Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade1) 3m2 1/2f Cheltenham (New) Friday

gold cup chase

Could the great Tom Dreaper’s record be equalled?

Tom Dreaper, with his 5 victories, Prince Regent 1946, the immortal Arkle’s three consecutive wins, 1964, 65, 66, and Fort Leney in 1968 remains the most successful trainer in the history of the great race, but more than a few think that his outstanding record could be equalled this year by the Master of Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls. His Clan Des Obeaux was a most impressive winner of The King George V1 last time out and Paul will be hoping the French bred son of top NH stallion, Kapgarde, can add to the victories of See More Business, Kauto Star twice, and Denman.

A winner of 6 of his 17 starts over fences, the 8yo has yet to win over further than 3 miles, and his stamina did seem to run out in last year’s renewal. He travelled really well throughout the race and looked to be going at least as well as any jumping the second last in third place, but could find no more from the final fence and finished fifth. It was a similar story 20 days later when he again appeared to be outstayed by Kemboy in Aintree’s Betway Bowl Chase, (3m1f) . Stamina is certainly an issue on Friday, but now a year older, he looked as if there was plenty left in the locker at Kempton where he won the strongly run heat by an impressive, eased down 24L, and his Master trainer certainly knows what is required.

The Willie Mullins trained Kemboy has certainly got his act back together again since unshipping David Mullins at the first In last year’s renewal. He has won 2 of his 4 starts,  both Grade1 events, including a 2L decision over stable companion Al Boum Photo at Punchestown in May. He has gone well in both starts this term, including a good 2nd to Delta Work in the Irish Gold Cup last time. However, he has never finished closer than 4th in three Festival appearances, and showed a definite tendency to jump to his right in The Irish Gold Cup, so Willie’s best chance of back to back victories would seem to lie with last year’s winner, Al Boum Photo. The Co Carlow Maestro certainly seems to have trained him with just The Gold Cup in mind as he has followed the same route as last year. His only run since Punchestown in May being the same Listed Tramore event (2m5f Jan1 Soft) as the previous year, in which he had no trouble seeing off his stable companion, Acapella Bourgeois. Few animals manage to win the Gold Cup twice but there are few equals of Willie in the training stakes, and there won’t be too many surprised at Prestbury Park on Friday If he pulls it off.

Gordon Elliott won with Don Cossack 4 years ago, and will be hoping to follow up with Delta Work in the same colours, (he would be a third winner for the Gigginstown operation who also won with War Of Attrition in 2006) and this very progressive 7yo has to be on most people’s short list. Despite having to be switched twice in last year’s RSA he was only beaten 1/2L and 1 3/4L by Topofthegame and Fridays opponent, Santini. He went on to easily win the Grade1 Champion Novice Chase at The Punchestown Festival 48 days later where he had the now 166 rated A Plus Tard
14 1/2L back in third. He made no impression at Down Royal on his reappearance in November but 8 weeks later won Leopardstown’s Grade1 Savill Chase, outstaying Monalee to win by a Head, and 7 weeks later, beat the 177 rated Kemboy by 1 1/2L to land His biggest pot to date, The Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup. Only rated 139 when scraping home by the minimum distance in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at The Festival in 2018 as a 5yo, he is now rated 32 pounds higher over fences and I doubt if we have yet seen the limit of this young animals improvement.

The Henry De Bromhead (won with Sizing John 3 years ago) trained Monalee did make Delta Work pull out all the stops to win The Savill Chase in December and could represent some value at his current odds of 20/1. However there has to be a big question mark over his stamina as the furthest he has won over is 3 miles and that was in a Hurdle race at Clonmel over 3 years ago. However he has got a decision over the current market leader, Al Boum Photo, (Leopardstown Feb 2018 2m5f Soft) who he beat by 3/4L in the Grade1 event, and by Milan, out of a Glacial Storm mare, is certainly bred to get the trip.

After finishing 2nd in last year’s RSA the Nicky Henderson trained, Santini was retired for the season, and following a 242 days break, made a less than auspicious start to the new campaign, when getting up by a head to beat a 144 rated opponent at Sandown in November. However, following wind surgery, and a 76 days break he looked a different animal, winning the Gold Cup Trial, The Cotswold Chase, (3m1 1/2f Soft) here at Prestbury Park by a very comfortable 3 1/2L from last year’s Gold Cup 3rd, Bristol De Mai. Nicky, who has won Cheltenham’s Blue Riband twice before thinks there is plenty more to come from the lightly raced 8yo and I for one wouldn’t disagree.

