TV Tips for Saturday April 14th 2018

Post race update: we started today with a deficit on the TV tips of £21.32. Profit on today’s bets was £16.20, so we’ve done not too bad with the price of our TV racing entertainment since January 1st being £5.12. That’s about it for the Jumps season. I’ll be back tipping on the final weekend, what used to be the Whitbread meeting, and will decide after that what to do blogwise. It’s likely I keep the main tips section (recommended bets) going but we will see.

All the best.

Joe

It seems to have passed quickly, but I prefer the three days of the Aintree Festival to the four days at Cheltenham, at least as far as structure is concerned. Anyway, here we are on Grand National day; let’s try to get back in front for 2018 with the blog’s TV tips.

2.25

There are two potential hotpots here vying for short-priced favouritism, but I’d much sooner have an each way bet on Western Ryder as well as a win saver on the Skelton mare Momella. Dan Skelton had planned to keep Momella for Fairyhouse next week. He’s also on record as not wanting to risk her in really soft ground. I can only assume that with Fairyhouse likely to be heavy, he has chosen to take his chance here since she’ll get the 7lbs mare’s allowance from the others, and I’d expect to see money in the market for her. The other one, Western Ryder has been running really well this season and last time in the Supreme finished as though this trip and track – especially with the long straight – would suit well. He beat Friday’s winner Lalor earlier this season and I think he will go very close in this.

Western Ryder EW 8/1 and Momella to win 11/1

………………………………………..

3.00

At first glance it seems folly to take on Petit Mouchoir, a very classy hurdler and a horse I fancied to beat Footpad at the Festival. Petit Mouchoir pretty much lost all chance at Cheltenham by taking on St Calvados in a pounding battle of front running, and Davy Russell will be keen to avoid another nose to nose for the lead here with Shantou Rock. At the prices it’s worth taking a chance with the unexposed mare Lady Buttons. Her trainer Philip Kirby seems determined to win a good handicap hurdle with her, but her racing demeanour suggests to me that she is an awful lot happier pinging fences then hurdles. She could surprise Petit Mouchoir.

Lady Buttons  7/1

………………………..

3.40

A fascinating race where a number of horses catch the eye. I’ll go fo ran EW bet on Hammersly Lake who looks to me twice the price he should be. The reason for this is probably that it’s the farthest he’s run over and the softest ground he’s experienced for a long time. But I think this horse improved for a change of scenery. He moved from Nicky Henderson to Charlie Longsdon almost a year ago and, in his next three outings, bettered all previous Racing Post Ratings. He then went to the USA for a £200,000 steeplechase where he was beaten under 5 lengths.  This is his first run since and I think he could surprise a few.

Hammersly Lake EW 40/1

…………………………………………

4.20

Sam Spinner is a short price based on his early season form and on the assumption that his jockey didn’t press on with him at Cheltenham and make it a full stamina test. Young Colliver will be under pressure to make amends here and is likely to be taken on up front – for a while at least – by Coole Cody. All in all, things might not be straightforward. I like Old Guard but I suspect the ground, trip and pace will combine to see him fail. The one who appeals strongly value-wise is Identity Thief. He’s such a long price because this is the farthest he’s tried by quite some way. He’s usually campaigned at 2 miles at pretty much top level (he was 4th in the Champion Hurdle last time) so this is a big trip increase. But he’ll handle the ground and is a classy animal who should have a fine chance of making the first three.

Identity Thief  EW 22/1

………………………………………….

5.15

This is the big one and I can do nothing more than relist the three selections posted as recommended tips already.

Milansbar  33/1

Virgilio  80/1

Final Nudge  50/1

 

NB The prices I list above are taken from Oddschecker. Depending on when you read the blog and place your bet, those prices might have changed. You can check current prices here

 

Enjoy the racing and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.

Joe

 

 

 

 

Grand National Chat and Aintree Bits and Pieces

63 go forward for Saturday’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree, with Katie Walsh keen on Baie Des Iles

Dateline Monday, 10 April 2018

Ante-post joint-favourite Blaklion headlines 63 entries eager to take part in Aintree’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14 – the 171st running – following today’s five-day confirmation stage.

Staged over four and a quarter miles and 30 fences, the Randox Health Grand National is the world’s greatest and richest chase – the culmination of Aintree’s three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival.

Katie Walsh is keenly anticipating partnering Baie Des Iles (10st 7lb, 33/1 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival) in Saturday’s £1-million contest.

Trained by Walsh’s husband Ross O’Sullivan in Ireland, the seven-year-old grey mare was a fine third behind subsequent Irish Grand National fourth Folsom Blue in a Grand National trial at Punchestown in February.

Amateur rider Walsh, a Randox Health Grand National Festival Ambassador for the fourth time in 2018, achieved the highest-ever finish by a female jockey in the Aintree spectacular when third aboard Seabass, trained by her father Ted, in 2012. She has completed the course on four of her five Grand National rides.

Walsh said this afternoon: “Baie Des Iles is really well at home and we are very much looking forward to Saturday.

“She did a nice piece of work towards the end of last week and everything has gone smoothly with her.

“We’re hoping that she will take to the fences and she is a really solid jumper. She ran plenty of times in France over different obstacles and her jumping is one of her biggest assets.

“She has jumped well in all of her races and she is neat and accurate over her fences. She doesn’t jump them too high and measures her fences nicely.

“She ran a cracker at Punchestown on her last start. I wasn’t overly hard on her and she was carrying a lot of weight. The form took a boost with the two horses in front of her running well in the Irish National last week (Isleofhopeanddreams 2nd and Folsom Blue 4th).

“It’s always very difficult to have a horse for the Grand National, but she has an attractive profile and is relatively unexposed.

“She has plenty of form on heavy ground, but she has a good action and I think better ground wouldn’t be too much of an issue either.

“We’re counting down the days now, but it’s going to be a great experience and I’m looking forward to riding in the race again and especially for Ross.

“There is so much luck involved in a Grand National. It can depend on where you’ve been positioned throughout the race or whether you’re behind a horse who doesn’t jump well. There are a lot of variable involved.

“Every runner has a chance of winning the Grand National – you just do not know what is going to happen. We’re really excited about Baie Des Iles and it will be great to be a part of the race again – I’m really looking forward to it.

“Zorka Wentworth [owner] has been a great supporter of the yard who loves the game of National Hunt racing, so she’s also looking forward to the experience.”

Last year’s fourth Blaklion (11st 9lb), one of four entries for dual Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, was a decisive nine-length winner over The Last Samuri (Kim Bailey, 11st 7lb, 16/1) in the G3 Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase (3m 2f) over the Grand National fences at Aintree on December 9.

The Gloucestershire-based trainer is also hoping to run Double Ross (10st 5lb, 100/1), Splash Of Ginge (10st, 66/1) and Cogry (10st, 100/1), although it is doubtful whether the last two will get in the final field of 40, plus four reserves, revealed on Thursday morning.

