Grand National Tips

Grand National Day Tips: Back Tony Calvin's 16/1 and 159/1 big race bets

Betfair horse racing tipster Tony Calvin
Can TC tip another Grand National winner at a big price?

It's Grand National day at Aintree and Tony Calvin, who tipped the winner at 84/185.00 two years ago, has two bets for the big race plus a couple more elsewhere on the card...

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 Minella Indo in the Grand National!

You can back Rachael and Minella Indo for a Top 10 finish in the 16:00 today at Aintree at the Superboost price of 2/13.00! (was 5/42.25).

Back Minella Indo to finish in the Top 10 in the 16:00 at Aintree @ 2/13.00

Bet here

I felt a touch sheepish, when looking for the updated Grand National prices on Thursday, to discover that my wild fancy for the race was the complete 100/1101.00 outsider with the Betfair Sportsbook, and available at 170.0169/1 on the Exchange (only Janidil and Minella Crooner were bigger than him on there).

However, almost certain ridicule and failure has never particularly bothered me - I have got used to it over the years - so I am standing firm with the selection, but I better start with my sensible suggestion to ease you in gently.

Aintree Grand National 16:00 - Back Mahler Mission

Step forward Mahler Mission at 17.5 on the Betfair Exchange.

He was actually trading at 21.020/1, in what looked a solid market, when I tipped him on the Racing Only Bettor Podcast on Thursday afternoon but I have made the decision to allow the listeners to take advantage of the suggestions and post this column the following day. I still think 16s win-only is acceptable.

The Sportsbook are paying six places for each-way punters, by the way, and he is a fair 14/115.00 poke there.

To tip him, you have to put stable form to one side, as John McConnell has had a pretty torrid time of it since September and his horses continue to run poorly. He has only had two jumps winners in Ireland since October, and has had more joy over here, with seven in that timeframe. But he has had some notable successes in this country (including at this meeting) and he has obviously targeted this horse at the race since his second in the Coral Gold Trophy in December.

He has gone up 4lb for that Newbury second - and to be fair, McConnell's horses were running like a drain at the time too, which is why I am happy to take the chance here - but I love this horse's progression, and the prospect of more to come as an 8yo.

I think he would have won the National Hunt Chase last year had he stood up and he ran a cracker over an inadequate trip when second to Thunder Rock over 2m4f in the Colin Parker on his return. He can handle anything the weather throws at him from here on in, as he handles good to soft and deep ground equally well.

He is a strong-travelling horse who will hopefully be at the head of affairs and out of trouble.

With the current forecast, I suspect it will be soft on the National course by Saturday (currently heavy patches), and we may even see some good to soft creeping in on the Mildmay tracks.

I can fully see the case for all the market leaders, but I am happy with my pair win-only.

Back Mahler Mission @ 17.5 Betfair Exchange

Bet here

Aintree Grand National 16:00 - Eklat De Rire

Now what was that other one again? Eklat De Rire, currently trading at 160.0159/1 on the Exchange.

I put him up for the Ultima at Cheltenham and, while he was well backed in the morning, I feared the worst when he quickly drifted from 12s to 22s on the show, and returned at a whopping Betfair SP of 38.04, in a matter of 10 minutes or so.

I was happy enough when he got out in front and when going well enough in doing so, but as soon as he was headed after halfway, the jockey immediately eased off him (not using her whip once) and he was pulled up soon after.

It was a curious run, and far better than the formbook would have you believe (go and have a look yourself).

To see him lining up for the Grand National just over a month later is perhaps surprising in the circumstances, so it is possible something came to light there (the most likely scenario) or they were simply using as it a stepping stone to Aintree (as unlikely as that may sound).

He is now rated 142 in Ireland, and races off 146 here, so he could be classed as the worst handicapped horse in the race, but I like to think there are other positives other than his huge price.

Aintree runners at fence 1280.jpg

I appreciate there were only two finishers but I thought he had previously shaped okay under another tender ride at Fairyhouse - the bare result wasn't too bad at all, and you could easily argue he ran to his mark of 146 there against Velvet Elvis - and he certainly also has the back-class to take a hand here.