Selection.           : Santini

Danger.               : Delta Work

John Gray

Randox Health Handicap Chase 2 miles Cheltenham Saturday

Cheltenham RacecourseThis weekend sees the commencement of the new season at Prestbury Park and Saturday’s feature, The Randox Health Handicap Chase, with 18 runners declared at the time of writing, looks like being a pretty competitive affair. The Paul Nicholls trained Modus won last year’s renewal, but only after a sustained battle up that famous hill with the 10yo Duke Of Navan, and racing off the same mark this year, the “Dukes” talented trainer, Nicky Richards, must fancy his chances of going one better with his evergreen veteran. Having his first run for 189 days, the son of Presenting travelled superbly throughout last year’s heat, took it up after the last, and in a sustained dual with the winner was only collared in the shadow of the post. The 11yo, who handles most ground, showed he was as good as ever when finishing a close 3rd in a valuable Leopardstown Handicap in February, and following the same pattern as last year (he is again making his seasonal debut following a 197 day break) has to be of interest.

Mr Nicholls has two entered, Capeland and Brelan D’As, and despite the formers win in a Bumper over the track in 2016, the impression remains that he is better suited by going right handed, so Paul’s best chance of bringing the prize back to Ditcheat again would seem to lie with the 8yo Brelan D’As. The ex French son of Crillon has won 2 of his 10 starts over fences, and put in an excellent effort when finishing 3rd in The Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap over the New course at The Festival in March. He could be better suited by the less galloping nature of the Old course on Saturday, and as one who can go well after a break, and handles soft ground is well worth considering.

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Brian Ellison saddles our fancy Forest Bihan

Just behind Brelan D’As in The Grand Annual was the Brian Ellison trained Forest Bihan, and 8lbs better off with the Nicholls horse on Saturday must have serious prospects of reversing the form if taking up the engagement. (Also entered in The Old Roan at Aintree on Sunday). Following a break of 176 days he had a nice pipe opener when finishing 3rd behind Saturday’s opponent, Mcgroarty at Kelso 20 days ago and sure to have benefited from the run can be fancied to get the better of Dr Newland’s charge on 5lbs better terms. As a Grade 2 winner over fences he has a touch of Class and with the yard firing in the winners from all directions the 8yo has plenty to recommend him.

Mind you the Ellison second string, the 6yo, Nietzsche, is not without a chance. A hugely versatile type, he must be a real pleasure to own. A talented competitor on the flat, he has won 4 times in that discipline, and has proved just as adept at hurdling, notching up another 4 wins over timber. To date he has won 2 of his 6 starts over fences and is rated on a mark of 135 giving him a nice racing weight of 10-6 on Saturday. However a lot of rain wouldn’t help his cause.

The Charlie Longsdon trained Western Miller’s form took a definite upturn in June with two impressive front running victories over 20f at Stratford and Southwell and is now rated 16lbs higher than he was at the end of May. He has never won over 2 miles but isn’t short of pace, (close 2nd twice in National Hunt Flat races) and could make his presence felt with another front running effort.

The Dan Skelton trained 8yo Marracudja, has won over Saturday’s course and distance when trained by Paul Nicholls but has drawn a blank in his 8 starts since changing yards 14 months ago. However his penultimate run at Perth wasn’t without promise and he is now on a mark a pound lower than his previous winning mark. Coming from this yard it won’t surprise if the son of Martaline proves competitive.

Harry Whittingham’s ex French 6yo, Saint Calvados, has won 4 of his first 5 races including  a Warwick Grade2 in February 2018 and a Naas Grade3 in Nov 2018 since crossing the Channel. However, stepped up to Grade1 level for his three runs since, he has failed to be competitive, last time finishing 24L behind Altior in The Queen Mother Chase at The Festival. Saturday represents a big drop in class for this talented individual who will relish plenty of rain, can go well fresh and looks reasonably treated on his mark of 155.

