Grand National Saturday!

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Morning everyone. It’s amazing how quickly this day seems to come around each year. We will do well to top last year with Neptune Collonges doing the business for us in grand style at 40/1!! Anyone remembers the hangovers from this Saturday 12 months ago?

4.15 Aintree – John Smith´s Grand National Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) (CLASS 1) (7yo+)

Another top quality maximum field assembled for the feature jumps race of the year. Let’s hope for a clean start this time around. I’ve narrowed the field down to five and will play them all.

JOIN TOGETHER – For a long time he has looked like a marathon trip will suit him down to the ground. You can safely put a line through his last run and the most eye-catching piece of form is he fast finishing 2nd in the Beecher Chase in December. He got a little out-paced as they upped the pace that day before staying on strongly. There will be no quickening today and all his main attributes will come to the fore especially when they turn for home. If he can steer a clear passage and jump safely he will be a massive player late in the day and is much too big a price.25/1.

ON HIS OWN – Travelling like a travelly thing when coming down at Beecher’s on the second circuit last year. He has been lightly raced since and has been prepared for this with absolute perfection. Ruby rides who knows the course so well and if he jumps round has to be a big player. 10/1.

IMPERIAL COMMANDER – All the stats are against him. He’s missed so much of the last 18 months through injuries that it seems very unlikely that you put the top weight up in the national. On the plus side he jumps like a stag, loves going right-handed, will relish the ground and is so well handicapped on his old form that he actually could make a mockery of this mark. Time and time again the class horses come to the top in this race and even if top weight stops him winning, he will go very very close if he’s fit and well. 16/1.

ROBERTO GOLDBACK – Bought completely with this is mind at the start of the season and duly bolted up on his first start for Nicky Henderson at Ascot. He won so well that day that he looked like a really well handicapped horse. He has run in bottomless ground since then and hasn’t looked the same. There is every chance that he has been completely laid out for this and is actually only 4lbs higher than when winning at Ascot. 25/1.

SEABASS – The last one to creep onto the short list! Ran a blinder in this last year when up with the pace throughout and given a lovely ride by Katie Walsh. He’s up 5lbs this year which makes life tougher but he looks to have been given a perfect prep and I really couldn’t leave him out.

Of the others I thought that Balthazar’s King was likely to go well and it will be fascinating to see how Chicago Grey goes under the patient Carberry. If you were to ask me to name one at a massive price that will give you a run for your money you could do a lot worse than SWING BILL at 100/1 (170’s on BF). He will relish this in amongst horses and will travel way for a long way, he could realistically be in the shake up and I might play him in a few of the special markets.

All in all it should be a classic. Let’s hope they all come back safe and sound and we are cheering home the winner!

Away from the main event I will also be having a decent go on CANTLOW (3.25). Most of you will know how long he has been on my radar and I was hoping to have a thick bet on him at Cheltenham but he bled down at the start and didn’t take part. He has been absolutely crying out for three miles plus and finally gets ot here today. He’s on a really good mark and this type of race should really suit him. This is also a race that JP likes to target and I think he has a massive chance and I’ll be having a decent bet. 3 pts win @ 7/1 generally.

I am a little bit baffled by the entry for VAN DER NEER in the listed race at Lingfield. He is in my top three horses to follow on the flat this year and looks a real exciting prospect. His run in the Racing Post Trophy was so eye-catching on ground that he didn’t seem to appreciate. On a good surface this summer he could prove to be very smart indeed and maybe this is just a prep to put him bang on for the guineas? He’s 1/2 and no sort of bet today but I’ll be watching with real interest as I think he is very high-class.

I have to give one more chance to KINDIA (5.20 Lingfield) who has caught the eye a couple of times since coming over from france. This drop back to seven might suit her a little better today and with the visor swapped for cheek pieces she is starting to look nicely handicapped. She is 25/1 on Betfair but she is likely to pop up at some point. Last chance for me today. 1 pt win @ 25/1 on Betfair.

I will be throwing a few darts at KEEP IT DARK (5.35 Newcastle) too. Mussleburgh clearly didn’t suit last time and has a decent pull in the weights with the winner today too. Completely unexposed and should go well. 1.5 pts win @ 7/1.

The booking of Kieren Fallon on ALBAQAA (9.20 Wolverhampton) looks interesting as he is seriously well handicapped and should be included in your multiples today.

Good luck with all your bets. It is a cracker jack days racing. Fingers crossed for the National winner once again!

All the best,

MG

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Aintree Day One! Thursday 4th April

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A fascinating start to the Grand National meeting at Aintree this afternoon and we kick off with three grade ones.

