A HORRIBLE day for the punters on Day 2 with all the favourites losing and I had very little luck too. From Tycoon Prince who was travelling well when he clattered a hurdle in the back straight all the way through to Bellshill who just missed out by a neck. That would have been a great saver on a poor day but it wasn't to be.
Anyway, today is the big one ladies and gents. The biggest race of the year and a chance for National Hunt racing to get all the attention across the country. I've already published my runner by runner guide for the big race and I would urge you all to have a read through if you can. If you're being lazy, scroll to the bottom for the summary.
There's also some top class action on the supporting card though and there are a few races there that are easier to predict than the big one.
1.45 Gaskells Handicap Hurdle
A tough old race to work out here and I've looked at it in a few different ways to try to find an angle in. If In Doubt has obvious claims but that is built into his price and 9/2 is short in a race like this where there are so many runners. If In Doubt found that out himself at Cheltenham.
The one that I have plumped for is UBAK trained by Gary Moore and ridden by Josh Moore. There are two main points that I like about him – the first is that he looked good at the finish at Cheltenham in the Coral Cup last time (finishing 3rd) so the extra distance here shouldn't be an issue and should bring some improvement. The second is that he was a winner at Aintree, albeit three years ago before an injury kept him out for over a year and there is a lot to be said for course form. He still looks like he has improvement to come as a stayer and with nice double figure odds available he looks like a nice each way bet to get us started.
- Recommendations: 1pt e/w – Ubak – 16/1 with RaceBets
2.25 EZ Trader Mersey Novices' Hurdle
It's unfortunate that there are only 7 runners because we will only get 1st and 2nd for each way bets. Yorkhill should win this on the bridle but 2/7 isn't a price that I would be interested in and as we saw with Vautour yesterday anything can happen. Flying Angel holds some appeal as a progressive sort who might be able to improve again but I would be looking for 3 places to have an each way bet. He might be worth backing in the ‘without Yorkhill' market if you fancy that.
- Recommendations: No bet
3.00 Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase
Douvan should win this without any real difficulty and his price (1/6) reflects that. It's not even the sort of price I would put in a multiple bet. I do think there is one here that we could back each way in the hope that he gets a place or something goes wrong for Douvan. Alisier D'irlande has looked very interesting on his two most recent starts over in Ireland.
He jumps from the front and is aggressive and although he is unlikely to be anywhere near as good as Douvan it could make things interesting if he jumps into the lead at the start and asks a couple of questions of Douvan. 2nd place brings us a small profit so it's probably worth the each way to see what happens.
- Recommendations: 1pt e/w – Alisier D'irlandes at 7/1 with Racebets
3.40 Liverpool Stayers' Hurdle
A fascinating race despite the fact that the favourite is heavy odds on. Thistlecrack is simply awesome and ever time I try to knock his form or pick holes in it he proves me wrong. By the time Cheltenham came round I had decided to just lump on him and it was the right choice – he could have stopped to pose for selfies with the crowd in the final furlong and still won. His form is miles above any of these and you can understand why the bookies have him priced up at an unattractive price (1/4 at the time of writing) and I can't recommend a bet at that price.
The angle I am going to go for centres around another horse – Different Gravey – who lived up to his name in a handicap last time out when he bolted up by 15 lengths with Nico De Boinville failing miserably to keep the winning distance down to a minimum. One of the highlights of the season was Nicky Henderson's face as he realised that the horse's handicap mark would be smashed as a result. The mixed emotions of winning but knowing that the long term plan was goosed were hilarious to see. What we can take out of that though is that this is a very good horse. He'll be well-suited by the flat track at Aintree and I expect him to get quite close to Thistlecrack without winning.
There are only 6 runners so the each way terms are restricted to 2 places but nevertheless my recommendation is that we have a place only bet on Different Gravey which is currently an inviting 6/4 with RaceBets. I'll be kicking myself if he somehow manages to beat Thistlecrack but I can't see that so no point throwing money away on the win bet.
- Recommendation: 2pt place only – Different Gravey – 6/4 with RaceBets
4.20 Betfred Handicap Chase
A nice little handicap chase to set us up for the big one at 5.15 and I'm glad to see that Knock House has found a place in the line up after missing out on the Grand National. He's too young for the big race in my opinion anyway so this could come as a blessing. He is progressive and will be absolutely primed for the big day so I expect he could go close at a very nice price. Nina Carberry in the saddle is another bonus too.
- Recommendations: 1pt e/w – Knock House – 2pt e/w at 8/1 with RaceBets
5.15 Crabbie's Grand National Chase
My full runner-by-runner guide is available here so I won't go over old ground;
- 5pts e/w Morning Assembly – 25/1 with RaceBets (already advised)
- 3pts e/w Holywell (ONLY IF THE GROUND IS GOOD OR GOOD TO SOFT – looking unlikely now)
- 3pts e/w Goonyella – 16/1 with RaceBets (already advised)
6.10 Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle
Not the sort of race where we should be wading in, particularly if you haven't been lucky in the National. The one I like for this is in great form, having won a maiden hurdle less than a fortnight ago. He wasn't tested much that day so should still be fresh enough for this. He was 5th in the Imperial Cup but that was quite hectic and I expect this to be less of a test. With a bit more experience under his belt I expect he will improve on his 5th that day.
- Recommendations: 1pt e/w – Allee Bleue – 10/1 with RaceBets
Good luck to everyone for the third and final day and let's hope we finish with a hat full of winners!