Grand National Meeting Day 3 Tips: Pipe yard set for a great Saturday

Tony is staying loyal to his ante-post pick Ballynagour in Saturday's Grand National
Tony is staying loyal to his ante-post pick Ballynagour in Saturday's Grand National

The Grand National is the main event on Saturday afternoon and our big-price tipster Tony Calvin - fresh from tipping up 33/1 winner Party Rock on Friday - remains sweet on one of his ante-post selections...

"And if he returns to the form of his 4 length 3rd to Cue Card in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby in October, then he is a very serious player."

Back Ballynagour at 80.079/1 Win and 13.012/1 Place in the Grand National

Regular readers may let out a yawn but hopefully there will be a few new people tuning into these pages on Grand National day - okay, I did say hopefully - so I have no hesitation in putting up Ballynagour again as the best bet at this stage of proceedings at 80.079/1 in the win and 13.012/1 in the place market in the big race at 17:15.

Before we outline his each-way credentials, I have to acknowledge the outstanding claims of those at the top of the market, headed by Many Clouds, who bids to become the first horse since a certain Red Rum to claim back-to-back victories in this historic race.

His price of 10.09/1 is more than justified given that he comes into this race in much better form than last season, and targeted at this specifically too, sidestepping the Gold Cup in favour of an easier warm-up at Kelso.

He has everything you look for in a Grand National winner, including a good handicap mark - and a previous win in the contest helps as well - and no way would I put you off backing him.

He certainly makes more appeal than his main rival for favouritism, The Last Samuri. Yes, that horse is officially the best-treated in the race - if he could, the official handicapper would make him carry 12lb more here following his Grimthorpe win at Doncaster after the publication of the weights - but I don't like the way that he jumps low at his fences.

Okay, these obstacles aren't what they once were, as we saw in the Fox Hunters' on Thursday, but if he does catch a few early on, then he could be in trouble. If he is on the premises late on though, then his supporters will be in business, as you can expect his impressive finishing turbo to go into overdrive.

Of the others at the top of the market I would have my doubts about Silviniaco Conti staying and Holywell in testing ground, but The Druids Nephew and last year's runner-up Saint Are have obvious claims.

But I really like Ballynagour at the prices to cause an upset.

At his best, he is on a winnable mark, as he ran Silviniaco Conti to a head off levels here in the Betfred Bowl last season, and that was not his only good effort at this track.

And if he returns to the form of his four-length third to Cue Card in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby in October, then he is a very serious player.

Now, the bad news. In his next three starts he was last of five in the Betfair Chase, and pulled up at Kempton and Newbury, where his jumping didn't look anything like that of a potential National winner.

But there was much more promise in his seventh at Cheltenham last time, especially as the object of that exercise was possibly to get a confidence-boosting round, and a finish, into the horse. And, if it was, it was mission accomplished, even if his jumping was again more sticky than fluent. He can build on that.

I have been nibbling away at the horse in the Betfair market ever since I put him up at 220.0219/1 in my ante-post column after the Grand National Weights Lunch in February - I had a few there, and told his trainer David Pipe he had the winner of the race there and then - and connections certainly know how to prepare one to win this race.

My other ante-post bet at 32.031/1, Triolo D'Alene, has chances, but he has drifted since I put him up courtesy of a poor effort at Ascot and softening ground. He acts with cut but I would have far more confidence in the 2013 Topham/Hennessy winner had it been good going, and more rain is forecast.

I was toying about putting up Many Clouds as a saver, as I think he is by far the likeliest winner, but I am going to put Gilgamboa at 80.079/1 as my fresh bet in the race.

His stamina is unproven but he has always threatened to be a better horse than his National handicap mark of 156 implies; indeed, after a very encouraging fifth in the Ryanair last time he is actually 3lb well-in here.

He will do for me.


Douvan should have little more than an exercise canter in winning the Maghull at 15:00 at heavy odds-on and the same should be true of the breathtaking Thistlecrack in the Liverpool Hurdle at 15:40 and Yorkhill in the 14:25.

I suppose Thistlecrack at least has to contend with two rivals he hasn't already brushed aside with contempt - the unexposed Different Gravey and the progressive Prince Of Scars, both of whom will be suited by any more rain - but it really is hard to see any of these even troubling him, even if he is only on his B-game.


Nothing appeals in the RUK race at 13:45 though King's Palace is of obvious interest off a mark of 142 back over hurdles after a good effort over fences at Cheltenham.

Tom George has a strong hand in the 16:20 - preference is for Roc D'Apsis - but for my only other bets on the card I am going with Ivan Grozny and Dell Arca in the 18:10.

Ivan Grozny is a horse I have been following this season and he has been dropped a handy 2lb after a good eighth in the County. He makes appeal at 17.016/1 or bigger.

Dell' Arca, another old favourite of mine, also makes appeal at around the 23.022/1 mark and that looks too big to me as it is hard to ignore his claims.

He won the Greatwood a couple of seasons ago and not much has gone right for him since but he is very well handicapped on his best form, whether over fences or hurdles.

He was obviously flattered when third to Faugheen in last season's Punchestown Champion Hurdle but he also ran a cracker when a good third to More Of That over fences earlier this season.

He has been back over hurdles and not done much but you can write off his last run at Exeter as so few horses handle ground as bad as it was that day.

On recent form you obviously can't have him but the Pipe yard is in great nick - and let's hope it is in even better nick after the National - and Dell' Arca has all the hallmarks of a potential stable special running off just 135.

Recommended Bets

Back Ballynagour at 80.079/1 Win and 13.012/1 Place in the Grand National
Back Gilgamboa at 80.079/1 in the Grand National
Back Ivan Grozny at 17.016/1 in 18:10
Back Dell Arca at 23.022/1 or bigger in 18:10

Already Advised

Back Ballynagour at 220.0219/1
Back Triolo D'Alene at 32.031/1

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