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  • Grand National tips - Race-by-race selections for Aintree including the 2017 Grand National

Grand National tips - Race-by-race selections for Aintree including the 2017 Grand National

(Photo by Getty Images)

The world’s most famous steeplechase, the Aintree Grand National spearheads another top-class day of horse racing action on Merseyside with the third and final day of the Aintree Grand National Festival getting underway from 1.45pm.

In addition to the gruelling marathon contest which capture the imagination of a nation at 5.15pm, there are three Grade One races going to post earlier in the racecard, headed by the Liverpool Hurdle where Yanworth steps up markedly in trip in a bid to atone for his Cheltenham Festival defeat.

1:45 - Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m149y
2:25 - Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f
3:00 - Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 1m7f176y
3:40 - Betway Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m210y
4:20 - Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m149y
5:15 - Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (7yo+) 4m2f74y
6:15 - Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys' And Amateur Riders' Race ) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m103y

ITV Racing will be on hand to capture the best of the action, with the 2.25pm, 3.00pm, 3.40pm, 4.20pm and 5.15pm – the Grand National – races all shown live on Saturday’s live TV coverage of the day’s racing at the Liverpool track.

And Brian Healy gives his race-by-race final day selections for all seven of the day’s contests, including the biggest race of them all!

The ITV Racing team will have five races live from Aintree on Saturday (Photo by Getty Images)
1:45 - Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m149y

A competitive big-field opener for Grand National day can go to RON’S DREAM (28/1, Sky Bet, each-way) who won over this trip at Ayr last April; but having ran well for the runner-up spot behind Surtee Du Berlais at Kempton on her return to action in November, she shaped as if amiss at Warwick over the larger obstacles when pulled up behind Briery Belle.

Peter Bowen’s charge was given a break following that run, and she returned to winning form with an impressive Listed success at Warwick, beating Jessber’s Dream; and the Kayf Tara mare probably found the company too hot at Cheltenham last time in the Mares’ Hurdle where she finished eighth behind Apple’s Jade.

Dropped 2lbs in the weights, she will have no issue going back over this longer trip; and likely to appreciate a more realistic level for her ability, she is handicapped to go well if handling the quicker surface.

2:25 - Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f


Colin Tizzard’s yard has been on a dismal run of form, but the performance of Cue Card on Thursday was a step back in the right direction and the Dorset trainer can receive a shot in the arm with FINIAN’S OSCAR (3/1, William Hill) who is unbeaten in three runs over hurdles having also won between the flags previously.

The Oscar gelding made a telling impression when scoring easily at Hereford in December, and he backed that run up with a similarly impressive win in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown the following month.

That arguably wasn’t a strong renewal, and he was made to work a shade harder for the hat-trick when scoring in Listed company at Exeter, beating Taws.

The forecast better ground shouldn’t prove an issue, given his point-to-point win came under similar conditions to those he’ll get here; of more concern is the recent poor form of the yard, but stepping up in trip for the first time over hurdles he can provide a welcome winner for Colin Tizzard having missed out on a Cheltenham Festival appearance due to a minor setback.

Fresher than most coming into this race, and assuming his setback hasn’t left any residual effect then he could be the one to side with in a classy renewal of this Grade One prize.

Finian's Oscar can give Colin Tizzard a welcome winner with the yard struggling for form (Photo by Getty Images)

3:00 - Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 1m7f176y


CHARBEL (8/11, William Hill) looked set to give Altior a big fright in the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, jumping for fun in front until knuckling on landing two out and falling when holding a slender lead.

Kim Bailey’s charge can gain compensation here if none the worse for that mishap, where he would have had the beating of the reopposing Forest Bihan had he completed. The Iffraaj gelding has been progressive over fences, scoring on his debut at Uttoxeter where he beat a couple of good sorts in Le Prezien and Top Notch.

Those horses’ exploits subsequently have significantly boosted the form of that contest, and his runner-up effort behind Altior subsequently at Sandown came at a time when the Bailey yard were quiet; it was a better effort than it appeared though, and although it is highly questionable whether he would have beaten that rival at Cheltenham, he was certainly making Nicky Henderson’s star work for the win prior to departing.

Assuming he is none the worse for that spill, he could be hard to beat here in his bid for compensation.


3:40 - Betway Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m210y


HENRI PARRY MORGAN (10/1, Paddy Power, each-way) hasn’t progressed as hoped following his runner-up finish behind Native River at this meeting twelve months ago in the Grade One Mildmay Novices’ Chase; but Peter Bowen’s charge could spring a big-priced surprise by winning this contest.

The Brian Boru gelding has been beset by jumping issues this term, unseating in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby, and also falling behind Shantou Flyer at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day where he held every chance when coming to grief.

