Aintree hosts another four Grade 1 races on the second day of their Grand National meeting, along with the Randox Topham Handicap Chase over the big fences at 4.05pm. The 2m 5f contest is always a great spectacle and this year’s renewal is expected to prove no different with a field of 30 handicap chasers for the Grade 3 race which dates back to 1949.
Irish trainer Willie Mullins has won the last two renewals, in 2019 and 2021, as, along with the main event, Covid prevented the 2020 meeting from taking place. The Closutton handler fields two horses in an effort to land a hat-trick of victories, also achieved this century by Peter Bowen (2010-2012) and Nicky Henderson (2013-2015).
“Tip of the Day” – Ahoy Senor (2.55pm Aintree) – 11/2 with bet365*
On a course that suits and with a better round of jumping, Lucinda Russell’s talented staying chaser is fancied to gain revenge on his two Grade 1 conquerors this season, Bravemansgame and L’Homme Presse.
2.55pm Aintree. 3m 1f
Only four runners for this Grade 1 novices’ chase but potentially one of the races of the season. Bravemansgame, following four impressive victories over fences was strongly fancied to win the Brown Advisory at the Cheltenham Festival only to be withdrawn at a late stage due to the very soft ground.
That race was fought-out by fellow rivals L’Homme Presse and AHOY SENOR, with the former coming out on top by a decisive three and a half lengths. Lucinda Russell’s charge failed to jump as well as he can at Prestbury Park and on ground expected to be much livelier, the Dylan Thomas gelding is fancied to come out on top in a fascinating contest.
The mount of Derek Fox showed his liking for Aintree when making all of the running to beat Bravemansgame by seven lengths in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s meeting. Similar tactics and a better round of jumping could see Ahoy Senor finally fulfil his potential as a top class chaser.
3.30pm Aintree. 2m 4f
Irish runner Fakir D’oudairies ran out an easy 11 length winner of this race 12 months ago and will be expected by many to follow-up after his victory in the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase last time. This looks to be a much stronger renewal than last year’s however and at a short price Joseph O’Brien’s charge is worth opposing.
Funambule Sivola beat all bar Energumene in the Champion Case at the Festival and his chance of going one better should not be underestimated, while ground conditions will suit the likes of Allmankind, Mister Fisher and Sceau Royal unless the heavens open in the meantime.
In a race far more open than the betting would suggest, it would be no surprise to see the Paul Nicholls-trained HITMAN run a massive race at a double-figure price. The mount of Bryony Frost has yet to win this season but ran well to finish second in Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup and the Tingle Creek at Sandown on his first two starts.
The son of Falco probably needed the run when third in Newbury’s Game Spirit Chase last time, a period when the stable was struggling to find its form. Still only a six-year-old, we have yet to see the best of Hitman who can prove the each-way value bet of the race.
4.05pm Aintree. 2m 5f
With a field of 30 runners this 2m 5f handicap chase run over the Grand National fences is arguably as open as Saturday’s main event. Cases can be made for most of the runners, in particular Cheltenham Festival runner-up Mister Coffey and Five Star Getaway for in-form trainer Christian Williams.
The Irish hold a strong hand with nine contenders including the first five in the handicap. At a massive price however, it could be worth taking a chance on the Peter Bowen-trained FRANCKY DU BERLAIS, the mount of Brendan Powell.
Bowen has an excellent record over the fences and also runs this season’s Grand Sefton winner Mac Tottie, the stable’s number one hope according to the latest betting. Francky Du Berlais would have little chance based on his form over the last few months but is happier during the spring/summer months, as when winning valuable handicaps at Uttoxeter and Market Rasen last year.
The gelding is now running off a mark 2lb lower than when winning Market Rasen’s ultra-competitive Summer Plate Handicap Chase by almost eight lengths last July, a repeat of which would see the long-priced outsider outrun his odds by some way.
* Aintree odds correct at the time of writing. All betting odds subject to changes. (obviously!)