Blaklion was second under top-weight on his latest start in the Betfred Grand National Trial Handicap Chase on heavy ground at Haydock Park on February 17, and has since had a wind operation.

He is the 10/1 joint-favourite with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, as he attempts to provide Twiston-Davies with a third winner following the victories of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).

Another 10/1 joint favourite is the Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall (11st 4lb), who was staying-on when falling at the third last in the G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March, having landed the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December.

Ireland’s champion Jump trainer Mullins, successful in the Randox Health Grand National with Hedgehunter in 2005, has two other entries going forward courtesy of Pleasant Company (10st 10lb, 33/1), 10th in last year’s renewal, and Children’s List (10st 7lb, 66/1).

Gordon Elliott, winner of the Grand National with Silver Birch (2007) in his first season with a training licence, is responsible for the third 10/1 joint-favourite, Tiger Roll (10st 12lb), who became the sixth horse to win three different races at the Cheltenham Festival following his success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase last month.

Elliott, who beat Mullins eight to seven in the number of winners sent out at the Cheltenham Festival, is also likely to be represented by Ucello Conti (10st 9lb, 25/1), who was sixth in the 2016 Grand National before unseating his rider at the 22nd fence in last year’s renewal. He is also responsible for Bless The Wings (10st 5lb, 50/1) and the recent Irish Grand National winner General Principle (10st 1lb, 33/1).

Britain’s current champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson is set to be represented by Gold Present (11st 3lb, 22/1), a three-length winner of a Listed handicap chase at Ascot on December 23, who had an issue when pulled up in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Colin Tizzard’s The Dutchman (10st 10lb, 28/1), was an impressive winner of the G2 Peter Marsh Chase on heavy ground at Haydock over an extended three miles and one furlong on January 20, in which Captain Redbeard (Stuart Coltherd, 10st 6lb, 33/1) was 13 lengths behind in second.

The Dutchman burst a blood vessel when pulled up in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in February, but assistant trainer Joe Tizzard reports the eight-year-old son of King’s Theatre to be in fine fettle.

Tizzard reported today: “The Dutchman is in good form. We took him down to David Pipe’s for a school on Friday morning over the Grand National trial fences and Harry Cobden rode him and the horse jumped well.

“He burst a blood vessel on his last run and came home all wrong. It is not something he is prone to do, so hopefully that’s sorted.

“He will handle the ground well if it does turn up soft, and he won well on heavy ground at Haydock in January, while he is not totally exposed.”

A maximum of 40 runners can line up at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14 for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National. The final declaration stage is at 10.00am on Thursday, April 12. The declared runners, plus a maximum of four reserves, will be known shortly after this time.

Reserves come into the race if there are any withdrawals among the 40 declared runners prior to 1.00pm on Friday, April 13.

The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree runs from Thursday, April 12 to Saturday, April 14.

Seeyoumidnight purchased by Patricia Thompson

The Sandy Thomson-trained Seeyouatmidnight (10st 11lb), currently a 16/1 shot with Betway for the Randox Health Grand National, has been bought by Patricia Thompson ahead of Saturday’s race.

This has been a successful tactic for Thompson, who owns Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket with her husband David, in the past as she bought Party Politics from owner-breeder David Stoddart days before the gelding won the 1992 running of the world’s greatest chase.

The owner has tried to repeat this feat on several occasions, but has been out of luck in recent years.

Last year, she purchased Le Mercurey (who finished 12th) and Highland Lodge (pulled up before the final fence) in the days leading up to the Randox Health Grand National and then snapped up Just A Par (who finished 14th and ran in the colours of the Thompsons’ son, Richard) at the Goffs UK Aintree Horses-in-Training Sale at the racecourse after racing on the first day of the meeting, Grand National Thursday.

Prior to the 2010 Randox Health Grand National, Thompson purchased the well-fancied Character Building, who went on to be seventh under leading amateur rider Nina Carberry, a total of 37 lengths adrift of the A P McCoy-ridden winner Don’t Push It. Both Character Building and Carberry returned the following year for another crack at the race, but could only finish 15th behind the Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs.

Seeyouatmidnight has faced a race against in time in order to qualify for this year’s Randox Health Grand National.

The 10-year-old, who previously ran in the colours of Sandy Thomson’s wife Quona, needed to run in a chase this season, but several abandoned meetings had frustrated the Scottish-based trainer in his attempt to get Seeyouatmidnight to meet the qualifying criteria.

However, the horse eventually managed to qualify for the Randox Health Grand National following a run at Newbury on March 24, when he finished third under top-weight in a handicap chase over two and a half miles, Seeyouatmidnight’s first outing for a year following wind surgery.

Seeyouatmidnight beat another one of his rivals on Saturday, Regal Encore (10st 12lb, 33/1), when making a successful debut under Rules at 66/1 in a Hexham novice (under Randox Health Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania) in December, 2013 and he went on the same season to land the G2 Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.

As a novice over fences, he beat Blaklion, the 10/1 current joint-favourite for this year’s Randox Health Grand National, in the G2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham in 2016 and, the following season, he had the measure of subsequent G1 winner Bristol De Mai in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.

Betway keeping an eye on Fly

Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, cannot split 10/1 shots Blaklion, Tiger Roll and Total Recall at the head of the market for Saturday’s £1-million Randox Health Grand National following this afternoon’s five-day confirmation stage.

The trio have been at the head of Betway’s ante-post book for some time now, with Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Anibale Fly next in the betting at 11/1 following his fine effort at The Festival last month.

Top-weight Minella Rocco is next at 16/1, alongside Seeyouatmidnight, just purchased by Randox Health Grand National winning-owner Patricia Thompson, and The Last Samuri, who finished second behind Rule The World in the 2016 running of the world’s greatest chase.

“At the moment, it’s looking like one of Blaklion, Tiger Roll, Total Recall or Anibale Fly will go off as favourite for this year’s Grand National but, as we’ve seen many times over the years, this can all change in the run-up to Saturday – especially with an unsettled weather forecast over the next few days,” said Betway’s Alan Alger.

“However, it will be interesting to see if there is any further support for Anibale Fly over the next few days after it was confirmed that Barry Geraghty will be on board on Saturday and it’s not inconceivable that he joins the current co-favourites of three at the head of the market in the next 48 hours.”

