Well it’s the big one today. The Grand National goes off at 5.15 this afternoon and you can find our full preview of the National here.
It’s not all about the Grand National though. There is a good quality card at Aintree today and we have some high quality racing to look forward to.
Great Each-Way Chance
We have a big fancy at a nice price in the first race of the day the Gaskells Handicap Hurdle at 1.45. Poker Play is currently available at 8-1 with Hills and we think is the one to be on. Sire Du Berlais for Gordon Elliott will be a popular favourite and will have plenty of backers. Poker Play was a very impressive winner at Wincanton last month, and horses that run well in the run up to this meeting do well here. Up in weight, but still plenty of scope for progression and should go very well.
Betway Mersey Novices Hurdle
In the 2.35 we are sweet on the chances of One for Rosie 11/2. A progressive novice that just got edged out in a Grade 3 at Sandown. Beat Glen Forsa back in November by 5 lengths and looks the one to beat in this.
Doom Bar Maghull Novices Chase
Lalor 7/2 is a horse that likes it round Aintree. Pulled up at Cheltenham last time out, but the gelding is better than that performance and has previously won a Grade 2 bumper and a Grade 1 novice hurdle at this track.
Ryanair Sayers Hurdle
The 3.40 sees a strong field featuring Gordon Elliot’s superstar Apples Jade. Apples Jade disappointed at Cheltenham, along with a number of other fancied rivals. This is not as tough and whilst a relatively short price at 6/4, should oblige. If you are looking for an each-way price then winner of the Grade 3 Coral Cup, William Henry could be the one to side with at 9/1.
Betway Handicap Chase
Kildisart is our pick for this one at 11/2. Fourth in the JLT at Cheltenham and a winner on previous two chase starts. First time at 3 miles over fences, but has shaped like the trip will suit.
Last year’s winner and without doubt a high class performer. Won the Country Chase at Cheltenham impressively by 22 lengths. If Tiger Roll avoids trouble then you would expect a big run, but at odds of around are very short for Tiger Roll to become the first horse to win two Grand National’s in a row since 1974 and Red Rum.
Jockey: Ruby Walsh, Trainer: Willie Mullins
A proven stayer and many shrewd punters fancy for this year’s race. Had a nice warm up at Fairyhouse, beating Alpha Des Obaux and for many, represents in form Willie Mullins best hope in the race.
Vintage Clouds: 12/1
Jockey: Danny Cook, Trainer: Sue Smith
Finished second in the Ultima behind Beware the Bear at Cheltenham following a wind op and was third in the Scottish National last year. Has chances.
Anibale Fly: 14/1
Jockey: Barry Geraghty, Trainer: A J Martin
Place 4th in last years National and came close to landing the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, being edged out by Al Boum Photo. Carrying a lot of weight and 5lb heavier than last time, but likes it round these fences. Possible place, but an unlikely winner with the weight to carry.
Lake View Lad: 14/1
Jockey: Henry Brooke, Trainer: Nick Alexander
A very consistent sort, who is rarely out of the placings. The grey finished a length and a half behind Vintage Clouds in the Ultima and is taking on the Grand National fences for the first time. Owner Trevor Hemmings has already won the National three times, and he has three saddling up this time, including the previously mentioned Vintage Clouds.
Rock The Kasbah: 16/1
Jockey: Richard Johnson, Trainer: Philip Hobbs
Meets the criteria of being a solid jumper and is the mount of the champion jockey Richard Johnson, who is looking for his first winner in the race.
Jury Duty: 16/1
Jockey: Robbie Power, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
A really likeable contender for Gordon Elliott at a nice price. Robbie Power on board and Jury Duty has been lightly campaigned in the run up to this, albeit winning the last twice. Last time out beat another of the runners here Mala Beach by 6 1/2 lengths and prior to that won over hurdles in the states. Been nibbled at in the market in the run up to this race and could run a really big race.
Pleasant Company: 18/1
Jockey: Paul Townend, Trainer: Willie Mullins
Second behind Tiger Roll in the 2018 Grand National in a very tight finish. We’ve not seen Pleasant Company in the same form this season, but will have been very well prepared by the Mullins yard for this.
Joe Farrell: 20/1
Jockey: Adam Wedge, Trainer: Rebecca Curtis
Winner of last year’s Scottish National narrowly edging out Ballyoptic and has to be respected here. Only just made it in to the race and trainer Rebecca Curtis thinks the ten year old has a real chance.
“He ran really well at Newbury. He takes two runs to get fit and he was carrying a lot of weight that day, so I was really pleased with him.
