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2019 Grand National Festival tips – Tips for every race on Grand National day at Aintree

The runners leap the last during a handicap chase at Aintree.

Our expert takes a look through the full card on day three of the Grand National Festival and provides readers with his tips for Aintree on Saturday 6th April.

The sporting world will come to a standstill late on Saturday afternoon, as 40 of the finest chasers in the business battle it out to be crowned 2019 Grand National champion. Along with that world-famous handicap, there three Grade One to enjoy on Saturday’s card at Aintree, with strong fields declared for the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, Maghull Novices’ Chase and the Liverpool Hurdle.

Our expert has taken a closer look at every race on Grand National day at Aintree and provided readers with his tips.

Aintree Festival Day Three Tips

1:45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) 3m½f



After battling for racing room for much of the trip, Sire Du Berlais recovered brilliantly to land an expected victory in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. Gordon Elliott’s hurdler has been upped eight pounds in the ratings for that impressive success and, while he could still be the classiest horse in the race, there are several well-treated rivals who appeal more at their odds.

Keeper Hill will likely drop back to handicap company, having finished tenth in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and has the quality to contend. Mia's Storm has an excellent record in handicap, but her odds have slipped markedly as the going description has changed. There are several other more experienced handicappers who warrant a mention, but I'd rather go for an unexposed hurdler with plenty of potential and NESTOR PARK (14/1 William Hill) ticks plenty of boxes.

Ben Pauling's novice has run in two Grade Ones and a Grade Two during his short career. When pitched into a lower level, Nestor Park has dominated, beating future two-time winner, Shambura Shuja at Warwick, before cantering to victory at Newcastle on his most recent start back in January.

Pauling will be disappointed that Nestor Park hasn't been able to cut it at a higher level. Yet, the experience he has gained in races like the Champion Bumper and the Challow Hurdle could prove vital. Staying three miles should be no problem for this scopy sort and Nestor Park dealt with soft ground extremely well last time, winning by nine lengths despite losing one of his front shoes. He looks well treated and ripe for an each-way punt.

2:25pm Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m4f



It’s likely the field for this year’s Mersey will cut up over the coming days, with Champ, Dallas Des Pictons and Fakir D’Oudairies likely to enter races earlier in the week. Angels Breath really struggled for pace in the Supreme and the time looks right for Nicky Henderson to step his novice up in trip. Rouge Vif has to be respected too, but the strongest contender in the field has to be BREWIN’UPASTORM (9/4 Paddy Power) and I fancy he will hand Olly Murphy a first Grade One as a trainer.

Many predicted Brewin’Upastorm would challenge for the places in the Ballymore at Cheltenham, having fallen when mounting a winning challenge in the Classic on Trial’s Day. Richard Johnson held his mount up at the rear, moving smoothly into contention at the top of the hill and the pair entered the home straight with Champ and City Island firmly in the cross-hairs.

Sadly, Murphy’s six-year-old couldn’t find that extra gear, weaving across the track approaching the last and allowing Bright Forecast to come through to claim third. Still, that was an excellent effort in what could be a very good renewal of the Ballymore. Aintree will suit a big, chasing type like Brewin’Upastorm and I expect to see Olly Murphy celebrating on Grand National day.

3:00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1) 2m



The Maghull isn’t known for producing high-quality winners, but we have three horses here rated in the 150s and five runners from last month’s Arkle at Cheltenham. Ornua took a heavy fall at the sixth that day and has only had a couple of weeks to recover. Clondaw Castle and Knocknanuss both struggled on the big stage, finishing 20 lengths behind impressive victor, Duc Des Genievres.

Us And Them secured his third successive runner-up finish in Grade One company at Cheltenham and Joseph O’Brien will fancy his charge’s chances of going one better on Saturday. Duc Des Geneivres and Le Richebourg may not be in the field, but LALOR (5/1 William Hill) looks set to appear in his third Aintree Festival and I’m going in on Kayley Woollacott’s stable star once again.

Lalor was my selection in the Arkle, but it was clear from the get-go there was something amiss. After two decidedly dodgy jumps, Richard Johnson looked down at his mount’s hind legs to see if there was an issue. Johnson gave Lalor three more fences to find some rhythm, but the seven-year-old was clearly labouring on the soft ground and the Champion Jockey decided to call it a day.

Woollacott and her team couldn’t find any health issues following that dismal display and it’s quite heartening to see Lalor turned out so quickly. Merseyside often brings out the best in this talented chaser, with Lalor sealing victory in the Grade Two Bumper and the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle on his two previous outings at this meeting. While many will be struggling to get that flop in the Arkle out of their minds, I’m banking on Aintree bringing the best out of Lalor once again.

3:40pm Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) (Grade 1) 3m½f



For the second year in a row, Apple’s Jade ran a stinker at Cheltenham, fading badly to finish sixth in the Champion Hurdle. Gordon Elliott has taken the wise decision to step his star mare back up to three miles here at Aintree, a distance she has excelled over in the past. However, after what happened at Cheltenham and the way her season capitulate last spring, she’s fairly easy to oppose.