Granted, it would probably need Henry de Bromhead to pull another rabbit out of a hat akin to what he has done with the rejuvenated Bob Olinger, as the horse has clearly had any number of issues in the last three years. But Eklat De Rire's form in 2021 - when he was surely going to take a hand in the Brown Advisory when unseating and when subsequently beating Conflated at Wexford - also don't make him the complete no-hoper his huge odds would suggest.

Look, he will probably blow out completely and he may need the other 33 not to complete in order to win Foinavon-stylee - the price tells you that, and then some - but I am not letting three-figure, win-only prices on the Betfair Exchange go unaccommodated.

But please only have a very small bet, as it is speculative with a capital 'S'. And maybe that stands for stupid.

Back Eklat De Rire @ 160.0159/1 Betfair Exchange

Bet here

I don't believe in staking plans (and there are some wild ones out there) for a multitude of reasons, chief among them is that they are primarily for the tipster, not the punters - especially in the current betting climate, and it is a subject I will explore in a future column - but if your normal minimum stake is a tenner, have a fiver on Eklat De Rire.

I suspect Kitty's Light could well be the non-racing feature writers' story horse on Saturday morning, given the heartbreaking plight of the trainer's daughter, and the subject of much of TV focus as well. He may be the market springer as a result from his current Exchange price of 17.016/1 given the inevitable media attention.

Brendan Duke also made the form case for him on the pod too, so give that a listen for his dulcet tones.

Incidentally, check out the balloted out horses below, and be sure to get your money back.

Aintree 13:20 - Back Honor Grey - TC's Bet of the Day

Honor Grey is my idea of the bet of the day in the opener at 13:20, even with one slight doubt attached to him, which I will come to shortly. Back him at 15.014/1 or bigger on the Exchange. He is trading at 16.5 on there as this goes live.

He is 14/115.00 with the Sportsbook, who are paying five places, if you want to play each way. I suggest win-only with that one concern.

The one doubt is that he has clearly had his issues, as he was having his first start since October 2022 when winning at Ascot in February. However, he has been given a two month break since, so hopefully the dreaded "bounce factor" doesn't come into play.

That October 2022 win came over course and distance, and his Ascot success a couple of months ago could hardly have worked out any better. On the face of it, a 7lb rise for a ¾ length win is harsh but it becomes to look potentially generous when you delve a bit deeper.

The second and third won their next starts in handicaps by six and 21 lengths respectively, the fourth won his following two outings (admittedly over fences) and the seventh also obliged at the next opportunity in a handicap by four wickets.

The Ben Pauling yard remains in excellent form, and drying conditions would suit Honor Grey, too.

Back Honor Grey @ 15.014/1 Betfair Exchange

Bet here

If you want a big-priced outsider then Floueur at 66s is half-interesting, especially as Rebecca Menzies comes out very highly on the A/E stats below. He ran poorly last time but he has a squeak on his earlier narrow second at Donny, and on the pick of his Irish form last season.

Aintree 13:55 - No bet

I think the form of the 2m5f Gallagher at the Festival could come to the fore in the 2m4f Grade 1 novices' hurdle at 13:55 and the two I would concentrate on are the second and third from that race, Jimmy Du Seuil and Ile Atlantique. The race was run in a very quick time and, even though those placed horses were well beaten by the worldie of a winner, they still impressed on the clock.

So I can fully see the each-way case for both, and I was slightly favouring the latter at 13/27.50, as I suspect they were ruing ditching the forcing tactics at Cheltenham and they could revert to a more prominent ride here.

The chat beforehand was that maybe he was a bit soft because he was beaten in three close finishes, and that may have influenced their decision to hold him up and make him less of a sitting duck. I don't think that worked, for all he ran respectably in third.

However, having slept on the race and come at the race afresh on Friday morning, I have decided I am going to sit it out.

Maybe, I dismissed the two at the top of the market a tad hastily and I have cooled on Ile Atlantique each way as a result, with the fact that there are a few other forward-goers in here probably a further negative. Along with the jockey perhaps.

