Saturday’s racing tips – Through the card tips on Virgin Bet day at Aintree
We take a look through the card on Virgin Bet day at Aintree and provide readers with tips for every race on Saturday.
With Doncaster’s card washed away, the ITV cameras switch to Aintree, with three races from the Merseyside venue featuring on the terrestrial television coverage. Our expert takes a look through the card in full to provide readers with his betting selections with meeting sponsors, Virgin Bet.
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Looking for a horse to back with your free bet? Here are our tips for every race at Aintree on Saturday.
Saturday’s Aintree Tips
12:20pm Premier League Betting At Virgin Bet Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap) Cl3 (4yo+ 0-135) 2m4f
Follow The Bear won here over hurdles last season and jumped nicely enough on his chasing debut, finishing second to The Hollow Ginge over three miles at Worcester. Joueur Breselien won very nicely the last day and could be a factor again, if he handles this fairly steep step up in quality.
Canton Prince has taken well to chasing, winning first time out before two solid runner-up finishes and could challenge for the win once again. My preference, however, is for chasing debutante TRIO FOR RIO, who looks tailormade to succeed over the larger obstacles and offers plenty of value each-way.
Warren Greatrex’s charge impressed over hurdles last season, winning a three miler at Bangor and again on his final outing of the season at Wetherby. Before moving to Greatrex’s stable, Trio For Rio ran in seven point-to-point races for James Mangan, winning two of his final three appearance by a combined distance of 16 lengths. Legendary owner, Trevor Hemmings moved to purchase Trio For Rio during the off-season and this scopey six-year-old looks to have a bright future over fences.
12:55pm Casino At Virgin Bet EBF Stallions “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) Cl4 (4-6yo) 2m4f
Although Keep Wondering makes an intriguing case, Nigel Twiston-Davies boasts three of the six entrants in this novice hurdle and I’d be surprised if the win didn’t go to one of his trio. Jelski may have been beaten at a short price as he made his first start over obstacles, but he still jumped nicely and could take to this longer trip.
Jelski would need to improve significantly if he wants to beat stablemate MOSSY FEN though. Twiston-Davies’ four-year-old jumped confidently on his way to a five-length triumph at Worcester last month, with runner-up Dolphin Square claiming victory of his own at Wincanton two weeks later. Mossy Fen will have to shoulder a penalty, but his confirmed staying ability will be mightily important on the softening ground and Sam Twiston-Davies has chose to ride him over the other two from his father’s yard.
1:30pm Download The App At Virgin Bet Handicap Chase Cl3 (4yo+ 0-140) 2m ITV4
Theflyingportrait is a previous course-and-distance winner and finished a close second to Yorkist in this race 12 months ago. Former Grand Annual winner, Solar Impulse is respected too, but the one I fancy will come out on top in the first ITV race at Aintree is Evan Williams’ THE LAST DAY.
The Last Day carried odds of 16/1 into his chasing debut last season and was on course to claim a runner-up finish behind the impressive Knocknanuss before falling at the last. Williams’ seven-year-old bounced back from that tumble with two solid runner-up finishes, losing out to classy opponents in White Moon and Whatswrongwithyou by narrow margins. A drop in class resulted in a convincing victory on his final start of the campaign, as Adam Wedge guided the odds-on favourite to a comfortable eight-length triumph at Carlisle.
Although both of The Last Day’s most recent wins came in March, Williams’ charge won on his reappearance as a novice hurdler in 2017. The handicapper decided to up his rating by just three pounds after hacking up at Carlisle and the softer ground conditions swing the balance in The Last Day’s favour.
2:05pm Virgin Bet Handicap Chase Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m4f ITV4
War Sound bolted up in this race 12 months ago and returns to Aintree just two-pounds higher in the handicap. Philip Hobbs’ ten-year-old faces a much stiffer task this time around though, and there are several well-handicapped sorts sitting ahead of him in the market.
In truth, this is an extremely hard puzzle to solve. Cepage and Bigmartre are both capable of winning off top-weight. The handicapper took a swipe at Duke Street after his recent Cheltenham win, but he’s still capable of winning off 141. A case can be made for The Russian Doyen, but I – with a great deal of uncertainty – will side with OLDGRANGEWOOD, in the hope that a drop in trip will help Dan Skelton’s charge rediscover his old spark.
Oldgrangewood endured a winless campaign last season, but ended the season with a couple of encouraging third-place finished here at Aintree. Three excellent handicap victories over two-and-a-half miles in 2017 helped Skelton’s eight-year-old reach a peak rating of 147 and Oldgrangewood returns to Aintree – a track he seems to enjoy – runs off a mark eleven pounds lower than that on Saturday.
2:40pm Pertemps Network (Supporting BTRC) Handicap Hurdle (Pertemps Hurdle Series Qualifier) Cl2 (4yo+) 3m½f ITV4
Skandiburg has potential for growth over three miles and ran very well when second on his reappearance. Bialco shouldn’t be underestimated either, but I’m going to side with the Skeltons again and back DIOMEDE DES MOTTES.
After an underwhelming start to life as a novice hurdler, Skelton’s charge claimed a pair of impressive victories either side of a summer break. On his search for a hat-trick, Diomede Des Mottes entered a red-hot renewal of the Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle and was staying on gamely back in fourth as Thyme Hill and Fiddlerontheroof fought out the finish.
Stepping back up to three-miles should definitely suit, as will the softer underfoot conditions and I fancy Diomede Des Mottes will prove his class with just 11-3 in the saddle.
3:15pm Bet And Watch At Virgin Bet Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+) 2m4f
I’m hoping this is just a loosener over hurdles before Vision Des Flos tries chasing again. Although he’s certainly capable of winning a race like this, his record when fresh isn’t the best and he’ll give weight to two classy performers ahead of him in the betting.
It was a strange campaign for Top Notch last season. Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old ran in two Grade Ones over hurdles, won a two-and-a-half mile Listed Chase at Kempton and was pulled up in the Melling Chase on his final start. ROKSANA, on other hand, enjoyed a fantastic campaign and I can’t see Dan Skelton’s mare getting beaten.
Roksana returned after almost 300 days off the track with a solid performance in the Contenders Hurdle at Aintree, before taking advantage of a final hurdle fall from Benie Des Dieux to become Skelton’s first Grade One winner in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Roksana was then involved in a thrilling finish to the Liverpool Hurdle, narrowly losing out to If The Cap Fits on her first start over three miles.
Skelton’s stable star should have no problem dropping back to the trip she won over at Cheltenham. Roksana boasts excellent form her at Aintree, having placed second in two high-profile Grade Ones, and she should have too much for her rivals in Saturday’s feature at Aintree.
3:50pm Extra Places Races At Virgin Bet “Junior” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race Cl4 (3yo) 2m1f
Only three of the eleven youngsters entered here have run before this and two of those, Soldier On and Vulcan Bomber showed little to encourage connections. Mawlood ran well enough to finish second, but I’d be disappointed if one of the debutantes wasn’t good enough to get the job done.
I’ll tentatively pin my colours to SOL DE MAYO, who will be Tristan Davidson’s first ever runner at Aintree. This gelding is by Dubawi and a full brother to 97-rated flat performer Natural Scenery. Davidson and jockey, Harry Reed combined for at handicap winner at Ayr earlier in the week and Sol De Mayo could run well beyond his current odds.