Aintree Day Three Tips: Spring Heeled and Unioniste worth backing for the Grand National

Tony has put up four fancies on Grand National day at Aintree
Tony has put up four fancies on Grand National day at Aintree

After landing another huge price winner on Friday in the form of Thistlecrack, racing pundit and tipster Tony Calvin is back with his fancies for day three of the Aintree Festival, including two for the Grand National...

Recommended Bets

Back Spring Heeled at 30.029/1 in the Grand National at 16:15

Back Unioniste at 38.037/1 in the Grand National at 16:15

Back Edgardo Sol at 11.010/1 in the 15:25 at Aintree

Back Baltimore Rock at 13.012/1 in the 17:10 at Aintree

Back Ruler Of All at 34.033/1 in the 17:10 at Aintree

If there is one person I wouldn't like to be this evening it is Aintree's clerk of the course, Andrew Tulloch.

Namely, just how much water does he put on the Grand National course after another drying day today?

My guess is that he would ideally like to sprinkle at least another 5mm on to ensure good to soft ground, but light rain forecast tonight and tomorrow morning makes his decision a very tricky one indeed.

One thing is for sure. If he doesn't water and that rain doesn't materialise - and some time students rated Thursday's Fox Hunters' a near fast-ground time - then the going could prove very lively come Saturday afternoon.

And that brings Spring Heeled firmly into the mix at odds of 30.029/1 in the Crabbies Grand National at 16:15.

He is one of a number of horses that I have backed ante-post in this race, at only 25-1 no less, so I have to press up with bigger odds available and with the ground right up his strasse.

The form of the Jim Culloty stable is an obvious concern - he hasn't had a winner for over a year and is 0-67 since his last visit to the winners' enclosure - and a Spring Heeled victory probably wouldn't be the most popular either, though we won't go down that route here.

The path we will explore though is the one that confirms Spring Heeled as a big player, in that he is a bold-jumping stayer, who is nicely handicapped, and who has been crying out for a test of stamina on good ground.

I have been more than satisfied with his prep runs over 2m6f and 3m1f in Ireland, and if the spiky Culloty has him in the same nick as when beating Cause Of Causes by 1¾ lengths in the Kim Muir last year, the pair 17 lengths clear of the third, then we are in business.

Cause Of Causes did the form no harm when winning the four-miler at Cheltenham, and Spring Heeled rates a decent bet at the odds, shocking stable form or not.

Two of my other ante-post plays are sitting pretty. I managed to snaffle me some 15.014/1 about Rocky Creek immediately after he won at Kempton, and likewise, The Druids Nephew was secured at 21.020/1 after his Cheltenham win.

Rocky Creek, in particular, is rock-solid, and it is clear to everyone with a form book that he should be favourite, not Shutthefrontdoor, for all AP's mount is a perfectly plausible winner. I couldn't, and wouldn't, put anyone off including him in their bets.

But this is a devilishly difficult race to be playing at the front end of the market, and I am going in again on another of my ante-post portfolio who has drifted since.

Step forward Unioniste at odds of 38.037/1.

I backed him at 25-1 when the weights came out, and he has lengthened in recent days because of the drying ground. But the ground doesn't overly-concern me, even if he would ideally want more juice. He has won a good ground novice chase around here, and it was good to soft when he slammed Wishfull Thinking over this course over 3m1f as a 5yo.

He jumped into the National picture when winning impressively at Sandown in January and, although raised 11lb for that victory, he ran a blinder next time when third to Coneygree at Newbury.

There was certainly no disgrace in being beaten 10 1/2 lengths by the Gold Cup winner there - he was giving him 5lb too - and his staying-on effort there had Grand National written all over it.

Connections are obviously concerned by his jumping as they have stuck with the cheek pieces that he wore for the first time at Newbury. But I thought he jumped pretty well without them at Sandown, and this race is obviously not the jumping test it once was.