Randox Health Grand National – NRNB – Betway bet: 10/1 Blaklion, Tiger Roll, Total Recall; 11/1 Anibale Fly; 16/1 Minella Rocco, Seeyouatmidnight, The Last Samuri; 22/1 Gold Present; 25/1 Gas Line Boy, I Just Know, Ucello Conti; 28/1 The Dutchman, Vieux Lion Rouge; 33/1 Baie Des Iles, Captain Redbeard, General Principle, Milansbar, Pleasant Company, Regal Encore, Shantou Flyer, Vicente, Vintage Clouds; 40/1 Alpha Des Obeaux, Raz De Maree, Saint Are; 50/1 Bless The Wings, Buywise, Carlingford Lough, Final Nudge, Valseur Lido, Warriors Tale; 66/1 Bonny Kate, Braqueur d’Or, Chase The Spud, Childrens List, Delusionofgrandeur, Houblon Des Obeaux, Lord Windermere, Pendra, Perfect Candidate, Road to Riches, Splash of Ginge, The Young Master, Thunder And Roses, Walk In The Mill; 80/1 Virgilio; 100/1 Beeves, Cogry, Double Ross, Maggio, Minella Daddy, Mysteree, Phils Magic, Relentless Dreamer, Rouge Angel, Sir Mangan, Tenor Nivernais, Wounded Warrior; 125/1 Alfie Spinner, Henry Parry Morgan, Out Sam; 150/1 Dancing Shadow, Krackatoa King.
1/5 the odds 1-2-3-4-5

Randox Health Grand National: First Fence Fallers – Betway bet: 8/15 At least one horse to fall or unseat at the 1st fence; 11/8 All runners to jump the first fence safely

Randox Health Grand National: Winning Distance – Betway bet: 15/8 Under Three Lengths; 6/4 Three to Nine Lengths inclusive; 2/1 Over Nine Lengths.

Randox Health Grand National: Number of Finishers – Betway bet: 6/4 Under 16 Finishers; 16-18 horses (inc) to finish; 2/1 Over 18 horses to finish.

Randox Health Grand National: Age of Winner – Betway bet: 2/1 7 or 8 year-old; 7/4 9-year-old; 5/2 10-year-old; 3/1 11-year-old or older.

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 11/10Irish Trained Winner

Randox Health Grand National: Winning Weight – Betway bet: 15/8 10st 7lb or less; 9/4 10st – 10st 11lb inclusive; 11/8 10st 12lb or more.

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 6/1 J P McManus-owned Winner

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 6/4 to be a False Start

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 20/1 Female-trained Winner

Randox Health Grand National: Special – Betway bet: 7/1 Gordon Elliott-trained Winner

Going news

Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch reported it had been dry for 36 hours at 5pm today. He described today’s weather at Aintree as being bright and breezy and amended the going descriptions for all courses this afternoon.

He said: “We have showers and drizzle forecast on and off through to Saturday. The courses have been drying, but whether that continues depends on the quantity of rain we receive.”

Mildmay course – Good to Soft (from Good to Soft, Soft in places)
Hurdle course- Good to Soft, Soft in places stands’ side (Soft, Good to Soft in places)
Grand National course – Soft, Good to Soft in places (Soft)

GoingStick readings at noon today – Mildmay 6.2, Hurdle 5.9 and National 5.

Forecast
Tuesday – rain clearing mid-morning – 3mm. Thereafter, mainly dry with brighter spells, breezy, 12C.
Wednesday – cloudy & breezy with drizzle overnight, 13C.
Thursday – dry with sunny spells. Rain overnight – 2mm, 12C.
Friday – cloudy, showers through afternoon, 12C.
Saturday – cloudy am, showers pm, 12C.

Three Grade Ones to whet the appetite

Saturday’s racing at Aintree isn’t all about the world’s most famous chase, the £1-million Randox Health Grand National. There are three Grade One races before the day’s feature, starting with the £100,000 Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2.25pm, 25 entries) run over two miles and four furlongs.

This year’s renewal includes Black Op (Tom George), who was second in the G1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival to Samcro on soft ground, having previously finished second in a G2 Novices’ Hurdle in January on heavy ground.

Claimantakinforgan (Nicky Henderson), fifth in the G1 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival, is a G2 winner this term, having landed the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot in December on soft ground, and is looking to improve on his Cheltenham showing. Another runner in the Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham was Lostintranslation (Colin Tizard), who came home seventh.

The Alan Spence-owned and Nicky Henderson-trained On The Blind Side remains unbeaten after three runs under Rules and a maiden point-to-point victory in Ireland. Sold for £205,000 after his point-to-point success, at the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham January sale, the Stowaway gelding has registered two G2 victories.

The £100,000 G1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (3.00pm, 12 entries) over two miles has attracted the Nicky Henderson-trained Brain Power, who was second to Footpad in the G1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase on heavy going at The Festival and is the highest rated (155) in the race.

Cyrname won the G2 Pendil Chase at Kempton last time out. The Nickname gelding is trained by Paul Nicholls, who won this race with San Benedeto last year.

Petit Mouchoir , third in the G1 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase, is also entered in the G1 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase. The Henry de Bromhead-trained chaser finished second in a G1 at Leopardstown after taking a beginners’ chase at Punchestown on yielding to soft ground in October, 2017.

The final G1 on Saturday is the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (4.20pm, 13 entries), run over three miles and half a furlong. Sam Spinner, trained Jedd O’Keeffe for owners Caron and Paul Chapman, is looking to improve on his fifth in the G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

He has to turn around the form with the Cheltenham second and third, Supasundae (Jessica Harrington IRE) and Wholestone (Nigel Twiston-Davies).

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star The New One, who had a disappointing first try at three miles in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle when 12th, also looks to bounce back into form.

The Randox Health Grand National
Grade 3 handicap chase, £1 million total prize fund. Aintree, 5.15pm Saturday, April 14, 2018. 4m 2f 74yds over the Grand National fences. For seven-year-olds and upwards which, have started in a chase during the current season and who, up to and including March 19, have been placed first, second, third or fourth in a steeple chase with an official distance description of’ two miles seven and a half furlongs’ or more and which are allotted a rating of 125 or more by the BHA Head of Handicapping following a review of the horses entered and after taking account of races run up to and including February 11. Horses which are not qualified for a rating in Great Britain or Ireland at closing may also be entered. Such horses may be eligible for a weight providing the Handicapper is satisfied that the horse’s racecourse performances up to and including February 11 would merit a minimum rating of 125. Entries closes January 30, entries revealed January 31 (105 entries), weights revealed February 13 (104 go forward – 1 not qualified), first scratchings deadline February 27 (90 entries remained), second scratchings deadline March 20 (73 entries remained), five-day confirmations April 9 (63 confirmations), final declarations 10am April 12. Maximum field of 40 plus four reserves.

