It's the biggest day in the racing calendar with the Grand National centre stage, but plenty of other high class races on the card at Aintree. With an in-depth look at the races, and no fewer than six selections, is Tony Calvin...
"He has won an Irish National and a Kerry National, wasn't beaten far in the four-miler at Cheltenham three years ago, has decent form on good to soft ground, even though all his wins have come with plenty of cut - in fact, his jockey thinks he will like the drying ground - and he limbered up for this race with a fair fifth in the Thyestes last time."
Rogue one can star in National war
Being the greedy soul I am, I have already put up three ante-post recommendations for the Grand National - you can read my reasoning here and here - but I am happy to add a fourth and final string to my betting bow, especially when playing at massive prices.
I am very content with my Monday recommendation to side with Wounded Warrior at [100.00], but I will be pleasantly surprised if either O'Faolains Boy or Le Mercurey trouble the commentator on the second circuit. Both are about twice the price I put them up at after running poorly last time; some judge I am.
O'Faolains Boy has had a wind op since running a shocker last time but the drying ground is not in his favour, although a decent surface is at least to Le Mercurey's liking and he does have a fair form chance on his Newbury second to Native River in February.
Anyway, let's cut to the chase and give you the "fresh" tip. Step forward Rogue Angel at [28.0] win and [8.4] place in the big one at 17:15.
He has an awful lot going for him, so let's crack on.
I actually fancy all of Gigginstown's five in the race to varying degrees, but I have little doubt that Rogue Angel, representing last year's winning trainer Mouse Morris, is the pick of the quintet.
He has won an Irish National and a Kerry National, wasn't beaten far in the four-miler at Cheltenham three years ago, has decent form on good to soft ground, even though all his wins have come with plenty of cut - in fact, his jockey thinks he will like the drying ground - and he limbered up for this race with a fair fifth in the Thyestes last time.
Connections took him for a sighter of these fences in the Becher here in December and he jumped and travelled well for a long way when thought to be short of fitness, and a mark of 145 looks fair based on his Irish National win.
Ballynagour narrowly missed out on being the fifth name on my National board and I can see him running a big race at odds of [100.0] and bigger, but I will stop short of putting him up as a firm bet. Best of luck with whatever you punt in the race.
A 49/1 dart to kick off proceedings
We hit the bar with Barney Dwan at 25s in the Pertemps and he is around a third of that price now after his excellent second there in the opener at 13:45.
But even though he has gone up 5lb for that effort I couldn't put you off him as he will love the drying ground - hopefully they don't water too much on Friday night - and he clearly bumped into one there.
However, the one I like at a much bigger price - in fact, he is the complete outsider in most lists - is Leoncavallo at [65.0] or bigger.
The negatives are obvious, and considerable. He is unproven over this trip, comes here in modest form, was pulled up on only start at this course and I am not a massive fan of the 7lb claimer on board, to be honest.
So I wouldn't blame you for ignoring this tip!
However, he has at least dropped to a very exploitable mark of 136 - he is well handicapped on his second to Sceau Royal on his reappearance - and as he was a 2m winner on the Flat this step up to 3m+ may well suit him.
The ground certainly will and I think he is worth a speculative dart in an open race.
The 2m4f Grade 1 Novices' Hurdle at 14:25 is an absolute cracker of a race and I find it hard to split the first four in the betting.
With that in mind, I think Musselburgh winner Lough Derg Spirit is probably a very fair each-way bet around 6/1 stepping up to 2m4f - I can pass on a very positive word from the jockey - but I will sit this one out. Not only are the top four in the market all feasible winners, but you can give a couple of outsiders a squeak, too. No bet.
I was toying with Politologue at around [6.0] against Charbel - I thought more aggressive tactics over this shorter trip would suit him after his JLT fourth - but the favourite is solid after running so well before falling at the second-last in the Arkle. So no play in the 15:00 either. Soz.
A two-handed attack on the Mildmay
I am going in double-barrelled in the Mildmay at 15:40 with Starchitect and another total flier in Ruben Cotter.
As Al Pacino may have once said, I have to say goodbye to my little friend Henry Parri Morgan as he has cost me a packet this season - I have no doubt that he is capable of bolting up here off this mark - and Starchitect gets my love here.
He is a lot shorter than our usual play at around [8.0] but he shapes as though he was well worth trying at this trip when fifth over 2m5f - and he is a 1m6f winner on the Flat - and good ground suits him really well. He has the potential to step forward a lot.
Ruben Cotter takes a bit more explaining as he left Paul Nicholls for only £10,000 in January and hasn't been the easiest to train, or most consistent in his career.
But a change of scenery may have freshened him up, he has been dropped 3lb since his last run, and new connections are trying him in a tongue tie and cheekpieces for the first time. His better efforts have come on decent ground, and some came after a break, too. At [34.0] or bigger he is a punt at the odds.
Ptit Zig can shock Yanworth
I am keen to take on Yanworth in the Liverpool Hurdle at 16:20 and Supasundae and Ptit Zig are my two against him.
However, I will only recommend backing Ptit Zig at [17.0] or bigger as I think he is the forgotten horse in here. He is a French Champion Hurdle winner (in first-time blinkers) and has been given a break since disappointing in the Cleeve Hurdle in December.
He bypassed Cheltenham to wait for a spring campaign, and those tactics worked last season as he won at Sandown on the final day of the season after a similar break. He holds stronger forms claims than 16/1 quotes would have you believe.
Chesterfield to take a front seat in finale
In the finale at 18:15 I will side with Chesterfield at [11.0] or bigger.
I was all over him for the Lanzarote but apparently he knocked himself early on in the race that day, which explained what looked a very odd ride at the time.
He ran well when second in the soft at Newbury last time but I reckon the combination of better ground and a bigger field and a more strongly-run race will see him to much better effect. I don't know much about the jockey but he has ridden winners for the stable and can claim what could prove a very valuable 10lb. And this horse is very well handicapped on his form two seasons ago.
Best of luck on a great day of racing.
Back Leoncavallo at [65.0] in the 13:45
Back Starchitect at [8.0] and Ruben Cotter at [34.0] in the 15:40
Back Ptit Zig at [17.0] in the 16:20
Back Rogue Angel at [28.0] to win and [8.4] to place in the Grand National at 17:15
Back Chesterfield at [11.0] in the 18:15
Already recommended for the Grand National, antepost
Wounded Warrior at [100.0], O'Faolains Boy at [40.0], Le Mercurey at [46.0]
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