“Obviously as a Scottish National winner, he’s proven over nearly the trip – one of his assets is he stays very well, and now all we need is a bit of luck.
“He’s pretty versatile with ground, but I suppose his best form has tended to be on nicer ground.
One For Arthur: 22/1
Jockey: Derek Fox, Trainer: Lucinda Russell
Another former winner of the race in 2017. One for Arthur hasn’t been impressive since that win, but trainer Lucinda Russell is reportedly delighted with his progress at home.
Ramses De Teillee: 25/1
Jockey: David Noonan, Trainer: David Pipe
This is a horse that stays all day long and if they ground got a lot softer, this is one you would want to be on. Runner up in last year’s Welsh Grand National and a solid performer.
Tea For Two: 25/1
Jockey: Lizzie Kelly, Trainer: Jane Williams
Won the Kauto Star Novices Chase in 2015. Has solid Aintree form including a win over Cue Card back in 2017, but recnet form is not up to the same quality. Unseated jockey Lizzie Kelly at Cheltenham in the Cross Country and hasn’t won a race since the afore-mentioned Aintree success. Would need a return to the form of a couple of years ago to figure her, but not impossible.
Step Back: 25/1
Jockey: Nico de Boinville, Trainer: Mark Bradstock
An interesting contender who blew Rock the Kasbah away in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last term. Not without chances and could run a big race for connections.
Jockey: Jack Kennedy, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Another Gigginstown Elliot combo. Impressive winner at Punchestown last time out and should certainly stay the trip. Jack Kennedy on board.
Walk In The Mill: 28/1
Jockey: James Best, Trainer: Robert Walford
The Becher Chase is a key pointer to the National and Walk in the Mill won that race back in December. Not as impressive over shorter distance since, but certainly not one to rule out easily.
Go Conquer: 40/1
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies, Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Six length win at Doncaster in January caught the eye, but unproven over this trip. Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the National twice before and knows how to ready one for this.
Minella Rocco: 40/1
Jockey: Richie McLernon, Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill
None other than all-time legend Tony McCoy has been tipping this one. A class horse and former Gold Cup runner up, but hasn’t been in that sort of form for a while.
General Principle: 40/1
Jockey: J J Slevin, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
One from the Mullins Gigginstown Stud combination and therefore respected. Won the Irish National last year.
Noble Endeavour: 40/1
Jockey: Mark Enright, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Noble Endeavour is also trained by Elliott and looks progressive. Sixth in the Irish National last year. Finished tenth in the Ultima at Cheltenham and would need to turn the tables on a few rivals here, who finished in front of Noble Endeavour that day.
Up For Review:40/1
Jockey: Danny Mullins, Trainer: Willie Mullins
Eighth in the Ultima but was travelling well before making a mistake. Another of Mullins entries. Has been relatively lightly raced and has tended to do well over 3 miles plus, but unproven over a slog like this.
Jockey: David Mullins, Trainer: Willie Mullins
The nine year old hasn’t inspired confidence over longer distances and this must be one of Mullins’ weakest entries.
Jockey: Tom Bellamy, Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Second in the Scottish National last year finishing a nose behind Joe Farrell. Not kicked on from that defeat and form since has been disappointing.
Vieux Lion Rouge: 50-1
Jockey: Tom Scudamore, Trainer: David Pipe
Former winner of the Becher Chase in 2016 and was ninth in last year’s National. Has plenty of experience at Aintree finshing 6th, 7th and 9th in earlier running’s of the National and could go well at a big price.
Bless The Wings: 50/1
Jockey: Robert Dunne, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
A seasoned campaigner who finished 3rd in the 2018 Grand National and has plenty of stamina. However, no 14 year old has won the national in the last 150 years, so can be safely ruled out for win purposes.
Monbeg Notorious: 50/1
Jockey: Sean Bowen, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Eight in the Irish National and sixth in the Leinster National and could be open to further improvement.
Folsom Blue: 66/1
Jockey: L P Dempsey, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Only wins have come on soft and heavy ground and it would be a real surprise if Folsom Blue has enough to trouble the rest.
Jockey: Daryl Jacob, Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Only seen twice on a British racetrack since coming over from France. Won very well at Ascot in December but pulled up since at Cheltenham and is carrying a lot of weight here at 11 stone 6lbs, and it would take a mammoth effort to figure here.