Horse
Age
Wgt
Owner
Trainer
1)
MINELLA ROCCO (IRE)
8
11-10
J P McManus
Jonjo O’Neill
2)
BLAKLION
9
11-09
Simon Such & Gino Paletta
Nigel Twiston-Davies
3)
ANIBALE FLY (FR)
8
11-07
J P McManus
Tony Martin IRE
4)
THE LAST SAMURI (IRE)
10
11-07
Paul & Clare Rooney
Kim Bailey
5)
VALSEUR LIDO (FR)
9
11-06
Gigginstown House Stud
Henry de Bromhead IRE
6)
TOTAL RECALL (IRE)
9
11-04
Slaneyville Syndicate
Willie Mullins IRE
7)
ALPHA DES OBEAUX (FR)
8
11-03
Gigginstown House Stud
Mouse Morris IRE
8)
GOLD PRESENT (IRE)
8
11-03
John & Barbara Cotton
Nicky Henderson
9)
PERFECT CANDIDATE (IRE)
11
11-02
ISL Recruitment
Fergal O’Brien
10)
SHANTOU FLYER (IRE)
8
11-01
Carl Hinchy
Richard Hobson

11)
TENOR NIVERNAIS (FR)
11
11-00
Boultbee Brooks Ltd
Venetia Williams
12)
CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE)
12
11-00
J P McManus
John Kiely IRE
13)
VICENTE (FR)
9
10-13
Trevor Hemmings
Paul Nicholls
14)
TIGER ROLL (IRE)
8
10-12
Gigginstown House Stud
Gordon Elliott IRE
15)
REGAL ENCORE (IRE)
10
10-12
J P McManus
Anthony Honeyball
16)
VIEUX LION ROUGE (FR)
9
10-12
Prof Caroline Tisdall & John Gent
David Pipe
17)
CHASE THE SPUD
10
10-11
Christine Banks
Fergal O’Brien
18)
WARRIORS TALE
9
10-11
Trevor Hemmings
Paul Nicholls
19)
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT
10
10-11
Patricia Thompson
Sandy Thomson
20)
GAS LINE BOY (IRE)
12
10-10
The Three Graces
Ian Williams

21)
THE DUTCHMAN (IRE)
8
10-10
SprayClad UK
Colin Tizzard
22)
PLEASANT COMPANY (IRE)
10
10-10
Malcolm Denmark
Willie Mullins IRE
23)
UCELLO CONTI (FR)
10
10-09
Simon Munir/Isaac Souede
Gordon Elliott IRE
24)
SAINT ARE (FR)
12
10-09
David Fox
Tom George
25)
BEEVES (IRE)
11
10-09
Paul & Clare Rooney
Jennie Candlish
26)
RAZ DE MAREE (FR)
13
10-08
James Swan
Gavin Cromwell IRE
27)
I JUST KNOW (IRE)
8
10-07
Michael Scholey & the late Ray Scholey
Sue Smith
28)
VIRGILIO (FR)
9
10-07
C J Edwards, D Futter, A H Rushworth
Dan Skelton
29)
BAIE DES ILES (FR)
7
10-07
Zorka Wentworth
Ross O’Sullivan IRE
30)
MAGGIO (FR)
13
10-07
Douglas Pryde/James Beaumont
Patrick Griffin IRE

31)
PENDRA (IRE)
10
10-07
J P McManus
Charlie Longsdon
32)
BUYWISE (IRE)
11
10-07
T Hywel Jones
Evan Williams
33)
CHILDRENS LIST (IRE)
8
10-07
Susannah Ricci
Willie Mullins IRE
34)
LORD WINDERMERE (IRE)
12
10-06
Dr Ronan Lambe
Jim Culloty IRE
35)
CAPTAIN REDBEARD (IRE)
9
10-06
Stuart Coltherd
Stuart Coltherd
36)
HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (FR)
11
10-06
Mrs Julian Blackwell
Venetia Williams
37)
BLESS THE WINGS (IRE)
13
10-05
Adrian Butler/S P O’Connor
Gordon Elliott IRE
38)
MILANSBAR (IRE)
11
10-05
Robert Bothway
Neil King
39)
FINAL NUDGE (IRE)
9
10-05
Corbett Stud
David Dennis
40)
DOUBLE ROSS (IRE)
12
10-05
Options O Syndicate
Nigel Twiston-Davies

41)
ROAD TO RICHES (IRE)
11
10-04
Gigginstown House Stud
Noel Meade IRE
42)
THUNDER AND ROSES (IRE)
10
10-04
Gigginstown House Stud
Mouse Morris IRE
43)
DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR (IRE)
8
10-04
McGoldrick Racing 3
Sue Smith
44)
WALK IN THE MILL (FR)
8
10-03
Baroness Harding
Robert Walford
45)
VINTAGE CLOUDS (IRE)
8
10-03
Trevor Hemmings
Sue Smith
46)
WOUNDED WARRIOR (IRE)
9
10-01
Gigginstown House Stud
Noel Meade IRE
47)
GENERAL PRINCIPLE (IRE)
9
10-01
Gigginstown House Stud
Gordon Elliott IRE
48)
SPLASH OF GINGE
10
10-00
John Neild
Nigel Twiston-Davies
49)
BONNY KATE (IRE)
8
10-00
Patricia Hunt
Noel Meade IRE
50)
COGRY
9
10-00
Graham and Alison Jelley
Nigel Twiston-Davies

51)
SIR MANGAN (IRE)
10
10-00
Frank McAleavy
Dan Skelton
52)
MYSTEREE (IRE)
10
10-00
Lynne Maclennan
Michael Scudamore
53)
MINELLA DADDY (IRE)
8
9-13
Roddy Owen & Paul Fullagar
Peter Bowen
54)
BRAQUEUR D’OR (FR)
7
9-13
Corsellis & Seyfried
Paul Nicholls
55)
RELENTLESS DREAMER (IRE)
9
9-13
Nigel Morris
Rebecca Curtis
56)
THE YOUNG MASTER
9
9-11
Mike Burbidge & The Old Masters
Neil Mulholland
57)
HENRI PARRY MORGAN
10
9-09
Ednyfed & Elizabeth Morgan
Peter Bowen
58)
PHIL’S MAGIC (IRE)
8
9-09
Lyreen Syndicate
Tony Martin IRE
59)
ALFIE SPINNER (IRE)
13
9-09
Alan Beard & Brian Beard
Kerry Lee
60)
DANCING SHADOW (IRE)
9
9-08
The Dancing Shadows
Victor Dartnall

61)
ROGUE ANGEL (IRE)
10
9-08
Gigginstown House Stud
Mouse Morris IRE
62)
OUT SAM
9
9-06
D Charlesworth
Gordon Elliott IRE
63)
KRACKATOA KING
10
9-03
J C Harrison Lee & T Howard Partnership
Kerry Lee

63 five-day confirmations
22 Irish-trained

THE RANDOX HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL

Grand National Thursday – Thursday, April 12, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
2.20pm Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £190,000
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase (GNC) 2m 5f £45,000
4.40pm Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m £90,000
5.15pm Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £820,000

Ladies Day – Friday, April 13, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 4f £75,000
2.20pm Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £100,000
3.25pm JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) GNC 2m 5f £140,000
4.40pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £100,000
5.15pm Weatherbys Private Bank Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £810,000

Grand National Day – Saturday, April 14, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m ½f £75,000
2.25pm Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
3.00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m £100,000
3.40pm Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £75,000
4.20pm Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £180,000
5.15pm Randox Health Grand National (Grade 3) GNC 4m 2½f £1,000,000
6.20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional & Amateur Jockeys) 2m ½f £50,000

