Horse Racing tips: 5 Aintree regulars for the Grand National meeting

Andrew Cunneen has a few familiar faces to keep an eye out for at Aintree this week.

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

It’s often very easy to forget that horses are animals. Much like your aunt Sheila brings her kids to the same kip in the Algarve every year, certain horses will always look forward to going back to certain tracks.

I’m not an equine scientist nor a behaviourologist – and I certainly can’t claim to be any form of horse whisperer – but course form on tracks that have particular characteristics are so crucial.

It’s ever so slightly overblown for Cheltenham, but it’s certainly true for places like Haydock and I’d class Aintree in that regard too.

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Not that anyone ever truly likes going to Liverpool of course but you catch my drift.

Over the course of the meeting, commentators will reference previous form around the home of the Grand National and for good reason – knowing the surroundings and the layout of the track can make certain horses feel at home.

And I’d always factor that into any bet I’d be having, as well as letting it sway me towards a horse who’s been there and done that on-site if I’m unsure what way to go.

Here are six horses that you should keep onside when you’re punting this week.

1. Protektorat, Thursday 2.55pm

I feel bad for him slightly, because he was the great British hope and was laughed at in the build-up to the Gold Cup, only to finish third to last year’s one-two.

And coming back here to have a run in the Bowl is absolutely the right thing to do. He won the Many Clouds over here at Christmas, won the Manifesto here last year and has looked and travelled far more comfortable here than he done on more undulating tracks.

He’s such a smooth traveller that I’d fancy him to coast into this race and pick up the pieces. After all, Aintree is the only racecourse that Protektorat has even won at twice. Given they didn’t go hard at all in the Gold Cup, I wouldn’t be worried about stamina either.

Fans at Aintree for the Grand National

2. Brewin’upastorm, Thursday, 3.30pm

So often a horse’s reputation is defined by what they manage at the Cheltenham Festival. And if you were going off that alone, Brewin’upastorm is worth sixpence.

He was the hot favourite for the novice hurdle race at Cheltenham in January of that year before finishing a well-beaten fourth behind City Island in the Ballymore. He was again warm order to win the Arkle the following year but unseated.

He fell in the Relkeel on New Years Day when favourite, so Olly Murphy rightly decided that he could perhaps sidestep Gloucestershire and come straight here.

His best effort in his novice hurdle season came in the Mersey Novices here when behind only Reserve Tank. He had genuinely hard luck when having to switch in-running late on in the Aintree Hurdle last year and then won the Betfair Hurdle in November.

3. Senior Citizen, Friday 4.05pm

The Topham Trophy is the perfect target for Senior Citizen who has always just looked a touch below graded company over fences.

Alan King’s gelding has had three runs here in the last 16 months and has improved each time. His first run at Aintree was the only occasion in which he was ridden by Tom Bellamy and you can certainly make a case for him never being given a chance that day.

He was coaxed into the Topham last year and outran his double-figure price quite easily – it was just a case that 137 was a far more accurate reflection of his ability than 145 was of Livelovelaugh’s that day.

He was back in November for the Grand Sefton which he would have won had he not been carried right at the elbow, so I believe he’ll be overpriced regardless on the day.

4. Blaklion, Saturday, 5.15pm

Now, he’s 43 at the weights so you’d expect him to get in – and if he does, he’s bound to outrun his price. At one time, there was conviction in the Twiston-Davies camp that they had their Gold Cup star after his riveting success in the then-RSA.

He’s had seven runs at this course and has genuinely always run his race, factoring in that Sam Twiston-Davies lost an iron in the Becher Chase in 2018.

You’d have secured place money in last year’s renewal; he was brought down in 2018 when firmly in touch; wo the Becher on heavy ground in 2017; was fourth in the National in 2017; third to Native River in the Midway in his novice chase campaign. He absolutely loves it around here.

5. Anibale Fly, Saturday, 5.15pm

One of the most likeable Irish horses of this generation, Tony Martin’s stable star is back for one more go at the National course at Aintree and I think some traders are keen to forget him. I’m not so sure I’d like that myself.

Now, it’s been 18 years since Amberleigh House won the National as a 12 year old, but Tony Martin believes that aiming hm for this race and bypassing the Gold Cup could make the difference.

He certainly didn’t look right in this last year, but finishing fourth and fifth in this race means he’d be a lively outsider if he’s set – and the vibes from Tony is that he’s giving him the best chance of his career because of his prep.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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