Horse Racing tips: Frank Hickey’s 8 that could be great at Aintree on Thursday

Frank has revealed his top picks on Thursday at Aintree



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Frank Hickey has named his selections for the opening day of the Aintree Grand National meeting, and there is plenty of value on offer at the Merseyside racecourse.

Speaking on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, our expert trader has tipped up a host of tidy chances ahead of the action.

13.45 – Fusil Raffles

Bar Phoenix Way, the field for the Manifesto Novices’ Chase Grade 1 are separated by just 5lbs on official ratings. Many will be drawn to The Shunter after his extremely impressive win in the Paddy Power Plate at Cheltenham but he was running off a mark of 140 that day and had the assistance of excellent 7lb claimer Jordan Gainford there too. His revised rating is 153 and there is a big difference now going into Grade 1 company, for all that it isn’t the strongest Grade 1.

Hitman is interesting and bypassed Cheltenham to wait for this. In time, I think he will prove to be the best of these but I’m yet to be convinced that he is there just yet so the one I like is FUSIL RAFFLES for Nicky Henderson. Horses beaten in the Marsh actually have a decent record in the race and you can give a chance to horses stepping up in trip from 2m.

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Fusil Raffles really appreciates good ground and looks like he will get his conditions here. He has won three of his five chase starts with a pulled up in November when not right and a fine second in the Marsh. He bounced out to make all and jumped really well, while Shan Blue then took him on and took the lead jumping the seventh. To be fair to Daryl Jacob, he let Shan Blue go on and didn’t get involved in battle for the lead, so that may well have turned the race into a proper stamina test and that suited Chantry House, who was struggling to keep up but finished really powerfully, shaping like a proper 3-miler to me. I think a flat track like Aintree will actually suit Fusil Raffles better and he will take plenty of beating.

Fusil Raffles Daryl Jacob Cheltenham October 23, 2020



14.20 – Monmiral

The Doom Bar Juvenile Hurdle Grade 1 looks a match between the Triumph second Adagio and MONMIRAL. Both have beaten Nassalam – Adagio beat him by 2.5l in the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow while Monmiral beat him by 7.5l in Haydock.

You couldn’t knock Adagio’s run in the Triumph but I just think Monmiral might have more potential. Monmiral won on his hurdle debut in France and has bolted up on all three starts for Nicholls, winning by 11 lengths in the Grade 2 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster (although that was probably a weak race). At Haydock I thought he was very good and both horses are rated 147.

14.50 – Waiting Patiently

Clan Des Obeaux has first time cheek pieces for the Grade 1 Bowl and skipped Cheltenham this season but I was disappointed with him not being able to beat Secret Investor at Newbury in the Denman Chase in February.

Native River would have a big chance if the ground was testing but he will surely just set this up for a speedier type while Tiger Roll’s form on standard regulation fences doesn’t match what he achieves over the National and Cross Country fences. He looked better than ever in Cheltenham but I would be wary of him repeating that performance here.

WAITING PATIENTLY obviously hasn’t been easy to keep sound, with only 15 career starts despite being 10-years-old. He has only had two starts over 3m, when unseating in the 2018 King George and then when finishing second in the same race this season.

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In this year’s King George, it was tactical and developed into a bit of a sprint and he was held up to get the trip and was inconvenienced by his position. He was still sixth jumping three out and ran on really strongly to finish second, but you could argue he came out of that race as the best horse in it.

He was third in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot, beaten just under 9l but nothing bar First Flow and Politologue ever got into that race. He hasn’t won since the 2018 Betfair Chase at Ascot but has only had six starts since and the only time he hasn’t made the first three in his 15 career starts was when he unseated in that King George. Native River will ensure this a proper test of stamina for Waiting Patiently but if he stays, he has a massive chance.

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

15.25 – Jason The Militant

I would really have liked McFabulous in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle but he did look to be done for pace last time at Fontwell in the National Spirit Hurdle when well beaten by Brewinupastorm, so I’m taking a chance on JASON THE MILITANT.