TOTAL £1,580,000

MEETING TOTAL £3,210,000

For further information, please contact:
Grant Rowley, Regional Communications Manager, The Jockey Club (North West) on 07884 655990 email: grant.rowley@thejockeyclub.co.uk
or
Nigel Payne, Press Officer for Aintree for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National, on 07768 025265 email: nigel@earthsummit.demon.co.uk

About Aintree Racecourse / The Jockey Club

Aintree is home to The Randox Health Grand National, the most famous horse race in the world which is the climax to a three-day Festival meeting in April every year. The racecourse hosts five other fixtures and is a leading conference centre in the north west of England.
More information is available at aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk

Aintree is part of The Jockey Club which stages thrilling sporting occasions including The Randox Health Grand National, The Cheltenham Festival and The Investec Derby. Millions of people every year enjoy the special experiences we offer through racing, music, food and entertainment. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny we make goes back into British Racing to help the sport thrive. We were founded in 1750 and today we are the largest commercial group in Britain’s second-biggest spectator sport, operating 15 racecourses nationwide, The National Stud, Jockey Club Estates, Jockey Club Catering, Jockey Club Live and our charity, Racing Welfare.
For more information visit http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk

 

Key entries for Aintree on Friday

Courtesy of my friends at Racenews:

Saturday, April 7, 2018 – The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival continues on Ladies Day, Friday, April 13, when the highlight is the £250,000 G1 JLT Melling Chase (3.25pm – 13 entries) over two and a half miles, with the entries and confirmations for the exciting and high-class seven-race card revealed today.

Entries for the JLT Melling Chase include star two-mile chaser Altior (4/5 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival), winner of the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at last month’s Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Nicky Henderson, who has also entered L’Ami Serge and Top Notch, has yet to decide whether to step unbeaten chaser Altior up in trip at Aintree or wait until Punchestown or Sandown later in the month.

Ireland has a strong hand, with Min (Willie Mullins), runner-up to Altior at Cheltenham, and Balko Des Flos (Henry de Bromhead), winner of the G1 Ryanair Chase over two miles and five furlongs at the Cheltenham Festival.

Somerset trainer Paul Nicholls can choose between Politologue, fourth to Altior at Cheltenham, Frodon, fifth to Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase, and Grand Annual winner Le Prezien.

The Yorkshire-trained Cloudy Dream (Ruth Jefferson), very consistent this season, has to make up some ground on Balko Des Flos, having finished third, beaten just over 12 lengths last month.

There are three further G1 contests on Ladies Day, all for novices, starting with the £100,000 Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (2.20pm) over an extended two miles, in which the Henderson-trained four-year-old Apple’s Shakira is engaged after she finished fourth when favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle has attracted a very healthy 25-strong entry and the leading contenders also include Cheltenham Festival fifth Claimantakinforgan (Nicky Henderson), hat-trick seeking Global Citizen (Ben Pauling) and Cheltenham second Style De Garde (Nicky Henderson) while Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard has a talented trio to choose from – Slate House, Storm House and Vision Des Flos.

The £100,000 Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2.50pm, 14 entries) over three miles and a furlong sees another potential Henderson-trained favourite in Terrefort, who finished second in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

But it will be no easy task with talented mares Mia’s Storm (Alan King) and Ms Parfois (|Anthony Honeyball), plus the Lizzie Kelly-ridden Coo Star Sivola, another Cheltenham Festival winner, and the Bryony Frost-partnered Black Corton potential opponents.

The £100,000 Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (4.40pm, 25 entries) over an extended three miles could be another to go the way of a Henderson-trained contender since he has a strong hand with unbeaten On The Blind Side, Cheltenham Festival second and third OK Corral and Santini, and Chef Des Obeaux.

Gloucestershire-based trainer Fergal O’Brien is hopeful of a good performance from Mystifiable (9st 9lb) if he gets run in the £140,000 G3 Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (4.05pm, 2m 5f) over the Grand National fences, for which he is one of 44 entries going forward.

Mystifiable is 41 or 42 on the list at the moment depending on the latest handicap ratings issued on Tuesday, with a maximum field of 30 allowed to take part, though plenty of those remaining in the race have other options during the Randox Health Grand National Festival.

The 10-year-old son of Kayf Tara was a creditable fourth over course and distance in the 188Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree in December on heavy ground behind Randox Health Grand National contender and fellow Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase entry Gas Line Boy (11st 3lb, 16/1).

Leading approaching the final fence, Mystifiable faded to finish 24 lengths behind the winner.

His first appearance since then came at Newbury on March 24, when he finished third over an extended two miles in a handicap chase.

Victorious three times over fences, at trips of two and half miles or over, O’Brien’s charge latest success came in a handicap chase at Perth nearly a year ago.

Mystifiable is a 33/1 chance with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National, for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.

O’Brien said: “Mystifiable is in good form at home and is set to run in the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.

“He ran well at Newbury last time and he has come out of that race in good form. He has just got slightly outpaced over the shorter trip there, but back over this trip, he will be able to make use of his speed.

“He is progressing nicely and his fourth over the Grand National fences in December is good form.

“He proved that day that he liked conditions and we’re looking forward to running him back over the fences.

“We don’t school our horses over Grand National-type fences, but he jumps very well, so that isn’t an issue.

“He goes there with a good chance and we’ve been happy with him. Ground conditions will play a factor as he is a better horse in the spring on decent ground.

“He was fourth at Aintree on heavy ground, but we will just have to see what the weather does and how much rain they get at Liverpool.

“If he gets into the race, he should have a nice racing weight, so hopefully he will run well.”

Top-weight Shantou Flyer (11st 12lb, 16/1) is an intended runner in the £1-million Randox Health Grand National, with emerging star 17-year-old James Bowen in the saddle, on Saturday, April 14, with the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase or the £190,000 G1 Betway Bowl Chase (Grand National Thursday, April 12) only options if the ground is bottomless.

His defection would see the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase weights raised at least 5lb, bringing Mystifiable into the handicap proper.

Next in the weights is 11-year-old Devils Bride (11st 7lb, 40/1), trained in Ireland for Gigginstown House Stud by Henry de Bromhead, who has not run since October when tailed off in a handicap chase over the Mildmay course fences at Aintree.

Double Treasure (11st 5lb, 33/1), trained by Jamie Snowden for Arsenal FC chairman Sir Chips Keswick, is an intended runner and was put through his paces over the Grand National schooling fences in Lambourn earlier this week. The seven-year-old, who jumped well then, last appeared in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, but was unsuited by the soft ground and finished seventh. He won his previous four races.

O O Seven (11st 5lb, 10/1 favourite) represents trainer Nicky Henderson who has the best record of any trainer in the history of the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase, with five wins – Won’t Be Gone Long (1990), Liberthine (2006), Triolo D’Alene (2013), Ma Filleule (2014) and Rajdhani Express (2015). Eight-year-old O O Seven finished an excellent fourth in this race last year to the Ultragold (Colin Tizzard 10st 10lb, 20/1) and is 7lb better off.

