Timeform: The five best bets of the 2017 Aintree Festival

There’s a 12/1 shot that could get the lovely meeting in Liverpool off to a flyer

The importance of backing the winner of the Grand National becomes a ‘national’ obsession this week, and it was never more important to me than when a lovely Liverpudlian lady offered me a quick fumble behind the Aintree festival tent and full access to her own Timeform ratings back in 2006.

However, the only condition was that I gave her the winner of the Grand National. Sadly, both Jack High’s and my own chances were dashed when he unseated David Casey at the Chair. I never saw her again.

Liverpool loves a Red/Blue rivalry, whether it’s politics or football, and it’s Definitly Red for Timeform in the big race itself. Brian Ellison’s stable star is the right age, has the right weight, and has the right attitude judging by his recent thrashing of The Last Samuri in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. A race not to be confused with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band who were the subject of the film Brassed Off.

Definitly Red can win us some brass at 10/1 by seeing off Vieux Lion Rouge, Blaklion, Cause of Causes and friends.

All the best bets on the Aintree Festival are on PaddyPower.com

Talking of Friends, Matthew Perry aka Chandler Bing recently revealed that he bullied Justin Trudeau at school and was subsequently ‘offered outside’ by the (now) Canadian Prime Minister.

One horse who has dusted himself off after being on the deck before is Cue Card, and Colin Tizzard’s ace will have to do so once more if he is to bounce back from another Cheltenham Gold Cup fall in the Bowl Chase on Thursday at 11/8. Here at Timeform, we think he can against six inferior rivals.

Bun Doran, presumably named after the seaside town in Co Donegal, was in the process of running a big race in the Close Brothers and he still looks a fairly handicapped horse coming in at odds of 12/1.

Though narrow Timeform top-rated Astre de la Cour will take a bit of beating, Bun Doran’s early-season form at Uttoxeter has worked out well and – returned to a flat track – he looks a big player over a fast-run two miles. Incidentally, the Bundoran Waterworld is only number two on the Tripadvisor list of things to do in the town, which makes you wonder just how good the Fairy Bridges (#1) must be.

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Go Conquer was given the type of aggressive front-running ride at Cheltenham that isn’t normally associated with Jonjo O’Neill horses, however he ran a cracker in fifth and is expected to be hard to catch at 8/1 over the half-mile shorter trip in Friday’s Topham Handicap Chase.

Run over the National fences, the race could also suit Bouvreuil who has the bravery of C-3PO, but who could find himself still on the bridle on the run-in with nothing left to pass.

Hopes will be high here at Timeform Towers that Shearling (15/2) can become the first four-year-old since 2010 to win the Mares’ Bumper which rounds off day one of the Grand National Festival, as she is owned by the wife and daughter of Geoff Greetham – master of the Timeform annuals – and after winning at Warwick, Wetherby and Catterick has kept the great man smiling all winter.

Indeed, he’s the only person in Halifax with an all-year-round tan, so Shearling has either been paying for beach holidays or tanning sessions. Either way she’s a well-bred, exciting prospect and it’s worth noting that Richard Johnson rides for the first time.

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* All prices correct at time of posting 

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