AINTREE GRAND NATIONAL FESTIVAL – DAY 2 (FRIDAY)

13:45 Aintree

Brio Conti travelled like the winner in the Coral Cup last time before faltering up the Cheltenham hill to finish fourth. Paul Nicholls charge has been nudged up two pounds for that effort though you could hardly describe that as harsh and a reproduction may well suffice here. Tedham had shown plenty of promise in four prior starts before comfortably accounting for his rivals at Wincanton last time. From the Jonjo O’Neil yard, you suspect this lightly raced son of Shirocco has been aimed at this and respect is afforded off what looks a favourable mark. Canardier was making an effort to close down the leaders in the aforementioned Coral Cup before being interfered with three out, given that was his handicap debut you have to suspect he is ahead of his mark and he is handed a tentative vote to finish in the money.

CANARDIER (E/W)

14:20 Aintree

Itchy Feet broke blood vessels when finishing a fine third in the Supreme last month and will surely take some beating if over that. Generally extremely progressive a big run looks likely although the recent rain is a real negative, as such, he is passed over. Precious Cargo is unbeaten in two starts for Nicky Henderson and was impressive at Sandown last time. Unlike quite a few of these, he missed the Festival and the softening ground looks a major positive. Winston C was given a mountain to climb at Kelso last time, last with a couple left to jump he fairly sprouted wings over the last and is probably a good deal better than that form may suggest. Southfield Stone showed a very good attitude when lowering the colours of Angels Breath at Kempton and is another arriving here fairly fresh however, Henderson has saddled five of the last ten winners of this and it is his Precious Cargo who is given the nod.

PRECIOUS CARGO (WIN)

14:50 Aintree

Topofthegame has his share of quirks though he is impossible to take on here having landed a quality renewal of the RSA at Cheltenham last time. Smart over hurdles, Paul Nicholls seven year old has always looked likely to prove even better over fences and quick double up looks highly likely granted a clear round. Lostintranslation has some very smart form and could be a hard horse to pass, his latest piece of form needs improving upon but this trip should suit and his front running style looks another positive. Chris’s Dream and Mr Whipped are improving types who could go well although a beaten favourite here would have to go down as a major shock.

TOPOFTHEGAME (WIN)

15:25 Aintree

Things haven’t really gone for Waiting Patiently this season, badly hampered and ultimately unseating in the King George was followed up with a decisive loss at the hands of Cyrname the time after at Ascot. Still quite lightly raced for his age, discounting him out of hand would be folly although his current price really is hard to swallow. Min ran no sort of race in the Queen Mother when finishing a disappointing fifth. Prior to that he had put up two fairly impressive performances when winning in his native Ireland, there is an argument to suggest he may be better at this sort of trip now and with quite a few having questions to answer, he is taken to bounce back. Politologue won this last term and ran a belter when second in the Queen Mother, he has every chance of retaining the prize in an open looking renewal.

MIN (WIN)

16:05 Aintree

The second race of the week over the legendary national fences and unlike yesterday today is the turn of the professional jockeys to jump in the saddle. Janika is the most likely favourite and deserves his spot at the head of the betting after three consecutive seconds in decent races. The fences he’s set to tackle here are a different story however and having to carry too weight isn’t going to help his chances. I certainly couldn’t put punters off too readily and as such despite his weight looks a good each way bet regardless.

At a bigger price brothers trainer and jockey Harry and Dan Skelton could have a lively outsider with Born Survivor. Two wins from his last three runs shows he’s got ability and he won’t be put off by the underfoot conditions. A break having not run since January should see him line up much fresher than some of his rivals and that may play into his hands. A solid jumper who, if he acts around these fences, could go well at a big price.

JANIKA (E/W)

BORN SURVIVOR (E/W)

16:40 Aintree

Possibly the most competitive race of the three day festival (aside from those over the national fences) with cases easily made for a large handful of these.

Ardlethen, Downtown Getaway and Walk Away are all runners that are currently double figure odds but represent big yards with the surnames Skelton, Henderson and De Bromhead in the trainers column and for that alone the trio demand respect.

Lisnagar Oscar was well fancied for a race at the festival last month and travelled very well despite finishing 6th and as such can’t be discounted especially on this flatter track.

The unbeaten Emitom deserves his spot in a race like this especially with five winning career starts to date and his 100% record intact. He avoided Cheltenham and now mixes it with the best in his division. It’s a marked step up in class and if he can handle the competition is bound to go close but that question is very hard to answer and although he’s sure to finish in the thick of things I’d rather go with a horse who’s somewhat been there and done it so far and that has to be Champ. The JP McManus owned runner finished a close second at Cheltenham and aims to get back to winning ways and go one better than stable mate Buveur D’Air who finished second here yesterday. The seven year old has never finished outside of the top two and looks a very classy type. This race looks tough but hopefully Champ (named after AP McCoy) has the talent to win once again.

CHAMP (WIN)

17:15 Aintree

The final race on day two is a National Hunt flat race where in all honesty we find possibly my best bet of the three day meeting. Ruby Walsh entered the winners enclosure and looks to do so again here but this time for father and trainer Ted. He’s set to climb aboard Dewcup who did well to win a very good race at Thurles last time out. The form of that race looks rock solid with the second subsequently claiming a listed race. The softer ground shouldn’t be a negative and looks by far the one to beat today.

Based on connections and two commanding victories you have to take note of McFabulous. A disappointing 4th placed effort is sandwiched between two impressive wins and demands a tonne of respect.

Unbeaten runners Hazm, Adjourned and Santa Rossa are slight unknown quantities who have bags of potential and are the most likely to cause an upset if our selection falters.

DEWCUP (WIN) – NAP