Grand National Tips

Aintree Grand National Festival Day Two Tips: Tony Calvin's three to back on Friday up to 20/1

Betfair horse racing tipster Tony Calvin
Will there be a Friday winner among TC's trio?

The Aintree Grand National Festival continues on Friday and Tony Calvin is backing three including a 14/115.00 best bet that he hopes can become a win machine in the afternoon's final race...

Rachael Blackmore Superboost

Day one of Aintree saw Betfair's Superboost land as Rachael Blackmore and Bob Olinger finished in the top two on Thursday, and today we are boosting her once again onboard Envoi Allen!

You can back Rachael and Envoi Allen for a Top Three finish in the 15:30 today at Aintree at the Superboost price of 6/42.50! (was 4/51.80).

Back Envoi Allen to finish in the Top Three in the 15:30 at Aintree @ 6/42.50

Bet here

I am going to start with my main fancy for a change, and that is Luttrell Lad, away from the ITV cameras, in the closing 2m handicap hurdle at 17:15.

Aintree 17:15 - Back Luttrell Lad (Day 2 Best Bet)

Unfortunately, the fancy prices about him disappeared on Wednesday afternoon, but I am playing regardless. I need to focus more on where the price is now, rather than where it has been.

That said, I was hugely surprised when he opened up at 28s in a place and a general 25s (including with the Betfair Sportsbook) on Wednesday, as I genuinely made him more of a 10s poke, so I am happy to recommend an each-way bet at 14/115.00 with the Sportsbook, who are offering five places for each-way punters.

I could have easily gone up with this column and the tip at 25s straight after we recorded Racing Only Bettor at 3pm on Wednesday afternoon (please listen to it), but I am now confident that it is the right thing to wait until the following day to post this column and give the podcast more respect.

Going up the best part of 48 hours in advance was not a popular move it seems (I listened to the feedback), and I can see why, in hindsight.

Anyway, let's stop the small talk, why am I so enthused by Luttrell Lad's chances despite the shortening price?

He scores highly in all areas, even if he isn't exactly a win machine. Hopefully, that is about to change on a big stage.

I won't bore you with the ground again, as I am still working on the basis of heavy - the rest of the forecast has significantly improved - though we could get 4.6mm from around 5pm on Thursday - and we know Aintree drains well, so keep an eye on the Thursday times. They could surprise us.

However, soft or heavy will suit Luttrell Lad just fine.

First off, trainer Tom Lacey continues in great form after an excellent season and he has a very good record when putting first-time cheekpieces on his horses - he is nine from 38 since 2017 - as he does with the selection here.

This relatively lightly-raced 8yo ran in a first-time hood when fourth in a Grade 2 bumper here in 2021, and he just about has his ideal hurdling conditions in this race.

He has been running well on good ground over 2m3f all season, which he handles perfectly well, but I reckon dig in the ground over the minimum trip is his ideal, especially off a strong pace.

He is only 6lb higher than when winning well at Cartmel over 2m1f on heavy four starts ago last July (when beating a subsequent eight-length handicap winner), his only outing on that ground. His two starts on soft have yielded a win and an eighth in last year's County Hurdle off a 4lb higher mark than this.

Throw in the fact that his is ridden by Cameron Iles and we are in business. I wouldn't know the jockey from Adam (wherever that phrase originated from) but I can read, and he has a career strike rate of 28 per cent and a seasonal haul of 10 from 30 in the 2023-24 campaign. I don't take any notice of riders, but that'll do for me.

Betfair Aintree.jpg

Now, this is a deep race and he is the joint-oldest in the field against younger bucks, but he has so much going for him. He can lead but there is a ton of pace on here, so I am sure his jockey (who rode the horse for the first time at Doncaster last time) will do the right thing if required.

The horse had had a break since that Donny run late in January but he has gone very well off a short absence in the past, albeit more so earlier in his career.

Back Luttrell Lad e-w @ 14/115.00

Bet here

Aintree 13:45 - No bet

Day Two starts with the six-runner Grade 1 3m1f novices' chase at 13:45 and, as the betting suggests - the outsider of the field with the Sportsbook, Giovinco, is only 9s - they all have their chance.

