Steve Hughes looks ahead to Grand National Day at Aintree
It is a heavy ground National and therefore I am looking for horses that not only act on the surface but you would expect to last out the marathon trip too. My main selection is the grey mare representing husband and wife partnership Ross O’Sullivan and Katy Walsh. We had an excellent second day at Aintree through Jester Jet’s win (advised 28/1) with Elegant Escape also placed for the each-way bet (advised 11/2).
Aintree 1.45: Golan Fortune & Red Indian
Two hopefuls for the first.
Golan Fortune has been massively progressive in his novice season, winning three times. They were in increasingly classy handicaps at Sandown, Ascot and most impressively at Kempton over Christmas. He has lost nothing in defeat twice since. He was just touched off by Topfothegame (so narrowly defeated at Cheltenham) in a grade 3 handicap at Sandown and was then third in a graded novice at Sandown. I think there is still some mileage in his handicap mark, especially with a promising 5lb claimer aboard.
Red Indian looks worth a first try at 3m. He has been incredibly consistent this season despite never quite winning in four attempts. He just looked slightly one paced at 2m4f, but kept on well for sixth in the Coral Cup and had previously been third in the Lanzarote at Kempton. The fact he has gone particularly well on stiff tracks and all his best form is on testing ground bodes well for this step up to 3m on very soft going.
Aintree 2.25: On The Blind Side
Having missed Cheltenham through a minor injury, On The Blind Side comes here a fresh horse and boasts some great form from before Christmas.
He started off with a win here over course and distance in October and then produced a storming late finish to win at Cheltenham over some top rivals including Momella and Poetic Rhythm.
He was impressive when winning a class 2 at Sandown and should handle conditions today. Market support suggests the vibes are he is fit enough for this from four months out.
Cheltenham 3.40: Thomas Patrick
Whilst his future almost certainly will lie in marathon handicaps, Thomas Patrick still looks a horse ahead of his handicap mark over fences and the testing going will bring his proven stamina into play.
Representing the Tom Lacey yard that did us a big favour yesterday and is in such good form, Thomas Patrick has run well all year, initially over hurdles. He did though have form in points and put that experience to good use when grinding down the opposition on a Chepstow novice over 3m.
The Devon National probably came a bit too soon next time, but the way he galloped away from a decent field at Newbury last month suggested there is plenty more to come and an 8lb higher mark might not stop him.
Cheltenham 5.15: Carlingford Lough, Seeyouatmidnight & Baie Des Iles
Three against the field for the National – two trained in Ireland and one in Scotland.
Carlingford Lough has the back form having won two Irish Gold Cups in 2015 & 2016, including once on heavy going. He was a staying on fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup that year and stamina looks his strong suit. He also had good handicap form prior to that, winning the Galway Plate and placing in a Kerry National. Of course he has not reached that level for some time, but has consistently taken on the best chasers on level terms and is probably not at that top grade any more. His handicap mark reflects that though and older horses have a good recent record in the National.
Seeyouatmidnight comes here off the back of just one run after an injury setback. However he ran as well as could be expected at Newbury over an inadequate trip and hopefully that will set him up perfectly for today. He was just outstayed by Vicente when third in the 2016 Scottish National but is two years older now and loves heavy going such as when beating Blaklion in the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham a couple of seasons ago.
Perhaps the first choice is the relentless galloper Baie Des Iles. She does not fit the profiles of a typical National winner being a young 7yo grey mare, but she has been taking in these marathon handicaps from a very early age and is this plenty experienced enough. She has had an interesting prep with a run over hurdles and then over far too short a trip, races where she was going to struggle to be competitive. However she was then third in the National Trial at Punchestown (a race she romped to victory in last season), the two horses that beat her finishing second and an unlucky fourth in the Irish National recently.
0.75pts each-way – Golan Fortune – 1.45 Aintree – 14/1 Bet 365 (¼ odds first 5)
1pt win – Red Indian – 1.45 Aintree – 8/1 general
1.5pts win – On The Blind Side – 2.25 Aintree -13/8 general
1pt win – Thomas Patrick – 3.40 Aintree – 9/2 general
0.5pts each-way – Carlingford Lough – 5.15 Aintree – 50/1 general (¼ odds first 5)
1pt win – Seeyouatmidnight – 5.15 Aintree – 14/1 general
0.75pts each-way – Baie Des Iles – 5.15 Aintree – 18/1 general (¼ odds first 5)