Grand National day at the Aintree Festival!

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Some nice profits made today and I’m hopeful of adding to those and coming away from this meeting Walking On Air!

1.45pm EFT Construction Handicap Hurdle

Stats: Although they don’t always point us in the correct direction stats are  more interesting than some think (no, really). For instance, 44 horses have run here in the last 24 runnings who came home second last time out – not one of them came home in front – who would have guessed at that as a fact? No winners aged 10 or above either, six to eight-year-olds taking 20 of the 24 (83%). Only one winner rated below 128, none who raced within the last 15 days (32 have tried), with 16-90 days covering all the last 24 winners here. Two favourites and a co-favourite from the last nine, while trainer David Pipe has been successful twice – both with Tom Scudamore in the saddle.

Thoughts: Sadly all those amazing stats (that took me hours to compile) only got rid of four of the 22 declared overnight (waste of time, eh?), so it is pretty much back to the drawing board.  We did note that David Pipe and Tom Scudamore know exactly the sort needed to come home in front here, and I wonder if there could be a profit to be made if Remastered gets in to the first four home. A nine-year-old racing off a mark of 133, this will be his first start after wind-surgery which caught the eye, and although he hasn’t won this season, he has hit the first four home every race barring a fall at Newbury. The last three runs have all been over fences, the latest when fourth to Royal Pagaille at Haydock in the Peter Marsh Chase, but interestingly he returns to hurdles today. Rated 146 over the larger obstacles that day (and 143 now), this looks like it may be a plan for the son of Network who has clearly improved all season, and off this mark he certainly appears very well handicapped to me.  

Remastered each way     

2.25pm Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

Stats: 23 of the last 24 winners have come home in the first six last time out (all in the first seven), none failed to complete, and 10 of them were a winner on their last visit to the racecourse. Five and six-year-olds have won 21 of the 24, with no winners aged over seven over the same period. All winners had last raced between 16 and 60 days ago come race day. Colin Tizzard and Willie Mullins have won it twice each in the last six years, while six of the last nine to come home in front were sent off at the head of the market. Robbie Power rode both the Tizzard winners.

Thoughts: Three Stripe Life heads the early betting here after coming home second to Sir Gerhard in the Ballymore Hurdle at Cheltenham and I begrudgingly admit that is probably the best form on offer here. Howe er, the Gordon Elliott horses just aren’t firing as expected lately which has to be a concern for his supporters – but then again I was never going to tip him anyway.  I was told some time ago that anyone who mentions Constitution Hill or Jonbon from the Nicky Henderson yard need to included Walking On Air in any conversations, with some at Seven Barrows considering he may be their equal – or even their superior. After the others came home one and two in the Supreme Hurdle, the last part of that sentence may prove to be an exaggeration, but if he is even mentioned in the same breath then he must be some horse. He missed Cheltenham deliberately to give him a little bit more time, but if he is as good as they think he is, then only inexperience can stop him coming home in front today. Might I is tempting as an each way alternative and wasn’t far behind Jonbon at Haydock and he could also go well – at a far bigger price.

Walking On Air

3.00pm Maghull Novices’ Chase

Stats: 23 of the last 24 winners have been priced at 6/1 or shorter, with 23 of them coming from the first four in the betting.  All winners were aged five to eight, and as a note of interest, nothing more, horses who won last time out have a strike rate of 19% in this race – while those who fell have one of 33%!  Four of the last nine winners were favourite or joint favourite, with three of those odds on, and of those nine Henry de Bromhead trained three, Nicky Henderson two, and Paul Nicholls two.

Thoughts: I have always been a fan of Third Time Lucki and he wisely gave the Cheltenham Festival a swerve for this flatter and more suitable track and he could go well, but Edwardstone is hard to bet against. The winner of his last five starts over fences after being brought down at Warwick in November, he was last seen winning the Arkle by over four lengths when going clear on the run in, and as long as he can get round he looks by far the likeliest winner here as well – though he is, of course, priced accordingly.  

Edwardstone

3.35pm Liverpool Hurdle

Stats: All bar one of the last 24 winners came home in the first seven last time out, while none of them were priced at bigger than 20/1 and all of them from the first six in the market come the off. Six to ten-year-olds were responsible for 22 of the 24 to come home in front, with 21 running between 16 and 60 days ago. Five of the last nine went to the favourite, while Nicky Henderson is the only trainer to win this twice in that period – both times with Whisper (2014 and 2015).

Thoughts: Flooring Porter never really gets the credit he deserves, and that includes from me I suppose, but you don’t retain the Stayers Hurdle unless you are straight out of the top drawer. He ne er really saw a rival form the start that day coming home three lengths clear of Thyme hill at the line, but will he be able to do the same on this very different track? Truth is he hasn’t tried before so we won’t know until after the race is over, but the bottom line is, if he can set his own fractions from the front, there is no reason why he won’t follow up as he seems to have that touch of class about him whereas the majority of his rivals are pure stamina through and through.