2.00 Aintree Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo)

An exciting start to the card which sees the re-match of the two market leaders in the form of ROLLING STAR and IRISH SAINT. The former got the better of the first encounter between the two at Cheltenham but comes here on the back of a disappointing effort in the Triumph after being very well backed. Irish Saint missed the festival and comes here a fresh horse with conditions likely to play to his strengths too. FLAXEN FLARE comes here on the back of a romp in the Fred Winter in first time blinkers. This is a step up in class but if he backs that effort up he certainly comes into the reckoning. Vasco Du Ronceray and Ruacana are the two that potentially may improve significantly for the better ground but the latter would need to improve to reverse the form with Flaxen Flare. Rolling star is likely to be a warm favourite but I like the chances of IRISH SAINT reversing the form.

2.30 Aintree – Betfred Bowl Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

A race that largely revolves around SILVINIACO CONTI who was travelling so well when coming down three out in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. It remains a mystery whether or not he would have got up the hill. If that fall hasn’t left a mark after just twenty days he is likely to be very difficult to beat indeed on a track that really does play to his strengths. Don’t be put off by the fall at the festival as he is a superb jumper in general. The Giant Bolster will struggle to reverse the form from Newbury with the favourite and First Lieutenant comes here on the back of a solid second to Cue Card in the Ryanair but may find this tougher still despite the step up in trip being in his favour. The favourite will be very difficult to beat.

3.05 Aintree – John Smith´s Aintree Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

For me this is the feature of day one and is a brilliant renewal. The young guns and the untapped potential against the proven performers at this level. Last year’s winner OSCAR WHISKEY ran poorly at Cheltenham in the World Hurdle and will have to be forgiven that effort to be backed here. He is a class act at two and a half miles and if he returns to his best he will be a major player. Barry Geraghty has deserted him in favour of GRANDOUET but had he come here and missed Cheltenham he would be a short priced favorite so he is overpriced. Grandouet was another to come to grief at the festival just as the taps were about to be turned on in the Champion Hurdle. He comes here with every chance and the drying ground will be in his favour. I’m not convinced however that he wants two and a half miles. He will undoubtedly travel strongly through the race and for all you Betfair players he is likely to trade short in the run whatever the outcome so there will be an opportunity to trade out.

The current market leader on the back of an impressive win in the Neptune at the festival in THE NEW ONE. He hasn’t done anything wrong to date with his only defeat coming to the equally impressive At Fishers Cross just before the festival. Sam Twiston-Davies will tell you he should have won that day too had he been more patient. Now they have found the key to him he is likely to be a potent force as he has a real turn of foot and he should be hard to beat today.COUNTRYWIDE FLAME comes here on the back of an excellent effort in the Champion Hurdle and the step up in trip is likely to help him here too as will the track. He was a real stayer on the flat and must come into the reckoning here. Zarkander has a few lengths to find with Countrywide Flame and has the addition of blinkers for the first time over hurdles (did wear them on the flat). The step up in trip has looked like it is likely to suit him for some time and he is probably overpriced at around 6/1.

Thousand Stars is likely to run his race again as he usually does and certainly adds even more depth to what is a fascinating race. I think that THE NEW ONE will maintain his progress over hurdles and will be hard to beat but I will have a saver on Zarkander.

3.40 Aintree – John Smith´s Fox Hunters´ Chase (CLASS 2) (6yo+)

Hunter Chases have never been my strong point so I will leave the Foxhunter’s over the national fences to the experts. I am reliably informed that BOLD ADDITION is strongly fancied to run a big race this afternoon.

4.15 Aintree – Matalan.co.uk Red Rum Handicap Chase Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

A devilishly difficult handicap at 4.15 but a race in which I really fancy one. I am strong on the chances of PIRES from the Tony Martin team who hacked up in a couple of handicaps earlier in the season before running a cracker in a very strong race two starts back where the Grand Annual winner Alderwood was in second. That represents strong handicap form and rather than going to the festival he had a spin on the all-weather at Dundalk where he ran well. That was surely a prep for this and he comes here race fit and unexposed over fences. He looks sure to go well and I’ve tucked in at 10/1.

4.50 Aintree – Betfred Manifesto Novices´ Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)

Not a betting race for me as CAPTAIN CONAN is by far the most likely winner but he is just a horse that I’m not keen on. Slightly disappointed with the turn out here in truth as there is a nice prize up for grabs. He will probably win but if was in the ring I would want to take him on bigtime.

5.25 Aintree – Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

A minefield to finish the day with 21 of them going to post over the extended three miles. The two I like the most here are EASTER DAY and ERICHT. The former is progressive over hurdles and has won 3/4. He will need to just brush up his jumping in this more competitive race but he looks to be going the right way and should be followed again this afternoon. ERICHT in theory has a tougher task than at the festival where he was a solid 5th. Gary Derwin claimed 10lbs that day so from a handicapping point of view this is harder but he gets on really well with Barry Geraghty and I think he will be really patient on him this afternoon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him coming there very strongly and played late.

I’ve backed both at 8/1 and 14/1 respectively.

A cracking first day of the National meeting. I hope you enjoy and backed plenty of winners!

I’m off to the Premier League darts at the Brighton Centre tonight which should be cracking fun!

Be lucky!

MG