Captain Redbeard: 66/1
Jockey: Sam Coltherd, Trainer: Stuart Coltherd
Will be very popular with fans of kid’s TV show Ben and Holly, but failed to get round last year, falling at the seventh. Trainer Stuart Coltherd says the horse is not there to make up the numbers and fancies a good run.
“We’ve just schooled him at home and I’m quite confident he’s fit enough and, touch wood, his jumping’s good enough to get him round.
“He’s in good order and if you think back to Haydock in November he should have beaten Vintage Clouds, but two horses fell in front of him on two separate occasions. Other than that we’d have probably finished in front of Vintage Clouds, so his form’s good enough.
Regal Encore: 66/1
Jockey: Mark Walsh, Trainer: Anthony Honeyball
Quirky horse who has some big handicap wins, but can also be flaky. Finished 8th in the 2017 Grand National.
Jockey: Tom O’Brien, Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Winner of the Topham Chase at Aintree last year, which can be a good pointer to the National. Has strong course form with a 1st, 2nd and third in the last 3 outings here, but was pulled up in the Cross Country at Cheltenham, and is unproven over this far.
Jockey: Paddy Brennan, Trainer: Tom George
Well held on form by a number of these and would be a major surprise if Singlefarmpayment figured here.
Warriors Tale: 66/1
Jockey: Harry Cobden, Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Has recent experience of the National fences at Aintree, winning the Grand Sefton Chase in December. Didn’t get a clear run in last year’s race and was forced to pull-up, but that was on heavy ground.
Mala Beach: 80/1
Jockey: Jamie Codd, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Finished 6 1/2 lengths behind Jury Duty at Down Royal in March, and nothing to suggest there will be a reversal in fortunes this time. Benefits from having top amateur jockey Jamie Codd on board.
Valseur Lido: 80/1
Jockey: Rachael Blackmore, Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
Out of sorts this season, but took part in last years renewal, finishing 8th after travelling well early on. Best recent effort a 16 1/2 length third to Rathvinden at Fairyhouse and would need to really turn things round to make an impression here. Popular jockey on board.
Not the most trusted jumper in the field and that would be a concern for potential backers along with the fact that the horse is untried over anything approaching this trip.
A Toi Phil: 80-1
Jockey: Denis O’Regan, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Unproven over the trip but has been pitched in to some quality fields and is clearly well thought of. Last two runs have been over hurdles and finished well down the field in previous outing over fences.
Jockey: Keith Donoghue, Trainer: Richard Spencer
Finished 41 lengths behind Rathvinden at Fairyhouse in February, and no obvious reason why Outlander would be much closer here.
Just A Par: 100/1
Jockey: Aidan Coleman, Trainer: James Moffatt
Has run in three previous Grand National’s with finishes of 14th, 15th and Pulled Up. Finished way down the field in the Becher Chase in December and may well get round, but you would literally have to have money to burn to back this one.
Don Poli: 100/1
Jockey: Patrick Mullins, Trainer: Philip Kirby
Changed hands just a few days ago. No recent form to speak of finishing 35l behind Jury Duty last time out. Not won since 2015 and unlikely to reverse the trend here.
Blow By Blow: 100/1
Jockey: Andrew Ring, Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Not won over three miles or more and this looks very much like one of Gordon Elliott’s weaker entries in the race. One to avoid.
Our Top Three to Back:
If you fancy an outsider at a big price you could do worse than Monbeg Notorious, Captain Redbeard or Valseur Lido.
So Thursday’s racing brought us a very nicely priced 80/1 place, in the form of Coastal Tiep. Returned at 50/1 SP.
Let’s see if we can pick out some other nicely priced runners for Friday.
Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle
The Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle at 1.45 brings the first opportunity of the day. I’m expecting Brio Conti (6/1 Hills)to run a big race after finishing 4th in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing that one.
Paul Nicholls has a strong hand in this one with Mont Des Avaloirs (10/1) another fancied runner.
The one I’m going to side with here is Strernubin, currently 16-1 with Hills. Finished third in the same race at last years meeting, off the same mark, and finished a creditable 6th in the County Hurdle. Hills are also paying 7 places on this one.
In the 3.25 I’m siding with Waiting Patiently (NAP) at 15/8. A high quality affair, featuring Politilogue and Min amongst other, but I believe Waiting Patiently has the measure of both. Has had a light campaign and the fresher legs may win out here.
In the 4.05 I like the look of Peregrine Run. Peregrine Run can be backed at 11/1 at the time of writing with Hills and looks progressive. Had a 5 month break before a recent pipe opener over hurdles and could run a big race.