The 12/1 second favourite for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase with Betway is Theatre Territory (Warren Greatrex, 10st 1lb), owned by Cheltenham Racecourse chairman Robert Waley-Cohen, and the mount of his amateur-rider son Sam, who will be relieved if the weights do go up.

Eight-year-old Theatre Territory has been a model of consistency in five starts so far this season, with her best efforts coming when second to both Ms Parfois and Mister Whitaker in competitive handicap chases at Cheltenham in December and January respectively.

On her latest outing, she ran another game race to finish third in the G3 Betdaq Handicap Chase at Kempton Park on February 24, her first attempt over three miles.

Sam Waley-Cohen is the most successful current rider over the Grand National fences at Aintree, having enjoyed six victories, including three successes in the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase on Katarino (2005 & 2006) and Warne (2014). He has also registered two wins in the Randox Health Topham Chase aboard Liberthine (2006) and Rajdhani Express (2015). The closest he has come to winning the Randox Health Grand National in eight rides was in 2011 when he was runner-up on Oscar Time, owned by his father and trained in Ireland by Martin Lynch. The same horse went on to land the Randox Health Becher Chase over the Grand National course in 2014.

The other two races on Ladies Day are the opening G3 Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (1.45pm, 2m 4f) which has attracted 60 entries, while the final race is the G2 Weatherbys Private Bank National Hunt Flat Race (5.15pm, 2m 1f) with 33 entries.

Fergal O’Brien could be doubly represented in the £1-million Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 14, courtesy of Perfect Candidate (11st 2lb, 66/1) and Chase The Spud (10st 11lb, 50/1).

Perfect Candidate was the neck winner under top-weight at Cheltenham in the G3 BetVictor.com Handicap Chase over an extended three miles and three furlongs in November and finished fifth to Definitly Red on his latest outing in the G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at the same course in January.

O’Brien reported: “Perfect Candidate is in good form at home and he looks set to definitely take his chance in the Randox Health Grand National.

“He handles most ground and he has enjoyed another good season, highlighted by his victory at Cheltenham in November.

“He stays and is a sound jumper and whilst he hasn’t had the ideal preparation, everything has been good, touch wood, with him in the last couple of weeks.

“He was entered at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ultima Handicap Chase, but we didn’t go there and thankfully he has been well since.”

Chase The Spud was a six-length winner at Haydock on his first start of the season over an extended three miles and one furlong in November, but has been pulled up in two subsequent starts since, in the Welsh National at Chepstow in January and the Eider Chase at Newcastle over an extended four miles on February 24.

The Alflora gelding enjoyed the biggest success of his career last season in the 2017 Betfred Midlands National at Uttoxeter.

O’Brien continued: “The ground is very important for Chase The Spud, so we won’t make a decision on whether he runs in the Grand National until closer to the races.

“He is a horse who really enjoys soft ground, so we’ll have to wait on the weather before making a decision. Conditions seem to be soft up there currently, so we’ll see what happens in the next week or so.

“We’ll decide on jockeys closer to the race.”

THE RANDOX HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL

Grand National Thursday – Thursday, April 12, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
2.20pm Doom Bar Anniversary 4YO Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £190,000
3.25pm Betway Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase (GNC) 2m 5f £45,000
4.40pm Red Rum Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 2m £90,000
5.15pm Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £820,000

Ladies Day – Friday, April 13, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 2m 4f £75,000
2.20pm Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m ½f £100,000
2.50pm Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f £100,000
3.25pm JLT Melling Chase (Grade 1) 2m 4f £250,000
4.05pm Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) GNC 2m 5f £140,000
4.40pm Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £100,000
5.15pm Weatherbys Private Bank Standard Open NH Flat Race (Grade 2) 2m 1f £45,000

TOTAL £810,000

Grand National Day – Saturday, April 14, 2018

Time Race Distance Prize Money
1.45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m ½f £75,000
2.25pm Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4f £100,000
3.00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 2m £100,000
3.40pm Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £75,000
4.20pm Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m ½f £180,000
5.15pm Randox Health Grand National (Grade 3) GNC 4m 2½f £1,000,000
6.20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional & Amateur Jockeys) 2m ½f £50,000

TOTAL £1,580,000

MEETING TOTAL £3,210,000

Thursday Entries for Aintree 2018

Courtesy of my friends at Racenews:

Buveur D’Air, Might Bite and Balko Des Flos among stars on course for Grand National Thursday

Friday, April 6, 2018 – The 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival commences at Aintree in tremendous style next week on Grand National Thursday, April 12, with four G1 contests headed by the £250,000 Betway Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm) over two and a half miles.

Star hurdler Buveur D’Air (Nicky Henderson) headlines the 16 entries after bravely defending his Unibet Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham last month, when he repelled Melon by a neck in a thrilling finish.

Buveur D’Air rounded off last season with a five-length victory over stable mate My Tent Or Yours, now 11, in the 2017 Betway Aintree Hurdle and has the chance to join horses such as Monksfield and Morley Street as back-to-back winners of the race.

Supasundae (Jessica Harrington IRE), winner of the G1 Irish Champion Hurdle in February, is set to drop back in distance after beating all bar Penhill in the three-mile G1 Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

There are two other entries from Ireland in the shape of the mercurial Yorkhill (Willie Mullins IRE) and Identity Thief (Henry de Bromhead), while Auteuil G3 scorer Izzo could line up for France-based handler Carina Fey.

Popular 10-year-old hurdler The New One (Nigel Twiston-Davies) won the 2014 running of the Betway Aintree Hurdle and is entered again.

Betway Aintree Hurdle – odds from Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival

8/13 Buveur d’Air
3/1 Supasundae
10/1 L’Ami Serge, My Tent Or Yours, The New One
16/1 Identity Thief, Yorkhill
25/1 Old Guard
33/1 Clyne, Izzo, Verdana Blue
40/1 Air Horse One
50/1 Charli Parcs , Cyrus Darius, Diakali
66/1 Spiritofthegames

Might Bite (Nicky Henderson), runner-up to Native River in last month’s G1 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, is on course for a mouth-watering clash with impressive G1 Ryanair Chase victor Balko Des Flos (Henry de Bromhead IRE) in the £190,000 G1 Betway Bowl Chase (2.50pm, 11 entries) over three miles and a furlong of the Mildmay Course.

Last year’s gutsy winner Tea For Two (Nick Williams) has Aintree in his sights again and could become just the third back-to-back winner of the Betway Bowl, following Docklands Express (1993 & 1994) and Silviniaco Conti (2014 & 2015).

Tea For Two’s regular pilot Lizzie Kelly became the first female rider to win a G1 chase when the pair captured the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park in December, 2015.

Jane Williams, part-owner and assistant trainer of Tea For Two, said today: “Tea For Two has come out of Cheltenham absolutely fine [after finishing seventh in Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup].

“He got round in the Gold Cup, which is all we were expecting, and we were happy enough with that.

“I would be much happier next week if the ground is faster, as he seemed to enjoy the better ground when he won the Betway Bowl last year.

