Day two: Grand National Festival blog at Aintree, by Matt Brocklebank

Politologue (right) and Min jumps the last together
Politologue (right) and Min jumps the last together

Recap all the action from Ladies' Day at Aintree on day two of the Randox Health Grand National Festival, where Politologue won a thrilling Melling Chase.

Day two news and highlights


By Matt Brocklebank (@Matt_Brocklebank)

1730: That caps a fantastic day's action on the eve of the Randox Health Grand National.

The National is enough of a test as it is, but with the ground riding soft it's going to be a really gruelling examination of both man and beast.

No doubt you've a good idea where your money is going already but before I log out I have to point you in the direction of Ben Linfoot's Value Bet selections for the big race, which include a 100/1 shot.

I'll be back in the hot-seat from Aintree in the morning so don't miss a moment of the build-up as we count down to 5.15 tomorrow.

Now, we must battle with 40,000 Liverpudlian ladies and get back to the card. Pray for me people, pray.

Until tomorrow, out.


RESULT Aintree 5.15 Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race

1st PORTRUSH TED (25/1)

2nd Harambe

3rd Kateson

Click here for full result and free video replay


1715: Away from the top of the market, here is what Chris Gordon had to say on Facebook on his contender Commanche Red:

"Big day today as we have a runner at Aintree. We have Commanche Red in the 5.15 which is the Weatherbys Racing Bank Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Grade 2) over 2m209y. This horse won last time out at Kempton in good style to win by five lengths and his first run at Southwell was also good as he finished third. He has run on this ground before when he won at Kempton so he should cope with that today, however it will be a big experience for him at a much bigger track and a long trip for him there. Tom Cannon rides him for owners Mr Richard and Mrs Carol Cheshire. Good luck boy and good luck to the Team🐎🐎."

1710: Averting my eyes from some of Liverpool's finest ladies who may or may not be about to expose themselves at the window of the media centre, I'm drawn to the day's final race - the Grade Two bumper, where I can't help but feel Henderson could be about to strike again with Pym.

He was one of the early favourites for the Sky Bet Supreme this season but hurdling has been shelved and he's interesting here having run quite well in second on his return from a layoff at Kempton in February.

1700: A fantastic animal. Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico de Boinville both glowing in their praise for Santini after a hard-fought win over the mare Roksana.

"Still a big baby and bound to keep improving with another summer on his back," according to connections, this six-year-old is not to be missed when he goes novice chasing next season.


RESULT Aintree 4.40 Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

1st SANTINI (6/4 favourite)

2nd Roksana

3rd Tower Bridge

Click here for full result and free video replay


1630: It's almost Santini time, ladies and gentlemen. And I'm clearly not his only fan, the Albert Bartlett third has been backed like a good 'un and is generally 15/8 ahead of the Sefton Novices' Hurdle.

Luckily, there's no pesky Tizzard horses in here against him today.

There is well-regarded Henderson stablemate Chef Des Obeaux, however. He was too bad to be true at Cheltenham and had impressed on deep ground at Haydock prior to that. He's another quality chaser in the making by the looks of him and he won't mind conditions.

1625: A brilliant training performance from Team Tizzard and Colin's daughter, Kim, could probably be heard over at Haydock as Ultra Gold and Shanahan's Turn came over the last.

"Go oooooon! A one-two! Go ooooon!"


RESULT Aintree 4.05 Topham Chase

1st ULTRAGOLD (14/1)

2nd Shanahan's Turn

3rd Theatre Territory

4th Kilcrea Vale

5th Ballyalton

6th Clarcam

Click here for full result and free video replay

1555: SIX places on offer with Sky Bet in the Topham Chase, the next race due off at 4.05.

It looks like a load have shortened up in the market but there are three non-runners to factor into it.

Shanahan's Turn for me at big prices, though there's no 40/1 available anymore, sadly.

Ben Linfoot has made a case for Mystifiable in his Value Bet column - don't forget the great man had a 14/1 winner in the last yesterday.

1545: Well people had seemingly written Politologue off after being well beaten in the Champion Chase but connections felt he had effectively run his race before the off at Cheltenham as he played up badly in the preliminaries, so much so that Sam Twiston-Davies has to appeal against a fine for breaking the parade early.

He won that appeal in the end and now he's won the Melling - which must be a sweet success for all concerned.

Here's the winning jockey: "It was a good shout by Paul to put the hood back on, it helped him relax and he got in a great rhythm. Paul has done all the hard work and I just pushed at the end.

