The second day of the Grand National meeting takes place at Aintree on Friday when once again some of the best horses in racing line up on a day where there are no fewer than four Grade 1 races as we build up to the big one on Saturday.
As always we’ve had a good scour through the cards and we’ve come up with a couple of bets including one in the feature race of the day, the Topham Chase, the cavalry charge over the National fences which is the warm up for the big one.
A really hot handicap hurdle to start Day 2 with a maximum field of 22 assembled. The market is headed by the well touted Langer Dan for the Skeltons who went off favourite for the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham but unfortunately was brought down early & got no further than the 2nd. He bids for compensation here & should go close. Cobblers Dream was 2nd in that race & is now 4lbs higher but is improving & did win the Lanzarote off almost a stone less. Tronador has been very lightly campaigned but is a dark horse from the Elliott yard especially as he won a similarly big field handicap at this meeting 12 months ago. None of the above 3 can easily be left out of any shortlist.
However, the one I want on side is Highway One O Two from probably the most in-form yard in the UK right now. Stable form in itself is almost a reason to back him but there’s much more to his chances. He comes here fresh after not going to Cheltenham & hasn’t been seen out since finishing 5 lengths 2nd to Cobblers Dream in the Lanzarote on ground that was too soft for him. He’s been nudged up just 1lb for that & is 11lbs better off with the winner. Previous to that, he’d won a Class 3 handicap on the good ground he craves & was 5th twice at Ascot in very good races where the 2 mile trip was possibly a bit sharp. His mark of 133 is workable, noting he was 2nd last term off 4lbs higher & he has a good strike rate over the smaller obstacles with 4 wins & 2 seconds from 11 runs. He looks the type to keep improving, should be suited by the track & his prominent racing style will help him stay out of trouble in what is likely to be a very rough race. He cannot go unbacked at his current odds.
Back Highway One O Two (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 Betfred BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
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It’s the Topham over 2 miles 5 furlongs & this big field handicap, with a field of 30 runners, over the National fences is certain to put us in the mood for the big one tomorrow. Mister Coffey is the favourite after his 2nd in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham but is 4lbs higher & this might come too soon for him. He’s also only been over fences 4 times so the demands of the National fences might be too much. Mac Tottie won the Grand Sefton over course & distance but then fell in the Becher on his very next start over the same fences. He’s been in poor form but a revival could be on the cards. Royal Rendezvous goes for Willie Mullins but it’s a big task to carry top weight of 11st12lbs around here.
Another who loves the fences & will be carrying our money is Senior Citizen. He’s a horse better on better ground with form since the start of last season on good to soft or better reading 1-2-4-3-1-2. On just his 8th start over fences & his 2nd try over these fences, he ran a super race to finish 3rd in this 12 months ago & has again shown his liking for these obstacles when 2nd to Mac Tottie in the Grand Sefton. He’s been aimed at this & whilst slightly worse off at the weights with Mac Tottie, he comes here fresher & arguably has less to prove. The ground will be ideal, the course suits very well & his jockey gets on with so brilliantly. In all career starts, his form with Heskin on board reads 1-3-2-1-4-1-2-4-3-4-1-2. He looks a knocking each way bet.
Back Senior Citizen (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-8)