After all three Thursday tips finished second (20/1, 16/1 and 9/1), Matt Brocklebank picks out the value on day two of Aintree's Grand National Festival.
1pt win Dans Le Vent in 1.45 Aintree at 16/1 (General)
1pt win Notebook in 3.25 Aintree at 7/1 (General)
1pt e.w. Court Master in 4.05 Aintree at 22/1 (Hills 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7)
Attractive betting propositions are relatively thin on the ground on Friday’s Aintree card, the Randox Topham Handicap Chase over the National fences an obvious exception of course.
Morning Vicar was the long-range fancy when I previewed the race at the end of March but he’s halved in price since then and at current odds I’d rather side with COURT MASTER, whose form ties in closely with Nicky Henderson’s horse.
The pair met at Newbury in a two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase in early-November and Morning Vicar made all to justify favouritism in pretty good style, with Court Master a close fourth.
Four seven-year-olds filled the first four places that day and, unsurprisingly, it’s proved to be a pretty warm race, six subsequent winners having emerged from it including Monday’s Chepstow scorer Before Midnight, who also picked up a jumpers’ bumper at Kempton during the February cold snap.
Court Master didn’t have any obvious excuses at Newbury but he was staying on well at the end and it looked a good step in his education. With three miles likely to be his thing before long, a strongly-run Topham could work out nicely for him at Aintree as his jumping is really neat and accurate too.
A 3lb rise for his last-gasp win at Kelso last month doesn’t look harsh at all and it’s understandable the cheekpieces – worn for the first time in his chasing career in Scotland – are retained here.
The Michael Scudamore yard is in searing form at the moment too and while he races from 2lb out of the handicap, which can never be passed off as a positive factor, he effectively re-opposes Morning Vicar on identical terms from Newbury so I can live with that in a race of this nature, especially when dealing with a 20/1-plus chance who definitely has the scope to improve a bit further yet.
They can’t fit them all into the ITV schedule, unfortunately, and the opening Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle misses out on that score, but I’m backing DANS LE VENT to outrun his price.
Sixth in the Champion Bumper in his youth and tried in Grade One company over three miles behind Santini in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle here in 2018, he’s always had a touch of class about him.
He didn’t deliver a great deal out of novice company and was seemingly finding life tough for Jamie Snowden but Evan Williams picked him up for £20,000 in May 2019 and, after a brief flirtation with fences last term (two runs), he’s looked in good order back hurdling this time around.
He clearly took advantage of a falling mark (128) to win narrowly at Hereford on his comeback, but subsequent efforts suggest the handicapper may not completely have his measure and the Coral Cup effort at Cheltenham definitely wants marking up.
In hindsight he had no shot whatsoever from his early position near the back of the field, as Heaven Help Us skipped clear after setting her own pace loose on the front end, but Dans Le Vent made a promising move to pass horses as well as he could and ended up best of those that were held up, finishing eighth.
It’s easy enough to see why the layers aren’t taking any chances about a horse like fellow Coral Cup also-ran Monte Cristo, who was badly hampered by a faller at the last at Cheltenham, but leaving him on a mark of 145, while dropping Dans Le Vent – who finished three places in front of him from well off the pace – a pound to 131 looks potentially quite generous for the Williams-trained horse, who has to be the bet at 16/1 or bigger.
County Hurdle winner Belfast Banter flies the flag for Ireland in the Betway Top Novices’ Hurdle which does rather pave the way for the once-raced Dusart, who is priced up on potential in one sense as we know so little about him.
However, there’s loads of substance to his Newbury form when last sighted in November, having beaten subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory on good ground, so I’d be in no hurry to oppose him for trainer Nicky Henderson, who has won this four times in the last decade including with My Tent Or Yours and Buveur D’Air.
Henderson is responsible for the market leader in the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase too and Chantry House is the right favourite stepping up to three miles for the first time over regulation fences, but there’s certainly enough in opposition to put me off backing him at cramped odds.
Shan Blue is surely better than he was able to show in the Marsh at Cheltenham having just got rolling far too soon, and he might jump a bit better again back on a flat track here, while Colin Tizzard has won this race with Native River and Lostintranslation – who were both beaten at the Festival en route – so Fiddlerontheroof and The Big Breakaway command respect too.
The best approach is arguably to oppose the lot of them and back Silver Hallmark each-way (providing the eight stand firm), given how well his Haydock form has worked out. He looks a real talent for Fergal O’Brien and his pedigree strongly suggests he’ll improve again for three miles, but his relative lack of experience is just enough to put me off a bet.
I’m not keen on opposing Bravemansgame in the Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle and won't be playing in the conditional jockeys’ race that closes the card either, but NOTEBOOK looks the one to be on at a very fair price in the Grade One Marsh Chase (Melling).
He wilts at the mere sight of the Cheltenham hill and hasn’t fared better than last season’s Arkle sixth from three Festival appearances throughout his career, the latest a weak effort in last month's Queen Mother Champion Chase.
But if you strip away his Prestbury Park form he’s not too far behind the best of the bunch in Ireland and, as most of his best efforts have come on good or yielding ground, he could bounce back quite significantly with conditions to suit this week.
His Leopardstown efforts in particular – he won two Grade Ones as a novice last term and was second to Chacun Pour Soi there over Christmas – strongly suggest he’ll like the configuration of the place at Aintree, and he definitely looks ready for a step back up to this intermediate distance.
Published at 1600 BST on 08/04/21
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