Grand National day. The greatest test in National Hunt racing, and in many ways the greatest test of tipping!
But I’m primed for the challenge, so watch out Paddy. I’m out to get you and your 5 place offer.
The tv coverage starts with three Grade On races where the three odds-on favourites should deliver. Willie Mullins will certainly hope so as he’s got two of the favs as he chases down the UK Trainers’ Championship.
YORKHILL has the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at 2.25pm at his mercy after a hugely impressive Cheltenham victory and looks one of the most exciting horses in the Mullins’ yard.
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Mullins also saddles the outstanding DOUVAN in the Grade 1 Maghull Novices’ Chase at 3pm. He’s unbeaten over fences this season and should saunter around. Another for the unstoppable Mullins camp.
And in similar vein, the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle should also feature another Cheltenham follow up with Colin Tizzard’s THISTLECRACK looking to sign off his season – and possibly his hurdling career – in style.
All three are long odds on and it’s not until we get to the handicap chase at 4.20pm that there could be a working man’s price knocking about.
I like COOLOGUE for the Charlie Longsdon stable. He was a good second in a big chase at Doncaster earlier this season but tends to hang left. Hopefully running at Aintree won’t make that as pronounced and top jock and champion-elect Richard Johnson is the right man to sort him out.
And then finally, the Aintree Grand National. The greatest race in the world. Even though the fences have been modified and aren’t as harsh as they once – it’s still an amazing spectacle.
I’ve already gone head-to-head against top jock and dual National winner Ruby Walsh so I’m picking my best three against the field.
THE DRUIDS NEPHEW
There’s little doubt in my mind that he would have landed the race last year for Neil Mulholland if he hadn’t slipped-up five fences out. He’s been primed for the big day and although 9lb higher in the handicap, he should go well after a good second at Doncaster last time. The better the ground, the better his chance.
THE LAST SAMURI
Kim Bailey knows how to win a National, having done so with Mr Frisk before. This eight-year-old jumps well, stays and is improving with every race. He’s at the right end of the weights, and I’m expecting a huge performance.
The Irish challenger wasn’t beaten far in two of Ireland’s most competitive races under French jockey Jacques Ricou. He took the scenic route both times but former winning jockey Daryl Jacob won’t waste any petrol on Saturday. He’s arguably been primed for this by Gold Cup winning trainer, Gordon Elliott. Big chance.
So best of luck. The National remains a Lottery. Whatever you pick I wish you well. And if we manage to get something in the frame I’ll be delighted. Yeeehaaa!