Day 2 of the Grand National meeting, with the Randox Topham Handicap Chase at 4.05 the feature race.
Just 30 runners are scheduled to take part and it’s 7-1 the field, which is as it should be in a race of this nature.
We will throw three darts at the board, starting with Spiritofthegames, which is available at 14-1. Dan Skelton‘s 10-y-o hasn’t actually won a race since 2018 but has put together a string of placed efforts in much better contests than this, including a doughty 3rd in The Plate at the Cheltenham Festival.
If taking to the National fences, this could be the day.
Our other two picks are Mister Coffey at 15-2 and the tried and trusted campaigner Senior Citizen at 12-1.
Action kicks off with the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle at 2.20 which sees the return to action of Jonbon, which lost its unbeaten record in the Supreme Novices when finishing a distant second to the freakish Constitution Hill.
At even money and after a hard race at the Festival, this doesn’t look value, although its hard to find one to beat it if all is well. On balance, we advise a watching brief.
The Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase at 2.55 is billed as a shoot-out between Bravemansgame and L’Homme Presse, which are both priced up at 11-8. Problem is L’Homme Presse is a doubtful runner, with the fragrant Venetia due to walk the course at lunchtime to see if the ground is soft enough. If it doesn’t run, Bravemansgame will be a 1-3 shot, which is no fun, is it?
Regrettably, we must pass this one by as well.
At 3.30, the Grade 1 Marsh Chase takes place, won impressively last year by Fakir D’Oudaires, who is back for another go.
There seems no obvious reason why Joseph O’Brien‘s charge won’t complete the double, so we advise a win bet at 5-4.
As a safety net, we also suggest an each way bet on Saint Calvados at 8-1 to fulfil the promise it’s always had, especially now going left handed (at last).
The Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at 4.40 completes the televised coverage and has another Joseph runner installed as favourite, in the shape of Banbridge.
Comfortable winner of the Martin Pipe at the Festival, off a mark of 137, this 6-y-o steps up to 3 miles for the first time this afternoon but is certainly bred to relish the extra distance. The 11-4 on offer should be taken.
One horse with proven stamina is Paul Nicholls‘ runner Gelino Bello, which blew any cobwebs away at Newbury last month, in preparation for today and can be backed each way at 11-2 – so let’s do that, then.
Back for you-know-what day tomorrow.
Spiritofthegames 4.05 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (7 places Hills/bet365)
Mister Coffey 4.05 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 15-2 (7 places Hills/bet365)
Senior Citizen 4.05 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (7 places Hills/bet365)
Fakir D’Oudairies 3.30 Aintree 5pts win @ 5-4
Saint Calvados 3.30 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 8-1
Banbridge 4.40 Aintree 3pts win @ 11-4
Gelino Bello 4.40 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 5-1 (4 places)