Well I can’t dress up the fact that Champagne Fever was anything other than disappointing notwithstanding that he had every chance. Thankfully Rajdhani Express delivered at 10/1 and a last minute bet on Thistlecrack at 25/1 (e/w) did very nicely thank you so a much more profitable day two.
Now on to the big day. The supporting races are a mixed bag but the National is a really good dilemma and there’s no doubt that the race has become much more interesting from a betting perspective since the changes made two years ago. By the way, for those doubters, the Foxhunters’ and Topham were full of thrills and all horses returned uninjured. So much for those who continue to berate this celebration of Liverpool and all that’s good about horse racing and what brings so many people so much enjoyment. Thankfully the naysayers are quite properly marginalised.
So, on to the selections!
1.30 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle 2m 4f
Parlour Games has obvious claims but I’m with the highly progressive As De Mee (10/1). The course should suit. The ground is a question mark – not won on better than good to soft. There is a little rain forecast overnight and the day will be sunny but a lot cooler. I have a feeling that this one will not be inconvenienced at all by better ground and I expected the price to be much shorter.
2.05 Maghull Novices’ Chase 2m
I wonder whether the commentators will continue to call this the Mag-hull Novices’ Chase as usual! My selection is Sizing Granite (5/1) even though God’s Own is 15lb ahead on official ratings. The selection is after a three-timer. He’s a fighter and won easily last time. There’s no doubt that God’s Own’s second to Un De Sceaux’s imperious Arkle win (what a shame he’s not here) was a fine performance but his third to Vibrato Valtat in his previous race was not so impressive.
2.50 Stayers’ Hurdle 3m 110yds
There is no doubt that Cole Harden’s win in the World Hurdle was a fine performance but I was on Zarkandar (5/2) (nap) on that day and I know that I’m not alone in thinking that he would have won had it not been for an uncharacteristic blunder at the second last. I’ve been on this one many times and his three previous wins at Aintree put the cap on it. Bet of the day.
3.25 Betfred Handicap Chase 3m 1f
On any reading this is a poor race and it’s a mystery to me why it’s on this card. Having said that £60,000 prize money should have attracted a better field. It takes a lot for me to be tempted by an each way bet but I was buoyed by Thistlecrack today and I’ve therefore decided to side with Edgardo Sol (17/2 e/w). I remember seeing him win at Aintree in 2011 on his second race after moving from France (and then with Paul Nicholls) and thinking that this striking chestnut was going right to the top. He followed that up with a win in the Red Rum Chase in 2012. Admittedly his form has been in and out since then but I can’t find a better one in this race.
4.15 Crabbies Grand National 4m 3f 110 yds
So, on to the big one! I posted an “Aintree Taster” on Tuesday when I provided a horse by horse guide to the top 20 in the handicap. Carlito Brigante is the only defector from that list (lame) and the other 39 have stood their ground. It was too late for a reserve at 11.00 a.m. this morning (not sure why) and I’ve gone through all the runners. The result of my analysis is that the selection is unchanged but my second and third come from the bottom 20 in the handicap. I’ve also decided to hazard a trifecta – why not?!
So the selection is Cause Of Causes (20/1) (next best). Why shouldn’t he win? He’s a 7-y-o and history therefore suggests that he shouldn’t win. However, history takes into account the National as it used to be and is therefore an unreliable guide. He ran a poor race in the Galmoy Hurdle (Grade 2) but the four ahead of him (in a five runner race) are top graded hurdlers and, as is now apparent, that was not his game.
Why should he win? He stays in the highest company as perfectly demonstrated by his win in the National Hunt Chase over 4 miles at Cheltenham on his last outing. Staying is the name of the game in the new conditions of the National. If that were not enough, look at his winning style in that race (as I said the other day) – “held up in rear, headway 3 out, stayed on, driven out”. Does that sound like the profile of a National winner to you? Does it sound like the winners of this week’s Foxhunters’ and Topham? It does to me.
So, which ones make up the frame? I’m with Saint Are (40/1) and Soll (20/1) in that order. Saint Are can put in quality performances on his day and has a similar prep profile to last year’s winner (and my selection) Pineau De Re. Soll is on joint bottom weight, has been revitalised since moving to David Pipe (wins on last two outings since transferring) and was seventh in the race two years ago. The trifecta potentially delivers 18,000/1. Worth £1! Realistically I suggest a win on Cause of Causes and each ways on Soll and Saint Are.
5.15 Handicap Hurdle (Conditionals and Amateurs) 2m 110 yds
Let’s face it, we’re not really interested by now! If you need placepot selections I recommend Dormello Mo (12/1) and Astre De La Cour (9/1).
5.40 Bumper 2m 1f
Well, I think that Nina is going to round off a superb week with a win on Whistle Dixie (4/1). Evidently the market agrees because she opened at 7/1. This could be one of the steamers of the day.
As always, good luck!!