Aintree 14:30 - No bet

I was also initially quite sweet on Falco Blitz in the 14:30, on the podcast we did for Saturday, though the Sportsbook are ducking him at 16s when he is 25s, 22s and 20s in places. Not ideal.

The reason for liking him is simply that the 25s in the marketplace was surely more than a touch dismissive given he has really blossomed for Eric McNamara on his last two starts, even though he has gone up 18lb (it would have been 16lb had this race been in Ireland) for two easy successes at Thurles and Limerick.

He has to race off 139 here but he was a decent operator when trained by Nicky Henderson, rated 143 at his peak, so maybe that winning run hasn't ended yet.

Having looked at his Limerick victory over an extended 2m6f last time, no way do I agree with the six-and-a-half-length winning margin, but he did it well and the form has worked out okay, with the runner-up winning over hurdles next time and the third running well in defeat subsequently.

That was only a veterans' chase though, and this Class 1 race is obviously far hotter - and perhaps crucially a trip of 3m1f, the longest he has run over - so he is another early fancy I have cooled on after a snooze.

And the more I looked at his whole profile, the more I became concerned about his stamina in the ground in this class of race. He was often a weak finisher over shorter distances for Henderson.

I'll probably back him at the top-end quotes if I can snaffle them, so feel free to join me to small sums, but I will stop short of putting him up a selection for now. When you are tipping, you have to be mindful of the wider picture, responsible gambling and often no bet is the right call.

The fact that he is bigger elsewhere and the Exchange is pretty illiquid at the moment definitely plays into that waiting policy, though he could feature on any Saturday morning betting update I do on this column.

Aintree 15:05 - No bet

The Liverpool Hurdle at 15:05 is one of those trappy, close-knit, hard-to-call staying hurdles we have come to expect this year - before Teahupoo arrived on the scene at Cheltenham and laughed at the lot of them - and little separates most of them on official figures.

I could only see one possible bet if you wanted to have an interest, and that was Sire Du Berlais, joint top-rated along with Flooring Porter, at 11/26.50 each-way with the Sportsbook (the 6s has gone since the podcast was recorded).

He shaped pretty well from too far off the pace at Cheltenham and that should have teed him up nicely for a hat-trick bid in this race, and it is encouraging Elliott may be slowly coming back to form after a poor spell. In addition to Gerri Colombe, he had a double at Limerick on Thursday. And, perhaps crucially given his run style, I thought there was enough pace for him to aim at.

As for the bumper at 17:35, I'll just say that I thought No Questions Asked was reasonably appealing for Pauling. But those races are often a total guess-up - though supporters of Mister Meggit at the Sportsbook's 15/82.88 may disagree, and he has looked good to be fair.

Aintree 17:00 - Back Master Chewy

My fourth and final (for now) bet of the day is Master Chewy each-way at 12/113.00 with the Sportsbook in the 1m7f176yd Grade 1 2m novices' chase at 17:00.

I get that Arkle runner-up Found A Fifty is the clear favourite at a shortening 2/13.00, given Il Etait Temps (who narrowly beat him at the DRF and finished behind him at Cheltenham) franked that form on Thursday, albeit over further.

But why is Master Chewy available at 12s?

Yes, he took a very tired fall two out in the Arkle (and there is always the chance that would have left a mark) but he wasn't that far off Found A Fifty when he came down and his form earlier in the season reads very well.

He beat Nickle Back pretty easily in the Grade 2 Wayward Lad over Christmas and he won here on his reappearance before failing by only ¾ length to give 3lb to Djelo on his return to this venue under a fortnight later.

There is plenty of pace in here, so a stalking ride and pounce between the last two could pay dividends on a track that suits him better than Cheltenham. And it can dry out as much as it wants for him.

Have a great day on Saturday.

