Aintree Grand National Day | Major day for Roi

Punchestown Festival

The Aintree Grand National is upon us after two days of exhilarating, today really is a special day.

The supporting card around the big one is brilliant as well, and after two good days for the selections, today’s task is to not give it all back.

So, let’s begin.


1:20 Aintree – Johnnywho @ 10/1 with William Hill – 1pt EW

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Dan Skelton’s horses in handicaps at the moment would scare the life out of anyone, so you can understand why West Balboa is well-found in the market.

However, her season differs from the one that yesterday’s handicap hurdle winner Katiera had as she won on debut and is now five pounds higher than her success in this race last season.

Furthermore, you could question the form of last year’s race, so with these questions in my mind about her, I’m willing to take a swing at Johnnywho.

The seven-year-old was a ‘horse to follow’ at the start of the season, and back then I thought he was a shoe-in to land a Graded novice hurdle this season, though that hasn’t occurred.

However, reading into his form further, the staying-on fourth in the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle is a nice race to look at as the third, The Jukebox Man, finished a close second in the Albert Bartlett and the second, Lookaway, wasn’t disgraced in Friday’s Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle.

The speedy nature of the race was his downfall in the Grade 2 Classic Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Trials Day, and if you forgive him for the Albert Bartlett, a mark of 136 looks lenient.

Also, even a look at his Carlisle maiden hurdle makes for interesting reading as Moon D’Orange is rated 130 though was giving four pounds away on the day.


2:30 Aintree – Kilbeg King @ 7/1 with BetVictor – 1pt EW

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Anthony Honeyball is probably thanking Aintree’s fast-draining surface this morning as the ground has come right for Kilbeg King in the valuable handicap chase at 2:30.

I gave the nine-year-old a good chance in the National Hunt Chase, but a combination of Cheltenham, heavy ground, and 3m6f was a bit too much on the day.

Therefore, this return to a slightly better surface and back in trip should put him in a nice position, though he does have form on soft ground having won his point-to-point and maiden hurdle on soft.

Reading Honeyball’s comments throughout the week, he has talked about this racing being the plan, but he also said that he could also be a novice and a veteran for next season if he doesn’t get the job done.

With form in the book with Hermes Allen and Il Est Francais, as well as that great run in the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, I see no reason why he can’t win today and every minute of drying ground will suit him.


3:05 Aintree – Hiddenvalley Lake @ 5/1 with William Hill (1pt Win) & Buddy One @ 14/1 with William Hill (1pt EW)

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The price has collapsed on Hiddenvalley Lake since I put him up on the Only Fools Love Horses YouTube channel on Wednesday, so I’ve elected for a win-only play on him.

As a novice hurdler, he looked like a machine to win a Grade 3 at Cork in December 2022. The form of the race has worked out well as Monbeg Park beat Spillane’s Tower, a subsequent Grade 1 novice chaser, at the Punchestown Festival and Letsbeclearaboutit won a Grade 3 novice chase before his third in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase.

Arguably his best piece of form is when he gave six pounds away to Monty’s Star and nearly beat him in the Grade 3 Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle, and he bounced back to form to win off a two-month lay-off at Navan on his latest start.

He’s likely to come on for that effort and should go close.

As for Buddy One, his run in the Stayers’ Hurdle was admiral on soft going and he has won soft three times before, though this morning’s update about slightly better ground will benefit his chances.

That run in the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle was easy on the eye, and it was his first run for nearly three months. Although Paul Gilligan would have primed him for the minute to peak on that day, that break between races may help him remain fresh and well for today’s assignment.

The seven-year-old is a truly exciting novice chaser for next season, but his Aintree record (second in the 2m4f handicap hurdle behind Fennor Cross last season) gives him every right to end this season on a bang.


4:00 Aintree (Grand National) – Meetingofthewaters @ 12/1 with William Hill (1pt EW), Panda Boy @ 12/1 with William Hill (1pt EW) & Roi Mage @ 50/1 with William Hill (0.5pt EW)

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It’s time for the Grand National and I’m splitting my stakes between three horses: Meetingofthewaters, Panda Boy, and Roi Mage.

Starting with the latter, he is a dude of a horse. That isn’t enough to back him for a National, but there are reasons to think he can build on last year’s seventh.

Firstly, he had an interrupted season last year as he cut himself badly after a fall at Cheltenham on Trials Day, so Patrick and James Griffin were working to get his fitness on point for the big day.

Fast-forward 12 months and the 12-year-old has had a perfect preparation, starting with a Listed chase win in France on heavy ground and, most recently, culminating in a good second to Adamantly Chosen at Down Royal.

He’s two pounds lower than last year and the softer conditions will massively play to his strengths.

As for Meetingofthewaters, he was my long-range bet for the race at 25/1 in late February, but his chance has only enhanced since.

He is a progressive seven-year-old who ran well behind Chianti Classico in the Ultima on his last start, form that looks smart now after Chianti Classico’s valiant fourth in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

Finally, Panda Boy is a horse that has always promised a win a big handicap chase and the planning of Martin Brassil to get him in at the bottom end of the weights is a master stroke.

He is clearly on a workable mark and his run over hurdles at the Dublin Racing Festival was very promising.

He gets a nice swing in the weights from Meetingofthewaters based on the Paddy Power Chase on December 27th, and he looks a likely type to enjoy this trip.


5:00 Aintree – Master Chewy @ 15/2 with William Hill (1pt EW) & Quilixios @ 12/1 with William Hill (1pt EW)

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The money has come for Master Chewy overnight, and you can see the reasons for the support.

Connections have always rated this horse highly as they sent him off 4/6 to win a handicap chase at Newbury in December, though Elixir De Nutz, a subsequent Grade 1 Clarence House Chase winner, beat him after a good duel between the pair.

He was also sent off 13/8 to beat Nickle Back, a subsequent Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase winner, and beat him by nearly five lengths.

Based on these two horses, his form is staking up, and he has good course and distance form around Aintree, so he should have a solid chance.

As for Quilixios, his career to date has had a few setbacks, but he’s been in good form this season and I’m willing to forgive him for the Arkle disappointment.

He started this season with a success over Cool Survivor where he nearly took the last fence with him, though the resilience he showed to still win was admiral.

After a poor effort over three miles, he stepped back to two miles and beat Sa Fureur (fourth in the Grand Annual subsequently) and Mister Policeman (a Grade 3 winner two starts later).

He seems like a quirky character, but he has plenty of speed and he was second to Teahupoo as a four-year-old over hurdles, so 12/1 looks like a big price for him.

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