Seems hours away yet (it is), but all roads today point towards 5.15pm, when the Randox Grand National Handicap Chase takes place at Aintree and if you always wondered what a ‘mixed metaphor’ was, that’s one.

L S Lowry would have been proud to lead up today’s favourite, Cloth Cap to the tune immortalised(?) by the geezers in the headline and there is no getting away from this 9-y-o’s chances.

An easy win in the ‘Ladbroke‘ at Newbury in November crystallised the plan and sauntering to victory in a Listed Chase at Kelso last month was a perfect warm up. All this means that Cloth Cap runs this afternoon off a stone lower mark than it would have to carry in future races, shouldering just 10st 5lbs.

There are, of course, a myriad of things that can go wrong in 40 runner races over these fences, but that applies to all the other runners as well and now that our main selection has moved out to an acceptable price we must get you to back it at 11-2.

Second up in our portfolio is the main hope among JP McManus‘ 7 runners, Kimberlite Candy, prepared meticulously by Tom Lacey.

Proven over the course, having already finished second twice, this 9-y-o was denied a crack last year because of dear old Covid, but you betcha it’s primed to the minute this time round. 16-1 are the odds of reward.

With a veritable phalanx of Irish trained runners in the field, we complete our list by suggesting modest each way investments on two of them – Acapella Bourgeois at 28-1 and Class Conti at 50s.

There are other races taking place at Aintree, first up being the Grade 1 Betway Mersey Novices Hurdle at 2.25.

We’re gonna take on the first two in the market in this race by putting up Minella Drama as an each way alternative.

Donald McCain‘s 6-y-o stepped up to today’s trip for the first time last time out in a Listed event at Market Rasen and Brian Hughes hardly had to breath on it to win going away, beating a highly progressive rival in the process. There would appear to be plenty more to come and, at 10-1, this may be the value bet.

You will, we hope, forgive us for not taking on Shishkin (1-7) in the 3.00, so it’s swiftly on to the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at 3.35, which is a ‘usual suspects’ race par excellence.

Thyme Hill and Paisley Park renew rivalry yet again and are at the head of affairs in the betting, but we take a punt that Lisnagar Oscar can show the pzazz exhibited when winning the Stayers Hurdle at the Festival in 2020.

Travelling really well before capsizing in this season’s renewal, LO comes here a fresh horse and, with Our Rachel up top can outrun its odds of 11-1.

That just leaves the Betway Handicap Chase at 4.15 and in this we are sucked in to backing the favourite Happy Go Lucky at 11-4.

Kim Bailey‘s 7-y-o ran a cracker at Cheltenham, just giving best to the sprightly Vintage Clouds and the reasonable 2lbs hike in the rating should not prevent David Bass bringing home the bacon.

Right, let’s get the National out of the way and then see if Justin Rose can hang on.


Cloth Cap 5.15 Aintree 1.5pts e/w @ 11-2 (6 places)

Kimberlite Candy 5.15 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 16-1 (6 places)

Acapella Bourgeois 5.15 Aintree 0.5pts e/w @ 28-1 (6 places)

Class Conti 5.15 Aintree 0.5pts e/w @ 50-1 (6 places)

Minella Drama 2.25 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 10-1

Lisnagar Oscar 3.35 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 11-1 (4 places)

Happy Go Lucky 4.15 Aintree 2pts win @ 11-4


* ‘Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats and Dogs’ – Brian & Michael (1978)

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