Flooring Porter

4.15pm Betway Handicap Chase

Stats: Possibly the most stats unfriendly race of the entire meeting! All odds (50/1 to 11/4), ages six to 12, last time out finishing position first to fifteenth, weights nine-twelve to twelve-stone, and ratings 113 to 165, and days since last run, anything up to 120 – give me strength! On the brighter side, three of the last nine were successful favourites, and six to eight-year-olds have taken the last four. Philip Hobbs won it twice (with Duke Of Lucca), and Daryl Jacob has ridden the winner twice, in 2013 and 2019. 

Thoughts: Personally, I fully intend to go and make a cup of tea rather than have a bet on this race – and I don’t even drink tea! Shan Blue looks sure to prove popular after his sixth in the Ryanair but 9/4 looks far too skinny in an 18 runner handicap, and surely there is better value to be found elsewhere? Wishing And Hoping is one of those as a C&D winner last October, and he could get involved at a huge price, but I narrowly prefer Tea Clipper. He weakened in to fourth late on at Cheltenham in the Ultima Chase and will find the predicted ground and flatter track less testing on his stamina, though if you bet in this race, you do so at our won risk (like every race, when you think about it)!   

Tea Clipper

5.15pm Randox Grand National Handicap Chase

Stats: The big one, so let’s see what we can find from the last 24 races. All those who completed last time out came home in the first eight, and with only one winner (from 19) who fell last time out, and one (from 144) who pulled up last time out, that looks a good starting point IF you only follow the facts. No winner under the age of eight (57 have tried), and only the one over the age of 11 (from 99). Only one winner has carried more than eleven-stone-six, no winners have been rated below 136 or above 160. All winners last ran between 16 and 90 days ago, with 22 of the 24 (92%), last being seen between 16 and 60 days ago. In the last nine runnings we have seen just one winning favourite (Tiger Roll in 2019) with the others priced between 10/1 and 66/1. Irish raiders have won four of the last five including twice for Gordon Elliott (both with Tiger Roll, of course), with Davy Russell on board both times.

Thoughts: The trickiest race of the entire year, an extreme distance over very different fences to elsewhere, and a handicap – yet the one I get the most call and texts about, expecting me to tell them the winner – if only I knew. Using the stats above I can get it down to 22 runners for what that is worth, so no I need to look at trainer history coupled with trainer form. Bravely (or stupidly) removing horses whose trainer has a lower than 10% strike rate in the last two weeks seems as sensible a next step as any, and doing so now leaves me with a far easier to manage dozen runners, so next I will look at the trainer records for this race to draw my final conclusions. In the last 24 runnings Jonjo O’Neill has  had 33 runners for a win and five places which points me to the chances of Cloth Cap, while Nigel Twiston-Davies has a record of 47 runners for two winners and two places, and he has Good Boy Bobby down to run. Both are currently priced at 25/1 or bigger and both could go well here – Cloth Cap’s last win was off 1lb higher and he sports cheekpieces for the first time here so he may find some improvement, but I know that Nigel is happy with a mark of 150 for his change and he would be my pick of the two – though I will be backing both, of course. Of the rest, I can’t pretend I don’t like the look of the Tizzard pair with Fiddlerontheroof perhaps the pick of his, but I could keep going – and decisions need to be made.

Good Boy Bobby each way

6.20pm Weatherbys Bumper

Stats: Twenty of the 23 winners came home in the first six on their last start, with 11 of them victorious.  12 were aged five, seven of them aged six, and four aged four, with just the single winning favourite in the last nine. Paul Nicholls has trained the last two winners, and Nigel Twiston-Davies has also trained a pair with The New One in 2012, and Ballybolley in 2014, with Sam Twiston-Davies on board them both.

Thoughts: Firstly, I am gutted to see that Nigel Twiston-Davies does not have a runner – suffice to say he has a decent sort in his yard who he had planned to send here (Sergeant Wilson) but for reasons I am not privy to, he misses the race. He would have been my selection here, but now I need to look elsewhere, and the stats point to the chances of Henri The Second, the winner of both starts, one each at Chepstow and Ascot, and in the care of Paul Nicholls. He hasn’t done anything wrong but he hasn’t really impressed me either though he could still make all and hold on for a place. Imperial Bede looks interesting having recently been bought by J P McManus from France and making his debut in the UK here after a second last time out at Nantes. He gets weight as a four-year-old and could go well, but Willie Mullins in the bumper King, and although Houlanbatordechias should do a lot better in a hood assuming no steering issues, I prefer Rath Gaul Boy. Another unbeaten contender (there are six in total), he won his point-to-point at Kinsale in October and then a bumper at  Leopardstown after being sold for £80,000, and with improvement assured for that experience, a big run seems assured this afternoon as well.

Rath Gaul Boy each way

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