Yesterday was another profitable day for us finishing with Legacy Gold at an SP of 9/1. This selection has brought us into profit whatever happens today and it is nice to know going in that we are going to be walking away with something extra in our pockets after the 2013 Aintree Festival. Today is of course the biggest day of the festival with the Grand National taking place at 4.15pm. Before we get to the Grand National we have four high class races to find selections for so let’s start going through them!
1.45 – JOHN SMITH´S MERSEY NOVICES´ HURDLE
We start with a small field of 8 runners in this novices hurdle. As always we want to begin by removing the horses that we don’t think are going to be able to perform well. This is a process that is done quickly and it does not mean that we can’t bring the runners back in later if we think they warrant it but we need to narrow down the field to likely contenders as quickly as possible.
Doing this removes Seefood, Vasco D’ycy, Dodging Bullets, Ubak and Morning Royalty. Eduard has been consistently improving at a good rate and likes the ground condition. While this race is a couple of furlongs longer than his last, there is every indication that he is going to have no trouble running it. He has won 50% of his races and everything points to this being the runner to beat in this race.
Up And Go whilst performing well doesn’t have as good figures as Eduard but an impressive 75% strike rate over all his races cannot be ignored! The distance will suit and he has won at it before and we have been seeing some improvement. There is a preference for softer ground and todays going is firmer than he is used to, while there are no significant problems foreseen this will be slightly unknown.
Utopie Des Bordes last performance was disappointing. The fifth place at Cheltenham wasn’t the main cause of disappointment but the figure that was achieved doing it, we would have expected more of this runner. Most likely the rise to a distance of three miles was just too much and he is going to be much more comfortable coming back down to two and a half. I would expect to see him running competitively today with a strong chance of taking a place.
The current market favourite is Dodging Bullets and this is likely to be based on the solid run at Cheltenham last October. However since then there have been two less than impressive performance, including one at this years Cheltenham Festival, and we have a rise in distance of 4 furlongs. Whilst racing at a higher class it’s hard to put him above Eduard.
Selection: I will be backing Eduard to win.
2.15 – JOHN SMITH´S MAGHULL NOVICES´ CHASE
With just seven runners in the field you may think that this would be an easy race to analyse. However with all of the runners having some potential it is going to be a very competitive race. The runners that we can safely remove are Special Tiara and Overturn, the latter being beaten easily by Baily Green at Cheltenham earlier in the year.
Marshal Zukhov has looked to be in consistent decline since coming third at Ascot in November 2012 and I wouldn’t be comfortable putting any money on him. Sire De Grugy, while having put in some good figures, doesn’t look to have the class to beat Baily Green who is looking like the one to beat in this race.
Alderwood is definitely one to watch having been consistently improving and then winning in the Cheltenham Festival just a few weeks ago. This runner likes the ground and distance and is going to be putting strong competition. However Baily Green has been a consistent performer. There is no doubt that he likes the ground and distance and put in an impressive performance at the Cheltenham Festival. For me this race is between Alderwood and Baily Green and either could take it. McCoy sits on Alderwood and that cannot be ignored but it is hard to choose between the two.
Selection: The current odds allow an 81% profit on a dutch between Alderwood and Baily Green and this is what I will be doing.
2.50 – JOHN SMITH´S LIVERPOOL HURDLE
There are a number of runners, six to be precise, who have not had a good run in over 300 days and I shall be removing all these runners as contenders straight away. I don’t like to place any bets on a horse that has not performed well in less than three hundred days unless there is a very good reason for it. This reduces the field to seven runners which is a much more manageable amount to begin finding contenders from.
Oscara Dara beat Bears Affair at Kempton in January and can be forgiven the poor performance at Ffos Las over heavy ground condition. However Solwhit and Celestial Halo both beat Oscara Dara at the Cheltenham Festival. African Gold is unlikely to be able to compete at this class and distance and so I am going to remove him from contention.
The runner that cannot be ignored is Holywell. A consistent performer over both ground and distance and one that looks to have strong claims of taking this race home. Solwhit of course came first at Cheltenham and the price of this runner at evens can be attributed to that. While this is an excellent horse I wouldn’t be happy at taking a price of evens in this race.
I have some concerns whether Medinas can perform consistently over this distance which makes this runner one that I would not be happy to place my money on. Attaglance looks to have strong potential but I would like to see more performances against similar class runners to today.
Selection: Holywell looks strong to take this race home and I will be going each-way on this runner.
3.25 – JOHN SMITH´S HANDICAP CHASE
In preparation for the Grand National there are 18 runners in this race and most look to have the potential to compete. We can remove four who have not run a good race recently and another seven who look to be struggling to match the class of this race.
Of those who are left, Loch Ba likes both the distance and ground condition but will be facing a riser in class today. Ikorodu Road likes the conditions and has been putting in some good figures but seems to be incapable of winning a race!
Battle Group has the best form and is likely to be a strong contender, he is well weighted but also ran and won yesterday and coming back to the track so quickly could be a mistake. Johns Spirit has been racing against horses that are good class and looks like he can put in a good performance.
This is a race in which I would strongly recommend you sit back and watch, anything could (and probably will) happen.
