Timeform pick out three bets from Aintree on Thursday, the opening day of the 2017 Grand National Festival.
Top Notch produced a typically game effort when second on his most recent outing in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham, rallying well after a bad mistake two-out and simply finding the classy Yorkhill too strong on the day. That form leaves him 5 lb clear of the field on Timeform ratings here and, while the relatively quick turnaround is an obvious concern, Top Notch should prove extremely difficult to beat if arriving in the same mood and can resume winning ways with a defeat of the Arkle runner-up, Cloudy Dream.
Cue Card appeared to be already struggling when falling three-out in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time, but he recovered from a similar mishap to win this race 12 months ago and should give another good account as he attempts to win the 10th Grade 1 of his career. Indeed, the form he showed when winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November sets a clear standard here and he can silence calls for his retirement by recording another popular victory, with Empire of Dirt the main danger stepping back up to three miles.
Shearling showed improved form to regain the winning thread at Catterick four weeks ago, quickly forging some four lengths clear in the closing stages and defying a double penalty for her earlier victories at Warwick and Wetherby in the process. That effort identified her as a useful prospect in this discipline and, with Richard Johnson taking over in the saddle, Shearling is expected to have too much speed for Petticoat Tails and can give her trainer a boost ahead of Definitly Red's run in the Grand National here on Saturday.
Timeform UK SmartPlays:
(All from Aintree)