The weights for the greatest horse race in the world the Randox Health Grand National to be run at Aintree on April 14th will be announced today with the Becher Chase winner Blaklion unlikely to be deposed at the top of the market (10/1 with BetVictor) irrespective if the weight he is allocated by BHA handicapper Phil Smith.
Smith is framing the weights for the last time in 2018 and remember this is the only race in the calendar where he has the ability to tinker with the weights. Blacklion is due to race at Haydock Park in the Grand National Trial on Saturday and is BetVictor’s 3/1 market leader for the weekend.
Remember the winner will not incur a penalty for Aintree and I am more interested at this stage on Three Faces West (7/1 at BetVictor each way four places) who was still tanking along when falling in the Welsh National last month.
We lost Lingfield to the elements yesterday but, at the time of writing, Ayr are optimistic their meeting will go ahead although conditions are likely to be extremely testing.
The juvenile Hazy Manor finished runner up at Catterick earlier in the month and will have her supporters, but preference is for the six-year-old Off The Hook (2.55) who finished second at Kelso last time and might be best served by a real slog in the mud.
Top Billing would be something to bet on if he returned to something like his best form but that is a big if and he is best watched at present suggests otherwise. Top-weight Mac N Cheese (2.40) is 17lbs higher than when last successful over timber and blundered at the first over today’s C&D when a beaten favourite. He gets a narrow vote for Keith Dalgleish in a competitive little race.
Charlie Snow Angel is only 3lbs higher than when scoring at Newcastle last month but the form was let down when the runner up (Jaunty Thor) was tailed off at Uttoxeter at the weekend. Mumgos Debut is dropping to a favourable mark but I hope it is a good day for Nick and Lucy Alexander with the narrow vote going to Jolie Crickette (3.10) who was a dual chase winner in her native France and gets a narrow vote.
No problems expected at Southwell and the extended two-and-a-quarter miles on fibresand will take some getting in a competitive Stayers’ Handicap. The veteran Cousin Khee (2.55) is 11lbs lower than when last winning here but he was staying on over 1m 6f here back in December under today’s pilot and he can give Hughie Morrison a welcome winner.
Coeur De Lion makes his fibresand debut and is a fascinating runner for Alan King – a note of the market is recommended. The vote, however, goes to the progressive Serenity Now (3.25) who steps up in grade and is chasing the hat-trick from a 4lbs higher mark for Brian Ellison.
Volatile is favoured by the Conditions of the race in the Novice Stakes but I think he might be vulnerable making his fibresand debut and Light Laughter (4.30) travelled well on her British debut for Charlie Fellowes and she receives 16lbs from the Jamie Osborne runner. That run was over 7f but the way she travelled suggested a slight drop in trip would not inconvenience her. If she adapts to today’s surface she must go well.
In the finale, Crosse Fire (5.00) has been given a chance by the handicapper and this seven-time course winner gets the vote with Luke Morris taking over in the plate. Morris rode the gelding to win from a 1lb higher mark the best part of three years ago and the horse was beaten less than a couple of lengths here on New Year’s Day from a 7lbs higher mark.
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