It was a super start for resident tipster Tony Calvin with Supasundae winning the Aintree Hurdle at 11/1. He returns for day two of the Grand National Festival for more...
"It obviously won't be so easy to try and pull off in a 30-runner handicap but I think 2m5f with plenty of cut in the ground could see him to very good effect and he did jump superbly on the lead in the Becher. He is 1lb out of the handicap, but the winner of this race will probably the horse that gets into the best rhythm and that could be Call It Magic."
Start your Friday with Fizz
I'm never shy of tipping a total outsider and making myself look a bit of a fool when they trail in last - I'd rather do that than routinely tip a winning odds-on favourite, at the risk of that making me sound very daft - so I have no hesitation in putting up the rag of this particular party, Mister Fizz at 66/1 each way, five places, in the Friday opener at 13:45.
I'd be lying if I said I knew much about the Imogen Pickard stable, and the selection is only her third runner of the season, but Mister Fizz ran a good race on his debut for the yard in the County Hurdle.
Granted, he was beaten 15 lengths in midfield in the end, but the 100/1 shot showed up well for a long way there, over a trip short of his best, and the step up to 2m4f is very much in his favour.
He was a progressive horse at and around this trip when trained by Alex Hales last season, completing a hat-trick when winning over an extended 2m5f at Newton Abbot in August, and he is just 1lb higher here, having been dropped 3lb since Cheltenham.
All his best hurdles form has been on decent ground, but he did actually show some of his better efforts on soft on the level, so I am not overly-fussed by what the weather does from hereon in.
Mont Des Avaloirs disappointed me in the Betfair Hurdle at Ascot last time, never getting competitive in midfield under today's 5lb claimer Lorcan Williams, but I am going to give them another chance here at 13.012/1 or bigger.
He is unproven at the trip (though his full-brother Le Prezien stays this trip well, despite being better known as a two-miler) but I think an exaggerated waiting ride - he does tend to tank through his races, but I would like Williams to ride him closer to the pace this time - could well suit him over 2m4f, and the handicapper has certainly given him a big form chance by dropping him 3lb from Ascot.
He is now on the same mark than when a ½-length and a short-head third in the Gerry Feilden - that is very strong 2m handicap form - and he has also won on his sole start at this track (albeit in a three-runner race) on heavy ground.
If he lasts home, then I expect him to go very close.
Flying Angel can work his magic
I tip how I bet, so I was going to say that I make no excuses for three in the Topham at 16:05, especially as Betfair Sportsbook are paying six places.
But the rain that fell on Thursday afternoon has led me to reluctantly ditch O O Seven, even though he does have some form when the mud is flying.
He is another who blew out in this race last season, but he ran well when fourth in it the previous year, and he ran really well for a long way in first-time blinkers in the Ultima last time.
He has been eased 1lb for it, which makes him just 4lb higher than when beating subsequent winner Go Conquer at Doncaster in December, and the step back in trip is taken as a positive. But the rain has dictated that I have to desert him.
I have sided with 20/1 chance Flying Angel on a couple of occasions this season and, even though he stuck on well and was beaten only 7 lengths when an excellent fifth in the Ultima over 3m1f last time, I am convinced this shorter trip will see him in an even better light.
His Aintree form figures read 2331306, and they include a third in a Grade 1 novices' hurdle here and a Grade 1 novices' chase win.
Admittedly, he ran well below par in this race last season, but I am willing to forgive him that run at the prices, and he looks weighted to go well off the same mark as when second over this trip at Ascot earlier this season.
A further interesting angle is the application of a tongue-tie for just the second time, and testing ground won't be any hardship for him.
He broke my heart when trading at 1.548/15 in running in the Becher (over 3m2f in soft ground) here in December, and you have to assume they will try and adopt the same forcing tactics here.
It obviously won't be so easy to try and pull off in a 30-runner handicap but I think 2m5f with plenty of cut in the ground could see him to very good effect and he did jump superbly on the lead in the Becher.
He is 1lb out of the handicap, but the winner of this race will probably the horse that gets into the best rhythm and that could be Call It Magic.
Small interest in Downton but JLT Chase is a no-go
I was going to leave the tipping there but I thought Downtown Getaway, very well-regarded in the autumn, was worth a small interest at 15.014/1 or bigger in the 16:40.
He clearly has a lot to find with the form horses but he will have appreciated Thursday's rain and the step up to 3m149yd is the key to his winning chances.
He only just overhauled Champagne Well over 2m5f on good to soft at Ascot last time, shaping for all the world like a horse that needed a much stiffer test, and his pedigree (Getaway half-brother 3m winner Timeforwest and progressive recent 2m7f scorer Orchardstown Cross) certainly backs that up.
The main race of the day, in class terms at least, is the Grade JLT Chase (known to everyone as the Melling Chase) at 15:25.
But it is a nasty little race in terms of a betting contest.
For starters, there are just seven runners and just 3lb separates the top three in the betting on official figures, and you can make a case of sorts for all the others (maybe with the exception of Woodland Opera), including the 2016 winner God's Own.
For me, the solution here is obvious. No bet.
Topofthegame should be what it says on the tin
Itchy Feet looks the right favourite in the 14:20, but I can't get overly-excited by his price of around 7/2 in what is a very competitive Grade 1, for all it lacks numbers.
I said earlier that I don't bet or tip odds-on pokes, but I have no argument whatsoever with RSA favourite Topofthegame being a very short-priced favourite in the 14:50, and I would strongly suspect he will dot up. In fact, he is around 10/11 on the exchange at the time of writing is probably a decent enough price, if you are so minded.
Lostintranslation is his main market rival, but I think Top Ville Ben could give his supporters a good run for their money from the front at around 14/1. Until getting picked up by Topofthegame, that is.
As regular readers will know, National Hunt Flat races are not bag, so that is another contest I am happy to swerve.
It's never a bad thing to take a breather at these big meetings and sit the occasional race out. It's a long betting trek.
Best of luck.
PROFIT AND LOSS TOTAL
April 14 2017 to Apr 3 2019 inclusive (all recommended exchange bets are settled at Betfair SP)