I thought it exceptionally tricky, as I could make a cogent case for all of the field, at their respective prices if required.

The early betting move has unfortunately centred around Heart Wood, into 4s from 8s with the Sportsbook, as he was the one I liked at the opening prices. Again, I need to get away from where the price has been.

However, he was the one I was looking to get with here, as he was so impressive in handicap company at the DRF and shapes as if the fair hike up in trip may well suit (though we shouldn't be blasé about a near-4f move up in distance, but even at the current 6.86/1 on the Exchange I can now let this race slide by.

At the time of this column going live, we still haven't seen a race at Aintree, so we are still in the dark about Nicky Henderson's horses and how the ground will ride.

We shouldn't make snap judgements about the health of Henderson's horses, however Sir Gino and Shishkin fare - no-one is saying they can't both bolt up, but you have to recognize and accept the doubt - but I can't touch them as a group as it stands. Which is a shame as 12s poke Jango Baie looks weighted to do some damage off a mark of 139 in the 2m4f handicap hurdle at 14:20.

Aintree 14:20 - Back West To The Bridge

Update: West To the Bridge has been declared a non-runner

Dan Skelton has five in here, and I am going to focus on his West To The Bridge in this column. But I could well post an update on Friday morning and add in his Kateira, once I know how much rain lands on Thursday evening, and once we see the times on the opening day.

Kateira, second to Irish Point in a Grade 1 here on good to soft last season, shaped very well off a break at Kempton last time and looks well handicapped off 136, but, two wins on soft notwithstanding, it seems those closest to the horse believe she would prefer much better ground. And are quite adamant about it.

West To The Bridge has a more obvious chance on the going and he is 5lb lower than when a good sixth in this race last season. And the way he has been campaigned in his last three starts after a mid-season break suggests they have been waiting to pull the handicap trigger again.

He has been held up on all his last three starts, which is rather obvious when you consider they have been small fields and all his best form has come when making the running or being ridden prominently.

The handicapper wasn't falling (for once) for this horse's 20-length fourth at Bangor last time, and refused to drop him even 1lb for it - and rightly so - but it is fair to assume that he will be ridden more prominently here, as he was when leading in this very race last season.

His price has shortened from 33s to 22s to 18s since the day-of-race market was formed, and he is just into 16s to harden that blow, and that is not the only negative as there is a fair bit of alternative pace in here and, as an 11yo, he is the old man of the party by some two years. And he is giving some of these (Jango Baie and Ocastle Des Mottes) six years.

I was going to go each-way, five places, but, on reflection, I am happy to go win-only at 19.018/1 or bigger on the Exchange - the 18/119.00 with the Sportsbook was clipped into 16s minutes before this went live - especially as I may add another selection on Friday morning.

Back West To The Bridge @ 19.018/1

Bet here

There is clearly a chance that he has simply seen better days, and could be backtracking from two out, out of the first five. And there is every chance he could drift out again in the betting, as he hardly has a sexy profile.

By the way, 10 horses were balloted out of this race, and the details are below. Make sure you get your money back if you punted any of these ante-post.

Aintree 14:55 - No bet

We have the dead-eight in the Grade 1 2m novices' hurdle at 14:55, and Mystical Power is the obvious favourite, currently at 3.02/1 on the Exchange, after his second in the Supreme.

But, as with the opener, you could make a fair case for most of his rivals at their respective odds, and I thought Mistergif shaped well when fifth in the Supreme given his inexperience.

The mares getting 7lb have to be dangerous - see below for some of Jeremy Scott's excellent stable form stats (A./E and WAX) in the last month - and I would have taken a chance on Greatwood Hurdle second Lookaway has his trainer not been in such poor nick and had a better record with first-time cheekpieces.

In short, nothing doing.

Aintree 15:30 - No bet

That is also the case in the seven-runner 2m4f Melling Chase at 15:30.

I was more than happy to tip Conflated on the podcast on Wednesday when he was 16/117.00 on the Sportsbook - and hopefully listeners yesterday will have got that price - but he has been cut into 10s, and that is pretty much where his price should be in such a competitive little race.

