After a brace of Grade 1 winners on day one, Paul Nicholls has some great chances on the second day of the Grand National Festival, including with Politologue in the afternoon's feature race...
"Best Chance. Politologue. 15:25. He seems better then ever and has a great record fresh after a break."
Hoping first time cheek pieces help
He has done well for us over the years and has again been consistent this season after a long time off with an injury. He was far from disgraced in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham last time but he is in the grip of the handicapper and hard to place so I am hoping that fitting cheek pieces for the first time can produce some improvement.
Good run last time and has a chance against his elders
Despite being a bit too keen he ran a cracking race in the Boodles Handicap at Cheltenham, travelling strongly, leading before the last and keeping on to finish fourth. The winner Jeff Kidder confirmed the form with a Grade 2 success at Fairyhouse on Monday. I'm sure the best is yet to come from Houx Gris who will enjoy the flat track at Aintree where we plan to ride him differently, drop him in and try to get him to relax better in the early stages of the race. We've been working on getting him to settle at home. Good chance against older horses.
Tommy deserves his chance and Politologue looks a big player
Duc Des Genievres is one of those horses stuck in nomansland between handicaps and Graded races. We tried more patient tactics on him at Cheltenham last time but he does like to get on with things so we will look to be positive on him. While he faces a tough task he will appreciate the flat track at Aintree.
Although Master Tommytucker was beaten two lengths by Dashel Drasher at Ascot last time on soft ground I have a feeling that going left handed on this flatter track on drier ground will suit him much better. Tommy is a high-class horse, hasn't had much racing and is still improving. He more than deserves a crack at this Grade 1.
Politologue has been A1 since we had to withdraw him at the last minute at Cheltenham after we discovered a trickle of blood in his nose. In fact I'd say he is better in himself than he was three weeks ago. He won this race two years ago and it helps that last year's winner Min is absent this time. Politologue has been successful over this trip several times, he likes going left handed and looks a big player back at Aintree. His record when running after a break of at least 76 days is outstanding.
My Way probably the pick of our trio of the National fences
I've been itching to step Magic Saint up in trip again because he is bred to stay and this looks an ideal race to try it. While he schooled brilliantly over our National fences at home and remains in good form he looks to me as if he is on a high enough handicap mark.
Modus is at his best when fresh and looked really good when winning on his first start of the season at Aintree over the Mildmay fences in November before again running very well when third in the Sefton the following month on soft ground. We've kept him for this race ever since. He was ridden on both occasions by Jonjo O'Neill Jr who is again in the saddle. Sporting each-way chance in a competitive race.
My Way has a lovely, light racing weight, is a brilliant jumper and was mustard over our National fences a few days ago. I'm not convinced he quite has the class to win this but he is handicapped to go well and will give Bryony Frost a great ride.
Decent chance if over his Cheltenham run
He won a point to point as a four-year-old over three miles and was staying on stoutly when successful in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury so I don't have any concerns about the step up in trip for him on this drying ground. It's in the back of my mind that he had a very hard race at Cheltenham but he seems fine at home and the only way you find out is by running them. On all his form this season he has a decent chance.
Mystery has sound claims while Max can also go well
Tomorrow Mystery has progressed nicely over hurdles, enjoys decent ground and won a jumpers bumper tidily on the all weather at Kempton in February on her first start since a wind op. I've kept Tomorrow Mystery for this race since then as it looked a perfect opportunity for her on nice ground. She looks to have sound claims ridden by Lorcan Williams who won on her earlier in the season.
Wild Max's handicap mark has crept up after he won twice towards the end of last year and we thought he'd run all right in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury only for him to fall at the first. Angus Cheleda gets a good tune out of Wild Max and his 7lbs claim again comes in handy in this race.