• Sat 22 Oct, 2016
  • 10:13 BST
  • 06:13 EST (BST-4)
  • 12:13 CEST (BST+2)

Aintree Triple On Thursday

Paul Ferguson gets stuck into the first day of the Grand National meeting at Aintree today and brings us 3 choice tips to follow.

The Grand National meeting at Aintree kicks off with the BGC Partners Liverpool Hurdle, in which three-time World Hurdle winner Big Buck’s bids to land this race for the third year in a row.

Paul Nicholls’ eight-year-old is the best stayer we’ve seen over hurdles for some time and I never envisaged opposing him at this stage of his career. But, Ladbrokes are offering 4/1 and ¼ odds about his main rival Grands Crus (2:00) who looks an each-way bet to nothing this afternoon.

If Big Buck’s is to be beaten it could be here at Liverpool, as he has looked in trouble at stages in this race the past two years, before his class eventually told. Grands Crus is a much better horse than Souffleur and Mighty Man, who Big Buck’s beat here the last twice, so the champ has more on his plate today.

The selection has been a revelation this season and has just under 2 lengths to find with the favourite from their Cheltenham running and I’m pretty sure Tom Scudamore will sit closer to Ruby Walsh this time around.

Walsh and trainer Paul Nicholls are responsible for the first three favourites, all of which will be sent off pretty short, and the pick of those at the prices is Zarkandar (2:30) who can maintain his 100% record in the 4-Y-O Anniversary Hurdle.

The son of Azamour won the Adonis Hurdle on his debut over timber in February and followed up impressively in the Triumph at Cheltenham just under three weeks ago.

The form of that race was boosted when the runner-up won a Listed race on the Flat in Ireland at the weekend and he holds a few of these on that form, most notably Grandouet who came home third.

Nicky Henderson’s charge should appreciate this easier track and looks a threat, but the selection has only had two runs this term, in comparison to Grandouet’s five and Zarkandar can confirm the form, with VC and Coral offering Evs.

The closing Silver Cross Handicap Hurdle looks ultra-competitive, but I’m keen on the chances of smart novice Megastar (5:25) off a reasonable looking mark of 141.

Gary Moore’s six-year-old won the bumper at the meeting last year and will relish the speed-based track. He’s been crying out for better ground, so the rain in Liverpool this morning is a slight concern, as he’s been stuck in the mud during the mid-winter.

A smooth traveller, the trip around this sharp track should suit and his fifth in the Neptune Investment reads particularly well.

Hopefully the ground will dry out during the day and, if it does, he looks a solid each-way play at a general 8/1 to 4 places.

Thursday’s selections:
2:00 Aintree Grands Crus (each-way @ 4/1)
2:30 Aintree Zarkandar (@ Evs)
5:25 Aintree Megastar (each-way @ 8/1 general)

Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2010-11 is available hot off the press from the 1st October for just £9.99

Send a cheque payable to “The Racing Insider” to The Racing Insider, PO Box 98, Liverpool L9 1WY. Please include a note of your name and address and telephone number or email address.

Last year’s selections included:
Hurricane Fly: 3/1 winner of the G1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle
Copper Bleu: 12/1 winner of the Jewson at Cheltenham
Great Endeavour: 18/1 winner of the Festival Plate
Tranguil Sea: 11/2 winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Sizing Europe: 6/1 winner of the Arkle
Weapon’s Amnesty: 10/1 winner of the RSA Chase

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