The first port of call whenever trying to bet from an ante-post perspective is to turn yourself into a Micheal Fish and pretend to know what the weather will do. Still, by my prediction Aintree are due to receive a drop of rain or two in the lead up to the start of the festival and, rightly or wrongly, I am working on the basis that it will be on the softer side of good for the first day at least.
The first race I looked at was the Topham Chase run on the Friday over 2m5f, and the key to this contest has always been the Beacher Chase and the Grand Sefton.
Knowing a horse has already had a taste of these National Fences is a positive I like to have in my back pocket, and the horse I could not get away from was ten-year-old Via Dolorosa 26.025/1. Still, connections thought it was a bright idea to run him in the Scottish National, and I weighed in with them, even knowing his stamina was of serious doubt - stupid by me!
Therefore, I have abandoned the race for now, and I don't think Mister Coffey - another fancy - will be much shorter than his current 8.07/1 on the day.
I've thrown three horses at you here, two are without markets but I wanted to highlight them and I will update you in the Daily Racing News column on the day. However, there is one excellent ante-post bet, and it didn't take long to find!
NAP - Erne River a smashing each-way ante-post play
Thursday 13:45 SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices' Chase
In the opening 13:45 on Thursday, Erne River 6.511/2 looks a fair each-way bet at his current odds, especially considering this race can cut up quite severely.
Three of these ran on Saturday at Ayr, Bravemansgame is highly likely to go for his race on Friday, for which he is as short as 4/5, and Colin Tizzard has three entrants, which could see at least Elixir De Nutz defect and take up his 2m option.
Erne River has the option of the 3m Mildmay Novices Grade 1, which looks much deeper than this race highlighted by his 21.020/1 price tag, but connections will surely opt for this route over 2m4f now and look at three miles for next season.
Nick Kent's charge has seen defeat just once under rules, and that came on his debut at Kelso, but since then, he has done nothing but improve in four starts, comfortably scoring in all.
He is extremely lightly raced, and that inexperience has been evident in his two chase starts this term, where he has been novicy at a few of his fences. Still, he warmed to the task and improved the further he went through his latest race at Wetherby and scored in excellent style, hitting the line hard, and that form was given a boost next time by the 13 length third.
He has quickly achieved a rating of 144, and he arrives here on a steep upward curve and is the fresher horse in the field. He could potentially be a very, very smart horse for the future and has any amount of improvement to come.
Interestingly, connections mentioned this meeting or Ayr as his next potential target after his latest outing, which suggests this is no afterthought, as it may be for some. At 11/2, it's hard to kick him out of the frame especially as he recorded on of the top ten time figure performances of the week at Wetherby!
Compensation awaits for Langer Dan backers on day two
Friday 13:45 Orrell Park Handicap Hurdle
The market is yet to be formed for the opening contest on Friday. Still, Langer Dan will likely line up here, given this is his sole entry, and while conditions are not the replica of those at Cheltenham, he is still firmly on the radar.
He was a strong fancy to land the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, but frustratingly Lorcan Williams decided to line up on the inside rather than keep him wide and out of trouble.
Still, he remains well-handicapped off this mark of 137 on the balance of his form - including an excellent second from well off a steady pace in the Martin Pipe last term behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Galopin Des Champs. He goes well at this time of year and is surely a winner in waiting, granted some luck in running.
He is one I am keen to keep on the right side of, so keep an eye on the Betfair Sportsbook betting.
Wait for Saturday for Walking On Air!
Saturday 14:25 Mersey Novices' Hurdle
Nicky Henderson's Walking On Air skipped Cheltenham in favour of this meeting. The glowing references from the trainer about this horse are hard to ignore when the visuals of his Newbury performance back them up.
He has an entry in the 3m Sefton Novices' Hurdle on Friday, for which he is a 6.05/1 chance, but it would be unlike Henderson to step a Novice up dramatically in trip from 2m to 3m in one swift move, so I would avoid backing him for that contest. Henderson did say that the 2 1/2 mile race at Aintree - the Mersey - would be his next move. This is a race he won with Simonsig and the race he used to step Angels Breath up in trip.
The unexposed Novice really impressed me on his debut over hurdles. He jumped well in the main and travelled strongly, but his response when under pressure before the second last under no more than hand and heels urgings caught the eye.
He picked up easily and very quickly to put distance between himself and his inferior rivals. He cantered through the line with any amount in hand, and while that form needs improving on, it came on hurdle debut on the back of a 305-day break, so there is good reason to think there is plenty more to come.
Keep him on side when the market forms!