Finally in the 4.40 we’ve got a number of progressive types and potential improvers including Downtown Getaway and Walk Away. 3 horses head the market Champ, Dallas Des Pictons and the unbeaten Emitom. I’m going to swerve all three and side with Paul Nicholls unexposed Trevelyn’s Corn. Trevelyn’s Corn (14/1) was an impressive winner at Wincanton, and could upset some of the more fancied runners here.
There is a cracking card for the first day of the 2019 Aintree Grand National meeting. We’ve got three grade 1 races to kick off the meeting, and a number of horses that under-performed at Cheltenham. There are also some that didn’t make it to Cheltenham for one reason or another.
Le Bague Au Roi is one I had my eye on for Cheltenham, but ended up swerving the meeting. Comes here fresh and will take all the beating in the Devonish Manifesto Novices Chase (1.45 Aintree). Some other quality performers in this race, but I fancy the favourite strongly. At the time of writing available at 13/8 with William Hill.
My other fancy for Thursday at a decent each-way price is The Inval. Currently 10/1 with William Hill. Theinval has some decent form over fences here, finishing 2nd in this race for the last two consecutive years. Hasn’t been seen since running at Wincanton in January, so comes here fresh. A number of the other contenders here had tough runs at Cheltenham, and I anticipate a good run from Nicky Henderson’s charge here.
Outsiders Worth a Punt?
A couple of other interesting runners at a bigger prices are Greensalt and Coastal Tiep in the 4.05. Greensalt was placed in the same race last year and appears to have been prepped for this. At odds of 40/1 could be worth a small each-way dabble. Coastal Tiep finished within 3 1/2 lengths of Ucello Conti at Navan in February, yet is ten times the price at 80-1 with Hills. I wouldn’t take out a mortgage on either of these two, but you could get a decent run for a small outlay.
In a race where there are 40 runners and 30 fences for the runners to scale, it pays to narrow the field down, by looking at previous trends. There are a number of different factors to consider when you look for the winner.
Last year’s winner Tiger Roll carried 10 stone 13 pounds to victory. In the last 6 running’s of the race, only one winner Many Clouds, has carried more than 11 stone. Since Red Rum won the National in 1977, only five winners have carried in excess of 11 stone, so you may want to rule out horses carrying more than that. 22 of the last 28 winners carried 10 stone 13 lbs or less.
Age is an interesting statistic to look at in the Grand National. Traditionally, it has paid to back older horses aged 9 and over, with only 6 winners of the race aged under 9 since Red Rum won for the first time at the age of eight, 46 years ago in 1973.
However, three of the last four winners have been aged 8, so this is a trend to be wary of. It is highly unlikely you will find a winner younger than 8, with the last seven year old to win the race being Bogskar in 1940!
9 of the last 16 winners were aged ten, eleven or twelve. All the last 14 winners were aged between 8 and 11.
One statistic to definitely watch out for is the number of days since the horse’s last run. It take a fit horse to win a race of this magnitude and 27 of the last 28 winners ran within the last 55 days. 22 of the last 28 had run in the last 34 days.
Look at the horse’s previous races. Stamina is a must. 14 of the last 15 winner had previously won over a distance of 3 miles or more. 24 of the last 26 winners had previously won a 3 mile chase. Nine of the last ten winners had previously finished in the top three in a race over at least 3 miles 2 furlongs.
There is a reason why odds are as they are. Nine of the last 16 winners have come from the top eight in the market. That doesn’t mean you should exclude higher priced horses from your thinking. Its only ten years since Mon Mome won at odds of 100-1. There have been subsequent winners at 66-1, 33-1 and two at 25-1.
With thirty fences to jump, the Grand National is a race for seasoned steeplechasers. Look for runners who have run 10-14 times over fences before winning the National. 18 of the past 20 winners had fallen or unseated their rider no more than two times in their entire career. Look out for previous experience over the Aintree fences in races like the Becher Chase and the Topham Chase.
Grand National Trends at a glance (Last 28 Running’s)
27/28 – Ran 55 days ago or less 27/28 – Officially rating of 137 or higher 26/28 – Had won over at least 3 mile chase before 25/28 – Had won no more than 6 times over fences 23/28 – Aged nine or older 22/28 – Ran 34 days ago or less 22/28 – Carried no more than 10 stone 13 lbs 19/28 – Had won between 4-6 times over fences 17/28 – Finished in the top 4 last time out 17/28 – Aged 10 years-old or less 16/28 – Carried 10 stone 8 lbs or less 15/28 – Placed favourites 15/28 – Irish-bred winners