“I think it is only the ground that could catch him out, but we will give it our best shot.”

Betway Bowl – odds from Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival

4/7 Might Bite
7/2 Balko des Flos
6/1 Bristol de Mai
15/2 Definitly Red
8/1 Double Shuffle
14/1 Tea For Two
16/1 Clan des Obeaux
20/1 Cloudy Dream
25/1 Sub Lieutenant
50/1 Sizing Codelco
66/1 Shantou Flyer

Double Shuffle (Tom George) has a length to find with Might Bite after the pair finished first and second in the G1 32Red King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas.

Impressive G1 Betfair Chase victor Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies) and Definitly Red (Brian Ellison), a dual G2 winner this season including the over course and distance in 188bet.co.uk Many Clouds Chase, are also set to line up.

The top-class seven-race card on Grand National Thursday starts with the £100,000 G1 Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase (1.45pm, 15 entries) over two and a half miles of the Mildmay Course.

The race is named in honour of the retired Big Buck’s by owner Andy Stewart. Big Buck’s won a record 18 consecutive races over hurdles between January, 2009 and December, 2012. No less than 10 of those victories came at G1 level.

His wins included a record four consecutive successes at Aintree in the race now known as the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle (2009 to 2012 inclusive – a G1 contest from 2010 onwards). Big Buck’s was also successful over fences at Aintree earlier in his career, landing the G2 Mildmay Novices’ Chase in 2008. The horse retired from racing in 2014 with 23 wins from 40 starts and prize money earnings of £1.3m.

The 15-year-old still enjoys a day’s hunting with Lucy Felton and the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale, as well as accompanying her children and their ponies on rides.

Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have the two form contenders in the Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase the impressive G1 Racing Post Arkle hero Footpad (Willie Mullins IRE) and fellow G1 scorer Terrefort (Nicky Henderson), who finished second in the G1 JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, but they will not have things all their own way.

Black Corton (Paul Nicholls), an eight-time winner this season who has helped propel his rider Bryony Frost into the limelight and is part-owned by Jeremy Kyle, is entered as are his talented stable companions Cyrname and Modus. Other entries include Brain Power (Nicky Henderson), runner-up to Footpad at Cheltenham, and Finian’s Oscar (Colin Tizzard).

The G1 action is completed by the £100,000 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2.20pm, 14 entries), in which G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle disappointments Apple’s Shakira (Nicky Henderson) and Redicean (Alan King) could reoppose.

Henderson and the Munir/Souede partnership have We Have A Dream, who is unbeaten in four starts in Britain.

The Grand National fences will be in use for the £45,000 Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase (4.05pm, 25 entries), the highlight of the meeting for amateur riders.

Amputee and former soldier, Guy Disney, is set to become the first amputee jockey to ride in a race over the famous Grand National fences.

Disney rides with a prosthetic lower right leg after the vehicle in which he was travelling in Afghanistan was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in July, 2009.

In February, 2017, the former Army Captain became the first amputee jockey to win a race under Rules in Britain when gaining victory aboard Rathlin Rose in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup at Sandown Park Racecourse. Disney and Rathlin Rose teamed up for a repeat success in the same contest this year.

Disney’s ride in the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase comes after he assembled a syndicate, Somerset Racing GD, to buy Gallery Exhibition, trained by Grand National-winning trainer, Kim Bailey. The horse was purchased with the explicit aim of running in the Aintree race for amateur riders.

Balnaslow (Graham McKeever IRE) was the fast-finishing second 12 months ago, before going on to capture the Champion Hunters Chase at the Punchestown Festival.

Others to note include the Paul Nicholls-trained pair of Wonderful Charm and Unioniste, plus Wells De Lune who represents last year’s winning trainer Mickey Bowen and Irish stalwart On The Fringe (Enda Bolger), successful in 2015 and 2016, who is due to be ridden by Nina Carberry.

Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase – odds from Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival

9/2 Balnaslow
6/1 Grand Vision, Wonderful Charm
9/1 On The Fringe
12/1 Unioniste, Mendip Express
14/1 Wells de Lune
16/1 Monsieur Gibraltar, Barrakilla, Gallery Exhibition, Sir Jack Yeats
20/1 Bear’s Affair, Distime
25/1 Winged Crusader, Mon Parrain
40/1 Rouge Et Blanc, Premier Portrait, Eddies Miracle
50/1 Curraigflemens, Never Complain
66/1 Warden Hill, Bound For Glory, Lilbitluso
100/1 Greensalt
150/1 Vincitore

The final two races of the day are the £90,000 G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase, which could feature 2017 scorer Double W’s (Ruth Jefferson), and the concluding £45,000 G2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race (5.15pm), both of which have 35 entries.

The three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival continues on Ladies Day, Friday, April 13, and finishes on Grand National Day, Saturday, April 14.

Opening Ceremony

Aintree will be supporting the military on Grand National Thursday by providing hundreds of tickets to military veterans and specifically from the combat wounded community.

Grand National Thursday will feature an Opening Ceremony for the first time, including a 40-strong Scots Guards Marching Band, which will move through the crowd to help create a great atmosphere for the start of the three-day Randox Health Grand National Festival.

The Opening Ceremony will also involve a thrilling Red Devils display from nine Red Devil parachute jumpers who will carry Randox, Aintree and Union Jack flags. A handover of the Randox Health Grand National trophy will take place on the track by the Red Devils.

There will be Grand National-winning horses in the Parade Ring – Bindaree, Silver Birch, Mon Mome, Neptune Collonges, Pineau De Re and Rule The World.

Aintree is also delighted to extend its support to Invictus Games medal winners in the North West, who will feature as part of the brand new Champions Lounge on Grand National Thursday.

Ground

The ground at Aintree is drying and Clerk of the Course Andrew Tulloch late this afternoon changed the going descriptions.

He said at 4.40pm: “It has been an overcast and grey day but dry so far and the courses are continuing to dry gradually.

“The Grand National course is now Good to Soft, Soft in places, while the Mildmay and Hurdle courses are both Good to Soft.

“There is a bit of rain forecast tonight and a bit tomorrow, but forecasts differ and we will have to wait and see if we get any.”

Mildmay & Hurdle – Good to Soft (previously Good to Soft, Soft in places)
Grand National – Good to Soft, Soft in places (previously Soft, Good to Soft in places)

Grand National Thursday

From 1977 onwards, when the Grand National Festival became an all-Jump meeting, Grand National Thursday has developed into an outstanding day of racing action, a true Day for Champions.

It is only one of three racedays during the entire British Jump season to offer four Grade One (G1) contests.

Uniquely, Grand National Thursday is the only day of the year with two open G1 races and two G1 contests for novices.

The G1 chase action on Grand National Thursday is headlined by the Betway Bowl, staged over three miles and a furlong of the Mildmay Course.