Selection  : Forest Bihan

EW.            : Duke Of Navan

John Gray

bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase 3m5f Sandown Saturday

oddsguru bet365 gold cupSaturday brings the curtain down on another excellent National Hunt season, and having already banked well over £3,000,000 in prize money, The Master Of Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls, has yet another Trainer’s Title safely in the bag. However, as a man who has won Saturday’s valuable prize four times, he is not averse to adding another substantial Pot to his seasonal winnings, and of his 4 contenders at the time of writing, the 9yo, Give Me A Copper, looks the most interesting.

A winner of his only PTP, he made his debut under rules a winning one, easily landing a Cork Bumper in March 2016. Having moved to the Nicholls yard, he followed up with a facile victory in an Exeter Maiden (December 2016). Sent off a hot 5/4 favourite for a Doncaster Grade2 the following month, there was clearly something amiss, as he finished tailed off with the “also rans”but redeemed himself with a comfortable Ayr victory, 83 days later. He made an inauspicious start to his chasing career, unseating pilot, Sean Bowen in a Kelso Novice’s at odds of 30/100, but made no mistake when landing similar odds in a better race at Kempton 16 days later, easily beating the 135 rated, Three Ways. Having suffered a setback, he was off the course for 446 days, and despite the long layoff, ran an excellent race over Saturday’s course on his reappearance to finish 4th of the 20 runners (Sandown 3m Soft 2Feb 19). He was a beaten horse when falling at the last on soft ground in The Ultima Handicap at The Cheltenham Festival last time, but his shrewd connections have persevered with this stoutly bred individual, and back on good ground, up in trip, and going right handed, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if their patience was rewarded.

The Nicky Henderson trained 9yo, Beware The Bear, is improving at a rate of knots, and having made a decidedly tardy start to The Ultima Handicap at The Festival last time, finished with a wet sail on a mark of 151, to win by 1 1/4L and 2L from Vintage Clouds and the 155 rated Lake View Lad. nicky henderson bet365 oddsguruA 9lbs rise on Saturday looks quite harsh, but the son of Shantou has probably earned it, and, out of the talented, Be My Native mare, Native Bid, (won all 3 of her starts) he is from a good staying NH family, and should be well suited by Saturday’s trip. He could be the first, since Tidal Bay 7 years ago, to carry top weight to victory.

The Neil Mulholland trained 11yo, The Young Master, won this 3 years ago off a mark of 148, and following a couple of seasons in the Doldrums, has come back to form with a bang, and gets into this year’s renewal on a 6 lbs lower mark. He won 2 of his first 3 starts on Good ground this term, and having got stuck in the Newbury mud in The Ladbroke in December, ran another fine race last time out, to finish 3rd in The Kim Muir at The Festival. Obviously well suited by Sandown, if he gets his preferred good ground is definitely one to be interested in, especially as he will have the benefit of the excellent 3lbs claiming amateur, Sam Whaley-Cohen in the plate.

The Mark Bradstock trained 9yo Step Back won last year’s race on soft ground under an inspired ride from Jamie Moore. He took it up at the 5th fence and always in the first two throughout, drew right away after the 3rd last to win by 13L from Rock The Casbah. He seems to have been aimed at this all season, and even off a 10 lbs higher mark looks a danger to all.

Philip Hobbs has taken the prize back to Somerset on 2 previous occasions, and if
Rock The Kasbah gets his preferred good ground he could take his score to 3. He ran well to finish 2nd on soft ground last year, and on 2 lbs better terms on decent ground, must have serious prospects of reversing the form with the Bradstock horse. He had also run well in the 2017 renewal, finishing 2 1/2L behind the winner in 5th place, running on strongly on the good ground, and if Richard Johnson can keep him closer to the pace this time, could be interesting.

Nicky Henderson’s 10yo, Vyta Du Roc,  also finished with a flourish in that 2017 renewal, just failing to overhaul the winner, Hennlan Harri and is actually 4lbs better off with Rock The Kasbah who finished 2L behind him. However he has failed to fire in his last 3 races, but that said, they certainly know the time of day at Seven Barrows, and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see this current 25/1 shot, involved, particularly if the ground softens.

The Alan King trained Novice, Talkischeap, is very stoutly bred and could be well suited by Saturday’s trip. He was only having his 5th race over fences last time, contesting a handicap for the first time, he finished a respectable 5th in a valuable Sandown Grade3 off a mark of 145. He had earlier got to within 7L of the talented mare, La Bag Au Roi, giving her 7lbs over an inadequate 2 1/2miles, and had the 149 rated Lostintranslation, 6L back in third place. He looks fairly treated on 145, and despite his inexperience is a sound  jumper and has to be considered.

