After claiming three each-way returns yesterday, Architect Tips has 12 selections for day three of the Grand National Festival.
COEUR SEREIN (best price 33-1) ran a lot better than his finishing position suggested at Cheltenham last time, where he was caught up in some early interference before coming into the race with a good-looking challenge, only to keep on at the one pace. He didn’t get much cover when he went down the inside in the home straight but stuck to the task well and he remains on the same mark here. I think with the six places widely on offer, he might be able to finish a lot closer at a double-figure price.
MILL GREEN (best price 12/1) has put together two solid efforts since reverting back to hurdles, including when posting a career-best display when third in Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last month. He swept into contention and took the lead on the bridle approaching the last hurdle and, although he was swallowed by the eventual first and second in the latter stages, he kept on strongly to take third. I think if the race was re-run, Nico would have delayed his challenge later and the pair would have probably won but, essentially, the assessor has only put him up a couple of pounds. This track should play more to his strengths and a similar showing in the opener should be enough for him to be in the frame at the very least off a mark that’s far from the ceiling of his ability. Six places widely available.
IF THE CAP FITS (best price 16-1) bounced back to some kind of form when a strong-finishing sixth in the Pertemps at Cheltenham last month and a return to Aintree might well see him improve on that effort in the opener. He won a Grade 1 over C&D once upon a time and knowing this will be a bit easier than when contesting last year’s Grade 1 three-mile hurdle event, he makes an each-way appeal in the opener off a career-low mark under Daryl Jacob with six places widely available.
Three Stripe Life will be tough to beat but COLONEL MUSTARD (best price 12-1) boasts some equally strong novice form and stayed on nicely behind the former on his penultimate outing to indicate that a step up in trip might well bridge the gap between the pair. I thought he ran a belter to finish third in the County Hurdle and this strong-traveller looks the ideal type for this scenario as he’s a slick hurdler who will probably be better suited to this flat track rather than the stiff finish at Cheltenham. I think he’s a really solid each-way bet in this with four places available and the possibility of coming out on top if everything does fall into place.
In the feature race of the day, the Liverpool Hurdle, I am going to side with FLOORING PORTER (best price 7-4), who should be a lot shorter for this in the betting from my point of view. This seven-year-old did brilliantly to claim a second Stayers’ Hurdle when doing it the hard from the front again to see off both Thyme Hill and Champ with a bit up his sleeve. He fluffed his lines on his next start following last year’s win in that very race but everything went wrong for him that day and connections wouldn’t be sending him here unless he’s A1. I find it difficult seeing those who were in behind him at Cheltenham reversing the form and therefore he’s taken to confirm his superiority over those and add another Grade 1 to his CV on British soil.
I cannot believe the price differential between Shan Blue and ESPOIR DE ROMAY (NAP) (best price 8-1), with clear preference for the latter, who’s fancied to avenge for his fall in a Grade 1 at this meeting twelve months and follow in the footsteps of stablemate Happygolucky, who took the spoils in this race last year. The eight-year-old is rated clear of these on 155 and while he’s burdened with top-weight, he has shown enough to me that he is capable of winning off his rating. He ran well on the back of sixth month break to finish third in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase and shaped promisingly to finish third behind Nuts Well at Kelso last-time-out, which came after a four-month break so he’s entitled to strip fitter. On reflection of his fall in the Grade 1 Mildmay over C&D last year, I thought he had the measure of Chantry House until his departure and by that time he had already burnt off Shan Blue, who arrives back at Aintree in lesser form this time round. Moreover, this looks like it has been a long-term project by Kim Bailey and, if he can reproduce a performance similar to twelve months ago at this lower level with a clear round under an attacking ride from David Bass, he no doubt has the qualities to cause some damage and is the each-way NAP of the day at Aintree.