"When Min came up all I was hoping was that I winged the last to have a chance again, when something is travelling like that you are always concerned but one thing with him is that he tries very hard."

He added: "I needed that one, it's been a trying time, Paul is trying to rebuild looking for new stars, I've been injured, I got a few decisions wrong, missed a few winners and gave some horses some not so great rides, but these ones make it worthwhile and help me to believe in myself again."


RESULT Aintree 3.25 JLT Melling Chase

1st POLITOLOGUE (11/1)

2nd Min

3rd Sizing Granite

Click here for full result and free video replay


1524: Min tops the market and Sky Bet have enhanced the price on Willie Mullins' horse winning by six lengths or more - that's now a 7/2 chance.

Click on the image below for the live odds and all Sky Bet's Aintree offers.

Min: En route to victory at Leopardstown 12 months ago
Min

1520: The JLT Melling Chase is next up. Won last year by Fox Norton, this season's edition looks a belter with Ryanair Chase winner Balko Des Flos up against Champion Chase second Min.

A slight pity we don't get to see Champion Chase winner Altior tackle two and a half miles but there will be other days.

And don't forget Politologue here. He was winning top two mile races earlier in the season and although he came unstuck at Cheltenham against the best, including Min, he's still got some potential going back up in distance here.

1510: Owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede won this season's Betfair Chase at Haydock with Bristol De Mai and you'd imagine they've got another fully-fledged candidate for that race again should they choose to go down that route with Terrefort.

Looking a little further down the road, Sky Bet make him 25/1 from 40/1 for the King George at Kempton and 33/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March.

Terrefort masters Ms Parfois at the last
Terrefort masters Ms Parfois at the last

1504: Terrefort doesn't do a tap at home by all accounts and Nicky Henderson has said in the past that when he came over from France he initially thought him to be "rubbish".

How wrong he was.

He's the type of horse who would never been keen in a race, he's lazy if anything, but he gallops and jumps beautifully and together that's a pretty lethal combination. Soft ground also plays to his strengths as he adds Grade One Mildmay Novices' Chase success to his Scilly Isles win earlier in the season.

Time may tell he faced a near-impossible task trying to concede weight to Shattered Love in the JLT at Cheltenham.


RESULT Aintree 2.50 Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase

1st TERREFORT (3/1 favourite)

2nd Ms Parfois

3rd Elegant Escape

Click here for full result and free video replay


1450: The next - the Mildmay Novices' Chase - is due off at 2.50.

Click on the image below to see Sky Bet's live market.

Elegant Escape
Elegant Escape

1445: An emotional champion jockey Richard Johnson has been talking to ITV: "This is hard to put into words. It was very sad what happened and this horse last year was his first big winner. To come and do it again in his memory, for his family, is fantastic. It was a big shock what happened.

"Hopefully this horse will keep Richard's name in lights for a long time to come. I hadn't sat on him since last year and tongue in cheek I said it would be nice if we got the same sort of performance and I'd ride him the same way.

"He's a lovely big horse who stays really well and it's all gone to plan, he really put his head down after the last. It's a special day for the family and I'm sure Richard is smiling as well."

1438: Not to be for Ben Pauling's Global Citizen, who weakened out of contention after being a little too free for his own good in the early stages. He was still bang there jumping three out so they've clearly got a lot to look forward to, but like so many of Pauling's horses he'll be far more effective on good ground.

It seems a shame as in all likelihood he'll never get to race over two miles over hurdles at Aintree again.

1435: This image makes me feel really, rather old. And I still classify myself to be 'early-30s'.

Racegoers on Ladies' Day at Aintree
Racegoers on Ladies' Day at Aintree

1428: Victory for Richard Johnson and an extremely poignant victory for Kayley Woollacott, following the shock death of Richard Woollacott at the end of January.

The horse was disappointing when fancied for the Betfair Hurdle in February but has been freshened up and clearly bounced back to his best, at a course where he proved himself to be among the best bumper horses around last spring.


RESULT Aintree 2.20 Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle

1st LALOR (14/1)

2nd Vision Des Flos

3rd Bedrock

Click here for full result and free video replay


1412 The moment of truth coming up for Sky Bet Dovecote winner Global Citizen in the Betway Top Novices' Hurdle.

I spoke to his trainer Ben Pauling earlier in the week and you can read his thoughts by clicking on the image below.