Selection : Beware The Bear
EW.           : Rock The Kasbah

John Gray

Badger Ales Trophy Tips

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Badger Ales Trophy Odds 3m1f handicap chase Wincanton Saturday
– I hope you managed to get on Oddsguru’s 16/1 selection, Irish Cavalier in last Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He got a great ride from young Irish pilot, Jonathon Moore, getting to the front after three out, and holding on well from the runner up Menorah. He was always in command, and firmly demonstrated his stamina credentials for three miles in this strongly run race. He is the type who thrives on racing, (ran twice at the Punchestown festival in April winning on the second occasion), so given decent ground at Haydock in a fortnights time, is one to bear in mind for the Betfair Chase.

The man with an outstanding record in Saturday’s Badger Ale Trophy with seven victories, is Paul Nicholls, and with two strong contenders it won’t come as a great surprise if he makes it eight. His 6yo, Present Man, heads the market, and following an impressive win over the course (20f Gd-fm) 22 days ago fully deserves to. Ridden by Saturday’s pilot, the talented 5lbs claimer, Jack Sherwood, he won by 4 1/2L and 8L from I’m in Charge and Saturday’s opponent, Gentleman Jon making all. His two previous efforts over the larger obstacles last Spring, (25f and 24f) resulted in him filling the runner up spot on both occasions, suggesting that shorter than three miles might be his optimum trip, a view, strongly contradicted in my opinion, by his very stout pedigree, (by Presenting out of a Strong Gale mare). His superb trainer feels that he has been a slow maturing type and was very quick to nominate the “Badger Ales” as his target after his last win. With only 10st3lbs to carry, (including Sherwood’s 5lbs claim) he’s going to think he’s loose and is going to take some catching.

The second of the Ditcheat contenders, Southfield Theatre has been unlucky in his last two races. He was brought down when making good progress at the Cheltenham Festival, and next time, but for being hampered by a faller at the 19th fence, must have finished even closer than he did, behind The Young Master, when coming 4th in the Grade3 29f end of season chase at Sandown in April. Saturday’s trip will be well within his compass, and 5lbs better off with the Mulholland runner for that 6 1/2L at Sandown, this three times course winner looks a very serious contender.

Oddsguru tipped The Young Master to win the 2014 renewal of the “Badger Ales” which he duly did, only to subsequently have the race taken off him on a technicality, so I’m sure his upwardly mobile trainer would love to lay that particular ghost by seeing his owner, the 3lbs claiming amateur, Mr S Waley-Cohen, steer him into the winners enclosure on Saturday.  The handicapper has only raised him 2lbs for that Sandown victory, and with Whaley-Cohen’s 3lbs claim a serious asset, he has to be on the shortlist.

The ground at Wincanton is currently described as good, good/firm in places, and one  animal who certainly won’t mind if the rain stays away is Harry Fry’s grand 11yo Shuil Royle. He ran a fine race on Gd-fm at Worcester in August, going down by a Shd off a mark of 139, and came out two months later, to take a Cl2 Aintree handicap on good ground by 5L off a 4lbs higher mark. He is up another 6lbs on Saturday, and it is 16 years since a horse older than 9 has won this, so he does look up against it, but amazingly, this three times course winner, actually seems to be improving at his advanced age, so is not easy to ignore.

Fry also has the useful Thomas Brown entered but on all known form seems to require an easy surface. However the 7yo looks quite well handicapped, racing off a mark 5lbs below his hurdles rating and he can go well after a break, so if turning up would be worth considering.

Having been pulled  up in his three previous runs, Anthony Honeyball’s 8yo, Regal Encore, seemed to have put his problems behind him when running a great race at the Punchestown festival last April. In a very competitive 25f handicap he was only beaten 3/4L by the very useful Pleasant Company, and had the third horse 5 1/2L behind. As that was only his eighth race over fences there is probably more to come, so despite an 8lbs higher mark on Saturday is worth a second look.

