Michael Dorgan looks ahead to Day three of the Aintree Grand National Meeting.
The Aintree Grand National Meeting comes to its conclusion today with the highlight being the most valuable jumps race in Europe; the 40 runner Randox Health Grand National Handicap Steeplechase (17:15).
Ran over a stamina-sapping four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards with 30 obstacles for horse and rider to clear, it is one of the most watched sporting events in the world and over 600 million people are expected to tune into national hunts racing’s showcase event.
First run in 1839, the Grand National holds a special place in British (and Irish) culture and offers a gateway for new fans to embrace the sport.
Picking the winner can often be as easy as finding a needle in a haystack and the starting prices of the last five winners reads: 33/1, 25/1, 25/1, 66/1 and 33/1.
Last year’s winner, the Mouse Morris-trained RULE THE WORLD had never even won a race over fences, which underlines the difficulty in unravelling this punting puzzle. (For an in-depth runner-by-runner analysis check Betdaq)
Ruby Walsh was quite bullish about his mount PLEASANT COMPANY yesterday and I have long been an admirer of the Nigel-Twiston Davies-trained BLAKLION who won the RSA last season. The National is not a race to go mad on and I am going to have a small wager on Robbie Powers’ mount REGAL ENCORE @ 80/1.
His form figures are riddled with “P” and he is very much a hit and miss job. However, he does run well on a sounder surface, was runner-up at the Punchestown Festival last year and won the Ascot Silver Cup in December with a late run.
The Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (14:25) sees Colin Tizzard’s unbeaten FINIAN’S OSCAR head the market in this two miles four furlongs contest. In earlier previews I suggested that it can often pay to bypass the Cheltenham Festival and TEA FOR TWO’s defeat of CUE CARD in the Aintree Bowl is a testament to that (although he did run, he unseated his rider Lizzie Kelly at the second fence in the Gold Cup).
I also stated Colin Tizzard’s yard was undergoing a quiet spell and they were back with a bang yesterday winning two Grade Ones for FINIAN’S OSCARS’ owners, Ann and Alan Potts.
The former Irish point to pointer missed Cheltenham “due to a minor setback” and did so just when the Tizzard stable wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Having been running for most of the year, the break may have been exactly what the doctor ordered for this £250,000 purchase.
An impressive winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in February and with the high-flying Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Robbie Power now retained jockey for the Potts, at 7/2 I make his mount a solid each way bet.
It’s hard to get away from the chances of CHARBEL in the two-mile Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (15:00) if he is none the worse for his fall in the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham. The Kim Bailey inmate was giving the well regarded ALTIOR a stern test until he blundered at the second last and he can make amends for jockey David Bass today.
FOREST BIHAN was let down by his jumping when well behind the selection in the same race. The main danger may come from the Paul Nichols-trained POLITOLOGUE who finished 4th in the JLT at Cheltenham.
The return to a sharper track could suit Sam Twiston-Davies’ mount and he may be the value bet for each way punters in this small five-runner field.
In the Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle (16:20) 3M 149Y YANWORTH attempts to put a disappointing Champion Hurdler run behind him.
The Alan King-trained runner went off favourite for that two-mile event but Barry Geraghty’s mount may be more suited to today’s longer three-mile trip. I am happy to take a back seat for this tricky contest.
Finian’s Oscar e/w @7/2 (14:25)
Charbel win @ 4/5 (15:00)
(With a small double on the two)
Regal Encore e/w @80/1 (17:15)
Michael Dorgan, Pundit Arena