Global Citizen and Daryl Jacob
Global Citizen and Daryl Jacob

1400: Winning jockey Robbie Dunne does have a National ride - he's on Gas Line Boy for Ian Williams.

If there's a more National-Winner-Sounding-Name in the field than Gas Line Boy then I'm yet to see it.

Action from Aintree on day two of the Grand National Festival
Action from Aintree on day two of the Grand National Festival

1355: Trainer Tom Lacey has been having a phenomenal time of things and he saddled 10 winners from 16 runners in March.

And now make that three from seven in April after Jester Jet defies odds of 20/1.

It begs the question, what's he got in the National? But sadly he's not represented, not this year at least. But what an amazing season it's been for him and his small team.


RESULT Aintree 1.45 Alder Hey Children's Charity Handicap Hurdle

1st JESTER JET (20/1)

2nd Eaton Hill

3rd Who Dares Wins

4th Wilde Blue Yonder

Click here for full result and free video replay


1335: It could be a very good day for Colin Tizzard today. Very good indeed.

1310: The Grand National field is final. Sadly for backers of Vintage Clouds, the fourth reserve misses out by one.

So to summarise:

Minella Rocco OUT Thunder And Roses IN

Vicente OUT Delusionofgrandeur IN

Beeves OUT Walk In The Mill IN

Click here for the racecard in full

1300: Mike Cattermole now with his take on the big one.

1250: BEEVES LATEST NON-RUNNER IN GRAND NATIONAL!

Which means Walk In The Mill gets a run.

Carnage for those who went early with their sweepstake yesterday.

1248: And if you're still struggling, then check out Great British Racing's 'Blaggers Guide'.

Easy guide to the 2018 Randox Health Grand National

1245: I suggested earlier Mouse Morris would be delighted that Thunder And Roses has got in the National. More fool me for going over the top.

Morris, who won the 2016 Grand National with Rule The World and never one to go over the top, said: "If you're not in you can't win and it's good Thunder And Roses has got a run. The two horses have travelled over fine and everything is good. We can't complain."

1240: Lydia Hislop's Pinstickers' Guide has landed - and it is a joy to behold.

Here's a pretty obvious clue as to who she fancies...

"Arrives from a career-high third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, albeit never getting remotely involved with the two principals. Advantageously weighted on that form. Generally much improved this season. Totally unexposed as a stayer. Prone to the odd mistake. Versatile regarding ground. Very interesting."

Click on the image below to check out what Lydia thinks of your selection... (brace yourself).

Anibale Fly
Anibale Fly

1220: Placepot paid a little over £50 yesterday but not hard to envisage a nought being added to today's dividend when the music stops.

Getting through the first looks bad enough Three Musketeers is a horse I like here as he's well-treated back over hurdles. He's got some solid Aintree form in the book and handles all types of ground.

The Skeltons have also got Spiritofthegame with Bridget Andrews on him and Harry on Three Musketeers. Hopefully there'll be a repeat of the scenes after the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, but in reverse, with Bridget congratulating Harry. We live in hope.

1212: What a fine start to the meeting for our columnist Daryl Jacob, who has some choice rides today too, including Global Citizen for Ben Pauling in the Top Novices' Hurdle and Polidam in the Topham Chase.

He he is this morning weighing up the big ditch - the first fence on the National course.

Dary Jacob stands in front of the birch at Aintree
Daryl Jacob stands in front of the birch at Aintree

1200: It's all unravelling here - Vicente is now also a Grand National NON-RUNNER.

Sue Smith's Delusionofgrandeur now gets a run. The clock is ticking for Reserves 3 and 4 - namely Walk In The Mill and Vintage Clouds.

1150: We really do have a plethora of punting pointers on site ahead of Saturday's big race, including the following from Ben Linfoot which highlights some of the key elements you might want to see in your Grand National candidate.

Other imports bits and bobs you should probably be reading before making those final National selections include...

1140: It may be still a bit drizzly, but at least the temperatures are a few degrees higher than yesterday. Just a couple, but yesterday really was bitterly cold.

One shrewd judge suggested yesterday that a spot of overnight rain would probably do the course some good and mean it wouldn't be quite so holding. If horses handle soft, then wet ground is definitely preferable to gluey, tacky conditions that can occur after a dry day.

Anyway, some ladies in their finery...