Emma Lavelle’s Court By Surprise was the beneficiary of The Young Master’s disqualification two years ago, and I’m sure she took little pleasure in getting the race the way she did. However she runs Set List at the weekend, and this 7yo will be well suited by the forecast conditions, and could get Ms Lavelle onto the roll of honour for the second time. He has been campaigned on the good ground all Summer winning at Stratford in July of a mark of 125. He ran well again at Ludlow 31 days ago, beaten less than 2 1/2L off a mark of 129 and will find find the likely conditions much more suitable than many of Saturday’s opponents.

Vyta Du Roc is a fascinating entry for Nicky Henderson and if turning up would be of serious interest. A three times winner at Grade2 level, he can boast that touch of class, and his 10L 5th to Blaklion in the RSA chase at Cheltenham, (only 2L behind More of That in 3rd) reads particularly well. He looks very well treated off a mark of 143, fully 5lbs lower than his hurdles rating, giving him a nice racing weight of 11st5lbs. However he is another who would benefit from an end to this arid Autumn.

Selection: Present Man

E.W.     : Shuil Royale

Coral Scottish Grand National Tips

Coral Scottish Grand National 4m Ayr Saturday

Our selection, The Last Samurai, in last week’s Aintree spectacular, gave us a great run for our money, and who knows what might have happened if the course hadn’t received that race day soaking. Unfortunately he is never going to be so well treated again, so perhaps that was his chance. Hopefully the £211,000 prize for the runner up will have offered connections some consolation, as it is probably more than double, what the winner of Saturday’s contest can expect to bank. It is still a prize very well worth winning, and could prove of great significance in the dual for the trainers title between Messrs Nicholls and Mullins, who both field runners with promising credentials.

Nicholls is mob handed, and the two of his that catch the eye are the 7yo Vicente, and the 9yo Benvolio. Vicente ran a decent race in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Festival, finishing a running on 5th, despite being badly hampered by a loose horse three from home. As the runner up, Native River won a Grade1 at Aintree last week the form looks very solid, and considering Vicente beat the subsequent Festival winner, Un Temp Pour Tout last November by 2 3/4L giving him 8lbs, he looks really well treated here off a mark of 146, giving him a nice racing weight of 10st13lbs. He is a prominent racer which is nearly a prerequisite here as the winner of The Scottish Grand National rarely comes from far off the pace. He likes decent ground, has a pedigree that shouts stamina and comes from the yard that trained the 1997 winner, Belmont King. One for the shortlist!

Benvolio is also bred for the trip and showed his wellbeing two weeks ago when cantering up by 11L at Newbury from Ned Stark, with another of Saturday’s opponents, Tour Des Champs, a further 4 1/2L back in 4th. He is up 9lbs for Saturday but did look an improved animal on the good ground at Newbury and given similar conditions at the week end could be involved.

Willie Mullins relies on the 8yo, Measure Of My Dreams, who finished 3rd in the National Hunt Chase, 7 3/4L in front of Vicente, and given testing ground would be of interest. He looked very one paced on Cheltenham’s good/soft surface last time, and this Grade2 winner, on heavy ground at Navan, probably needs the heavens to open.

James Moffatt’s 10yo Highland Lodge, put up a fine staying performance when winning the Beecher Chase over the National fences (Aintree3m2f soft) last December, and as a result was well fancied for last weeks big one, but unfortunately failed to make the cut. Reported to be in fine fettle, he is another who races up with the pace,has just 10st4lbs in the plate, and with stamina virtually assured has to be of interest. Consolation may await!

Winner of the 2014 Grand National off a mark of 143, the 13yo Pineau De Re showed there was still life left in the old dog when winning at Carlisle in December, and ran well enough last time, finishing seventh (3m2f Newbury March 5th). His shrewd trainer Dr Richard Newland reports him to be in the best form since his Aintree triumph, so off a mark of 137 (10st4lbs) is worth a second look.

Newland also runs the 10yo prolific winner, Royale Knight ( has won seven times over fences) and he has come in for strong support in the market. A winner over 4m at Kelso, he ran a fine race over 3m5f at Sedgefield last October, winning off a mark 136. Subsequently raced over inadequate trips he gets into Saturday’s contest off a lenient looking 142 giving him 10st9lbs to carry. Given decent ground of definite interest!

Scottish trained Millborough, the winner of the 2015 4m 1/2f Eider Chase off a mark of 134 looks as if he has been laid out for this. The 10yo had the ideal prep when finishing 2nd to Firth of Clyde at Carlisle four weeks ago, and gets into this on a mark only 3lbs higher than for his Eider victory. Indeed when we take the very useful Graham Watters 3lbs claim into account he will have the feather weight of 10st1lb in the plate.

