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Aintree Grand National Festival Day 3
The big one is finally here, Grand National Day! It has been two good days already at Aintree and we cap it off with the 40-runner Grand National. We have had 4 bets in the race ranging from 9/1 to 66/1.
Before that there are 3 more Grade 1s to get stuck into with Jonbon a strong favourite in the first to bounce back from his Arkle defeat followed by Hermes Allen aiming to bounce back to form also. The Stayers’ race will always be so competitive and now Marie’s Rock is finally added to the mix it will be interesting.
Aside from having a winner in the Grand National my 1140/1 Lucky 15 could make the day even more exciting.
Connections would have been disappointed not to win the Arkle with JONBON last month but the feeling is he bumped into a really smart horse in El Fabiolo and so that form should stand up in time. He was faultless prior to that winning all 3 starts over fences and with no El Fabiolo in the field he should get back on track here. He won over hurdles here last year so acts well on the track and won’t mind the rain either so is hard to pick holes in.
Notlongtillmay is a bold jumper who should run well. He was also 3-3 over fences before bumping into Stage Star in the Turners. The latter was beaten here earlier in the week finishing last behind Banbridge and the form has taken a couple of knocks but he still looks the danger back down in trip. Calico briefly gave the selection a scare at Warwick before being readily claimed but did manage to get back to winning ways at Doncaster. Looks up against it but might still give Harry Skelton a decent spin round.
You don’t get that many easy winners of handicaps at Cheltenham and GOOD TIME JONNY did just that to win the Pertemps. He had run over a shorter a few times this season, likely to keep his mark down and is clearly best at this trip. He only gets 5lb more for an easy win which surprises me and he could still be well in if running to the level of his win at Cheltenham. He is the one they all have to beat.
There are plenty of dangers as you would expect with An Tailliur looking the main threat if he needed the run after plenty of time off before Cheltenham and only has 4 lengths to find with the selection. Outlaw Peter comes here on a hat-trick and I would expect him to run a big race in what could be a big day for his owners. Party Business won this last year but doesn’t seem to be in form currently and will need to be a lot better than he has shown this season.
The more rain that comes down the better it is for HERMES ALLEN and I think he could get firmly back on track here. The way he won at Newbury in very testing ground was impressive and given the runner-up You Wear It Well went on to win a Grade 2 at Sandown and then at the Festival last month the form has been well advertised since. Things didn’t pan out for him in the Ballymore but Harry Cobden wasn’t hard on him once his chance had gone and he still has a great deal of potential.
Dark Raven ran well to finish sixth in the Supreme behind Marine Nationale and that form looks better by the day with Inthepocket winning so well yesterday. He should give the selection most to think about going up in trip here but he does need to prove he can stay. You Wear It Well is obviously thriving but she is strictly held by the selection on that Newbury form but has improved since. Irish Point won well at Naas last month and is another one going the right way so is feared too.
The Stayers’ races are notoriously tough with them all beating each other throughout the season. I am going to go with the surprise Cheltenham winner despite it being SIRE DU BERLAIS’S 3rd win at the Festival. He bucks the trends at his age but he stayed on so well to win after plenty of poor runs this season. He won this race last year and with not much between these he could easily win it again
Flooring Porter is the main danger after only just making it to Cheltenham after setbacks. He should be better for that run and could be a bit harder to pass. Home By The Lee ran ridiculously well to finish 3 lengths 3rd at Cheltenham after some big mistakes and could go well here. Marie’s Rock I expected a lot more from at Cheltenham so she needs to bounce back up in trip.
The rain coming has changed the complexion of this race a fair bit and it is no surprise to see MIDNIGHT RIVER turning into a bit of a gamble now. He disappointed at Cheltenham last month but prior to that had won 2 of his last 3 and was impressive at Cheltenham back in January drawing clear despite having a good look about. As long as he isn’t given too much to do I think he will be bang there at the finish for a yard that continue to go great guns this season.
I am also going to back BEAUPORT who shaped much better than the finishing position behind Angels Dawn at the Festival last month. He travelled strongly for much of the race but reportedly lost a shoe and if in the same form here should get involved. He certainly won’t mind the rain and he definitely has a race like this in him off his current mark. Shakem Up’arry is also likeable and looks one of the dangers up in trip. He ran a cracker when third to Seddon at Cheltenham but was behind Midnight River before that so does have a bit to find. Dan Skelton in these handicaps is always worth a second kook and Ashtown Lad could be the main danger. Of the rest Upping The Anti and Al Dancer could go well.
I have to kick-off with a favourite of ours and the slight favourite for this race at the time of writing CORACH RAMBLER. We tipped him to win at the Cheltenham Festival the last two years and he dually obliged. The Grand National has always looked a logical option for him and he now comes here 10lbs well in which is a huge plus. He will need a bit of luck in running with his run style but Lucinda Russell’s horses have been running really well this week and he has to go close with clear round.
I thought MR INCREDIBLE was a big eye-catcher at the Cheltenham Festival last month. He was given a patient ride by Patrick Mullins before cutting his way through the pack and he looked to be coming with a strong challenge before just struggling to go the pace of the front pair. The winner Angels Dawn has since run creditably in the Irish Grand National so it is solid form. I have no doubt he is well handicapped off a mark of 145 and if he takes to this unique test he could surprise a few off a nice weight. He’ll need luck given his run style but hopefully he isn’t given too much to do with Brian Hayes back in the saddle a positive.
It is often worth backing a horse in the Grand National that has Graded form to their name and VANILLIER fits the bill and at a nice price. He won the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham a couple of years ago and made a bright start over fences winning the Grade 2 Florida Pearl at Punchestown as a novice. Things haven't gone to plan this season but he was back to form chasing home Kemboy at Fairyhouse last time closing all the way to the line and looks to be off a nice mark for this. He is a strong stayer and if he can jump better I can see him getting seriously competitive.
There aren’t many a big prices the fit the trends with only two standing out but I sided with CLOUDY GLEN at a huge price. Those Trevor Hemmings colours are synonymous with the Grand National and it would be great for his family if they could win this after he sadly passed away in 2021. He looks to have a nice weight and stays well as he showed at Haydock earlier in the year. He pulled up behind Corach Rambler at Cheltenham but I feel he might need slightly better ground to be at his best and on his going day he could be well overpriced.
In a race of this nature there are plenty of dangers but Delta Work is the obvious and is vying for favouritism after winning the cross-country at the Cheltenham Festival nicely. He will surely go well again but I would just want the ground a little bit softer. The Big Dog will have his day in a big race one day and was travelling well at Leopardstown before falling which put me off backing him. Finally the other horse I liked at a massive price is Escaria Ten who stays well and on his best form could outrun the price, I was just really disappointed with his run last year which edged him out of my picks.
I’m looking forward to this race with an eye to the future but from a punting perspective it is not a race I’m all that keen on parting with my hard earned. I will have a small each way play on POUR LES FILLES who won a point to point and then made a successful start under Rules to win at Leopardstown. I loved the way he stayed on strongly in soft ground to prevail by a neck and the front pair came 12 lengths clear from the rest. He will need to improve to win this as it looks a fiercely competitive renewal but he could be a nice type going forward especially when he goes over hurdles.
Plenty of dangers and Blizzard Of Oz is the one being backed at the time of writing for Willie Mullins. He has a fair bit of experience already having got off the mark at the fourth time of asking at Cork last month. He handled heavy ground well on that occasion and might be more battle hardened than most in here. Aslukgoes is promising but the issue with him could be the ground as he hasn’t faced anything anywhere near as soft as this. Centara is another one to note having won on debut at Taunton but again he’ll need to step up to win this.