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2018 Grand National tips - Expert selections on day three of the Aintree Festival

A great view of the Cheltenham Festival.

Our expert looks through the full card on day three of the Aintree Festival and provides readers with his tips for every race on Saturday.

While there are six other races on Saturday’s card, day three at the Aintree Festival is all about the Grand National. 600 million fans around the world will turn on their television or tune into the radio to find out who will win this years’ renewal of the sports’ most famous race.

Our expert has looked through Saturday’s card in full, providing his tips for the Grand National and the six surrounding races.

1:45pm Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f RUK



Several of the market leaders come into this race on the back of either one or no runs this season, including Debece, who hasn’t run since finishing third in the Grade One Sefton at this meeting last year. Dream Berry was an unlucky loser in the Alder Hey last year and will be fresh after making his appearance at Cheltenham. However, it could be more prudent to look towards the bottom end of the weights to find some value and the name that screams out is NO HASSLE HOFF.

The Munir & Suoede flag-bearer appeared in this race last season, finishing strongly to claim fourth as Fountains Windfall cruised to an emphatic victory. After kicking off his second season over hurdles with a routine victory at Uttoxeter, No Hassle Hoff carried an 8/1 price into the Grade Three Handicap Hurdle at Haydock, but could only finish fourth as Sam Spinner scored a tremendous win.

Results have drifted a little since then, with a third-place finish behind Donna's Diamond and Agrapart in the Rendlesham his best result of the year. Dan Skelton's charge should be sharp after featuring at the Cheltenham Festival, he will enjoy the extra cut in the ground and Bridget Andrew's claimer will make his task much easier. He offers plenty of each-way value.

2:25pm Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f ITV



Black Op was my each-way tip in the Ballymore at Cheltenham and I was delighted to see him run such a strong race behind Samcro. Tom George’s stable have been in poor form of late and, while I remain a fan of this progressive sort, ON THE BLIND SIDE is the horse to back in this Grade One.

Nicky Henderson’s charge oozed class during his victory in the Hyde, waiting until the last moment to overtake Momella and Poetic Rhythm and pull clear in decisive fashion. That win meant Nico De Boinville’s mount had to shoulder a penalty in the Winter Novices’ Hurdle, but even that couldn’t stop On The Blind Side powering home to secure a second straight Grade Two by a convincing margin.

Sadly, Nicky Henderson didn’t get the opportunity to see what his novice could do against Samcro and the other runners in the Ballymore. On The Blind Side will be fresh coming into this race and he should be good enough to claim a maiden top level title.

On The Blind Side winning at Wincanton earlier in the season.

3:00pm Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 2m ITV



Shantou Rock has two runner-up finishes in Grade Twos to his name and Lady Button’s looks open to build on an impressive victory last time out. However, if PETIT MOUCHOIR really is a chaser of genuine Grade One quality, he should win this race fairly comfortably.

Many were expecting Henry De Bromhead’s charge to give Footpad a run for his money in the Arkle, having finished just four lengths behind the favourite at Leopardstown after spending several months on the sidelines. Davy Russell’s mount went out far too fast and couldn’t sustain the pace, allowing both Footpad and Brain Power to overtake him on the final circuit.

Petit Mouchoir is the class horse in this field, so Russell can employ more patient tactics. If De Bromhead’s charge doesn’t win this race by four or five lengths, I’ll be slightly disappointed.

3:40pm Betway Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m1f ITV



On Tour defeated Master Dee on his reappearance here at Aintree and, despite some shoddy recent results, he has to be respected. Wakanda has the ability to bounce back from a poor effort in the Ultima, but he could struggle to get involved carrying 11-5

Market leader Thomas Patrick is in fantastic form and looks a good bet. Yet, ROCKLANDER ran such a tremendous race at the Cheltenham Festival last month, he’s the one I’m going to side with.

Tom George’s charge carried a 25/1 price tag into the Close Brothers and almost jumped his rivals into submission over that two-and-a-half miles trip, only for Mister Whitaker and Rather Be to come through and beat him to the line. 

Stepping back up in trip should be favourable for Rocklander, who’s best performance of the season came when outstaying some strong challengers in a 22 furlong handicap. The extra cut in the ground will be perfect for this likeable nine-year-old and he could extend his strong seasonal form with another competitive display.