Will he keep the prize north of the border?

Colin Tizzard who is having such a wonderful season runs the 10yo Masters Hill, and running off a mark of 140 is another who seems to have been treated leniently. He went down by a head to another of Saturday’s opponents, Good To Know, when apprentice ridden over 3m 4 1/2f at Right handed Taunton five weeks ago. He would surely have won but for continually jumping left and making a mistake two out. He will be much better suited by the left handed course at the weekend and it isn’t hard to imagine the already replete Tizzard pudding being further egg’d.

Selection : Vicente.

E.W. : Royale Knight.

Horse Betting Tips Scottish Grand National Ayr Saturday

Sam Winner

Paul Nicholl’s Sam Winner looked a likely type for this when beating The Druids Nephew and Saint Are over 3m31/2f at Cheltenham in November, and confirmed He was on the up, when beating the classy pair Medermit and Ma Filleule at Aintree four weeks later.

Saint Are, our e.w. Suggestion in last weeks National, ran a great race to finish 2nd at the rewarding odds of 25/1, so let’s hope we can point you in the right direction in this weekend’s Scottish equivalent.

Having won the race once and been placed three times from only ten runners, over the last decade, anything proud Scot Alan King enters must be treated with respect. His representative on Saturday is the 7yo Beneficial gelding Sego Success, who on only his second attempt over the larger obstacles, beat the well backed favourite, If In Doubt (won next time out) over 3m1f at Wetherby last November. He followed up six weeks later with quite a fetching performance when winning a Cl1 listed novices chase over Warwick’s demanding course. Strongly fancied for the four mile National hunt chase at the Cheltenham festival, He got seriously knocked about, and his jumping suffered, so it was to his credit that he was still in contention until between the last two fences. He faded to finish 5th 17l behind the runner up, and favourite for Saturday’s contest, Broadway Buffalo. Given a more trouble free passage at the weekend, the very progressive Sego Success, with his nice racing weight of 10st5lbs must have a good chance of being involved at the business end on Saturday.

Following his fine run at the Festival Broadway Buffalo’s chance has to be respected, but he has had a busy season and perhaps Saturday’s contest is something of an afterthought. He also does seem to reserve his best for an easy surface, so conditions are unlikely to to suit.

Paul Nicholl’s Sam Winner looked a likely type for this when beating The Druids Nephew and Saint Are over 3m31/2f at Cheltenham in November, and confirmed He was on the up, when beating the classy pair Medermit and Ma Filleule at Aintree four weeks later. Three weeks after that He again ran another good race when finishing 3rd in the Gd1 Lexus chase at Leopardstown. He reappeared 14 weeks later in the Gold Cup where he was pulled up before the third last, when he may well have needed the race. He remains the class act in Saturday’s contest, will not be inconvenienced by good ground, and must have serious prospects of emulating Grey Abbey in 2004, the last animal to hump 11st12lbs to victory.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Catching On, in March, won a 3m61/2f Exeter handicap very easily off a mark of124, and eleven days later was backed in to 5/2 fav to win the Midland Grand National at Uttoxeter off 130. The race may well have come too soon as he never got into his stride, and fell at the 8th. Now racing off a mark of 139 He doesn’t look particularly well handicapped, but with his attractive weight of 10st3lbs and coming from this yard, He is difficult to dismiss.

Last years runner up Trustan Times, has had a disappointing season and as a result is 2lbs lower in the handicap than last year. His shrewd trainer used the same race (Pertemps hurdle final) at the Cheltenham Festival, as he did last year, as the horses final prep for this. While it is true that Trustan Times has been disappointing over the season, it is worth remembering that the stable was badly out out of form all winter, and it would be no great surprise to see him to the fore again with his feather weight of 10st2lbs.

Tony Martin sends Gallant Oscar over from Ireland, and this lightly raced 9yo looks nicely weighted with just 10st1lb. He ran like a stayer at the Festival, when a running on 3rd behind The Druids Nephew and Grand Gesture. He had previously finished 4th in the Thyestes Chase, in awful conditions, to the Gold Cup runner up Djakadam,so does appear to be well treated at the weekend.

