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Grand National Tips

Rocky Creek (ew)4.15 Aintree9/1BetVictor
Alvarado (ew)4.15 Aintree25/1Bet365Betfred
Al Co (ew)4.15 Aintree28/1Bet365
First Lieutenant (ew)4.15 Aintree20/1BetVictor

Today’s potentially historic Grand National looks set to be run on perfect ground after a few showers overnight left the ground good to soft, good in places ahead of racing this afternoon.

Those conditions should suit the majority of the line-up for the world’s greatest horse race but, judged on the two races that have been run over the mighty Aintree fences so far this week, they will not make the contest any less attritional. The field is likely to go at a decent clip from the off and that, in itself, is bound to lead to plenty of mishaps along the way.

Stamina will also be key – even though the ground will make it easier for the doubtful stayers, the fact that the race will be run that much faster won’t.

So where does all that leave Tony McCoy’s dream of exiting the sport he has graced for so long on the ultimate high. Well, in our view, the McCoy factor is very much evident in Shutthefrontdoor’s price. That said, if another jockey were to be taking the ride he would still be up there as one of the favourites as the horse deserves to be a market principle on his own merits.

The 10/1 available in places first thing this morning looked fair – if a little on the skinny side. Predictions of a starting price nearer 5/1 clearly aren’t justifiable.

On form, a more worthy favourite is ROCKY CREEK and we think he has very solid credentials for today’s race.

Our main selection missed the Gold Cup last season after contracting ringworm and a stab at this great race was something of a last minute afterthought. In the circumstances, therefore, he ran extremely well to finish fifth after racing keenly early on and just failing to see out the trip.

His whole season has been geared around bettering that effort this time around and his win in the Betbright Chase at Kempton last time out was a top class piece of handicap form. The ground should be ideal and, like the other 38 challengers, he just needs some luck in running.

The one doubt about Rocky Creek is his weight as it is still rare for horses carrying over 11st to feature in the finish.

Although four of the last four winners have carried 11st or more, two of those carried exactly 11st and only one horse in the last two renewals has reached the top four carrying 11st or more.

That means we need to add a couple of lightweights to our portfolio and the first one we like is ALVARADO, who finished just ahead of Rocky Creek last year in fourth.

Again, his whole season has been geared around this race and this quirky sort may just be the type of horse to show his best over these unique obstacles. His yard is in fine form and the horse goes very well fresh.

The other one to be on is AL CO, who won the Scottish National last season. He disappointed over these fences in the Becher Chase in December, but he did get around at least and he is very much a spring, good ground horse.

His trainer, Peter Bowen, has a great record when it comes to producing horses to run well here and he too has his string in fine fettle.

Others on our shortlist were FIRST LIEUTENANT (who we think will fill the frame) and The Druids Nephew, both of whom have that touch of class that should take them deep into the contest, and Godsmejudge and veteran Oscar Time, whilst for those looking for a winner at a massive price we think Super Duty can outrun his odds of 125/1 (with Sky Bet).

Rocky Creek (ew)4.15 Aintree9/1BetVictor
Alvarado (ew)4.15 Aintree25/1Bet365Betfred
Al Co (ew)4.15 Aintree28/1Bet365
First Lieutenant (ew)4.15 Aintree20/1BetVictor

Mersey Novices Hurdle

It isn’t easy to find big price winners early on today’s card as those towards the fore of the market in each of the first four races all look to have solid claims.

In the opener, we think Nichols Canyon can turn around Cheltenham form with Parlour Games, but in the hope that he can cope with the preliminaries we would suggest backing DAYS OF HEAVEN to beat them both.

This horse lives on his nerves a bit and so could boil over in front of this massive crowd, but he has a huge amount of talent and is ready for this step up in class.

If there is to be a shock, then course specialist BALLYBOLLEY may be the one to cause it. He won the bumper at this meeting last year and a hurdle here earlier in the season, and the step up in trip on this better ground could eke out some improvement.

Keep an eye out too for Go West Young Man at a crazy price. He has plenty of ability and is the sort to run better, the better the race he is contesting.

Days Of Heaven (ew)1.30 Aintree13/2Bet365
Ballybolley (ew)1.30 Aintree25/1BetVictorSky Bet

Maghull Novices Chase

If Gods Own re-produces his Arkle form he will be hard to beat in the Maghull Novices’ Chase that follows, but well as he ran that day there is a feeling he is better right handed and that preference may be exposed more on this flat track than it was at Prestbury Park.

The track will certainly suit Court Minstrel and he wasn’t that far behind the favourite in the Arkle. He won on this card last season and so could reverse Festival form here.

However, the dark horse is undoubtedly TRAFFIC FLUIDE who could be anything. His trainer, Gary Moore, certainly thinks he is very special and this is the day we find out if he is right. If he is, he could look great value by the time this race is run.

Traffic Fluide (win)2.05 Aintree4/1Bet365

Silver Cross Stayers Hurdle

Cole Harden did us a massive favour at Cheltenham claiming the World Hurdle with a stunning front running display. Much as we would love to see him do the double, he had a hard race that day and instead of being the double figure price he was then he is only 2/1 here.

Whisper won this race last year after a handicap success at the Festival a few weeks earlier and we think HENRYVILLE is worth a few quid at the prices to do something similar.

Our selection didn’t win the Pertemps Final, but he was an excellent third under a big weight, doing the best of those held up off the pace. He loves good ground and so as long as the rain hasn’t got into the ground too much he could be interesting despite the step up in class.

Brother Brian has a similar profile and shouldn’t be dismissed either, but the other one to take a chance on at a big price is BLUE FASHION.

Nicky Henderson has always liked this horse, but he was a big disappointment in the World Hurdle. He may well have not stayed, but it could also have been that he didn’t enjoy the track so we are prepared to give him one last chance now back on a flat track.

Henryville (ew)2.50 Aintree16/1Bet365
Blue Fashion (ew)2.50 Aintree33/1Stan James

Betfred Handicap Chase

The Betfred Handicap Chase that precedes the big one looks far less competitive than usual and if Buywise is in the mood he could destroy these.

He can make jumping errors, though, so with doubts over many of his rivals we are going to take a chance on rank outsider, ACTION MASTER. He pulled up on his first start for Sandy Thompson in the Borders National at Kelso in December. His talented trainer has had plenty of time to work on him since and the better ground should really suit him.

Based on his best form in Ireland, he has a squeak at the weights, despite being slightly out of the handicap – we actually tipped him to win a Pertemps Qualifier at Cheltenham back in 2012 when he raced off of a mark of 127 for the late Dessie Hughes.

Action Master (ew)3.25 Aintree50/1Bet365

Our tips for the later races are:

Astre De La Cour (ew)5.10 Aintree12/1Bet365
Ruler Of All (ew)5.10 Aintree33/1Bet365
Sunshine Corner (ew)5.40 Aintree11/1Titanbet
Katie Too (ew)5.40 Aintree28/1Stan James
Hollies Pearl (ew)5.40 Aintree9/1Ladbrokes, William Hill