It’s Grand National weekend at long last, and we have a solid selection in the big race as well as plenty of other flat and jumps information across both Friday and Saturday.
Friday 9th April 2021
3.25 Aintree (Melling Chase – Grade 1) – FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES
For many of us, it feels as though Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies has been around forever but he’s still only a six-year-old, is improving, and can come of age now in this top-grade two-and-a-half-mile race.
After the crushing success of Clan Des Obeaux in Thursday’s Betway Bowl, many will be on Paul Nicholls and Politologue who to be fair has proven himself to be of the highest quality in the past.
Over this trip however, it is easy to see Fakir D’oudairies improving past him now having chased home Chacun Pour Soi and Allaho the last twice.
3.55 Leicester (Novice Stakes) – KNIGHT’S TOWN
It could be worth a quick betting trip over to Leicester for their flat meeting during the excellent Aintree action, as there should be a price available about Charlie Appleby’s Knight’s Town in the 1½-mile novice race.
The Godolphin first colours are on John Gosden’s Law Of The Sea, a Derby entry who is by Golden Horn. He’s run twice so far and is now a winner, but his bare form doesn’t entitle him to be a short-priced favourite and he has to give fully 7lbs to our horse.
Knight’s Town, ridden by William Buick who is back on these shores, wasn’t great first time up at Kempton but he went off 2/1 favourite for his debut and should be much better on turf. Should he run to the sort of level so often seen by Appleby horses in such races, he should be good enough at the weights.
4.40 Aintree (Sefton Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1) – BRAVEMANSGAME
Several people connected to the Paul Nicholls yard have said for some time that their Bravemansgame is the real deal and, while he couldn’t quite prove it at Cheltenham, he should be fitter now and can do himself justice.
That en vogue big break between Christmas and the Cheltenham Festival is not something I like and it was a break Bravemansgame was forced to take. He eventually finished third behind Bob Olinger in the Ballymore but he should be 100% now, this looks much more to his liking, and frankly he looks well clear of his opposition.
Chief among that opposition is Cape Gentleman, a Grade 2 winner at Kempton for Emmet Mullins, and Bothwell Bridge who may challenge for the places but may prove to be not good enough to get to Harry Cobden’s mount.
Saturday 10th April 2021
2.25 Aintree (Mersey Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1) – MY DROGO
Dan and Harry Skelton look to be in pole position to begin Saturday in the perfect way, with their My Drogo on a four-timer and ready to land his first Grade 1 race.
This 2½ miles is a new trip for him, but he seems to get better the further he goes. He was impressive over two miles in the Supreme Trial at Ascot in December (Grade 2), before looking even better over 2m2f in the same grade at Kelso when winning by 9½ lengths last month.
He looks to be well clear of Ballyadam, who does come with a big reputation considering he is trained by Henry De Bromhead and is ridden by Rachael Blackmore, while Dreal Deal and Minella Drama look good enough to fight for places.
3.35 Aintree (Liverpool Hurdle – Grade 1) – THYME HILL
Many of us waited for months to back Thyme Hill in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, on the basis at least that he looks sure to improve past Paisley Park once and for all.
On this flat track and with the ground not too deep, he can certainly do that now and there is no Flooring Porter in the line-up this time around.
In behind Thyme Hill, Paisley Park himself, Roksana and Lisnagar Oscar all look capable of challenging but are all at a similar level all things considered, but the selection is still getting better and has been trained to reach a peak right now having missed the Festival in March. Tom O’Brien rides for Philip Hobbs.
5.15 Aintree (Grand National Handicap Chase – Grade 3) – KIMBERLITE CANDY
We have a fascinating and long-awaited Grand National this time around. Having waited two years, witnessed controversy over the weights (mainly unfair and driven by the O’Leary’s), seen the withdrawal of Tiger Roll and been aghast at the price of the favourite the race is set up brilliantly.
Cloth Cap is that favourite and, at around 4/1, would be one of the shortest priced favourites ever. He is well clear at the weights, but this is a unique race and it feels like the bookmakers are trying to begin a pattern here of squeezing the top of the Grand National market for all it’s worth.
Against him is Kimberlite Candy, a long-term candidate for this. Twice runner-up in the Becher over these fences, Tom Lacey’s runner jumps well, stays brilliantly and is set to peak in the biggest race of all so he gets the nod to land the £375,000 first prize.
The likes of Mister Malarky and Lord Du Mesnil can also go well, while it’ll be interesting to see whether the still well handicapped Welsh Grand National winner Secret Reprieve can get a run being second reserve at present.
11.03 Keeneland (Jenny Wiley Stakes – Grade 1) – MICHELINE
Over in the States late on Saturday night, Keeneland runs the top-level Jenny Wiley Stakes over the extended mile on the turf track for fillies and mares.
It’s close in the betting market, with Godolphin’s Micheline, Juliet Foxtrot, Etole and Tamahere all ensuring we have a competitive betting event.
On very best form the six-year-old Juliet Foxtrot would be the one, Brad Cox’s runner being ridden first time out this season by the excellent Tyler Gaffalione.
Four-year-old Micheline is improving however, is race fit and looks well capable of landing this event and so is backed to do so from gate 1 on the inside.