Peter Bowen is represented by Al Co and Edmund Kean. Al Co won last years renewal for the stable, but having got no further than the first last week at Aintree, and being 5lbs higher than last year, perhaps the more interesting of the two is Edmund Kean. Having been pulled up in his previous two races Edmund Kean, last time, ran very promisingly at Stratford when going down by a neck to Midnight Lira off a mark of 127. Bound to be suited by the step up in distance, and despite being 3lbs wrong in the handicap, it is not impossible that he might emulate Joes Edge, who won from three pounds out of the handicap in 2004.

Selection: Sam Winner

E.W. : Gallant Oscar

Best 2015 Grand National Betting Tips

Rocky Creek

Paul Nicholls runs the 9yo Rocky Creek, and is another who has a lot going for him. In last year’s race he was travelling well and jumping superbly until running out of petrol at the 2nd last, and faded into a well beaten 5th.

Having put up Pineau De Re, as one of our two selections in last years renewal, we feel that the Dr Newland trained 12yo is well worth a second look again this time. He came into last years race off a superb performance in the Pertemps Hurdle Final at the Cheltenham Festival where he finished an unlucky third. He has followed the same route this year, finishing a respectable 11th of 23, in the Pertemps despite suffering some interference. Indeed he was running on strongly at the finish of what was a rough contest, demonstrating his continuing enthusiasm for the game. His highly talented trainer is bullish about his chances, and considering how well previous winners have performed in subsequent renewals of the great race, he does seem to have place prospects at least.

Alan King, who has enjoyed such a fruitful season runs the 9yo Godsmejudge, and Saturday has been his target all season. Having won and been runner up in the last two renewals of the Scottish National his stamina for Aintree seems assured. Indeed in last years national North of the border, it was stamina that got him to within 1 1/2L of the winner, Al Co, having been 4L behind jumping the last. He is now 5lbs better off with Al Co, and with 10st8lbs on his back does look well handicapped. One for the short list!

Even without the Mc Coy factor, Jonjo O’Neill’s 8yo Shutthefrontdoor would surely be one of the favourites on Saturday. By Accordion out of a Strong Gale mare, his pedigree is all about stamina, a point strongly emphasised by his staying on win in last years Irish National, (3m5f), which he won off a mark of 143. Confirming his wellbeing, and his ability to run well fresh, he reappeared seven months later, easily landing a conditions race at Carlisle in November. Put away with Saturday in mind, the one reservation would be his handicap Mark, 7lbs higher than his 3/4L win in the Irish National. However with Mc Coy aboard he does seem to have a great chance.

Paul Nicholls runs the 9yo Rocky Creek, and is another who has a lot going for him. In last year’s race he was travelling well and jumping superbly until running out of petrol at the 2nd last, and faded into a well beaten 5th. he had a wind operation over the summer, and judging by his win at Kempton (Feb 21) it must be judged a success. He escapes a penalty for Kempton, as it came after the National weights were published, so is effectively 7lbs well in on Saturday. If his stamina holds out, and the omens look good, this sound jumper must have a great chance of being involved at the business end at the weekend.

Something about Liverpool certainly seems to suit the Tom George trained Saint Are, as he seems to reserve his best performances for the place. Winner of a Gd1 hurdle here as a 5yo, he won a Cl 1 chase over the Mildmay course as a 6yo, and ran another fine race when finishing 3rd over the National fences last December. Having been outpaced, he was only 7th at the 2nd last, but ran on really well to be only 3 3/4L adrift at the post. He won easily last time out,(3m1f) in Febuary, so back at his favourite venue, he is certainly worth a second look.

The David Pipe trained Soll has certainly thrived since joining the Nicholshayne team this season. He has won his last two races, most recently a Newbury veterans handicap (3m2 1/2f Feb 28) again after the National weights were published, and so escaping a penalty. Nicely handicapped, with just 10st2lbs to carry, with the in form Tom Scudamore in the saddle, he certainly catches the eye. He jumped around in the race two years ago, finishing seventh, and looks a much improved animal now. well worth considering.

Keith Revely’s Night in Milan is another who has been aimed at the National all season. Something of a Doncaster specialist, he won last years Grimthorpe Chase, and came third in this years renewal. As the Grimthorpe has been a good guide in the past, this prominent racing, sound jumper is another to consider.

Selection : Rocky Creek

E.W. Saint Are.