2.25 Aintree

Events didn’t pan out as Willie Mullins would have liked yesterday with Vautour capsizing and Limini beaten, but YORKHILL could barely have been more impressive in the Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in beating Yanworth and it will take a brave punter to field against him here. The only slight issue with his chance is that he can be keen in his races and there is the potential for a lack of cover here with just six rivals. However, he comfortably dealt with a small field at Sandown earlier this season and looks tough to oppose.
Le Prezien has improved all season and was 3l too strong for The Dutchman at Kelso last time, while the tough and genuine Flying Angel should also have a shot at the forecast berth after performing with credit in two tough handicaps recently.
Yorkhill to beat Le Prezien - 1pt @ 9/4

3.00 Aintree

Having been utterly dominant at Cheltenham in the Arkle Chase, there could now be some nerves surrounding the chance of DOUVAN. It goes without saying he will be a thin price to follow up here, even on softer ground, and the appetite to back him at those odds is non-existent. Fox Norton and The Game Changer finished a respectful distance behind the long-odds on favourite at Cheltenham and the latter may be able to reverse placings on easier ground especially given that he was bumped at an important stage and was only overtaken late on. Alisier D’Irlande missed Cheltenham and hails from a yard that boast an excellent record at this meeting, especially with their novices, so is hard to dismiss.
The Game Changer (Betting without Douvan) - 1pt @ 10/3

3.40 Aintree

There is no doubt the short-price treble comprising of Yorkhill, Douvan and THISTLECRACK will be popular today and this looks a relatively straightforward task for the classy World Hurdle winner. Colin Tizzard’s star hurdler was a winner here 12 months ago before going on a victorious spree with saw him canter to an impressive Cheltenham win three weeks ago. His only defeat in a year came at Punchestown last April and he has a stone and more in hand of his rivals on ratings.
Different Gravey proved just that on his return at Ascot where he sauntered to victory but he is as yet unproven at the trip and could be vulnerable if the rains arrive over today’s distance so Shaneshill, who returns to hurdles, maybe a better value price to follow home the favourite.
Shaneshill (Betting without Thistlecrack) - 1pt @ 3/1

4.20 Aintree

A light weight and a return to a flat track could see BAND OF BLOOD (Best price 14-1) leave behind a below-par Cheltenham festival effort at a tidy price. The selection was only beaten a dozen lengths in the Irish National 12 months ago and hunted up The Last Samuri and The Druid’s Nephew at Doncaster on his penultimate start so is clearly a useful chaser when in the mood. Cernunnos and MYSTIFIABLE (Best price 6-1) are two lightly-raced unexposed chasers who should also be on the scene. The former is tackling three miles for the first time which maybe an issue, but Mystifiable should relish conditions judged on recent wins at Leicester and Newbury.
Band Of Blood - 0.5pt e/w @ 14/1
Mystifiable - 1pt @ 13/2

5.15 Aintree - Grand National

The green and gold silks of owner JP McManus have dominated races over the famous Aintree fences this week and GALLANT OSCAR (Best price 20-1) could complete a remarkable treble for the legendary Irish gambler in today’s Crabbies Grand National. After a period of dominance around the turn of the century, Irish victories in the world’s greatest horserace have been hard to find, indeed it has been 2007 since a horse from across the sea prevailed. However, Gallant Oscar could end that hoodoo with conditions likely to be suitable this afternoon.
Trainer Tony Martin has deservedly earned a reputation for bringing horses to the boil for big festival handicaps and, although he has endured a quieter season than normal to date, there have been signs of a renaissance in recent days.
Martin’s son of Oscar appeared on the radar for this race 12 months ago when an eye-catching performance in a Cheltenham festival handicap preceded a sparkling Punchestown success.
It could be said that the selection has undergone a ‘typical’ Martin preparation in that he hasn’t been seen over fences that often this season in a bid to protect his handicap mark. There were flashes that he was returning to something like his best form at Naas last time when he travelled nicely into the race before fading and he should be cherry ripe this afternoon.
McManus also boasts excellent claims with SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR ((Best price 18-1) as he bids to add the National to victories for On The Fringe in the Fox Hunters’ Chase and Eastlake (Topham Chase) this week. Fifth in the race last year when not seeming to quite see out the four-and-a-half miles, Shutthefrontdoor has recovered from the abscess that was found to be troubling him at Newbury last time and is reported in great form at home.
A slight negative to his chance would be the possibility of an overnight deluge, but his experience of the track should stand him in good stead and it is perhaps interesting that Barry Geraghty, on board Eastlake for Jonjo O’Neill, prefers his chance to the other three McManus runners.
Gallant Oscar - 0.5pt e/w @ 18/1
Shutthefrontdoor - 0.5pt e/w @ 20/1