It’s all about Aintree and the Grand National this week, with the three days of the big meeting taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Therefore, we’ll take a sneak preview of all the action.
Day One (Thursday 12 April)
Day one of the Grand National Meeting kicks-off with four consecutive Grade 1 races and the likes of Might Bite, Whatswrongwithyou, Buveur D’Air, and We Have A dream could give Nicky Henderson a fantastic start to the meeting.
1:45 · Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase
The Grand National Meeting kicks-off with a potential cracker as the Arkle second and third Brain Power and Petit Mouchoir could lock horns again over 2½ miles. They set a high-standard but, as neither has been asked to race this far before, they could take up a shorter option on Saturday. Therefore, Finian’s Oscar could be interesting as he won over course and distance over hurdles at the meeting last year, whilst Modus could be a danger to all if the ground dries up to no worse than good-to-soft.
Best Bet: Finian’s Oscar – each way @ 6.00 SunBets
2:20 · Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle
Nicky Henderson looks to hold a strong hand and Apple’s Shakira could bid for compensation after finishing only fourth in the Triumph Hurdle. However, Henderson has saved We Have A Dream for this. Redicean could also be interesting returned to a flat track and possibly better ground.
Best Bet: Redicean – each way @ 8.00 SkyBet
2:50 · Aintree Bowl Chase
Tea For Two will be trying to win back-to-back renewals of the Aintree Bowl but this looks a stronger contest than last year’s on paper. Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos could step back up in trip but Might Bite will take a lot of beating if fully recovered from his run in the Gold Cup, and he won at the meeting last year after running at Cheltenham.
Best Bet: Might Bite – win @ 1.58 Unibet, 888Sport
3:25 · Aintree Hurdle
Buveur D’Air is another runner looking for back-to-back victories at the Grand National Meeting and he must have every chance of doubling up after winning the Champion Hurdle. He’s always looked the type to be better at this longer trip but Supasundae is a worthy opponent after winning the Irish Champion Hurdle and finishing second in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Best Bet: Supasundae – win @ 2.25 WilliamHill, Coral
4:05 · Randox Health Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase
The first chance of the meeting for punters to get a taste of the Grand National fences and Grand Vision has the highest official rating, followed by the winner of two years ago On The Fringe. However, Balnalsow looks sure to go well after finishing second last year as this looks to be his trip.
Best Bet: Balnaslow – each way @ 6.00 Unibet, Bet365
4:40 · Red Rum Handicap Chase
La Prezien may bid to win off top-weight but this often goes to something less exposed near the bottom of the weights. Bun Doran looks like a horse that could have been laid out for this race after just three runs this season.
Best Bet: Bun Doran – each way @ 13.00 SkyBet
Day Two (Friday 13 April)
Friday is Ladies Day at Aintree’s Grand National Meeting and Merseyside will be awash with ladies from Liverpool dressed in their finest or, in some cases, most daring dresses. It’s truly a great day, and the racing isn’t bad either with the Melling Chase taking centre stage.
1:45 · Alder Hey Charity Handicap Hurdle
Another race Nicky Henderson won last year and his Whatswrongwithyou could be a serious challenger. He disappointed slightly last time at Sandown when third but could be much better suited to Aintree and the step up to 2½ miles.
Best Bet: Whatswrongwithyou – each way @ 21.00 PaddyPower
2:20 · Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle
Pingshou won this last year for Colin Tizzard and he has a couple of potential runners in Slate House and Vision Des Flos. However, Global Citizen is likely to be a warm favourite after winning his last race in taking style.
Best Bet: Global Citizen – win @ 3.00 WilliamHill
2:50 · Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase
I’m yet to be convinced by the 3-mile novice chasers this year but one horse who could love this test if the ground dries up is Mia’s Storm. She was last seen falling at Kempton at Christmas but had won her novice chases impressively before that including when beating the RSA third Elegant Escape.
Best Bet: Mias Storm – each way @ 6.50 PaddyPower, Betfair
3:25 · JLT Melling Chase
Champion Chase winner Altior looks sure to sidestep the Melling Chase for Sandown later in the season but runner-up Min could bid for compensation. Politologue and Top Notch could also be useful challengers, whilst Flying Angel could be an each-way dark horse after winning a novice chase at the meeting last season.
Best Bet: Flying Angel – each way @ 34.00 Unibet, Betfair
4:05 · Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
A second-helping of the National Fences and Gas Line Boy and Go Conquer must be of interest if connections take the easier option rather than the big race itself. Watch out for old boy Eastlake too as he’s 1lb lower than when winning this race two-years ago.
Best Bet: Go Conquer – each way @ 17.00 SportPesa, Unibet
4:40 · Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
Nicky Henderson complicates matters by having the first four in the betting with Santini heading the early markets. However, it was On The Blind Side who landed a gamble at Aintree earlier in the season and he would of major interest if turning up.
Best Bet: On The Blind Side – each way @ 8.00 PaddyPower, Betfair
Day Three (Saturday 14 April)
The third and final day of the Grand National Meeting looks sure to be a great day with the Grand National taking place at 5.15. It’s set to be a thriller with some high-class horses at the head of the weights, and there’s also a strong supporting cast.
1:45 · Gaskells Handicap Hurdle
Not an easy race to dissect at this early stage of the week but seven of the last eight winners have carried between 10-12 and 11-6 and all have been aged six, seven, or eight. Jonjo O’Neill trained four winners between 2002 and 2010.
Nothing good enough for a bet.
2:25 · Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
The aforementioned On The Blind Side and Global Citizen have alternative entries in this race but Cheltenham runner-up Black Op could take some stopping if in the same form as when second to Samcro. The rest have plenty to find on the ratings though Western Ryder went close in a bumper at last year’s meeting.
Best Bet: Black Op – win @ 2.62 PaddyPower, Betfair
3:00 · Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase
A repeat match between Brain Power and Petit Mouchoir would really whet the appetite before the big event and it’s difficult to see the prize not going to one of them if the rematch is on.
Best Bet: Brain Power – win @ 3.00 SkyBet
3:40 · Betway Handicap Chase
Another trappy final day handicap for anyone hoping to get the jackpot or Scoop-6 up but it could be worth noting that no winner has carried more than 11-3 since 2007. Meanwhile, Phillip Hobbs has trained three of the last eight winners.
Best Bet: Thomas Patrick – each way @ 6.50 WilliamHill, SkyBet
4:20 · Ryanair Stayers Hurdle
Supasundae would have an obvious chance to go one better as he finished second to Yanworth last year and has improved since. However, he’s got a possible alternative engagement on Thursday. In his absence, Sam Spinner could appreciate a return to a flat-track. He could take on some other Stayers’ Hurdle flops in Lil Rockerfeller and L’ami Serge. Wholestone beat all three of those at Cheltenham but tends to save his best for that track.
Best Bet: Sam Spinner – win @ 3.00 PaddyPower, Betfair
5:15 · Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
The ground could make a huge difference to what horses have a chance of staying the National trip, and there will be plenty of trainers praying the rain stays away, and others hoping that it arrives in biblical proportions. The forecast is uncertain – so we’ll post a Grand National dedicated blog later in the week with our runner-by-runner guide.