The third and final day of the Aintree Festival promises to be full of top-class racing – with the Grand National feature being one of the best races in the world! Our editor has picked his selections for all seven races, including his pick for the Grand National.
Mill Green (1.45 EFT Construction Handicap Hurdle)
At the prices, MILL GREEN looks excellent value. He finished just over two lengths behind Third Wind in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last time out, but has a nice pull in the weights to close that gap. He still finished ahead of Winter Fog that day, who is at the head of the betting.
He was the only one out of the top four who was up near the pace in that race, and had he not hit the second to last hurdle on the run-in he may have finished even closer to the eventual winner.
He is a 10-year-old now, which is a slight worry but not enough for us to be put off. With a clear round of jumping, he can get us off to a superb start at tempting odds.
Three Stripe Life (2.25 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle)
The first Grade 1 of the day can go to Gordon Elliott with THREE STRIPE LIFE. He’s had a touch of seconditis lately, finishing runner-up in his last three races, but he only found Sir Gerhard ahead of him in his last two and there’s no disgrace in that.
He travelled superbly into the race in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and was the only one who looked like coming close to Sir Gerhard. With all due respect to the horses who line up against him here, they aren’t in the same class as Sir Gerhard.
He has already beat Colonel Mustard in Leopardstown back in February and there’s no reason that form should reverse, where as Walking On Air may have impressed on debut but that form hasn’t worked out too well so far. His biggest danger could come from Good Risk At All, but we can’t see past a win for Three Stripe Life here.
Edwardstone (3.00 Maghull Novices’ Chase)
What a season EDWARDSTONE has had. After being brought down on his seasonal return, he has gone on to win his next five races, including two Grade 1’s. His performance in the Arkle was a thing of beauty – he was foot perfect throughout and you could call him the winner a long way out.
The time before that he was simply too good for Third Time Lucki in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick and his only other realistic danger Gentleman De Mee hasn’t beaten much in his two victories this year.
Quite simply Edwardstone has been a phenomenon this season and it would take a monstrous performance from any of the others to come close to beating him.
Flooring Porter (3.35 Liverpool Hurdle)
FLOORING PORTER was magnificent in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and we’re confident he will land a quickfire double here.
Danny Mullins gave him one of the rides of the Festival last month as he made all to win unchallenged and similar tactics will likely be used again in this. This will be his first run at Aintree but the course should suit his running style and going left-handed again is an extra bonus.
One of the biggest reasons we’re so keen on him to win is we simply aren’t keen on his opposition. Thyme Hill is best when fresh and even when fresh he still couldn’t beat Flooring Porter at Cheltenham. Champ and Sire Du Berlais are 10-year-olds now and neither has shown enough this season to challenge our selection here. It’s hard to make a case for any of the rest in the field, as none of them have the form or class to beat Flooring Porter.
Shan Blue (4.15 Betway Handicap Chase)
SHAN BLUE hasn’t raced in lower than Grade 2 company in almost 18 months but drops back to Grade 3 company here. He hasn’t been racing poorly either – He’s only had the two runs this season and you could argue his Ryanair performance could’ve simply been a prep run for this race, as he would’ve struggled to beat Allaho even if he was fully fit. Before that he was running a stormer in the Charlie Hall Chase and would’ve won convincingly but for a fall three out.
His rivals have left a lot to be desired this season too. Tea Clipper disappointed in the Ultima at Cheltenham and is yet to finish close to the winners in his three most recent races. Oscar Elite hasn’t won since 2020 and doesn’t look like stopping the rot any time soon. His strongest challenge may come from Cap Du Nord, who impressed at Kempton on his most recent run, but it would take a vastly improved performance for him to beat our selection in this.
Any Second Now (5.15 Randox Grand National Handicap Chase)
On to the big one!
Cases could be made for virtually every horse in the line-up here, but we’re siding with ANY SECOND NOW.
He impressed in the race last year, finishing third despite being badly hampered by a faller midway through the race. That knocked him off his stride, and had he not been hampered he would’ve finished much closer to Minella Times.
He warmed up for the race in impressive fashion, just out-staying Escaria Ten in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse in February. That was his first chase run since the National last year and he should come on for that run.
Trainer Ted Walsh has trained a National winner before, winning with Pappilon back in 2000. We’re banking him to land the honours again, with owner J P McManus making it back-to-back victories.
Others to note are Cross Country Chase winner Delta Work, Venetia William’s Commodore, who couldn’t have been more impressive last time out, and Snow Leopardess, who has won all three of her Chase races this season.
Henri The Second (6.20 Weatherbys National Hunt Flat Race)
The unbeaten HENRI THE SECOND looks a cracking bet here. Paul Nicholl’s gelding has impressed on both starts – the first of those on debut when winning comfortably despite running green and hanging badly to the left on the run in.
The second of his victories came in Listed company at Ascot in December, when beating the likes of Authorised Speed and Top Dog – both of those have since come out and won!
His biggest threats will be Willie Mullins’ Rath Gaul Boy, who won going away at Leopardstown last month, and another unbeaten runner in Ernest Gray, who won in impressive fashion at Warwick in March.
Henri The Second’s Listed win at Ascot is the best form on offer here, and providing his short break hasn’t stopped his momentum, he can remain unbeaten and see us land one final winner at the Grand National meeting.