• Tue 26 Sep, 2017
  • 10:12 BST
  • 06:12 EST (BST-4)
  • 12:12 CEST (BST+2)

Five to follow on Saturday

Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips at Aintree and Sandown Park on Saturday. View selections below.

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THE YOUNG MASTER (1.35) can lay down an important Grand National marker by bagging Aintree’s Betfred Becher Chase.

Neil Mulholland has his string in fantastic form and The Young Master ended the season on the high when lifting the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April. He has always looked a National type and was bought for this purpose by the Waley-Cohen family.

The Young Master also ran well at the Cheltenham festival, running a respectable third to Un Temps Pour Tout and Holywell, and he just gets the nod over last year’s Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri.

Up 10lb for that sterling effort, The Last Samuri is one of several opponents bringing the ‘Aintree factor’ into this significant trial. His recent run when fifth to classy Valseur Lido at Down Royal should have put the top weight spot-on for today’s test and The Last Samuri showed a nice turn of foot to land the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster (soft) in March, beating another Mulholland charge in The Druids Nephew.

Another red-hot trainer, Colin Tizzard, saddles Viconte Du Noyer and the gelding has Aintree form, posting a third to Katachenko in the Red Rum Chase (over the Mildmay course). Viconte Du Noyer scored on his first start for the Tizzard yard (previously with Henry De Bromhead), landing the BetVictor Chase at Cheltenham’s Open meeting. He had last year’s National Hunt Chase winner Minella Rocco back in third and the form of that race received a significant boost by Native River’s Hennessy triumph.

Alvarado will be all the better for his run behind Viconte Du Noyer at Cheltenham (sixth) and is very much at home around Aintree having finished fourth in the 2014 and 2015 Grand Nationals.

Now pushing 12 years of age, the evergreen Alvarado ran a cracker at Ayr in April when chasing home Vicente in the Scottish Grand National and looks a solid each-way alternative with trainer Fergal O’Brien also among the winners.

Gordon Elliott’s Ucello Conti, sixth to Rule The World in last season’s Grand National, has been well supported all week and is vying for favouritism. It goes without saying that the yard is in terrific heart and money usually talks with this operation. A recent spin over hurdles adds to the intrigue.

Last year’s winner Highland Lodge is another with positive credentials, while Double Ross is turned out again quickly after his heroics (third) in last weekend’s Hennessy.

Mouse Morris is hoping a minor op will benefit his Irish National winner Rogue Angel and the drying ground will definitely suit another course specialist, Saint Are.

Near the foot of the weights, Portrait King is better than his form figures would indicate and brings plenty of useful Grand National form to the table. It promises to be quite a race.

There is a second chance to enjoy the thrill of the National fences in the Betfred Grand Sefton Chase over the 2m 5f ‘Topham’ trip.

Last year’s finish was fought out between Benny’s Mist and Seventh Sky, and the runner-up enjoys a slight weight pull this time round.

Venetia Williams gave Bennys Mist a pipe-opener at Cheltenham three weeks ago when tailed off to Astracad and we should see a much improved performance back over the Aintree obstacles. However, he has to hump a lot more weight this year and preference is for Paul Nicholls’ AS DE MEE (3.15).

As De Mee adapted to the National fences when seventh to Eastlake in last season’s Topham and wasn’t disgraced (eighth) behind Taquin Du Seuil in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham. The six-year-old’s jumping was a bit sticky on a couple of occasions and he became detached at the top of the hill before running on. The handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds which is helpful.

Top weight Seventh Sky and Valadom are closely matched on Bangor form, while La Vaticane was hampered at the final fence by winner Desert Queen when reappearing in a Listed mares’ event at Market Rasen.

The 2015 Grand National hero Many Clouds makes his comeback in the Betfred Lotto Chase, his first run since getting bogged down under a hefty burden in last season’s renewal won by Rule The World.

Many Clouds also has experience over the Mildmay course having chased home Don Poli in 2015, but the concession of 5lb to MINELLA ROCCO (2.40) is asking a lot.

Minella Rocco, winner of the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, made a very pleasing return at Cheltenham last month when occupying third spot to Viconte Du Noyer and looks destined for another profitable campaign.

Charlie Hall winner Irish Cavalier also has to give 5lb to Minella Rocco and that sways the vote towards Jonjo O’Neill’s chaser.

The Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown is always an exhilarating experience for all concerned and UN DE SCEAUX (3.00) can take the prize back to Ireland.

He is the preferred choice of Willie Mullins over absent ante-post favourite Douvan and the eight-year-old has Sire De Grugy’s scalp on his belt after beating the former Queen Mother Champion Chase winner by five lengths at Ascot in January.

Sire De Grugy made a sparkling return when scoring at Ascot last month and looks sure to make a bold bid to supplement last year’s thrilling verdict over Special Tiara.

Gary Moore also saddles the exciting Ar Mad, so electric over his fences when thumping Bristol De Mee 10 lengths in the novices’ chase on this card last year. He clocked a much quicker time than stablemate Sire De Grugy and will be hard to catch if managing to get away from Un De Sceaux over the railway fences.

ZUBAYR (2.25) deserved better than crashing out at the final flight after serving it up to Sceau Royal in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton and the Nicholls four-year-old has the opportunity to atone in the Listed Hurdle.

The son of Authorized looked a bit special when landing the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton in late February and underfoot conditions look ideal.

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