I’m still coming to terms with the fall two out of Coppperless at the second last in Friday’s finale. The Racing Post suggest he would have been involved in the finish. I think he would have won a minute – tough to take.
The Grand National remains my favourite sporting event of the year although I am not convinced it is a vintage field for today’s great race.
Cloth Cap is the best of the British and would have a stone more to carry in the weights if the handicapper could reassess him after his facile Kelso win last time. He does jump out to his left on occasions, and I expect to see the excellent Tom Scudamore line up right on the inside of the field. The ground is perfect for him and he must be high up on anyone’s shortlist – it is just his price – 9/2 – that puts me off.
The Irish challenge (18) is numerically very strong and events at last month’s Cheltenham Festival suggested they are likely to have at least a couple that could be as well handicapped as Jonjo O’Neill’s Ladbroke Trophy winner. My two against the field are Any Second Now (5.15) and Discorama with preference for the Ted Walsh trained former Cheltenham Festival winner.
The ew selection – 10s with William Hills 5 places or 9s with Boylesports 7 places – must show the stamina for today’s extended 4m 2f trip and, like every horse in the race, will need to jump well and have luck in running to strike gold, but his Grade 2 win at Navan over the minimum trip shows he has a touch of class. I feel he holds outstanding claims.
Discorama – 18s with William Hill – has finished in the frame at three Cheltenham Festivals and has a history of going well fresh. He had a wind operation back in December and has been kept fresh for this afternoon by trainer Paul Nolan. Burrows Saint has been very well supported in recent weeks and the Willie Mullins challenge is strong. Cloth Camp will give it a good go from the front, but I believe Irish eyes will be smiling in the greatest horserace in the world.
Grand National – top four
- Any Second Now
- Burrows Saint
- Cloth Cap
My two against the field in the opening 3m Handicap Hurdle are Champagne Platinum and Southfield Harvest (1.45) with preference for the latter who bypassed Cheltenham to wait for today’s race. Trainer Paul Nicholls fits his 7-y-old – 10/1 with BetVictor 5 places – with cheekpieces for the first time and the headgear certainly did the trick for the stable’s Clan Des Obeaux on the opening day.
The selection will be chasing next season and is a big unit for these tight turns, but he is taken to reverse Newbury form with Polish on 4lbs better terms. Champagne Platinum carried my cash when fifth in the Pertemps at the Festival and this flat track should suit the grey who travelled very well last time although he was a shade too keen.
Ballyadam will appreciate not bumping into Appreciate It who has beaten the Cheveley Park owned novice hurdler in his last three starts. He must go close, but I was blown away with My Drago (2.25) at Kelso last time and the Skelton team bypassed Cheltenham to wait for Aintree. He steps up to 2m 4f for the first time this afternoon, but he was not stopping over an extended 2m 2f at the Borders track, and he gets a confident vote at a best price of 7/4 with MansionBet.
Shishkin cannot be opposed in the 2m Novice Chase but the Liverpool Hurdle is a cracker although there is no guaranteed frontrunner which muddies the waters somewhat. Paisley Park won his sole start here over 2m 4f but need an end-to-end gallop on this good ground and I just favour the chances of Thyme Hill (3.35) who missed Cheltenham following a slight setback and beat the favourite on good ground at Newbury earlier in the season.
I thought he was an unlucky loser in the Albert Bartlett behind Monkfish at Cheltenham last year and he comes here fresher than most. The selection is 9/4 with 10Bet and it was nice to see the Hobbs stable have a horse run very well in the last on Friday – although he would have been lapped by Copperless!
Johnbb (4.15) fell at Wetherby last time but I have always thought the step up to three miles would suit and he gets the each way vote for Tom Lacey whose string have been in good form of late after a quiet start to the campaign. The 12s with Boylesports – 5 places – is about right although the ground is, arguably, an unknown.
Over at Newcastle and I will be looking to see what the market makes of the chances of First Account (4.10) in the 2m 4f handicap chase having his first start for over 400 days. The selection – 7/2 with 10Bet – is unproven on ground this fast but he comes here fresher than most and I am convinced he is well treated. Cracking Find looks the one to beat.