He is a second season hurdler, who has only had seven starts and appears to be improving all the time. He was good enough to beat Beacon Edge in a Naas Grade 2 last season, with Andy Dufresne in third, and then won a flat maiden over 10f at Fairyhouse in October. He was third behind Aspire Tower and Abacadaras in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal, and was only beaten a half length in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November but was coming back at Abacadabras that day.

He was given a mid-season break but bolted up in the Grade 3 Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Fairyhouse when beating Petit Mouchoir by 7.5l, despite conceding him 9lbs, and Petit Mouchoir then went on to finish second in the County Hurdle off 155. Jason The Militant has done the majority of his running on soft or testing ground but I think he will be ok on decent ground here, with the step up in trip potentially unlocking more improvement.

16.05 – Some Man / Killaro Boy

In the last nine years, the SP of the Foxhunter Chase winner has returned five winners at 4/1 or shorter with the others 11/2 (DSQ subsequently), 14/1, 16/1, and 100/1.

I’m going to put up two against the field here; the first being SOME MAN who was very impressive when slamming Complete Sizing up in Down Royal over just shy of 2½m on decent ground, making all and jumping for fun . I think his style (if ridden from the front here again) will really suit and he could be difficult to peg back. Drying ground is important to him and he has mainly been campaigned over 3m on testing ground. David Christie knows his stuff with these Hunter Chasers and Barry O’ Neill an excellent booking.

And KILLARO BOY is my other selection, who was trained in Ireland by Adrain Murray but switched to Henry Oliver in May 2019. He bolted up on Hunter Chase debut at Warwick that month, when beating Marcle Ridge by 9l despite conceding 3lbs to him. Good ground is also important to him in my opinion. He was just touched off in the Summer Cup at Uttoxeter off a mark of 132 and last season he seemed to have been lined up for the Aintree Foxhunter or National (if they could have got him high enough in the handicap), as he was second to Burtons Well off 137 on the Mildmay course and was then eighth in the Grand Sefton off 137 but the ground was soft on both occasions.

In the Grand Sefton, he led over the melling road but he and Federici probably went too hard in front and he weakened from the back of the second last, although he shaped far better than his finishing position while Federici was pulled up.

Killaro Boy made his reappearance at Leicester last month when 22l behind Cat Tiger but the soft ground wouldn’t have been ideal and he nearly came down on the flat when slipping when travelling really well. Good ground here a big plus and I can see him travelling really powerfully into it, while I think he will drift to a far bigger price than he is now.

Killaro Boy Barry Browne Fairyhouse April 16, 2017

Grand National 2021 runners, entries and latest betting for Aintree

16.40 – Grey Diamond

On The Slopes looks sure to go well in the Red Rum Handicap Chase after his excellent 4th in the Grand Annual and this track should suit, considering his last two wins came at Kempton. However, GREY DIAMOND has improved in all three starts since switching from Nigel Twiston-Davies to Sam Thomas. He was third at Newbury and second at Sandown – both on heavy ground – but he bolted up at Sandown last time off 128 when getting good ground for the first time in a while. He is another that good ground is important to, and the 6lbs rise looks manageable for this seven-year-old. The Sam Thomas yard remains in form, with two winners from his last six runners and 25 winners this season at a 29 per cent strike rate.

17.15 – Eileendover

Elle Est Belle is the danger after her 7l third in the Champion Bumper but she has to concede 6lbs to the four-year-old EILEENDOVER in this Mares Grade 2 Bumper. Elieendover is 3-3 in bumpers, winning by 29l in Huntingdon, 16l in Wetherby and 6½l in Market Rasen in a listed bumper. In Market Rasen, she had Grangee back in third who won the Grade 2 mares bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival and finished sixth in the Champion Bumper. Fourth that day was Dragon Bones, who won a listed hurdle race on her next start at Doncaster. She beat those mares senseless and can’t be opposed.

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Frank Hickey’s Aintree bet summary – Thursday, April 8

13.45 – Fusil Raffles
14.20 – Monmiral
14.50 – Waiting Patiently
15.25 – Jason The Militant
16.05 – Some Man / Killaro Boy
16.40 – Grey Diamond
17.15 – Eileendover

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