Through The Card: Aintree, Saturday 6 April
Timeform take you through the card on Day 3 of Aintree's Grand National Meeting...
"...he demonstrated that he has all the necessary qualities for this race when winning the Scottish National last season..."
Timeform on Joe Farrell
13:45 - POKER PLAY (12) showed much improved form to win a valuable handicap at Uttoxeter three weeks ago, hitting the front three out and quickly asserting thereafter, with nine lengths back to his nearest pursuer at the line. Admittedly, an 11 lb hike in the weights makes life tougher here, but he still sets the standard on weight-adjusted ratings, and there is no reason why he shouldn't give another good account for the in-form David Pipe (five winners from his last 14 runners), who has won this race three times in the last eight years. SIRE DU BERLAIS (1) came out on top in a hotly-contested Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival, and with more to come from him over staying trips, he's also considered for Placepot purposes, while Coolanly and Theclockisticking are others who enter calculations.
14:25 - ONE FOR ROSIE (6) ran a blinder off top weight in the EBF Final at Sandown, only just caught on the line by another improver. He looks well worth a crack at this level, with further progress on the cards, and is fancied to provide his connections with a timely boost before Go Conquer's run in the Grand National. Brewin'upastorm sets the standard on his fourth in the Ballymore at Cheltenham and is feared most ahead of Angels Breath, who could easily bounce back from his disappointing effort at the Festival, and the unexposed Umbrigado.
15:00 - US AND THEM (7) has been a model of consistency this season and, though no match for the winner Duc des Genievres, he did extremely well under the circumstances to finish second in the Arkle at Cheltenham last time, staying on strongly after finding himself with plenty to do (still only seventh) three out. Duc des Genievres' absence here gives this the look of a sub-standard renewal, and Us And Them would appear to hold better claims than most under regular pilot J.J. Slevin - he sets the standard on weight-adjusted ratings and will be suited by a return to more positive tactics than those employed at Cheltenham. Clondaw Castle and Destrier complete the shortlist.
15:35 - APPLE'S JADE (14) wasn't herself in the Champion Hurdle, but her record suggests she's unlikely to stay down for long, and she stands out on form if recapturing the level of her three wide-margin Grade 1 wins this season, notably when beating Thursday's Aintree Hurdle winner Supasundae by 20 lengths at Fairyhouse in December. Sam Spinner was very much back in his game when second in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham and can give the selection most to do, along with last year's runner-up Wholestone.
16:20 - DEBECE (4) completed a simple task in novice company at Catterick last month, already in control when left clear by the fall of Lord du Mesnil three out. That form is not the easiest to weigh up in the context of this race, but his good placed efforts at this meeting for the last two years give us a better idea of what he is capable of, and a BHA mark of 141 could underestimate him on his handicap debut in this sphere, with the prospect of more to come after only three runs over fences. Fellow novices MISTER MALARKY (2) and Kildisart head the dangers having acquitted themselves well in Grade 1 company at the Cheltenham Festival, with the former narrowly getting the verdict as a second selection for Placepot purposes.
17:15 - JOE FARRELL (40) proved better than ever when second on his most recent outing at Newbury, giving game chase to the winner (who was in receipt of plenty of weight) and pulling well clear of the rest in doing so. Still relatively lightly raced after only eight starts over fences, Rebecca Curtis' charge seems to be coming to the boil at just the right time, and the money that came for him earlier in the week could prove well placed - he demonstrated that he has all the necessary qualities for this race when winning the Scottish National last season, and sneaks in at the bottom of the weights here on a potentially lenient mark. He is joined in the Placepot by JURY DUTY (20), who proved at least as good as ever when making a successful return at Down Royal, while Tiger Roll, Lake View Lad and Walk In The Mill are others with solid claims in a typically competitive renewal.
18:20 - FLASHING GLANCE (7) was value for a bit extra when scoring at Ludlow last time and could be the way to go in a tricky finale, with a 4 lb rise in the weights more than fair. West To The Bridge, Lord Yeats and Whatmore, whose strong-travelling style suggests he could be well suited to the demands of this race, head the list of dangers.
Minimum Bet Guarantee
Betfair's 'minimum bet guarantee' on all Class 1 and 2 races in the UK and Ireland - which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 - has been extended to cover all races at selected meetings this week. T&Cs apply.
13:45 - 1, 12
14:25 - 6
15:00 - 7
15:35 - 14
16:20 - 2, 4
17:15 - 20, 40