I was a little disappointed by his tame and laboured third to Protektorat in the Ryanair, if truth be told, but if the cheekpieces energise Conflated a touch more then he could well bounce back to form here.

And, if he does, then last season's Gold Cup third - and an excellent second in the Bowl over 3m1f here in 2022 - could well see these off over his optimum trip. But the ship has sailed as regards the value edge in his price now.

Aintree 16:40 - No bet

I may as well get another no-bet race out of the way now, as I couldn't get a punting handle on the nine-runner Grade 1 Sefton Novices' Hurdle at 16:40.

Basically, it wouldn't surprise me if any of the first seven in the betting won.

I suppose those of a forgiving nature are getting fairly compensated in price terms if they want to side with Reading Tommy Wrong, as he was 2s when blowing out in the Albert Bartlett and is currently 5.49/2 on the Exchange for this.

But that would be something of a forced bet for me, and I am consigning any loose bets to the bin.

Aintree - 16:05: Back Frero Banbou

Which brings me uncomfortably on to Frero Banbou....

Back him at 20/121.00 each-way, six places, with the Sportsbook in the Topham at 16:05.

As with Kateira, I may come back to Your Darling tomorrow when we have a better time-based assessment of the ground - he is a very fair tool when fresh, and this has been the plan for him since his Ascot success in November - but I just have to give Frero Banbou one more go here with the combination of best price and six places.

I thought I had cured this particular illness (I don't think I have tipped or backed him in his last six starts, to be fair to myself - which I rarely am), but I'd give anything a go if I think if the odds are in my favour, as you will find out when I publish my Grand National column....

Anyway, on the old Banbou.

Now, this horse finds every reason under the sun to get chinned and he is on a long losing run since Lingfield in January 2022, but he ran well last time when seventh in the Plate at Cheltenham and was dropped 2lb, to 131, for it.

That leaves him 2lb lower than when a good third over these fences in the Sefton on heavy ground here in November, and he hasn't raced off a lesser mark than this since he bolted up at Sandown in 2021.

He, 100 per cent has the talent to win this and, as Leslie Crowther used to holler, the price is definitely right for a re-load on the old rascal.

A small further plus perhaps, but at least Venetia Williams snapped a poor run (five pulled ups in a row) with a 6/17.00 winner with her last runner.

Back Frero Banbou e-w @ 20/121.00

Bet here

Now, please stop laughing at the back and pay attention....

UPDATE at 9am on Friday:

The course only got 2.6mm of rain last night, less than expected, and has officially dried out to soft, so I have personally had a couple more bets this morning. Well, two and a half. Please note my original selection in the 2.20pm, West To The Bridge, is a non-runner.

Kateira has predictably shortened - she was 10s in a few places on Wednesday afternoon - but I have had a very small bet on her at 6.86/1 on the Exchange, as she may well get away with it on drying ground after a decidedly promising run at Kempton last time. And, as stated above, a mark of 136 looks exploitable on her second to Irish Point at this meeting last season. I have also had a tiny poke at Jango Baie at 14.5.

I also mentioned Your Darling above and I am surprised he has drifted to 20.019/1 on the Exchange - mind you, second-guessing market moves these days is a tricky old game - so I have had another dabble there on a horse who excels when fresh. Pauling has finally cottoned on there.

Aintree Betting Information


Soft, heavy in places, on Mildmay tracks; Heavy, soft in places, on National course

Going stick readings: Hurdle: 3.1 Chase: 3,1 Grand National course: 3.2 (as at 4.20pm on Wednesday)

Weather forecast: 4.6mm Thursday from 5pm onwards; dry Friday

Pace angles

1.45pm: Broadway Boy, Heart Wood (prominent)

2.20pm: Inthewaterside, Kateira?, Theatre Man?, Playful Saint?, Champagne Twist (prom), Making Headway. West To The Bridge?

2.55pm: Firefox?, Lookaway, Mistergif?, Personal Ambition

3.30pm: Conflated?, Easy Game, Minella Drama, Pic D'Orhy, Proketorat?

