Betting Tips

Ed Quigley: Antepost Armchair - April 4

To rain or not to rain? That is the question – kind of. Well, the ground is always a major talking point, especially at the big meetings and the threat of copious amounts of precipitation pose a conundrum for punters, connections and ground staff alike in regards to all things Aintree.

The problem is not that it is going to rain, it is how much will arrive. You can turn yourself into a Michael Fish protegee by looking up the weather forecasts online but there seems to be such a range of opinions as to how much rain is actually going to arrive in the Liverpool area this week. There are forecasts varying from steady drizzle throughout the week, to bursts of showers, to a couple of forecasts that could see monumental amounts of the wet stuff on Thursday and Friday. All in all it is guesswork of the highest order as we could get to half way through the meeting on ground ranging anywhere from Good to Soft through to Heavy.

Either way, the ‘safest’ bet if you are going to get involved at this stage would be to at least look for horses who are happier with plenty of cut underfoot – the idea of “spring-like Aintree ground” looks an unlikeliest of scenarios if you play the percentages.

The other great unknown for punters is knowing how much petrol is left in the tank for those that had battles at Prestbury Park three weeks ago; as the cliche goes, the horse will tell you whether they have had enough for the season or not – if they have, unfortunately you may not know until your selection is dropping out of the back of the television.

Anyway, enough with the theories, and as you would expect, the action on Thursday looks wonderful, with some classy affairs to get stuck into. I have a feeling the Colin Tizzard team could be in for a good day with War Lord (Manifesto Novice Chase) and Eldorado Allen (Bowl) looking to have solid claims. Rain won’t be a problem – especially for the former, and I think both will be suited by longer trips than what they encountered at the Cheltenham Festival. The Aintree Hurdle has the potential to be a belter and looks ultra competitive at first glance. You can throw a blanket over most of the field in regards to official ratings, but I just wonder if the Paul Nicholls trained Monmiral might have more to offer. He was an impressive winner at this meeting 12 months ago, and I think his most recent outing at Fontwell on the comeback trail after injury should have him spot on for this.

Friday’s action looks very hard to weigh up, but naturally a lot of eyes will be on Jonbon, to see if he can get the job done in the Top Novices’ Hurdle 2.20. Runner-up in the Supreme to the facile winner from his own stable, Constitution Hill, he is the class act on display and should be an exciting individual once chasing next season. The MIldmay Novices’ Chase could end up as absolute fireworks if we get the clash we all want to see between Bravemansgame, L’Homme Presse and Ahoy Senor – it looks too close to call at this stage, and ground conditions have a huge bearing on proceedings.

The fact Bravemansgame swerved his dust-up with those other two at the eleventh hour may be the deciding factor; arriving here a fresh horse against rivals who had a battle in brutal ground three weeks ago should in theory swing the pendulum massively in his favour. Again though, ground ground ground…you get the idea by now.

Onto the big day, and it is hard not to be getting excited about the Grand National if you aren’t already. So many horses you can make a case for, and when going through the potential list of runners, as you would expect, there are connections who a staring at the rain cloud symbol on a weather forecast as if they were mesmerised by their first love; whereas the polar opposite is true for connections of quite a few horses who probably feel their entire hopes and dreams for the season may be disappearing unless some form of giant umbrella contraption over the racecourse can be deployed. Fine margins, skill, luck and patience…who would be a trainer or an owner eh? (Or a clerk of the course with a Twitter handle)

Fiddlerontheroof has been my long term fancy for the Aintree spectacular, but no doubt there will be lots to ponder in the days ahead – not forgetting Augusta National, with the Masters dovetailing beautifully with Aintree. Enjoy – there isn’t really any other option!

* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. Odds subject to change.

Edward Quigley

Edward Quigley

Ed Quigley joins us weekly to provide his weekend watch tips and his long-term antepost armchair Monday column.