Definitly Red (5:15) is fancied to land Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National for Brian Ellison and Danny Cook, a jockey that has been in fine form of late.
The eight-year-old was a smart novice last term and has progressed through the handicap ranks this season, winning Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick and Doncaster’s Grimpthorpe Chase, where he had last year’s Grand National second The Last Samuri 14 lengths back in second. It was the manner in which he finished this race, from the back of the last fence, that convinced me the step up in trip shouldn’t pose any problems and the pick of his form has come on flat, left-handed, galloping tracks.
Both Vieux Lion Rouge and Blaklion are respected, although I still have a nagging doubt about how the former weakened late on last year, and, if it continues to dry out, Saint Are would be worthy of each-way consideration at bigger odds.
Earlier on the card No Hassle Hoff (1:45) is taken to land the opening 3m-handicap hurdle for Dan and Harry Skelton.
A winner at Hereford earlier in the season, he bumped into smart novices the past twice and looks on a fair mark (134) for this handicap debut. He also promises to be well suited by a strongly run race.
The Mersey Novices’ Hurdle looks an absolute cracker and, though this represents a big step up in class having won a handicap last time, Brio Conti (2:25) should be ideally suited by conditions.
A smooth-traveller, the track at Aintree should play to his strengths and Sean Bowen has struck up a really good partnership with this improving grey.
I’m having a couple of days off after Aintree, so my column will be back from Tuesday. Good luck.
1:45 Aintree: No Hassle Hoff; 10/1 Paddy Power
2:25 Aintree: Brio Conti; 5/1 Paddy Power
5:15 Aintree: Definitly Red; 10/1 Betvictor