Ceebee narrows down the National field and also has bets including Angels Breath and If the Cap Fits in the supporting races.
5.15pm Aintree Grand National 4m2f Handicap Chase
I’ve narrowed the field of 40 down to 14. Forget the other 26. Take your pick from this bunch. One line on each and they’re kind of in order of how much I like their chances at current odds.
Anibale Fly - 4th last year despite steering a wide and cautious route so can definitely go closer. Looks an improved animal this year too based on recent Gold Cup 2nd
Rathvinden - Ruby rides for the in-form Willie Mullins, stays 4miles, won on his most recent start and targeting this race all year; what’s not to like?!
Ramses de Teille - In great form with a win and two seconds in his last 3 starts - including Welsh National & a Grand National Trial - competitive staying chases on soft, ideal.
Up For Review - Will appreciate the recent rain and ran very well at Cheltenham until making a bad mistake. Similar good effort in Thyestes. His very best could see him involved.
Lake View Lad - Grey horse who'll be well able to travel up with the pace. In terrific form this season winning twice and recent 3rd at Cheltenham
Vintage Clouds - Already placed in the Welsh & Scottish Nationals so plenty of experience in this type of race and ran right up to his very best last time at Cheltenham
Walk in the Mill - Looked a strong stayer when winning over these unique fences here in December. Soft ground no issue.
Tiger Roll - Obvious chance but it's a price thing for me; simply too short. Can easily meet trouble in running. Only barely hung on last year.
Ballyoptic - Split Joe Farrell & Vintage Clouds in last year's Scottish National (all 3 proven stayers have a chance here). Recent rain no problem but 2019 form is poor
Rock the Kasbah - Impressive winner when racing prominently over 3m3f in November, a replica of that run gives him a right chance but not a very consistent sort.
Noble Endeavor - Ran well at a few previous Cheltenham Festivals including in 2017 4miler so stamina also proven. Had a sighter over these fences here in Dec.
Joe Farrell - 2018 Scottish National winner so stays 4miles, handles soft ground as well, had a light campaign to be ready for today.
General Principle - Winning the 2018 Irish Grand National proves big field, staying distance and soft ground hold no fear. But probably not good enough in this company
Dounikos - Won an Irish Grand National trial over 3m4f last time out so arrives in good shape, probably not good enough though.
Two weeks ago I put up 1pt e/w Lake View Lad 20/1 & 1pt e/w Anibale Fly 12/1 (& Mall Dini unfortunately) so happy to add the following three to complete my top 5 above:
1pt e/w Rathvinden at 9/1 with William Hill (6 places each way)
0.5pt e/w Ramses De Teillee at 25/1 with William Hill (6 places each way)
0.5pt e/w Up For Review at 40/1 with Betfair and William Hill (6 places each way)
The rest of the Aintree card…
1.45pm 3m Handicap Hurdle
A big field and tricky betting heat to get us underway. I like Coolanly. He finished 5th behind some very well handicapped Irish horses in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham – that is often the best handicap hurdle of the Festival and a far deeper race than the one the favourite won (Sire du Berlais – Pertemps Final). He stayed on well having been held-up well back in a big field and could benefit from both the step up to 3miles (3m point to point winner) and a better ride.
1pt e/w Coolanly at 12/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair
2.25pm 2m4f Novice Hurdle
Two Cheltenham ‘also-rans’ head the market here in what could be a two-horse race. The form of Angels Breath’s 7th in the Supreme and Brewinupastorm’s 5th in the Ballymore have both held up very well this week. My preference is for Angels Breath. He was very free early in the Supreme and met trouble in-running down the inside when the race quickened up. I can excuse that effort. He will appreciate this step up to 2m4f and came into Cheltenham off the back of an interrupted and rushed preparation so may actually come on for it rather than feel the effects of Cheltenham.
2pts win Angels Breath at 7/2 with Boylesports
3.40pm 3m Stayers Hurdle
Apples Jade is the best of these but she is opposable having been well below her best at Cheltenham last time and probably more suited to racing right-handed. She also won’t have it easy in front. Sam Spinner is next best but he’s not exactly a consistent sort, winless in 6 starts and 18mts, and trusting his man on board to set the perfect fractions is a risk (he got it spot on at Cheltenham this year mind). The rest are very equally matched mid-150s horses.
If the Cap Fits is the youngest, least exposed, skipped Cheltenham, will be suited by the step up in trip and the long home-straight in addition to any improvement first time check-pieces bring. Plenty of reasons to think he can come out on top. He’s a speculative play and I’m also adding Clyne each-way at 40/1 (4 places). He ran a career best here 12mts ago in the 2m4f Aintree Hurdle and doesn’t have that much to find if some of these fluff their lines. The return to softer ground looks likely to suit and he may be ridden to pick up prizemoney in this company.
1pt win If The Cap Fits at 13/2 with Betfair and William Hill
0.5pt e/w Clyne at 50/1 with BetVictor (4 places each way)
4.20pm 3m Handicap Chase
On Tour is an Aintree specialist. He has won around here off 135 and twice finished second off 137 (including this very race 12mts ago). He races off 130 today so straight away the handicapper has given him a great chance. The ground was too quick for his last time out but on his penultimate start he ran a fine race to be 3rd at Sandown. Back at his favourite track off a lower mark he can definitely go close at big odds.
1pt e/w On Tour 16/1 at 16/1 with Bet365 and William Hill