Grand National tips: Frank Hickey’s antepost best bets for the 2021 Aintree race

Frank has got you covered for Saturday's feature at 5.15pm.


*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional antepost rules

Frank Hickey has revealed his top tips for the Grand National, with our expert trader naming a couple of selections that could offer great value at Aintree

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Frank gave the lowdown on most of the top contenders before tipping up a pair that could make punters a tidy profit.

Leading contenders

After three 11-year-olds won in a row from 2012 to 2014, it’s been three eight-year-olds and two nine-year-olds winning in the five renewals since. CLOTH CAP is a nine-year-old that has only had 11 chase starts, with four wins, a second and four thirds.

He was very impressive in the Ladbroke Trophy when winning by 10l off a mark of 136, and that coincided with the switch to front-running tactics. He then had a break and bolted up in the Premier Chase in Kelso when winning by 7½l from Aso, with Two For Gold in third. He was rated 148 going into that race and Aso was 158 (and was getting 4lbs off Cloth Cap), while Two For Gold was rated 154, Definitely Red was rated 158 and Lake View Lad was rated 157. That has the handicapper reassessing him to a mark of 162, leaving him 14lbs well in here.

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I really don’t believe that Aso gets 3m properly and I think Two For Gold might be more effective over slightly shorter than 3m too (despite winning a weak Grade 2 over 3m as a novice). If you believe that Cloth Cap truly is now a 162 horse, then he will go off between 7/2 and 9/2, but three starts ago he was beaten at Cheltenham off 138 on fairly decent ground – and that was his sixth start in the mid 130’s where he was beaten.

I think he will drift the closer we get to the race and I would have him more like a 6/1 shot personally and if I get my way and we can lay him at best price 9/2 or 5/1, I’d be happy to get plenty of that in the book



MINELLA TIMES is an improving eight-year-old who has only had 10 chase starts. He didn’t pull up any trees over hurdles and didn’t win over fences until he started off in handicaps off a mark of 122. He was second in the Paddy Power at Christmas on his first start at 3m off a mark of 136, and won at Listowel off 130 over 2m6f prior to that. Last time out he was just touched off at the Dublin Racing Festival off 140 by Off You Go in the 2m5f handicap.

He is definitely improving but would have stamina queries to answer for me and think the big market move is due to the fact that people were jumping on the Rachael Blackmore bandwagon. That Leopardstown second to Off You Go is working out really well though with the third Livelovelaugh beaten a neck in a good handicap on next start, the fourth Farclas coming home second in the Paddy Power Plate at Cheltenham, the fifth Scoir Mear winning the Leinster National on his next start and the sixth Goose Man winning his next start at Down Royal. The seventh Uisce Beatha also won two starts later, the 11th Bapaume won his next start which came over hurdles (albeit at 1/7) and the 12th Myth Buster won a beginners chase on his next start.

DISCORAMA reminds of Rule The World, who had seven seconds from 13 chase starts prior to winning the National off a mark of 148. Rule The World was also Grade 1 placed as a novice hurdler and had proven stamina when finishing second in an Irish National. Discorama is eight and has had 10 chase starts but has a win, four seconds and a third. He was going to go close in a 3m Grade 3 at Naas when he fell at the last when Ballyward won, and followed that up with a close second to Le Breuil in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in a stamina-sapping renewal. He then followed that with a second in the Grade 1 novice chase at Punchestown when 12l behind Delta Work, with A Plus Tard back in 3rd that day.

Discorama was third in the Ultima last season off 148 when going off 11/2 joint-favourite, but has only had two starts this season – touched off a short head at Galway by Milan Native when conceding 4lbs to him and then disappointing while favourite at the Paddy Power Cheltenham meeting in November. But trainer Paul Nolan had a really quiet time of things from September through to the end of February, with just three winners from 166 runners. In March and so far in April combined, Nolan has had five winners, two seconds, two thirds and four fourths from 41 runners. Discorama has had a wind op since last seen and he has the back class and stamina to be a big factor in this season’s National.