Sam Spinner ran a blinder in behind Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle and a repeat showing could see him go close. I’ve long thought If The Cap Fits would be suited by a step up to three miles and he’s a classy hurdler to be respected. My each-way selection, however, is Dan Skelton’s ROKSANA (10/1 Paddy Power) and she can follow up on her surprise success at Cheltenham with another strong display this weekend.

Roksana was my selection in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, having been kept fresh for a busy spring campaign. Harry Skelton gave his mount an excellent ride, but was looking held by Benie Des Dieux approaching the last. When Ruby Walsh’s mount hit the canvas, Roksana had to swerve to avoid the stricken champion, recovering her composure just in time to see off the charging Stormy Ireland and hand team Skelton their first Grade One success. 

12 months ago, Roksana followed an impressive Grade Two triumph with a superb showing here at Aintree, finishing a close second to Santini in the Sefton over this distance. She’s fresh, a confirmed stayer and returns to Aintree on the back of a Grade One victory at the Cheltenham Festival. 8/1 is a price packed with value.

4:20pm Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m1f



A couple of very classy novices sit near the head of the betting for this Grade Three. Kildisart and Mister Malarky finished fourth in the JLT and the RSA respectively at Cheltenham and both should be in with a chance should their connections decide to drop them back into handicap company – Mister Malarky preferred out of the two.

Since the year 2000, only two horses have managed to carry more than 11-02 to victory in this handicap, so it could pay to find an each-way punt lower down the weights. Reikers Island has shown plenty of ability this term and shouldn’t be overlooked, but the one I like most is TOUCH KICK (10/1 bet365) for Paul Nicholls.

Nicholls’ eight-year-old has been in excellent form since returning from injury in November. Touch Kick has won two Class Three Handicaps – the most recent coming over three miles – and placed behind Aso and Doitforthevillage in higher-quality races. William Biddick’s mount made a couple of mistakes in the Kim Muir, but was still sitting prominently turning for home, only for those errors to take their toll in the closing stages and Touch Kick faded back to ninth.

Touch Kick holds an entry into the Irish version of the Grand National and could be saved for Fairyhouse. Owner, Trevor Hemmings does love a winner on Grand National day, however, and Touch Kick has the class to claim victory in this Grade Three handicap.

5:15pm Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 4m2½f



I tipped Tiger Roll to get the victory in last year’s National and would love to see Gordon Elliott’s star make history and retain the trophy. Rathvinden also travels to Aintree with strong chances, as does Anibale Fly, but I’m keen to take the Irish on this year and there are three home challengers who really catch my eye.

Go Conquer has improved no end for the switch to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard and looks overpriced on 40/1. Rock The Kasbah ticks plenty of boxes and could be good enough to hand Richard Johnson a first National triumph at his 21st attempt. Both will be getting backed, but if I have to pin my colours to just one runner in the 2019 Grand National, it will have to be VINTAGE CLOUDS (14/1 BetVictor).

Consistency is a wonderful quality for any staying chaser to possess and Vintage Clouds, although only winning twice over fences, has registered a hatful of impressive results. Smith’s charge placed in the Ultima at Cheltenham and the Welsh Grand National as a second-season novice last term, rounding off his campaign with another strong performance in the Scottish National at Ayr.

Victory on his reappearance back in November was followed by a second outing in the Welsh National, but an uncharacteristic mistake early on saw Vintage Clouds fail to finish the race. A decent break and a wind-op followed and Smith’s chaser returned with a bang at Cheltenham, finishing strongly to push Beware The Bear right to the line in the Ultima.

Vintage Clouds has strong form here at Aintree, claiming a maiden victory over fences by 18 lengths in October 2017. Smith’s nine-year-old has tons of National form in the book and looks extremely well-handicapped carrying just 10-4. 

In 16 runs over fences, Vintage Clouds has finished outside the places on just four occasions. 14/1 remains an excellent each-way price.

6:20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys' And Amateur Riders' Race) (Class 2) 2m½f



Lord Yeats was highly rated on the flat and has done well since switching to jumping, with his only defeats coming behind the capable Encore Champs. West To The Bridge and Locker Room Talk both come to Aintree in the back of impressive wins and look well-handicapped. Yet, I find myself inclined to look a little further down the market to find a selection in this wide-open handicap and the one I feel looks overpriced is FLASHING GLANCE (14/1 William Hill).

Since being switched back to hurdling during the winter, Flashing Glance's results have improved with every outing. Following a third-place finish behind Benny's Bridge in a hot-handicap at Cheltenham, Tom Lacey's seven-year-old claimed an overdue victory, carrying a high weight of 12-2 into the winners' enclosure.

Flashing Glance has plenty of big-stage experience, having run in the Scottish Champion Hurdle and on Trial's Day at Cheltenham this year. Tom Lacey, who took this meeting by storm last year, is just starting to hit a nice patch of form with his horses and Stan Sheppard has been riding well of late. The ground is a small worry, but I think Flashing Glance is a solid each-way option.


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2019 Grand National Festival tips – Tips for every race on Grand National day at Aintree

Our expert takes a look through the full card on day three of the Grand National Festival and provides readers with his tips for Aintree on Saturday 6th April.

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