The fabulous roll of honour boasts the names of some of the very best chasers of the modern era with Wayward Lad, Desert Orchid, See More Business, Florida Pearl, Siliviniaco Conti and Cue Card all having been successful.

Lizzie Kelly created history in 2017 when becoming the first female jockey to win the Betway Bowl aboard Tea For Two.

The G1 Betway Aintree Hurdle moved to Grand National Thursday in 2013, having previously been on Grand National Day. The race is the only British G1 open hurdle run over the distance of two and a half miles.

First staged in 1975, it has proved to be the perfect follow-up for horses who have won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

In 2017, Buveur D’Air joined great performers Annie Power, Jezki, Istabraq, Morley Street, Beech Road, Dawn Run, Gaye Brief, Monksfield, Night Nurse and Comedy Of Errors by winning both the Champion Hurdle and the Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Often regarded as the greatest hurdle race of all-time, the 1977 renewal of the Betway Aintree Hurdle saw a dead-heat between Monksfield and Night Nurse, both dual winners of the Champion Hurdle.

The G1 Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle over two miles and a furlong is the natural next target for horses who competed in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Last season Defi Du Seuil followed in the footsteps of Pollardstown, Detroit City, Katchit and Zarkandar by winning both the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Hurdle.

The £100,000 G1 Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase starts the day off with a bang and is named after two of the greatest horses to ever race at Aintree.

Ultra-competitive handicap action comes courtesy of the two-mile G3 Red Rum Handicap Chase which commemorates the legendary three-time Grand National winner Red Rum.

Stars of the future can be found in the concluding race, the G2 Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper, which is the richest mares’ bumper at £45,000 run in the UK. Its title derives from the last mare to win the Grand National, the 1951 heroine Nickel Coin.

First staged as a Listed contest in 2013, the Goffs Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper has rapidly established its place in the expanding British programme for mares and was upgraded to G2 status in 2016.

To sum up, Grand National Thursday is a day to savour, with racing of the highest class, led by four G1 contests plus a G2 race, a G3 event and the Randox Health Foxhunters’ Chase over the Grand National course.

The evolving success of Grand National Thursday – A Day for Champions – is demonstrated by its growing popularity. During the 1980s, the attendance was below the 10,000 mark but has risen substantially, with the crowd figure now around 35,000.
Grand National Thursday on April 12, 2018 includes a Champions of Merseyside dimension, with a number of sporting champions involved in celebrating the best of Merseyside sport at all levels and all ages.

Aintree’s Preview Night returns on Wednesday, April 11 and features among other the 2015 Grand National winning trainer, Oliver Sherwood, and the most successful female jockey in the Grand National, Katie Walsh.

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Back Virgilio at 100/1 for the Grand National

This is my third tip (so far) for the Randox Health Grand National on April 14th. As De Mee, my first, has been withdrawn, injured; hopefully most readers took the 50/1 NRNB that one.

Milansbar, tip number two, now looks as though he will definitely get in the race with Bryony Frost riding and should go off much shorter than the advised 50/1. Looking through the field again today for more value, I see one who looks potentially overpriced by some way – Virgilio, Dan Skelton’s horse – who’s available at 100/1 NRNB (non runner, no bet).

Most potential National bets are prominent in the minds of punters; horses like Saint Are and The Last Samuri who have run well there in the past. Or classier types like Minella Rocco or Blaklion. Most punters will not have heard of Virgilio; indeed, it was only when he caught my eye with his weight of 10.7 and his good trainer that I dived a bit more deeply into his form.

Skelton appears to have held the horse in pretty high regard when Virgilio was younger (he’s 9).  He won his first two races in Britain (Skelton has had him since the horse came from France), the first a Class 3 handicap by 12 lengths, and the second, a Class 2 Handicap (at Aintree) by 6 lengths (fav both times).  He started the next season with his hat-trick win, again at Aintree in another Class 2 Handicap before moving up to Grade 2 in the Relkeel at Cheltenham where he started 5/1 third fav but was pulled up, the trainer citing a breathing problem (Skelton was later to say the horse would not go back to Cheltenham as it was not his track).

Virgilio then dropped back into handicap company at Aintree, carrying joint top weight of 11.12 off a handicap mark of 148 to finish 5th of 22, keeping on toward the finish. Since then, he has not run again over hurdles. Virgilio finished that 2015/16 season by making his debut over fences, easily winning a Class 4 at Warwick by 13 lengths and he began the following season with a Class 2 victory at Newton Abbott.

Returning to Grade 2 company for the first time since the Relkeel, he was 7/4 and was pulled up in the three-horse Rising Stars Novices Chase won by Frodon. The Racing Post analyst simply says that the horse ran as if amiss (it was his first run right handed in Britain). The Skeltons kept the faith with another Grade 2 run at Newbury next time where Virgilio made a couple of crucial errors, although he would not have beaten the impressive winner Clan Des Obeaux.

Next time saw him back right handed at Kempton where he finished a fortunate second in the Kauto Star the day Might Bite fell when well clear at the last.  He challenged Might Bite again next time in his first Grade 1 outing, the Mildmay Novices Chase at Aintree where he was well beaten in 3rd, although he had a very stiff task at levels with Might Bite and Whisper who was second. Might Bite beat him 20 lengths and Whisper beat him 18.

Virgilio finished last season with yet another run at Aintree, and another win over 3m 1f, by 7 lengths, his jumping that day suggesting he was really getting the hang of the chasing game.  North to Aintree again in November last year for his seasonal debut and back down in trip to 2m 4f, he ran quite poorly and then pulled up 5 weeks’ later at Doncaster back over 3 miles. He was strong in the market that day in December; in the lengthy lay off since then, Virgilio has had wind surgery

On the face of his limited fencing experience, especially in big fields, and his form this season, I can see why 100/1 is available. But in view of his age and what still looks untapped potential, allied to the faith the Skeltons appear to have in him, and the fact that he’s been operated on for his wind, I think he’s well worth an each way bet on the NRNB basis. There’s also the fact that the flat track seems to suit him well; he’s won 3 from 6 at Aintree (NB: for those who are occasional punters, Aintree’s Grand National course is a separate one from its ‘standard’ course which is known as The Mildmay Course, the one on which Virgilio has appeared so far).

His jumping style, to my eye, looks well suited to the Grand National fences. Stamina is another question. He’s by Denham Red, the sire of Un De Sceaux, a 16f to 20f top-notcher, but also the sire of Ouzbeck, who won the Summer National over 3m 4f at Uttoxeter in 2010.  As noted, Virgilio has won over 3m 1f; the only other winning progeny of his dam Liesse De Marbeuf, did not race over as far as 3 miles in Britain or Ireland.

“Recommended bet” (see here) each way Virgilio for the Randox Health Grand National at 100/1 with Bet Bet365 who offer 1/4 odds first five and money back if the horse does not run.

Update, Monday, 9th April: Virgilio is now  80/1 with Bet365, but 100/1 is still on offer with Unibet and 888Bet along with the NRNB concession.

Enjoy the Grand National and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.

Joe