4:20pm Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle ) (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m½f ITV



The slow pace Sam Spinner set in the Stayers’ Hurdle last month lead to a thrilling blanket finish, where the long-time leader could only pass the post fifth. Jedd O’Keeffe’s charge will carry a short price into his third successive Grade One, but there are others who hold greater appeal.

L’Ami Serge will appreciate a stronger pace and The Worlds End won a Grade One at this meeting last year. While both have to respected, WHOLESTONE out-performed all his British rivals at Cheltenham and he could be the one to side with.

As Supasundae and Penhill fought out the finish in the Stayers’ Hurdle, Wholestone overtook most of the field on the run to the line to secure an impressive third place finish. That was the second successive Festival where Wholestone has had to settle for third at the Festival, having finished behind Penhill and Monalee in last year’s Albert Bartlett.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has only won over two-and-a-half miles this season – beating Agrapart to the Relkeel Hurdle. But Wholestone won twice over three miles around Cheltenham last season and the flat track here at Aintree will further enhance his staying ability.

Tiger Roll leaps the last en-route to winning the 2017 National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.

5:15pm Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (7yo+) 4m2½f ITV



Anibale Fly comes into the National nine-pounds well in, but AJ Martin’s charge has been dogged with inconsistency throughout his career and that effort in the Gold Cup is bound to have taken its toll. History is certainly against Blaklion winning the Grand National on his second attempt and last year’s fourth will have to shoulder eight pounds more in weight this time around.

It’s easy to see why Baie Des Iles is being backed off the boards and Katie Walsh’s mount could have a good chance on this kind of ground. As could Rachel Blackmore’s mount Alpha Des Obeaux, who’s a multiple Graded winner over fences and stayed the trip well in last season’s Irish Grand National.

While both hold each-way appeal, TIGER ROLL was my NAP on day two at Cheltenham and he looks perfectly placed to build on his third Cheltenham Festival victory with a famous Grand National triumph.

Gordon Elliott’s charge was tanking for much of the Cross Country Chase and exhorted just enough energy to comfortably see off his rivals down the home straight and score a hugely impressive victory. Being a former National Hunt Chase winner, there’s no doubting Tiger Roll will stay the marathon trip and he’s travelled to Aintree before, having featured in the Gaskells Handicap on this card two years ago.

The only worry for Gordon Elliott is the state of the ground at Aintree, but Davy Russell’s mount coped brilliantly with tricky conditions at Cheltenham and Tiger Roll still offers plenty of each-way value at his current double-figure price.

6:20pm Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys' And Amateur Riders' Race) (Class 2) 2m1/2f



Michael's Mount has only been beaten by Global Citizen and Scarlet Dragon in the Adonis Hurdle this season and deserves his spot at the head of the betting. Considering he hates soft ground, Seamus Mullins will have been delighted be Chesterfield's effort in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and he returns to Aintree 12 months after winning this race by five lengths.

When it comes to races for conditionals, it can pay to follow the big names. Donagh Meyler rides recent winner High Expectations for Gordon Elliott and Bryony Frost will fancy her chances on Paul Nicholls' Amour Du Nuit. However, Lorcan Murtagh and Donald McCain have formed a strong partnership this season and an each-way wager on DEAR SIRE looks to be the way to go.

McCain's six-year-old made an incredible 15 appearances during 2017, a run which culminated in a decent showing to claim fourth in the Grade Two Persian War Novices' Hurdle. After an 80-day winter break, Dear Sire fell at the last when trying to hang onto second in the Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle at Musselburgh. Any fears that fall would knock his confidence were thrust aside on his most recent outing, as Will Kennedy guided him to a superb victory over several smart rivals in another Class Two.

Murtagh has ridden three winners from his last six rides and could enjoy a bumper afternoon at Sedgefield on Friday. His five-pound claimer will mean Dear Sire has to shoulder just 11-1 on Saturday and he could close the curtain on this years' Grand National Festival in fitting fashion.

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2018 Grand National tips - Expert selections on day three of the Aintree Festival

Our expert looks through the full card on day three of the Aintree Festival and provides readers with his tips for every race on Saturday.

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