In the concluding race on the card, I can see Kim Bailey’s CHIANTI CLASSICO (best price 16-1) going well with four places widely available. He ran a very good race to finish second at Ascot on debut in which he raced keenly throughout from the front and stuck to his guns in determined fashion to only be beaten around a length. That excellent effort was a testament to his ability as he could have easily folded but he kept going and then he went one better by eleven lengths four months ago. His trainer is prone to doing well in bumpers and I get the impression that this lad is one of his best bumper horses in his yard. With four places generally on offer, I think he is going to run a very big race as one thing for sure, he won’t go down without a fight under David Bass.
Grand National - Winner
FIDDLERONTHEROOF (best price 16-1) ticks a lot of boxes for this event and while he’s yet to have proven himself over marathon trips, everything does point to him relishing it. He’s extremely consistent and brings a touch of class to the race too having won and placed in various Grade 1 events. He ran a belter to finish second in the Ladbrokes Trophy earlier this season and bypassed Cheltenham in order to be saved for this assignment. I think he’ll be really well-suited to these fences and, if he stays, he’s a major each-way player with six places widely on offer.
I have fancied the eight-year-old ENJOY D’Allen (best price 16-1) for the Grand National for a long time and I think he’s got an excellent chance of winning this. He was recently bought by JP McManus and has been trained for the race, while his ultra-consistency cannot be disputed, as proven over the regulation fences, with figures reading 3222112233. His sole attempt to date over a marathon trip came in last year's Irish National, where he ran a blinder to finish third and he warmed up for this with a good run over hurdles last-time-out to finish fifth of 23 following a third in the Paddy Power over the Christmas period. Essentially, the UK assessor has given him a mark of 148, which is only 3Ib higher than his Irish mark and he looks set to carry a low-weight of just 10st 11Ib. He should be well-suited to this stamina test and if he’s within striking distance, I think his staying power will be too much for this field under Conor Orr at the elbow. With six places widely available, he’s a standout each-way proposition in this year’s renewal.
I was over the moon to see ECLAIR SURF (best price 14-1) sneak into this off bottom-weight, who’s got a great chance. He subsequently finished second in the Eider when a one length second to Win My Wings in which he was giving the winner 11Ib. That form has been strongly advertised since as the winner turned the Scottish National into a one-horse race. His jumping was far from fluent at Newcastle but he jumped well at Warwick on his penultimate outing when beating a subsequent Cheltenham Festival runner-up and having crept in here off a very light weight (carried top-weight last time) I think he’s got outstanding claims in the Grand National, provided he can keep the errors at bay under Tom Bellamy, who is likely to ride him prominently. Six places generally available.
Another one to have sneaked into the Grand National at a late stage is the Noel Meade-trained SCHOOL BOY HOURS (best price 25-1) who also makes plenty of each-way appeal. He looked to have plenty up his sleeve when putting it all together to land the Paddy Power Chase over the Christmas period and he looked to be going strongly in the Kim Muir until a bad mistake four out pretty much knocked the stuffing out of him. Interestingly, though, he’s been left on the same mark of 142 which makes him an extremely well-handicapped horse and all of his form points to him relishing this marathon distance as he’s always been strong at the finish in his races. He can make the odd mistake but there’s no doubt he’s a classy individual and now reunited with Sean Flanagan, who has a good record on him, he appears to be just the type of horse to take to this discipline, as he’s likely to be rattling home late into the action, which could be enough to take the spoils off a mark that’s really lenient. Six places widely on offer.
Ben Pauling is set to saddle his first ever runner in the Grand National in the shape of KILDISART (best price 40-1), who’s extremely well-treated and has the right sort of profile for this race to match his fair mark too. He was a smart chaser a couple of seasons ago, where he won some valuable pots and came close to landing the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival when just touched off by a neck. He was ruled out last season through injury but returned from a 14-month absence to finish a creditable fourth in the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury over a trip short of his best. Inevitably, he’s always needed his first run of the season but he showed that the ability firmly remains intact and the Grand National has been his long-term target for almost two years. A mark of 148 appears to be lenient based upon the fact that he’s back on the same mark as when winning off top-weight in a competitive handicap at this meeting three years ago. His trainer has no concerns about him staying the distance and he could surprise a few under James Bowen with six places on offer.