Tom Bellamy's Horse Racing Blog

Tom Bellamy’s Aintree Festival Blog Day 1

Freebets brand ambassador and national hunt jockey Tom Bellamy gives his thoughts on the Aintree Grand National meeting, kicking off with day one.

We kick off with the Grade One Manifesto Novice Chase and Stage Star looks like being favourite and rightly so, I think he’ll take plenty of beating if he’s in the same heart as he was at Cheltenham. I don’t think it’ll bother him whether it rains or doesn’t.

Banbridge has got some really good form, but I just can’t see him beating Stage Star if I’m being honest, for me the Nicholls runner is the most likely winner. Saint Roi is up in trip which should suit, but I just think Stage Star is the one with least questions to answer, so I’m taking him to win.

Next up is the juvenile hurdle. Gary Moore has two in here, and it looks like Bo Zenith is the first string with Jamie riding him, that has a chance. But I think the filly of Fergal O’Brien’s, Greyval is a nice horse, she’s done nothing but impress me. She was beaten by greenness first time up at Doncaster, but is unbeaten since winning twice, the last time out was done at a canter.

She will have to step up here, but I think at around 7/1, each way she looks to be a real player.

Next up the Aintree Bowl and this looks a great race. You’ve got horses in here with great form, Bravemansgame second in the Gold Cup, Conflated third, but they’ve had hard races, just 27 days ago. I wouldn’t want to put money on a horse here that’s had an absolutely grueling race in that short space of time.

Shishkin going up in trip is the most interesting angle of the week for me. I just think he’s been crying out for it. He was crying out for two and a half, look at what that did when he went to Ascot earlier in the year, and I think this will see him improve again. I think up to this trip, you’ll see a different horse and he wins this, and on top of that, I think he’s next year’s Gold Cup winner as well.

Constitution Hill is next in the Aintree Hurdle, where the others are seemingly running for second in behind. I think Epatante could be second here, to give Nicky Henderson a 1-2 in the race.


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In the Foxhunters, there’s one horse I have a connection with, and that is Envoye Special for Keiran Burke, who I ride for. I know he’s in great form, it’s a shame he got beat at Wincanton last time out but I watched him school the other day, he’s a gorgeous horse and they seem to have found the key to him. He thinks he’s in as good a form as possible now, and at a massive price he looks an each way bet.

Next up in the Red Rum, I’ve a horse I’d love to see win, and one I think will win.

Hasankey is the one I’d love to see win, because I beat him last time out on board Red Rookie, who I think the world of. He was entered her but doesn’t run, so I’d like to see this horse win and boost our form a little.

The one I think will win is one I tipped for the Grand Annual and Cheltenham and I don’t know what went wrong as he ended up pulling up. But I’m going to keep the faith and the horse is Before Midnight for Sam Thomas.

He’s been dropped 3lb for his Cheltenham run, I don’t know why he ran so badly there, so it’s taking a punt a little here, but I fancied him for that, so I like him for this.

To end, the bumper and there’s a few I’ve connections with. Alan King has two in the race both lovely horses, Baby Sage would be the first string of those, and was very impressive on debut. We thought she would run green before that, and that might be an issue, but she was very impressive and did it seriously well.

The second, Kay Tara Tara ran a cracking race at Ascot. A strongly run race would suit, the quicker the better for that one.

They are both nice fillies going forward, but Baby Sage would be the one if I had to choose between the two.

On another, Casa No Mento for Nigel Twiston-Davies is another I know of. She’s a lovely filly and the yard are happy with where she is at, she was very, very unlucky at Sandown last time, got outstayed in the end. She’s a speedy horse, so that race at Sandown on heavy ground won’t have suited, this test at Aintree on better ground, could be right up her street.

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Tom  Bellamy

Tom Bellamy

Freebets ambassador and national hunt jockey Tom Bellamy writes his thoughts down for us, giving you the views of a jockey in the weighing room on all the big events