Quality card at Aintree on Saturday ahead of Grand National
Away from Saturday’s Grand National, the undercard at the Liverpool venue is stacked with quality as three Grade One races take centre-stage, before the main event.
We’ve previewed the pick of the action away from the National with tips and analysis.
The first Grade One of the day is the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2.25pm) in which Ballyadam looks to return to winning ways for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore. The six-year-old was second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on his latest start and sets the clear form standard.
Dreal Deal has been a star for Ronan McNally this term and the six-year-old is chasing a fifth successive win in Saturday’s event. He looks another leading player along with the ultra-progressive My Drogo. The six-year-old was second on his first start in a bumper at Cheltenham, but is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles since. He was impressive at Kelso last time out, displaying a good attitude and should go close in this event.
The star of the show on Saturday is Shishkin who bids to extend his unbeaten record to five straight wins over fences. Trained by Nicky Henderson, the seven-year-old was an impressive winner of the Arkle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival and looks incredibly tough to beat in this event, being 19lb clear on official ratings.
Funambule Sivola has impressed on his last two starts, but this does demand a career best, whilst Gumball will look to fill second position having failed to fire back over hurdles at Newbury last time out. The five runners are completed by the progressive Elvis Mail and Longhouse Sale.
The final Grade One race on the card is the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle which has attracted an excellent field of 15. Thyme Hill missed the Cheltenham Festival through injury, but is a key player on his two efforts this term. Successful at Newbury on his seasonal debut, he was narrowly denied by Paisley Park at Ascot last time out.
The pair face off again in this event. However, Thyme Hill is taken to reverse that form with Paisley Park seeming to lack another gear when a one-paced third in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on his latest start.
Others to consider include Roksana who steps back up in trip having finished a creditable third in the Mares’ Hurdle and Third Wind who comes into the race fresh having defeated Lisnagar Oscar at Haydock back in February.
Elsewhere on the card, Balco Costal looks a very exciting prospect for Nicky Henderson in the concluding Grade Two bumper. He cruised to success at Kempton on polytrack last time out, but looks bound to be suited by this test on turf. Fruit N Nut has won his last two starts and is another to consider for local trainer Donald McCain, whilst the likes of Brave Kingdom, Go Dante and Knappers Hill are all other possible contenders in the final race of the 2021 Randox Grand National Festival.
Saturday Aintree Selections
1.45pm Champagne Platinum 5/1
2.25pm My Drogo 2/1
3.00pm Shishkin 1/7
3.35pm Thyme Hill 11/5
4.15pm Cloudy Glen 15/2
6.20pm Balco Coastal 5/2 with Betway