TV Tips Saturday 21st April

Post racing update: We carried a deficit for the year of £5.12 into today. Thanks to Crosshue Boy at 22/1 and Bigmartre at 4/1 we go into the final weekend of the season (Sandown) with a profit of £17.12 on TV Tips to £1 stakes.


I was intending to hold off on further TV Tips until the last weekend of the jumps season, but it’s a strong jumping card at Ayr, so let’s see if we can get in front.


1.45

Forest Bihan is a classy horse who’s at his best on good ground. I also think this track and ground will suit Foxtail Hill who will probably try to make all but might just get collared by Forest Bihan.  A bet on each is recommended.

Forest Bihan  9/1

Foxtail Hill  20/1


2.20

The Irish horse Crosshue Boy has been in fine form of late and although he’s raced only on easy ground, his action suggests he’ll go well enough on good. He might also prefer going left-handed as he will be today.

Crosshue Boy 20/1


2.55

There are some tough competitors here and I’m expecting good runs from Chesterfield and Claimantakinforgan, but I’m going to side with the unexposed I’m A Game Changer. His trainer Philip Hobbs has had a lousy season by his standards, but this horse won well at Ludlow recently. I was taken both by the way he travelled and his looks. I suspect they’ll try to land this after being very patient with the horse and then send him chasing next season.

I’m A Game Changer 12/1


3.30

Reading between the lines of what his trainer has said, I suspect the hitherto progressive Bigmartre went to Cheltenham last time at the behest of his owner. Trainer Whittington has always talked of him as a flat-track horse.

He hasn’t won over this far, but I think the fastish ground will be a major help.

Bigmartre 4/1


4.05

Blog subscribers will know I’ve tipped Regal Flow at 25/1 here and I’m happy to stick with him on the TV tips too.

I fear The Young Master; more because he has long been a ‘cliff horse’ for me and has just 10 stones in this. If a recent wind op has fixed his major problem (I suspect he has more than one big problem – not the best of jumpers either at times), he’ll go close.

Another old favourite of mine is Silsol, but he too can hit a fence hard at a critical time.

Regal Flow 25/1


 

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

Joe

Back Regal Flow at 25/1 for the Scottish Grand National

A maximum field of 30 has been declared for Saturday’s Scottish Grand National, and the one who catches my eye right away is Regal Flow. At first glance, this 11-y-o is far from a typical winning prospect for this race, but horses his age have won 3 of the past 9 runnings. It’s his improving profile that most interests me. Many assume that a horse this old simply doesn’t improve, but occasionally one pops up and a little digging can sometimes find a potential reason for the improvement. In Regal Flow’s case this could well be the recent marked step up in trip.

He’d been campaigned at around the 3 miles mark until March 12th when he was put into an extended 3m 4f race. He won that by 3 lengths in the best performance of his career (on Racing Post Ratings), then bettered it by 7lbs when reappearing five days’ later in the Midlands National over 4 miles 2 furlongs: he won by ten lengths. The runner up, Milansbar, went on to finish 5th in the Grand National.

Both of Regal Flow’s victories were in heavy ground, but he has run well on good ground more than once (has won on it). An assumption will be made by some bookmakers that he needs it heavy (it’s likely to be good to soft at Ayr on Saturday), and that has helped keep his price up. At 25/1 with Ladbrokes, I think he’s twice the price he should be and he’s very much worth backing EW at 1/4 odds first four.

Regal Flow is a ‘strongly recommended’ (see here) bet EW at 25/1 with Ladbrokes (also Betfair and Paddy Power) for the Scottish Grand National.

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

Joe

 

Back Bristol De Mai at 6/1 for the Betfair Bowl

Regular readers will know how much I think of Bristol De Mai. Many experts believe he is a horse who cannot replicate his exceptional Haydock heavy ground form elsewhere, nor even go close to doing so. I’m of the opinion that, given the right circumstances, he can. Not only that, I believe he is not significantly ground dependent.

Why then has his form been so inconsistent?

Who knows? On Thursday we will find out if what the horse has needed all along is sufficient time to recover from tough races. I suspect this might be the key, and have done since his comparatively poor run in the King George, which came four weeks after his 57 length victory in heavy ground in the Betfair Chase. There is no way of knowing how that history-making success affected the horse or how much it took out of him. Most trainers are optimists and Nigel Twiston-Davies who trains Bristol De Mai is at the top of the optimism charts. Nigel believes horses are for racing rather than standing in a box.

I had backed Bristol De Mai  for the Gold Cup and was praying that Twister would avoid the Cotswold Chase with the grey. Again, regular readers will know that I consider that race a graveyard for Gold Cup hopes (Definitly Red added himself to the list this year, despite his trainer saying he had come out of the race absolutely fine). Conversely, Nigel Twiston-Davies took Bristol De Mai, (who finished a gallant but knackered third in the Cotswold) out of the Gold Cup about three weeks prior to the race – an almost unheard of move for the trainer, especially as the grey was his only possible runner at that stage.  Bristol De Mai must have been showing very obvious signs of fatigue or some other ailment for Twister to take him out of the race at such an advanced stage. I see he has also had wind surgery.

Anyway, I think the horse ran a much better race than he was given credit for in the 2017 Gold Cup on good ground. He’s still only 7. I believe he has the talent to beat Might Bite and on Thursday we will find out. If I’m wrong, I’m hoping to find out cost-free in that he’ll be second or third in the eight-runner race where I’ve backed him each way.

William Hill offer 6/1 via Oddschecker although I could not find the race on their site. Nor could it be found by clicking on the Oddschecker link. Ladbrokes are advertising 11/2 and I advise you to back the horse now each way with them as he should be shorter come Thursday.

“I strongly recommend” (see here) – backing Bristol De Mai each way with Hills – if they will lay it at 6/1 – or with Ladbrokes at 11/2 to win the Betfair Bowl.

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

Joe

 

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.

End

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

 

 

 

Back Killaro Boy at 33/1 to win Irish National

Update: Killaro Boy was brought down at the 5th fence

Watching Killaro Boy in the past, he has travelled like a good horse in the making in a couple of his races over fences and I think he could run well today in the Irish National (5pm Fairyhouse).  The trip’s an unknown and is the riskiest factor; he won a 3 mile point, but that’s as far as he’s gone on track and there simply isn’t enough evidence in his pedigree to make a judgement. The heavy ground won’t help from a stamina viewpoint, although he has won on heavy.

Killaro Boy has won two of his three races at this track, two of his five steeplechases and two of his two runs at this time of year (April). He ran well for a long way last time out over a much shorter trip, and I think he’s worth an EW with Skybet who are paying 1/5th the odds 6 places.

“Recommended” (see here). EW Killaro Boy, Skybet, 1/5th odds 6 places, Irish Grand National.

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

Joe