Selection: In a race that is very difficult to make a selection I’m going to be taking an each-way bet on Johns Spirit.
4.15 – JOHN SMITH´S GRAND NATIONAL CHASE
The race that we have been building up to for the last two days has an as always massive 40 runners in it. In order to narrow down this field we are going to start by applying some trends.
The three strongest trends are…
- Having won a chase race worth at least £29,000
- Have won over at least 3 miles
- Have had a top three finish in the last three runs
Applying this information we can reduce the field to sixteen runners, still a lot but a big reduction on the 40 we began with!
Due to the stamina required to win this race it is harder for younger and older horses to achieve a win, in fact there hasn’t been a horse younger than eight win the Grand National since 1940 and so we can remove the seven year old Saint Are from contention.
In a race of nearly four and a half miles weight is a very important consideration. Any increase in weight can make a big difference over such a long distance. Imperial Commander us carrying 11-10 and this is likely to be too much for him to maintain stamina over this distance.
Of those that are left Balthazar King cannot be ignored putting in two excellent runs at Cheltenham in October and November of last year. If he can repeat the figures that he put in then he will be one to contend with.
From the rest Big Fella Thanks is back again for his fourth attempt in this race. Every year I think he looks like he has the potential to contend but he fails to make the trip. This year once again he looks to have the potential but I won’t be backing him because the trip just does not seem to suit him!
Teaforthree is the horse that is being whispered about everywhere this year and while impressive it isn’t going to be one for me. He has put in some good figures over very testing ground this season, most recently notable at Chepstow in January where he came second, but while there is strong potential the whispers are likely to knock the price down lower than I would be happy to go.
Seabass came third last year behind Sunnyhillboy in second and is this years favourite. Both have proven that they can compete over the distance and Seabass put in a good performance at Fairyhouse in February. If he builds on this then he could certainly be a threat.
Of the rest Roberto Goldback is an interesting runner and one that hasn’t received much press. He won a tough race at Ascot last year over 3 miles and has been steadily improving since coming back from his break in late December. If this improvement continues he has every chance of being at the wire and is well weighted to do so but there is concern over his jumping ability.
Selection: As always there are many runners with a chance at taking the Grand National crown and often I spread my stake across a number of runners. This year however I am going to be betting on just three runners. Balthazar King looks to have very strong chances over the ground conditions today and could certainly make it to the front of this field. Sunnyhillboy only closely missed winning last year and there is no reason that his performance can not be repeated again today. Roberto Goldback is worth a chance at odds of 22 who, if he can get his jumping together, has every chance of being in the frame. I will be going each-way on Balthazar King, Sunnyhillboy and Roberto Goldback.
5.10 – JOHN SMITH´S HANDICAP HURDLE
Although not a field like the Grand National, twenty two runners is still a large number of horses to be pitted against in this handicap hurdle. Of these runners there are four that look interesting in Meganisi, Local Hero, Changing The Guard and Prince Of Fire.
Local Hero raced in a class one race last time out which and came fourth. Previously at Aintree he put in an excellent performance in a class one hurdle and if he repeats this performance is going to be the one to beat. Today he has been dropped in class and although top weighted has every chance of taking this home.
Meganisi has been improving steadily and that is always a good sign. There is a rise in class and last time this happened we saw a drop in performance but he is starting from a much better place today than previously. This class rise could be too much to take the win but there are definite chances of a place here.
Changing The Guard has been in a decline recently which gives cause for concern. Although having been racing against some excellent figures although putting in some strong figures. He has been on a break since November 2012 and now coming back I would like to see at least one performance to gauge where he’s at before risking any money on him.
The current market favourite is Ranjaan and although racing in Cheltenham last month he came fourteenth with a disappointing figure. Close behind in the market is Cockney Sparrow who has more of a reason to be there. He’s been finishing well and showing good runs but I have concerns over whether this rise in class is going to be too much for him.
Selection: The current odds on Local Hero look to be excellent and although top weighted I am happy to take an each-way bet at this level. I also feel that Meganisi has good each-way possibilities and will be doing an each-way on this runner as well.
5.45 – JOHN SMITH´S CHAMPION STANDARD OPEN NATIONAL HUNT FLAT RACE
The last race of the Aintree Festival is a National Hunt flat race and here speed is going to be important. This is another ultra competitive race where many of the runners could take the crown. I am going to start by removing those who have been declining in their performance or do not look classy enough to win this race.
This reduces the field to ten runners. Of these ten Pure Science, Purple Ba and Caledonia all faced each other at Cheltenham. While Purple Bay beat Pure Science, Pure Science’s speed was actually more impressive due to the weight being carried. Pure Science also beat Killyglass and Vago Collonges at Newbury on the 9th February.
Dance Of Time is an interesting runner with potential but I think he may struggle against the class of runners in this race, as could Alphabetical Order. Tistory is the current market favourite and we only have one race of information as he’s been racing abroad. There is certainly potential but we are going to have to give weight to the markets opinion in this race.
Selection: The final race of the festival is going to be competitive and I will be betting Pure Science each-way. However we must take into account the market view of Tistory who also has a chance of winning and you may want to consider backing this runner for a no-loss bet.