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 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.


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.


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.





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.


TV Tips Saturday 31st March 2018

Post racing update: none of the selections featured in the finish today leaving us £25.32 down on the year for TV Tips

Not much for us jumping fans to get our teeth into now that the shadow of the flat season looms ever larger, but Haydock provides three TV races, so let’s see if we can make a dent in the deficit of £20.32.


Orbasa’s a frustrating horse who’s hard to win with. The fact that Nicholls is persevering with him after just 1 success in his last 19 runs ought to mean something. He’d been involved mostly in three-mile races this season before dropping back last time at Kempton to 20 furlongs. I thought he travelled that day like a horse well capable of winning the race and he looked to finish with a fair bit left in the tank; he just took too long to get going.

Haydock’s much longer straight should suit him well here and he’s a good price. He looks to race honestly enough but the blinkers suggest he has some quirks. Cobden rides for the first time and quirky horses sometimes respond to a change of jock.

Orbasa 9/1 Hills



A bit like Nicholls with Orbasa, Henderson seems set on getting a race out of Percy Street who’s been backed in his last two races. He was poor in both despite the money being down but must have been showing something at home to suggest he was back in the form that saw him finish sixth in the Fred Winter at last year’s festival.

They appear to be pinning their hope on first time blinkers here and I think there will be cash in the market once more for him, and that it’s worth chancing they get it right this time.

Percy Street 15/2 Hills




A fair mix here age-wise and I’m going with the youngest, least exposed, and hopefully improving Shanroe In Milan. He was well ridden by Brian Hughes last time, saving ground all the way and running on well at the death despite looking inexperienced in both jumping and racing.  There could be a fair bit more to come from him and trainer Longsdon has plenty faith in 5lb claimer Paul O’Brien who rides.

Shanroe In Milan 9/1 Betfair


I’m having £1 win on each with the bookies mentioned above and £1EW treble (Hills) and advise you to do the same.

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





TV Tips Saturday 24 March 2018

Post-racing update: after a poor Cheltenham, we carried a deficit of £30.52 into today. I don’t know when Cold Shoulder was withdrawn as I placed my bets last night and have been out. Hopefully you had the EW treble on as the double paid £11.70 and the EW single on Just A Thought paid 4.50 giving a profit on the day of £10.20 and reducing the 2018 deficit for TV tips to £20.32


Just three jump races today. I rarely tip on the Flat so will forego the Doncaster TV races and concentrate on Newbury. I’ll update the P&L after racing


Shanroe Santos is becoming something of a jinx horse for this blog, which tipped him three outings ago when he failed to finish. Of course he won next time in a non-televised race, restoring confidence enough to feature as another TV tip last time. Still in with a fine chance, he tipped up two out. I shall leave him alone today. There’s an argument that he’s better right handed anyway.

The selection is Dawson City who won in the style of an improving horse last time, albeit over half a mile farther than today. The testing ground and a good gallop will help his chance.

Dawson City  8/1



In a tricky race, I like Cold Shoulder who’s been keen in all his hurdle races but seems to be learning with each one. I like the way he kept on last time after wearing himself out quite a bit running so free so long under a claimer. J Davies takes over here for trainer Tom Symonds, who doesn’t have many winners, but that helps the price.

It’s a step up in class, but I believe Cold Shoulder will outrun his big odds and should be backed EW in the hope all 8 stand their ground.

Cold Shoulder  25/1



Just A Thought is highly consistent; 3rd twice in her career, 2nd five times and twice a winner. On that record alone she’s a very fair price here and I recommend an each way bet.

Just A Thought  14/1


If all 8 look to be running in the 2.05 and 3.15, I’ll be having a £1 EW treble on the above and advise that you do the same along with the usual £1 single bets.

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


Back Milansbar for The National at 50/1

When the Grand National weights came out I recommended As De Mee at 66/1 and that horse is well on track for the big race on April 14th. I was hoping Bryony Frost would get the ride, but trainer Nicholls says As De Mee is Sean Bowen’s ride and he will be in the plate.

That left Bryony available and she’s been confirmed for the 11-y-o Milansbar, currently down to carry 10.5 (weights can increase depending on the horse who finally tops them, although the handicap balance remains the same).  Age does not put me off Milansbar; three 11-y-olds have won the National in the past six years. The horse first caught my eye when winning at Warwick (the same race won by last year’s Grand National winner One For Arthur). That was his first run in blinkers and the first time Bryony rode him.

Next time at Newcastle, in blinkers again, he disappointed (Bryony didn’t ride). He’d been pulled up on his only previous run at Newcastle and there’s a chance he just doesn’t care for the track, although there is far from enough evidence to draw that conclusion.  He returned to run close to his Warwick form last Saturday in the Midlands Grand National, impressing with his enthusiasm given that he’s had some tough tests this season. He was ridden by 7lb claimer Jack Andrews.

The Racing Post Rating of 151 he achieved at Warwick was the joint best of his career, suggesting either Bryony Frost got some improvement from him, or blinkers did, or perhaps a combination of the two. His Saturday run suggests blinkers are doing no harm at all.

Regular readers will know my feelings on the importance of establishing a good rhythm in in staying chases; it can be worth many pounds in my opinion to have a horse settled and galloping rhythmically from fence to fence with its eye in for the fence. You tend to see such horses executing the same jumping arc at every fence when in this very important zone. Bryony Frost is particularly effective in getting steeplechasers into a rhythm.

One factor that seems to be important to Milansbar is soft or heavy ground. Aintree appear to be taking a Cheltenham-type approach with Grand National ground in trying to make it at least good to soft.  Given how wet the winter has been, Aintree must have a chance of soft ground this year. Anyway, at 50/1 non runner no bet (NRNB)it is worth taking the chance, in my opinion.

The only bookmakers offering 50/1 NRNB at the time of writing are Bet365 and Betfred. Milansbar will need five horses rated more highly to be withdrawn before final declarations (for the big race to satisfy the safety limit of 40 runners). I expect at least five to come out and even if they don’t, Milansbar would be considered as ‘ballotted out’ and your cash would be returned. But anything can happen to a horse to cause withdrawal at any time and protecting your stake with NRNB is strongly advised.

Milansbar is a ‘recommended’ bet* (see here for interpreting confidence)

Good luck and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.