The Druids Nephew tipped to win the Grand National
1.30 World Famous Just Eat Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2½m)
Days of Heaven is exciting, but excitable to boot, and there must be a possibility that he will be overawed by the occasion on Racing’s biggest day, so is opposed, but there are reasons for expecting Nichols Canyon to reverse Cheltenham form with Parlour Games. The Deloitte winner failed to settle for Ruby Walsh in the Neptune, and can be expected to revert to front-running tactics now, a ploy which brought him success at Leopardstown. Parlour Games has had a good season, but it’s been a fairly punishing one, and he may be going to the well once too often. Seedling unseated his rider in the Supreme at Cheltenham, but had impressed prior to that, and could be overpriced in his bid to get back on track.
Selection: Nichols Canyon
2.05 Doom Bar Maghull Novices’ Chase (2m)
GOD’S OWN briefly looked like winning the Arkle when throwing down a challenge at the second last, and he kept on well to be second to Un de Sceaux, who has cried off this engagement due to the prospect of fast ground. Tom George’s second-season chaser also landed big prizes at Punchestown and Exeter earlier in the campaign, and is very hard to oppose in a race which should be run to suit.
Traffic Fluide put in an exhibition round when winning at Sandown’s Imperial Cup meeting, seeming to appreciate the chance to race from the front for the first time. That approach clearly suits the ex-French gelding, and he could be a danger if getting an uncontested lead. That prospect is far from assure with other prominent racers Sizing Granite and Solar Impulse in opposition, and a potential battle for the lead will only play into the hands of God’s Ownb.
Selection: God’s Own
Alternative: Traffic Fluide
2.50 Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle (3m110y)
Zarkandar made a mistake at a crucial stage when beaten by Cole Harden in Cheltenham’s World Hurdle, and could conceivably reverse the form, although it would be churlish to crab the winner’s performance in making all there. Warren Greatrex’s charge benefited from a wind op prior to Cheltenham, and deserves to be considered the best stayer in the UK at least. He represents value to confirm Cheltenham form, and should be a working-man’s price.
At bigger odds, Henryville merits attention, and it was an excellent performance to get so close to Call The Cops in the Pertemps Final conceding that rival a stone. The Pertemps was run in an identical time to the World Hurdle, and Henryville had a big weight, so it’s not hard to equate his effort with that of the placed horses in the Festival’s premier staying contest over hurdles. Despite that, he’s a much bigger price that those horses, and has a running style which should suit the way this race is run.
Selection: Cole Harden
3.25 Betfred Handicap Chase (3m1f)
Duke of Lucca beat Vino Griego in this contest a year ago, so enter calculations again for all neither has been in top form since. Vino Griego has run poorly all season, but is now 7 lb lower than last year, and gets the combination of a tongue tie and visor for the first time. He can be forgiven for two flops without headgear since pulling up in the Hennessy, and might be the surprise package in the race, but it’s hard to oppose Buywise for win purposes. Unlucky in the Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham 13 months ago, he again finished fastest when fourth in last month’s Festival Plate, and is well up to winning a big race off his current mark. Adam Wedge takes over from Paul Moloney, who gave the horse too much to do at Cheltenham, and the pair look booked for a big run providing Buywise can avoid mistakes, as he did by and large last time.
Alternative: Traffic Fluide
4.15 Crabbies Grand National (4m3f110y)
Plenty to consider in a wide-open Grand National, with preference for The Druids Nephew, who is well ahead of his mark having won the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last month. He showed he had stamina as well as fluent jumping in his armoury at the same track in November, and Barry Geraghty’s loss is Aidan Coleman’s gain. He might well be favourite were it not for the presence of Shutthefrontdoor in the line-up, but that fact means he’s a very tempting price.
The general consensus is that the favourite will be rank bad value, but Shutthefrontdoor won’t start anything like as short as the 7/2 quoted about Red Rum in 1975. Patriotic punters will back McCoy with small stakes, but I don’t think he’ll go off much worse than 11/2. He remains a player having won the Irish Version a year ago, and has every chance of causing grief for the bookmakers – a fitting epitaph for the career of Tony McCoy, who has been bloodying the noses of the layers for twenty years.
At current odds, Soll also makes some appeal given he’s been transformed by a change of yards, and has no weight on his back. I can see him being the gamble of the morning before office money intervenes, and he’s worth an each way saver.
Selection: The Druids Nephew @ 11/1
Alternative: Soll @ 16/1
5.10 One Stop Energy Handicap Hurdle (2m110y)
Astre de La Coeur wasn’t disgraced in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury in November behind a trio of talented rivals, and showed his mark to be lenient when winning with ease at Stratford last month. He’s been raised 10 lb for that success, but that looks fair enough, and the booking of the talented David Mullins is a big positive. Dangers abound, with One For The Guv’nor making his handicap debut off what could be a generous mark. Nicky Henderson’s runner has impressed at Ludlow and Kempton, but his forecast price is not overly generous.
The Game Changer disappointed in the County Hurdle, but may find this track more to his liking, and looks capable of throwing down a challenge, while Box Office is another who failed to justify support at Cheltenham, but the very fact he was sent off favourite for the Fred Winter tells a tale, and he remains the sort to do much better at some point.
Selection: Astre de La Coeur
Alternative: Box Office
5.40 Pinsent Masons Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat (2m110y)
A hugely competitive finale can go to Babylone des Motte and Ruby Walsh. Having shown plenty of ability for Eric Leenders in France, she made a winning debut for Willie Mullins in a listed event at Sandown in February. Whistle Dixie was fancied to win that contest only to clip heels and unseat, and Gordon Elliott’s mare could prove the biggest danger, although others must be considered, such as dual winner Hollies Pearl and Bangor scorer Sunshine Corner.
Selection: Babylone des Motte
Alternative: Whistle Dixie