A confidence booster over hurdles in the Cleeve Hurdle which saw him ultimately well-beaten was followed by a better effort back over fences behind Aintree Bowl winner Tea For Two at Exeter two starts ago; but he was disappointing in the Ultima Chase at the Cheltenham Festival where he finished down the field.

Dropped a further 4lbs in the weights, he could now be lurking on a dangerous mark if his jumping holds up, and granted a clear round he has the ability to take a hand in this contest on ground that will hold no fears.

4:20 - Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m149y


Yanworth steps up markedly in trip for this contest, having failed to fire over the Champion Hurdle distance last time; the extra yardage could unlock further improvement in Alan King’s Norse Dancer gelding, but with stamina already proven COLE HARDEN (9/2, Sky Bet) could well come out on top.

Warren Greatrex’s charge took the 2015 renewal of the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, subsequently finishing runner-up in this race; and while the following season wasn’t one of his best, he never really got the fast ground he craves until posting a solid fourth – although ultimately well-beaten – behind Thistlecrack back at Cheltenham twelve months ago.

The Westerner gelding hasn’t done much wrong this term, although he has yet to add another win to his tally, pushing Unowhatimeanharry close at Cheltenham in the Cleeve Hurdle prior to taking another crack at the Stayers’ Hurdle where he finished fourth behind Nichols Canyon.

Trainer Warren Greatrex was critical of the ground in the wake of his defeat at Cheltenham, where he accused the Cheltenham stewards of over-watering the track in the preceding days; but unlikely to find issue with this ground, the application of a visor could well see the former World Hurdle winner put up a big performance from the front, and he could be hard to peg back.

Cole Harden could resume winning ways in the Liverpool Hurdle (Photo by Getty Images)

5:15 - Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (7yo+) 4m2f74y


The day’s major event could be tailor-made for BLAKLION (14/1, Bet365, each-way) who looks an ideal sort for this race, and the 2016 RSA Chase winner has acquitted himself since that win although he’s yet to add to his tally.

The Kayf Tara gelding has been beaten on both prior starts at Aintree, and he is yet to tackle these fences; but he has shaped as if a thorough test of stamina would suit, and he produced arguably his best run since landing that Cheltenham Grade One when finding only ante-post favourite Vieux Lion Rouge too strong in the Grand National Trial at Haydock back in February.

He has also run well in the Hennessy at Newbury, finishing fifth, and that contest has usually been a good barometer for Grand National hopefuls in the past. 

Having also finished third to Definitely Red in the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star has a 3lbs pull at the allotted weights with his Haydock conquerer, and that may allow him to finish closer this time around if taking to this altogether different jumping test.

Second-season chasers have won the last two renewals of this contest, and on these terms he could be on the right side of the handicap to go close with the extreme distance potentially proving to be what he needs allied with the services of in-form Noel Fehily in the saddle.

6:15 - Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys' And Amateur Riders' Race ) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m103y

A real puzzler to close out the final day of Aintree, but one in which Donald McCain’s COUSIN OSCAR (16/1, Paddy Power, each-way) could prove the answer.

The Oscar gelding has been consistent this term since moving from Denis Hogan’s Irish base, making the frame in each of his first three starts for his new handler prior to getting off the mark with a defeat of Dashing Oscar at Bangor in February.

That run was bettered when he ran out an impressive winner over Hes Our Robin back at that venue last time, romping home by more than twenty lengths. The form of those wins is ordinary, but he’s clearly a progressive sort judging on that latest win, and open to further improvement as he goes up in class he could still have better to come.

This is tougher, but he handles these conditions having been placed between the flags on good ground in the past; and raised just 3lbs, which is offset by the claim of rider James Cowley, he is effectively 2lbs lower than when posting that last run.

He should continue to give a good account, and he could land the hat-trick here in a competitive closer.

2017 GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL TIPS – DAY THREE SELECTION


1:45 - RON’S DREAM (28/1, Sky Bet, each-way

2:25 - FINIAN’S OSCAR (3/1, William Hill

3:00 - CHARBEL (8/11, William Hill

3:40 - HENRI PARRY MORGAN (10/1, Paddy Power, each-way

4:20 - COLE HARDEN (9/2, Sky Bet

5:15 - BLAKLION (14/1, Bet365each-way

6:15 - COUSIN OSCAR (16/1, Paddy Power, each-way)


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Grand National tips - Race-by-race selections for Aintree including the 2017 Grand National

The world’s most famous steeplechase, the Aintree Grand National spearheads another top-class day of horse racing action on Merseyside with the third and final day of the Aintree Grand National Festival getting underway from 1.45pm.

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