And the handicapper has given him a helping hand for the "honesty" in which he has been campaigned, dropping him 2lb for this race.

If Noel Fehily can get him into a nice jumping rhythm early on, and then on the premises four out, I will be getting pretty excited. He will go into over-drive once his stamina kicks in.

I very nearly went in three-handed with First Lieutenant at odds of 28.027/1 - it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he is a springer in the market - but I will just stick to the two plays.

Buywise is going to exercise a few minds in the 15:25, as everything looks set for him to run a massive race. The problem is that he is Buywise.

For those who don't know the horse, he is one of the most frustrating beasts in training. He has all the ability in the world, but one with a tendency to get behind, and go out of his way to take the fences with him.

A 3lb rise for his Cheltenham fourth last time doesn't bother me, and a smaller field and a longer trip look sure to suit, but the real problem is the price.

I have to look elsewhere and Edgardo Sol is worth chancing at odds of 11.010/1.

He is a bit of an in-and-out performer, and didn't run well at Cheltenham last time, but some of his best efforts have come at this course - he ran away with the Red Rum at this meeting three years ago - and he has slipped to a mark off which he can be very competitive.

The trip is the obvious concern but I expect Aidan Coleman to creep into the race, and pounce as late as possible. And there doesn't look to be a lot of pace in here too, which helps, and it is a race that has attracted its fair share of out-of-form horses.

I can't see much of an angle against God's Own in the 14:05. So I'm no use there, sorry.

Cole Harden provided me with one of my most satisfying wins as a punter and tipster when winning the World Hurdle, and he could well follow up in the Stayers' Hurdle at 14:50, but he won't be carrying any of my cash this time around.

We may well get to see how unlucky Zarkandar was at Cheltenham, and there are a couple of others you can throw into the mix too, so I'll sit this one out.

The opener at 13:30, is pretty tricky too, and I was toying with putting up Three Musketeers, as he put up a decent time when winning at Warwick.

But the race simply looks too tricky for me to get a decent betting handle on.

In the RUK races on the end of the card, I've no interest in the complete guessing game that is the bumper, but I do like the look of Baltimore Rock and Ruler Of All against the field in the 17:10.

My main fancy is Baltimore Rock, who finished a good fourth to Josses Hill in the Grade 2 novice hurdle at this meeting last season.

He disappointed when starting at only 15-2 for the Greatwood on his reappearance, and then was off the track until reappearing in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, when he again attracted money at 12-1.

He could only finish seventh there, but he met a fair bit of trouble on a couple of occasions going to the last, and was actually the first English horse home in a field dominated by well-handicapped Irish raiders.

The handicapper has dropped him 1lb for that run, and he has a lot going for him. Back him at 13.012/1 or bigger.

I can't resist a saver on Ruler Of All at 34.033/1 or bigger, too.

He finally came good under his 7lb claimer - who let's be honest, isn't the strongest, so don't expect miracles in a tight finish - but he has only been raised 9lb for a 16-length win last time, and that could be generous, even if this is obviously a much more competitive race.

He had over a year off with a "rotating pedal bone" - whatever that is - before this season, and could only now be hitting his full stride. He is getting a few quid of my money, anyway.

Best of luck.

Recommended Bets

Back Spring Heeled at 30.029/1 in the Grand National at 16:15

Back Unioniste at 38.037/1 in the Grand National at 16:15

Back Edgardo Sol at 11.010/1 in the 15:25 at Aintree

Back Baltimore Rock at 13.012/1 in the 17:10 at Aintree

Back Ruler Of All at 34.033/1 in the 17:10 at Aintree

Grand National 2015 Podcast

Listen to Timeform's Phil Turner and Dan Roebuck from Timeform Radio as they run the rule over every runner in the 2015 renewal of the Grand National. Backed by the current Betfair Sportsbook prices and expert Timeform analysis, Phil gives his view on every runner in the National Hunt showpiece, then delivers his top four to back on Saturday.

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