13:45 Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3 – 3m 149y
This is a wide open hurdle but there is a lot to like about the current favourite, Come On Teddy* (15/2) who won a 3m Cheltenham handicap hurdle last December and was an excellent 3rd in the Pertemps Final. I also like Polish (9/1) for a place.
14:20 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 2m 4f
The first Grade 1 of the day and I’m very keen on My Drogo*** (2/1) who I’ve followed all season and is unbeaten over hurdles. Distance, ground and course should all suit and he’s a confident selection.
15:00 Maghull Novices’ Chase – Grade 1 – 1m 7f
Shishkin***** (1/6) is the British star of the season and is impossible to oppose. He’s Timeform’s highest rated novice chaser (188P) and this is just another step on the road to greatness. He’s currently 6/4 for next year’s Champion Chase which, even with 339 days to go, still looks like good value.
15:35 Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle – Grade 1 – 3m 149y
The horses at the top of the market often turn up against each other and this season it’s one all between Thyme Hill** (9/4) and Paisley Park. The latter hasn’t been entirely convincing this season. Both course and ground should suit Thyme Hill better. Roksana was a decent second to If The Cap Fits in this race in 2019 and was third in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month. 10/1 bar the top three looks about right.
16:15 Handicap Chase – Grade 3 – 3m 210y
This isn’t the strongest of races and could easily go to a long odds shot. Happygolucky was second to Vintage Clouds in this year’s Ultima Chase but was a beaten 100/30 favourite.
Top Notch* (8/1) is no longer…top notch, but may still yet be good enough to win this. A 10-y-o, he was third in the Paddy Power Plate (behind The Shunter and Farclas). Although allocated top weight of 11st 12lb, claimer Luca Morgan (who rode him last time) takes off 7lb and both ground and course should suit.
17:15 Grand National – Grade 3 – 4m 2f 74y
Cloth Cap is the right favourite but has drifted slightly in the market. He’s still too short a price for me.
The National always has a story and this year I think that it will be the first woman rider to win the race with Rachael Blackmore riding Minella Times** (10/1) for Henry de Bromhead. He has great form, particularly with Rachael on board and is easily good enough to win if he stays. He’s never run beyond 3m and most form is on soft or heavy but he’s a top class 8-y-o with an attractive weight of 10st 3lbs
Any Second Now is another for J P McManus and Ted Walsh has prepped him with this in mind and he knows how to win the race.
Another JP horse, Anibale Fly, was fourth and fifth in the last two Nationals and could easily run into a pace at an appealing 28/1. Another place prospect is Mister Malarky at 33/1).
18:20 Weatherbys Bumper – Grade 2 – 2m 209y
The meeting rounds off with this bumper in which the Nicky Henderson trained Balco Coastal* is the justified favourite at 15/8 based on his very impressive last outing at Kempton.