Back Master Chewy e-w @ 12/113.00

Bet here

Aintree Grand National Day Betting Information


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

Going stick readings: Hurdle: 3.7 Chase: 3.4 Grand National course: 3.2 (as at 10.30am on Thursday)

Weather forecast: Dry Friday; 1.2mm Saturday

Pace angles

1.20pm: Bold Endeavour (prominent), Cuthbert Dibble (prom), Landrake?, Ailie Rose?, Johnson's Blue, J'Ai Froid, Ramo, Classic Concorde,

1.55pm: Bugise Seagull?, Caldwell Potter (prom), Esprit Du Potier, Ile Atlantique?, Josh The Boss, Staffordshire Knot (prom),

2.30pm: Twig (prom), Cruz Control?, Demnat (prom)

3.05pm: Botox Has (prom), Champ?, Dashel Drasher, Flooring Porter, Hewick, Strong Leader

4pm: Noble Yeats?, Coko Beach (prom), Minella Indo?, Mahler Mission, Delta Work (prom), Foxy Jacks, Eldorado Allen?, Run Wild Fred (prom), Minella Crooner (prom), Glengouly, Eklat De Rire (prom), Chambard (prom)

5pm: Djelo?, Etalon, Found A Fifty, Hercule Du Seuil, Matata, Nickle Back, Silent Approach?

5.35pm (limited evidence to go on): Sorceleur, Leech?, Malicash?

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

1.20pm: Theformismighty

4pm: Malina Girl, Desertmore House, Kinondo Kwetu, Shakem 'Up Harry, Ontheropes, Fakir d'Alene, Annual Invictus, Amirite, Tullybeg, Iron Bridge, Cepage, Famous Bridge, Frontal Assault, Good Boy Bobby, Tommie Beau, Where It All Began

First-time headgear stats

Paul Nicholls - cheekpieces 21-75 (since 2016)

Gordon Elliott - cheekpieces 24-189 (2016)

Nicky Henderson - cheekpieces 17-82 (2016)

Gordon Elliott - blinkers 20-153 (2009)

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

Good: Rebecca Menzies, Jeremy Scott, Tom Lacey, Olly Murphy, Henry de Bromhead, Fergal O'Brien, Ben Pauling, Gavin Cromwell, Jamie Snowden, Paul Nicholls

Fair: Willie Mullins, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Jonjo O'Neill, Sam England, Evan Williams, Alan King, Emma Lavelle, Dan Skelton

Moderate: Lucinda Russell, Joe Tizzard (despite three recent winners), Gary Moore, Peter Bowen, Hobbs and Johnson White. Venetia Williams (though a recent winner), Charlie Longsdon, Mark Walford, Laura Morgan (though a recent 13/8 winner) Olly Williams, Anthony Honeyball, Nick Kent, Shark Hanlon, John McConnell, Mouse Morris, Chris Gordon, Ian Williams

Undecided: Nicky Henderson, Stuart Crawford, Warren Greatrex (two winners on Tuesday), Christian Williams, Paul Gilligan, John Joseph Murphy, David Brace, Richard Hobson, E McNamara, Emmet Mullins, T Ellis, Patrick Griffin, Sarah Humphrey. Nicky Martin, Ewan Williams, Gordon Elliott, Martin Brassil

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

(higher the better; last 14 days - includes Thursday's results)

Best: 2.66 Menzies, 1.97 Scott, 1.94 Humphrey, 1.67 Pauling, 1.6 Murphy, 1.53 Cromwell, 1.52 Hobson (very small sample), 1.49 De Bromhead, 1.47 Greatrex, 1.39 Christian Williams

Worst (used a month sample to be as representative as possible): 0.42 Hobbs/White 0.46 Gary Moore, 0.51 Honeyball, 0.63 Tizzard.

However, the following are winnerless in the same period over jumps to a sizeable sample: Longsdon, Shark Hanlon, Peter Bowen.

Winners Against Expected (WAX) in last month: 4.21 Jeremy Scott, 3.91 Fergal O'Brien

Now read Paul Nicholls Grand National Day Aintree Runners: Caldwell Potter earmarked for Aintree on Saturday

Listen To Racing Only Bettor Aintree Saturday...

Recommended bets

Profit and loss

Nov 1 onwards; 2023-24 NH season:


RETURN: 135.8

P/L: +24.8

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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