Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with seven to follow on Saturday on day three of the Aintree Festival, including The Last Samuri in the big one.
Only one place to start and that is with the greatest horserace in the world the Crabbie’s Grand National over thirty fences and the best part of four-and-a-half-miles; with 5mls of rain overnight forecast stamina is likely to be at a premium with the going unlikely to be anything other than soft.
My antepost fancies Saint Are and Holywell are good ground horses and they are reluctantly overlooked; Many Clouds is our 7/1 favourite at BetVictor, each way six places, and is bidding to become the first horse since the great Red Rum in 1973-74 to win the race back-to-back.
Trained in Lambourn by Oliver Sherwood the favourite will carry only 1lb more this afternoon, handles soft ground but I just feel he might find one or two too good on this ground.
Barry Geraghty has chosen Shutthefrontdoor, fifth in the race last year, but I think Gallant Oscar might be the best of the JP McManus horses; trained by Tony Martin the 10-year-old finished third at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival behind The Druids Nephew, and is worse off with that rival, but I think he might reverse the form given he has been laid out for the race.
Goonyella ran a great trial for the race when runner up at Naas last month but he hasn’t looked a natural over these fences in two previous runs to date and the vote goes to The Last Samuri (5.15) who can give Kim Bailey a second win in the race after Mr Frisk back in 1990!
The selection was an impressive winner at Doncaster on soft ground and whilst that was only a six-runner race he ticks all the right boxes, jumped really well in south Yorkshire and would be carrying 12lbs more if the handicapper could frame the race again.
In the opener I am going to give Urban Hymn (1.45) an each way vote despite not having run since pulling up on New Year’s Day 2015; trainer Malcolm Jefferson saddled the winner of the corresponding race in 2012 and has his string in good form. The selection has a good record fresh, has been given a chance by the handicapper and won a Grade 2 Hurdle as a novice over three miles.
It is disappointing that Yanworth swerves a rematch with Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner Yorkhill (2.25) and that decision leaves the race at the mercy of the Willie Mullins runner who is unbeaten over hurdles and looks set to give Mullins another boost in his quest for the British Trainer’s title.
Douvan (3.05) is one of the most exciting horses in years and is another who cannot be opposed with only the 13 fences between him and victory in the Maghull Novices’ Chase such was the brilliance of his performance in the Arkle last month.
A third successive short-priced favourite who cannot be opposed is Thistlecrack (3.40) who ran away with the World Hurdle at Cheltenham last month; if you don’t want to take the odds about the three short-priced favourite you might want to consider our Lengthen The Odds market. One thing’s for sure the treble will be very popular with punters.
Band Of Blood (4.20) disappointed at Cheltenham last time but has been dropped 3lbs and is taken to land the race before the big one for Dr Richard Newland who won the National of course back in 2014 with Pineau De Re.
In the finale for conditional and amateur jockeys Allee Bleue (6.10) is taken to score for Philip Hobbs although it looks a very trappy 22-runner event;
The waiting is almost over good luck to whoever you back in the National but do remember the six places at BetVictor.