Grand National Festival: Dates and race times for 2021 Aintree meeting

THE STORYTELLER has been a great servant to his connections and you have to remember that he won a Grade 1 at Down Royal over fences only in October. He ran well when third to Kemboy in the Irish Gold Cup and was second in a Grade 1 behind Flooring Porter over hurdles at Christmas at Leopardstown and was a fair fifth in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. I can see him running well but just think that his mark makes it too tough for him, and I’m not certain he wants this sort of stamina test either.

MAGIC OF LIGHT is 5lbs higher than when she finished an excellent second to Tiger Roll in the 2019 National. I think she has been campaigned ever since for last year’s and this year’s National, while the Harringtons have hit form with six winners in the last two weeks. I can see her going well but this is not a bet for me.

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ANIBALE FLY placed in the 2018 and 2019 Gold Cups, and was fourth in the 2018 National off 159 then fifth in the 2019 National off 164. He was campaigned in Grade 1 chases last year and showed far more in a hurdle race in March last year to leave him spot on for the National. His mark is workable but he’s only had the one start this year when last of five in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse and it’s a big ask considering how little he has shown since that 2019 National.

SECRET REPRIEVE is number 43, so he must have a decent chance of getting a run with just three more horses needing to come out. He is very unexposed for this, only being a seven-year-old with only six chase starts. He has had three starts in handicaps, falling at Haydock when joint favourite in November off a mark of 130 before bolting up in the Welsh National Trial off 130. He did the same in the National itself off a mark of 134 and it is very difficult to know where the ceiling of his ability might be. However, he might be too inexperienced for this sort of test.

LAKE VIEW LAD pulled up in the National in 2019 and the ground doesn’t look like it will suit him. He did win the Many Clouds Chase here in December but most of the fences were omitted and he did Native River and Santini for speed that day. He was very poor in two runs since and I just can’t have him on decent ground.

CANELO is only eight and much improved this season, winning at Aintree over 2m4f off 130 and winning the Rowland Meyrick off 142. He was fourth in the Sky Bet off 148 but I just think he has shown the handicapper a bit much and has gone from 130 to 147. He probably isn’t hiding too much now at this stage and this a far stronger race than those he has been contesting.

Grand National 2021 runners, entries and latest betting for Aintree

Big-priced outsiders

FARCLAS is only seven but is a Triumph hurdle winner (like Tiger Roll). He won his first three over fences in the summer of 2019, all on good ground, so forecast going should be a positive. He has been consistent this season without winning, finishing third in the Paddy Power off 142, fourth in the 2m5f race at the Dublin Racing Festival off 143 and second in the Paddy Power Plate off 146. He is currently a big price but don’t think that will last too long.

TALKISCHEAP really appreciates good ground and it all came together for him in the 2019 Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown when he hacked up off 145 on good ground. He jumped the last a length up on The Young Master and put another nine lengths between them by the line, so the way he bounded up the hill marked him down as a staying chaser to follow when getting good ground. He has shown very little since but this season had a run in a flat maiden at Southwell and a jumpers bumper at Lingfield when he shaped well in third. He was then very poor when 40/1 in a Grade 3 handicap at Kempton and he is currently between 50/1 and 66/1.

Talkischeap Wayne Hutchinson Sandown April 27, 2019

Grand National trends to note when picking your horse

What do I fancy in the race?

I backed DISCORAMA a number of weeks ago and I really think he has a big chance. I just want him to jump the first four or five fences without any trouble or interference and get into a rhythm and if he can be in contention with seven fences to jump, I think he has a massive chance.

I think Burrow’s Saint and Kimberlite Candy have massive chances as well and you might laugh but if the vibes for Burrow’s Saint were strong, I think he might challenge Cloth Cap for favouritism.

Potters Corner was one I was really strong on last season but his runs this season have been underwhelming and he has a bit to prove now. My massive price one would be TALKISCHEAP with the decent ground massively in his favour.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing/Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason, you will lose your stake under traditional antepost rules

Frank Hickey’s Grand National bet summary – Saturday, April 10


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