Saturday 14th April 2018
Aintree (Grand National Day)
1.45 – Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Class 1) (Grade 3) (3m)
AH LITTLELUCK – (16/1) (E/W)
(Won very well from the front in big field handicap the last day in desperate ground. Stays this trip and could well get involved.)
2.25 – Mersey Novices Hurdle (Class 1) (Grade 1) (2m 4f)
ON THE BLIND SIDE – (15/8)
(I’m a big fan of Black Op and I think he’ll take some beating here but I’m just siding with this one On The Blind Side. He’s looked impressive since being with Nicky and comes here fresh after missing the Cheltenham. Should go very close here.)
3.00 – Maghull Novices Chase (Class 1) (Grade 1) (2m)
LADY BUTTONS – (6/1) (E/W)
(I think Petit Mouchoir will win this pretty easily but he’s 8/15 so for a bit of value against him i’ve gone with Lady Buttons. She’s a talented sort herself and is two from two over fences and still unexposed. She’s likely to be next best.)
3.40 – Betway Handicap Chase (Class 1) (Grade 3) (3m 1f)
THOMAS PATRICK – (9/2)
(This one comes here in good form winning at Newbury the last day in good style. He’s got an eight pound penalty for that but will stay a lot better than some of these and should make another bold bid.)
4.20 – Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Class 1) (Grade 1) (3m)
SAM SPINNER – (6/4)
(Didn’t go to plan in the Stayers at the Cheltenham Festival but looked highly impressive before that. He galloped rivals into submission on heavy ground at Haydock in the winter and it’s plausible he could bounce back and do the same here.)
The showpiece of the Aintree Grand National Festival is of course none other than the Grand National itself a handicap chase that’s ridden over a massive four miles and two furlongs.
I approach the Grand National the same every year with four picks as all firms are paying at least that number of places and you’ll get some doing as many as seven places online at some stage. Four might seem a lot to some of the shrewd judges amongst us but it’s how i’ve done it every year, this isn’t through success by any means merely tradition. I’ve picked one winner of the race in the past five years or so, which is about a 1 in 20 strike rate. So there you go.
As I say every year this race really is a complete lottery as to win or come close you need many many factors to fall right for you over a mammoth trip. So basically, if you’re picking one down to name, or colours, that’s probably the best way in this. Anyway, here are my four for this year’s Grand National….
5.15 – Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4m 2f)
Total Recall is currently prominent in the market for Willie Mullins, he was last seen when falling in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month but before that has been a revitalised character this year since moving to Willie’s yard. He won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury back in the winter which was the clear highlight. I’m one of the biggest Willie Mullins fan boys you’ll like to see and i’d love to see this horse go well. I do think he’d have to bring a career best performance to get involved and he is capable of that. There have been interesting figures on the amount of fallers amongst Mullins chasers recently and Total Recall can be prone to a mistake or too which would put me off slightly.
Blaklion is also likely to be at the top of the market come race time as he’s a very popular sort amongst the home crowd. He ran a great race when fourth in this last year and will attract a lot of support. He’s more than capable of giving another bold showing this time around as he’s a horse that’s all heart however i’d be slightly concerned about his race the last day at Haydock. I know it was a couple of months ago now but it was a gruelling test for him carrying top weight around there in desperate conditions and you just don’t know how much that will of taken out of him. I saw him win the Becher round here the run before which was a brilliant performance by all accounts.
A few have come out in the past few days which has paved the way for a reserves to take their chance. Keep an eye on some of the horses carrying bottom weights as it’s likely to tough going. Walk In The Mill could well outrun his odds of 100/1.
Moving onto the first one of my selections and the first of these comes in the form of TIGER ROLL for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown, winner of the Cross Country race in impressive style at the Cheltenham Festival I think he’s capable of another decent showing here.
Gordon was on record saying he was delighted with the weight that Tiger Roll recieved for the race and think he’s his best chance this year. Davy Russell looks to take the ride and he’s a best priced 12/1 shot.
TIGER ROLL – 12/1 (E/W)
Next up is another Gordon Elliott runner and it’s a horse I put up for last year’s race and that’s none other than UCELLO CONTI. He’s a strange horse to get your head around as he’s always seemed to have a big race in him yet always seems to fall short.
He unseated in this last year when travelling alright and could well of finished in a decent position. He is one that’s hard to win with but when finishing often does get involved at the business end. He’s a general best priced 20/1 shot with Daryl Jacob likely to take the ride.
UCELLO CONTI – 20/1 (E/W)
Onto my third selection in this year’s Grand National and this comes in the form of a horse that doesn’t really fit the bill for an Aintree Grand National and that comes in the form of BAIE DES ILES for Ross O’Sullivan. She’s a grey mare and is a horse that doesn’t mind a slog in testing conditions over a mammoth trip.
The rain is scheduled to arrive at some stage before Saturday so there is every chance that the ground could get testing which will be no problem at all for this one. She’s ran several big races in testing conditions none more so than when third to Folsom Blue the last day at Punchestown. She was also a good fifth behind this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River in the Welsh Grand National back in 2016. She’s best priced of around 20/1 and it’s likely that Katy Walsh will take the ride.
BAIE DES ILES – 20/1 (E/W)
The final horse I like in this year’s Grand National is REGAL ENCORE for Anthony Honyeball who represents none other than JP McManus in those famous green and yellow silks.
He got back to winning ways in good style the last day in a Listed contest at Ascot when winning by just over a length and was a really impressive third behind Total Recall and Whisper in the Ladbrokes Trophy the time before that. That’s a decent level of form to bring into the race and for a horse that’s a smart performer on his day he could get involved at a decent price. He’s generally trading at around the 33/1 mark.
REGAL ENCORE – 33/1 (E/W)
So there you have it, my four selections for this year’s Grand National. If any of them become Non Runners between now and Friday I may add another but we’ll have to see. Enjoy the race, and try not to get too upset if an 80/1 shot wins.
6.20 – Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (2m) (Class 2)
MICHAEL’S MOUNT – (4/1)
(Decent performer on the flat and won the last day at extremely short odds. Appreciates soft going however and could well build on that win the last day.
NAP: On The Blind Side – 2.25
NB: Sam Spinner – 4.20