A maximum field of 40 runners for today’s Randox Grand National Handicap Chase which takes place at 5.15 this afternoon at Aintree.

Last year’s winner Minella Times is back to defend its crown and heads the market at 9-1. Thing is, last year the 9-y-o carried 10st 4lbs to victory and this year it’s 11st 10lbs, a hefty 20lbs hike. Added to that, form figures of FP in two runs this season means we must call upon the Spanish Archer to do his stuff.

Our portfolio starts with Any Second Now, which finished a gallant third last year, despite being severely hampered by a faller and comes here in really good form. An each way bet at 10-1 is suggested.

Another Oirish challenger that catches our beady is School Boy Hours from Noel Meade‘s yard. A gritty winner at Leopardstown in December, SBH was going extremely well in the Kim Muir at the Festival before stumbling badly and being pulled up. That may prove to be a blessing in disguise come 5.30 and we should have a tad each way at 28-1.

We complete our set with, hopefully, the best of the Brits, namely Kildisart and the forgotten horse De Rasher Counter both at 66s.

Telly coverage begins with the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at 2.20 with the short priced favourite Three Stripe Life trying to go one better than its previous three seconds in Grade 1 races. Must have a fair chance of so doing, but, at 3-1 we think the value lies elsewhere.

Two runners that swerved Cheltenham to wait for this are Good Risk At All and North Lodge and we recommend an interest in both.

GRAA had oodles in hand when winning an Ascot handicap in style last time out and can make the transition to Graded races in its stride, while North Lodge is unlucky not to be unbeaten in its three runs to date and will almost certainly give its running. 6-1 and 7-1 are the respective prices.

In the Maghull Novices’ Chase at 3.00 we have no intention of taking on Edwardstone at 8-15 so swiftly move on to the JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle at 3.00.

This features three of the first four home from the Stayers’ Hurdle, with the winner, Flooring Porter favourite at 13-8 to confirm the form.

Aintree ain’t Cheltenham though and this time we take dear old Champ, a previous course and distance winner, to come out on top at 4-1.

This just leaves the simple matter of the 16 runner Betway Handicap Chase at 4.15 and we are going to leave this to Espoir De Romay.

Kim Bailey‘s charge looked all set to win the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at this meeting a year ago before going rump over mammary at the second last, leaving Chantry House to come home at its leisure.

Two pipe openers in Listed company should have the 8-y-o spot on for just its second run in a handicap (won the other one) and, at 15-2, this looks a tasty each way bet.

That’s it – now off to watch Scottie win the Masters.


Any Second Now 5.15 Aintree 1.5pts e/w @ 10-1 (6 places)

School Boy Hours 5.15 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 28-1 (6 places)

Kildisart 5.15 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 66-1 (6 places bet365)

De Rasher Counter 5.15 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 66-1 (6 places)

Good Risk At All 2.25 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 6-1 (4 places)

North Lodge 2.25 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 7-1 (4 places)

Champ 3.35 Aintree 2pts win @ 4-1

Espoir De Romay 4.15 Aintree 1pt e/w @ 15-2 (5 places)

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