1130: The vast media centre here at Aintree is absolutely buzzing this morning. Not sure if it's the Minella Rocco news, the fact it's Ladies' Day, or the Randox Health 'Body Age Checker' in the corner of the room that's got the press so fired up today, but I can report that a slimline Oli Bell looks quite pleased with the results of his assessment.

Others not so impressed - I just can't mention any names, no matter how tempting that may be.

1120: Hot off the press - Donn McClean. He's back with his day two tips and he's backing the Ryanair Chase winner to get the better of the Queen Mother Champion Chase second.

What a race that is for the Melling later this afternoon at 3.25. Personally, I wouldn't be ruling out Politologue either, but you can get The Donn's musings by clicking the image below.

Davy Russell celebrates a Balko Des Flos wins the Ryanair
Donn McClain's fancy Balko Des Flos

1115: Back to today's high-class card and here are the most popular picks from our huge team of people who like to consider themselves 'in the know'.

To be fair to Oli Bell, his Aintree Yankee provided three winners and a second yesterday so I'd suggest you follow the link for his fancies today.

The most popular selections at Aintree on Friday
The most popular selections at Aintree on Friday

1110: Who's idea was it to allow them until 1pm on Friday regarding the National reserves? I mean, seriously. I just sense we haven't heard the last of it.

It's only conjecture right now but is Vicente really going to run on such bad ground, when he could go back for a third Scottish National a fresh horse?

Multiple good-ground winner Beeves - a 100/1 shot - another whose connections may be having some serious conversations as I type.

In the meantime, here's ultimate pro Simon Holt trying to crack the puzzle...

1055: Can't claim that yesterday's was packed full of winners, but we go again, as Steven Gerrard once said.

1055: 'Never mind what's not running, where is the money going?' I hear you cry.

Aintree

1.45 – Who Dares Wins 15/2 from 10/1

2.20 – Vision Des Flos 4/1 from 5/1

2.50 – Snow Falcon 13/2 from 12/1

3.25 – Min 11/10 from 13/8

4.05 – Mystifiable 14/1 from 33/1

4.40 – Count Meribel 18/1 from 25/1

5.15 – Severano 11/2 from 8/1

For all of Sky Bet's live Aintree odds and special offers for day two of the Festival, click here.

Sky Bet are paying six places on the National
Sky Bet are paying SIX places on the National

1045: Plenty of other non-runners around today including Highland Lodge and Vibrato Valtat in the Topham Chase. Our NRs page is the place for all the details in full.

1020: Here's something that hasn't put a smile on my face: The weights will now all go up 1lb, while Thunder And Roses - the bottom weight - will wear saddle cloth number 1. That must be a first.

1008: GRAND NATIONAL NON-RUNNER - Minella Rocco is out.

He was pulled out on account of the ground in the Gold Cup and he's gone again - Jonjo O'Neill opting not to run Minella Rocco.

Thunder And Roses - the first reserve - now gets a run.

Perhaps that'll put a smile on Mouse Morris's face.

0950: Slight rail adjustments from yesterday's races in a bid to provide a bit of fresh ground.

As a result, each race will be slightly longer than advertised, by around 50 yards, though race five - the Topham - is just 4 yards further.

0940: Enough of my melancholic caterwauling over the Albert Bartlett defeat of Santini.

Happy Birthday Bryony Frost!

I can't seem to get it to embed correctly into the system right now, but hear's a flashy video of the Grade One-winning jockey, who turns 23 today, and rides Milansbar in the Grand National tomorrow.

Her sole birthday mount is Black Corton in the Mildmay Novices' Chase at 2.50 - the horse that provided her with that special Grade One success in the Kauto Star at Kempton.

Ah-ha, as promised.

BRYONY FROST - Milansbar - 2018 Grand National

0930: So much to get stuck into today, with four more Grade Ones to be won, the acid test for Global Citizen, some future stars in the Mildmay, a fascinating clash of the Irish in the Melling, and all this before the Topham Chase which looks a seriously competitive renewal.

And then it's onto Santini in the Sefton... don't get me started on Santini. The poor, poor horse. All he wants is a bit of decent ground and look what he's got. Cheltenham - bog. Aintree - bog.

He'll be a good 'un next season, mark my words.

0905: Welcome back to Aintree where it's wet. But the early birds have informed me it's not been hammering down all night and they've just had the 2mm, while it's due to dry up within the hour.

Officially, we're slightly softer than at the end of play yesterday:

Mildmay and Hurdle Course - Soft

National Course - Soft, Heavy on the Canal Turn

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