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Aintree Grand National Festival 2021: Grand National Day Preview


The biggest jumps race of the year is here, the 2021 Grand National. Forty runners will go to post for this marathon contest that can throw up its fair share of surprises, however this year could there be a favourite in Cloth Cap who is simply too good? Here we preview the Grand National and the other big race action on Saturday from Aintree.

14:25pm - Mersey Novices’ Hurdle 

My Drogo seeks a fourth victory in a row here having won his last two Grade 2 contests at a canter, beating the likes of Soaring Glory in the process. He could be considerably better than most of this field and isn’t one to be taken on. Ballyadam ran as well as could’ve been expected in the Supreme, finishing ‘best of the rest’ but he’ll likely need to step up again to trouble the favourite. Dreal Deal was a surprise winner of the Moscow Flyer but the form of that has been boosted with Echoes In Rain winning a Grade 2 since and he can be expected to be in the shake up, while Nicky Henderson’s Pipesmoker continues to carry a big reputation without getting his head in front, perhaps the better ground will help here. 

Smarkets 1-2-3

  1. My Drogo
  2. Dreal Deal
  3. Ballyadam

15:35 - Ryanair Stayers Hurdle 

A race that on paper at least revolves around Thyme Hill and Paisley Park, a matchup that we were denied in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. Paisley Park was disappointing at the Festival, keeping on for third behind Flooring Porter but ultimately well beaten. He had a hard enough race that day and despite Thyme Hill’s interrupted prep, Phillip Hobbs’ charge can be expected to emerge on top.

Is there anyone else in the field that can trouble him? Roksana gets a handy allowance and has finished second on three occasions here, she’s a winner over the trip but has been previously held by both Paisley Park and Thyme Hill. Lisnagar Oscar is of definite interest despite suffering a hard fall at Cheltenham, he’s reported to have come out of that in A1 condition though and could trouble the front two on previous form. As for those at bigger prices, Diol Ker is interesting for Noel Meade, who wouldn’t be bringing him over to Aintree for a holiday. His run in the Galmoy Hurdle behind Sams Profile is decent enough form and he has untapped potential over this trip and on better ground. 

Smarkets 1-2-3

  1. Thyme Hill
  2. Roksana
  3. Diol Ker

17:15pm - Randox Grand National Handicap Chase

Cloth Cap is the obvious place to start and put simply, he’s probably the best handicapped horse in the race and his running in the Scottish National gives plenty of hope that he’ll see out the trip. However, with 40 runners going to post and four miles of obstacles to navigate, he’s just too short of a price to consider. Of the other fancied contenders, both Burrows Saint - a former Irish National winner - and Any Second Now make plenty of appeal. The latter was a good winner of the 2019 Kim Muir which points towards him seeing out the trip and it’s a race that has thrown up a previous National winner in Ballabriggs. 

At bigger prices, Anibale Fly is a proven quantity in the race and despite now being an 11-year-old, can be trusted to be there at the business end but is vulnerable for win purposes. Mister Malarky could prove to be a fitting winner for Colin Tizzard who is set to retire at the end of this season, he put in a good run following wind surgery last time at Kempton but, like many, carries a question mark as to the trip. Milan Native will receive the services of Jamie Codd and he’s another former Kim Muir winner who despite showing little on his runs this season, has the ability to feature. 

Smarkets 1-2-3-4

  1. Any Second Now
  2. Milan Native
  3. Cloth Cap
  4. Burrows Saint

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