in his career and ran into the frame every time over three miles and he seems to be of campaigned very well for this by the champion trainer. He currently trades at around 16/1. Next selection is One For Arthur, he’s been lightly raced this season gearing up to this for Lucinda Russell. He was a decent fifth behind market principal Vieux Lion Rouge at Aintree in December before winning well at Warwick next time out. Derek Fox is down to ride and currently trades at around 14/1. Next up is my main selection of last year in Kim Baileys The Last Samurai. He was second in this last year when beaten by Rule The World. You could argue he has lost a bit of form this season as he hasn’t been quite as impressive, but he did I was at Doncaster for the Grimthorpe when he stayed on very eye catching to be second to another market principle in winner Definitely Red. He looked well beat that day turning for home but that run was enough for me to believe he has still got it in him to challenge again this year. It will be a tall order as he is at the top of the weights but nevertheless I think 14/1 might just be a great each way price. David Bass will partner him again. My fourth selection is a lot of peoples main selection in Nigel Twiston-Davies Blaklion. He’s a small horse but Nigel has been hugely bullish about his chances here, he ran very well when second behind Vieux Lion Rouge in the trial at Haydock a few months back and many think he’ll reverse the form here. He won the RSA at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016 before being fully campaigned for this race this year. One of my favourite jockeys in Noel Fehily is on board and you can find him trading at a general 14/1. Just before I go onto my main selection, if you fancy going all out on a big price Lord Windermere is a big chunky 50/1 for some firms. He won the Gold Cup at Cheltenham a few years back and you probably won’t find a Gold Cup winner running in the National off a mark of 140 at odds of 50’s. He has ran pretty bad since then in most of his runs since then but he did show a little bit of promise when second behind Champagne Fever in Ireland at the beginning of the season. Onto the main one then, my main selection for this years Grand National is Gordon Elliot’s Ucello Conti. Gord looked very happy when interviewed about him for this as he describe it as his perfect race. When I saw how happy Gord looked I thought there might of been sale on at Greggs or something, sheer glee coming from the big mans face. I believe he might be looking even happier on Saturday night. Every race he has ran in this season has been in preparation for this and has ran very resepectably in each of those. Finishing in the frame in three of them. He ran a big race in this last year as well when finishing sixth behind Rule The World. It isn’t confirmed who will be riding him just yet but there is a big chance it may be Jack Kennedy who I firmly believe is the best young jumps rider around at the minute, an outstanding talent. Ucello Conti is my main selection, he trades at around 20/1.