4.05pm: Classic Getaway, Empire Steel (prom), Richmond Lake (prom), Aime Desjy (prom), Life In The Park?, Quel Destin, Lounge Lizard?, The Edgar Wallace, Good Boy Bobby, Bill Baxter (prom), Frero Banbou?,

4.40pm: Ballybentragh (prom), Croke Park (prom), Dancing City (prom), Kyntara, The Jukebox Man, Cherie D'Am

5.15pm: Ballee, Jungle Jack, Afadil (prom), Densworth, Luttrell Lad ?, Rewired (prom), Your Honor, Zeeband (prom), Party Vibes, Eagles Reign, Lively Citizen (prom)

Balloted out (ante-post punters entitled to money back on 10 horses)

2.20pm: Rafferty's Return, Punta Del Este, Wonderwall, Carnfunnock, Titan Discovery, Ike Sport, Doyen Quest, Theformismighty, Zanndabad, Minella Blueway

First-time headgear stats

Nigel Twiston-Davies - cheekpieces 2-45 (since 2017)

Jonjo O'Neill - hood 7-32 (2013)

Nicholls - hood 12-53 (2014)

Willie Mullins - hood 28-161 (2013)

Greenall/Guerriero - cheekpieces 1-16 (2022)

Neil King - cheekpieces 1-22 (2016)

Gordon Elliott - cheekpieces 24-189 (2016)

Warren Greatrex - cheekpieces 10-71 (2016)

Susan Corbett - cheekpieces 0-9 (2019)

Tom Lacey - cheekpieces 9-38 (2017)

Notable form of trainers (done before Thursday's racing)

Good: Tom Lacey, Olly Murphy, Henry de Bromhead, Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, Fergal O'Brien, Ben Pauling, Gavin Cromwell, Richard Bandey (sample of one), Jeremy Scott, Stuart Edmunds, Newland & Insole

Fair: Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Jonjo O'Neill, Henry Daly

Moderate: Lucinda Russell, Gordon Elliott, Joe Tizzard (despite two recent winners), Gary Moore, Peter Bowen, Neil King, Donald McCain, Sandy Thomson. Hobbs and Johnson White. Venetia Williams (though a recent winner), Mel Rowley, J A Nash (very few runners of late, though)

Undecided: Nicky Henderson (though easy to say moderator/fair), Ross O'Sullivan, Stuart Crawford, Warren Greatrex (two winners on Tuesday, though), Kim Bailey, Harry Fry, Ben Haslam, Charles Byrnes, Christian Williams, Paul Gilligan, D J Jeffreys, Andrew Hamilton, Sam Thomas (very few runners), Susan Corbett (small sample)

Coming into form again? Dan Skelton (three winners on Wednesday)

Actual Over Expected wins (data kindly supplied by Andy Richmond/Proform)

(higher the better; last 14 days)

Best: 4.23 C Byrnes, 4.02 D J Jeffreys, 3.71 Henry Daly, 3.57 Edmunds, 2.44 Gilligan (all five indicative, rather than statistically sound given so few runners in sample) 2.34 Greenall/Guerriero, 2.31 Murphy

NOTE: in last month Jeremy Scott has an A/E of 1.96 and an impressive winners against expected (WAX) of 3.44; Fergal O'Brien also scores highly in same period with 1.76 and 4.33 respectively

Worst (used a month sample to be as representative as possible): Rowley 0.35, Hobbs/White 0.46, Moore 0.47, Neil King 0.51, Corbett 0.52, Tizzard 0.54

Listen to Racing...Only Bettor Aintree Day 2 special

Now read Paul Nicholls Day 2 Aintree Runners: Pic d'Orhy has plenty in his favour

Recommended bets

Profit and loss

Nov 1 onwards; 2023-24 NH season:


RETURN: 135.8

P/L: +26.8

April 16-Oct 31; 2023 Flat season


RETURNS: 168.9

P AND L: -33.1

March 26 2022 -April 15 2023

Staked: 436

Returns: 643.6

P/L: +207.6

April 14 2021 to March 25 2022: P/L: + 183.1


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