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Grand National Festival Tips – Friday

Hot on the heels of the Cheltenham blood bath, bookies suffered another nightmare day at Aintree yesterday with plenty of fancied horses ending up in the winners’ enclosure.

Coral are again offering a Through the Card promo today at Aintree – bet £10 on the first race (1.40pm) and get £30 of free bets to spend on the remaining races.

Meanwhile, Paddy Power are also repeating yesterday’s offer of a free bet of up to £25 on every race at Aintree, if your horse finishes second to the SP favourite.

JLT Melling Chase     CH4

The card looks tougher for punters today, however, despite Vautour appearing an absolute certainty for the Melling Chase.

He was mightily impressive in the Ryanair at the Festival and trip, track and ground couldn’t be more perfect for him today.

He surely only has to jump around to win, but second favourite, Al Ferof, looks vulnerable as he tends to run best with a decent gap between his races so GOD’S OWN and VIBRATO VALTAT should either be backed each way or in the markets without the favourite.

God’s Own ran a nice race in the Queen Mother, but was just tapped for toe at the business end of the contest and so should relish this longer trip. This is his time of year.

Vibrato Valtat has also often looked worth a go at this distance and his run in the Ryanair was inconclusive as he fell (when still travelling well) four out.

Betfair are offering new customers enhanced odds of 3/1 for Vautour to win the Melling Chase here (plus money back if you lose).

God’s Own (ew)3.25 Aintree16/1Bet365
Vibrato Valtat (ew)3.25 Aintree20/1Paddy Power

Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle     RUK

Today’s action starts with a fiercely competitive handicap hurdle.

JP McManus and John Ferguson have multiple entries between them and there has to be a good chance that one or other will walk off with the prize.

The issue with Ferguson’s runners is whether either truly stays the trip. Any drying of the ground would, therefore, help and narrow preference is for QEWY, who was bang there at the last in the Coral Cup recently. The flatter track will help him here.

McManus’ Blazer wasn’t far in front of Qewy at Cheltenham and must have a chance, but at the prices CHAMPAGNE AT TARA and BOX OFFICE make more appeal.

Champagne At Tara seems to be best suited by this trip and has enough good form in the book from his novice days to suggest he is still well handicapped, whilst Box Office (Tony McCoy’s final professional ride last April) has more ability than his form figures would suggest. He may not have stayed in the Pertemps final last time out.

Qewy (ew)1.40 Aintree28/1BetVictor, William Hill
Champagne At Tara (ew)1.40 Aintree20/1Stan James
Box Office (ew)1.40 Aintree33/1BetVictor, William Hill, Sky Bet

Sky Bet are offering money back as a free bet if your pick is second or third in the 1.40 (max refund £25).

Top Novices’ Hurdle     CH4

Limini was one of Cheltenham’s most impressive winners and Willie Mullins’ mare is a very short price today considering she is taking on the boys here.

She’ll have to be good to beat BUVEUR D’AIR despite the weight concession, and Nicky Henderson’s horse looks much the better value of the market leaders.

Two outsiders of note are GWAFA and North Hill Harvey. The former is less exposed and his decent flat form gives him a squeak especially if the ground dries out a bit.

Buveur D’Air (win)2.15 Aintree11/4Bet365
Gwafa (ew)2.15 Aintree18/1Bet365, Paddy Power

Betfred Bowl Chase     CH4

Blaklion, Un Temps Pour Tout and BALLYALTON all try to complete the Cheltenham / Aintree double in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase, and, at the prices, we prefer Ballyalton, who really seems to be getting his act together over fences now.

Blaklion is clearly the form pick, but he had the hardest race of the three in the RSA Chase, a race that can often leave a mark on its winner.

HENRI PARRY MORGAN is also worth an interest with the dead eight going to post as he has shown no end of improvement since having his tongue tied on his last two starts.

Ballyalton (ew)2.50 Aintree16/1Bet365, Paddy Power
Henri Parry Morgan (ew)2.50 Aintree12/1Bet365, Paddy Power

Crabbie’s Topham Chase     CH4

The day’s big race is the Topham over the National fences and with 30 runners set to go to post luck in running will play a huge part.

Near the bottom of the weights, we really fancy DROMNEA for the ultra-shrewd Mouse Morris. He ran well in a big staying handicap at Warwick in January, but didn’t see out the trip that day and so this drop in distance should suit him.

The short list for our other selections is a long one!

Cocktails Of Dawn would have been a big danger had the ground not seemingly gone against him, whilst big outsider and top weight, Third Intention, ran well enough over the cross country course at Cheltenham recently to suggest this test might suit him.

Bennys Mist is always a threat over these obstacles and Killer Crow has a big race in him, but has to overcome recent exertions in the Irish National. Gullinbursti’s yard still has question marks over its form.

That leave us with BISHOPS ROAD, AS DE MEE and Minella Reception.

Bishops Road’s connections are still hoping he’ll get into the big one on Saturday, but if he doesn’t he could gain compensation here. He is coming back down in trip, but won well over 2m 4f on his debut for Kerry Lee and if the ground is soft on the National course his stamina could still come into play.

Concerns about Minella Reception’s jumping mean that As De Mee just gets the nod as the third selection. He should relish this drop into handicap company having been contesting grade 1’s for much of the campaign.

Dromnea (ew)4.05 Aintree20/1Bet365
As De Mee (ew)4.05 Aintree16/1Winner
Bishops Road (ew)4.05 Aintree16/1Winner

(back Minella Reception at 25/1 with Bet365 if Bishops Road is a non-runner).

Our tips in the other races are:

Betfred Red Rum Handicap Chase     CH4

Ballyoptic (ew)4.40 Aintree8/1Bet365
Vintage Clouds (ew)4.40 Aintree20/1Bet365, Paddy Power

Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race     RUK

Jam Session (ew)5.15 Aintree66/1Bet365
Utility (ew)5.15 Aintree8/1Bet365, Paddy Power
Bolving (ew)5.15 Aintree11/1Paddy Power