Aintree Grand National Festival 2022

Thursday

1.45 Pic D’orhy 11/4
2.20 Pied Piper 11/10
2.55 Clan Des Obeaux 15/4
3.30 Epatante 2/1
4.05 Cat Tiger 6/1
4.40 Thyme White 14/1
5.15 Kateira 11/2

Friday

1.45 Balco Coastal 11/1 & Fils D’oudaries 11/1
2.20 Jonbon 1/1
2.55 Bravemansgame 5/4
3.30 Fakir D’oudaries 13/8
4.05 Mister Coffey 10/1 & Windsor Avenue 25/1
4.40 Gelino Bello 8/1
5.15 Washington & Whizz Kid (*no prices at time of writing)

Saturday

1.45 If the Cap Fits & Emitom (*no prices at time of writing)
2.25 Walking On Air 4/1
3.00 Third Time Lucki 7/2
3.35 Thyme Hill 11/4
4.15 Shan Blue 4/1
5.15 (Grand National) Any Second Now 10/1, Kildisart 40/1 & Santini 40/1
6.20 Altobelli (*no prices at time of writing)

Cheltenham Festival 2022

Tuesday

1.30 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

A opening race to savour and potentially a Supreme that will be looked back on in the same breath as the 2016 (Altior, Min, Buveur D’air) and 2011 (Al Ferof, Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card) renewals. With Sir Gerhard seemingly Ballymore bound at time of writing, for me the one to be with is Jonbon. People have knocked his run at Haydock last time out but he got the job done in testing conditions, giving weight away to some good horses, with Nells Son giving the form a boost the other day by taking the Grade 2 at Kelso. The six-year-old son of Walk In The Park was mightily impressive at Ascot and Newbury in his two previous runs over hurdles and for me he’s the one of the Nicky Henderson pair that can give the trainer another win in the race he last claimed with Shishkin in 2020.

Selection: Jonbon 4/1

2.10 – Arkle

In contrast to the Supreme, this isn’t a vintage renewal and fair claims could be made for a few. Edwardstone has proved himself to be best of the British contenders but I still think the Irish form might prove stronger and Blue Lord is my tentative pick. Willie Mullins charge only has to give six pounds to Riviere D’etel this time, rather than the nine he conceded when beating Gordon Elliott’s mare at Leopardstown, and it’s worth remembering he would have been second in last year’s Supreme if he hadn’t fallen at the last.

Selection: Blue Lord 7/2

2.50 – Ultima Handicap Chase

Perhaps surprisingly Ireland haven’t won this race since Joes Edge took it for Ferdy Murphy back in 2007, but they can end that barren run with Emmet Mullins’ Noble Yeats. The seven-year-old comes here off the back of an encouraging display when second to Ahoy Senor in the Grade 2 Towton at Wetherby and looking back to the start of the season got the better of fair types Gabynako and Magic Daze at Galway. Mullins knows how to place a horse to win a big handicap, as we’ve seen with The Shunter, and isn’t overly burdened by a mark of 147.

Selection: Noble Yeats 9/1

3.30 – Champion Hurdle

I’m not one to agree with Matt Chapman often but I have to say that I’m with him on his recent views on Honeysuckle. The fact is, despite being absolutely superb in winning the races she’s won, she has never faced a really top-notch rival and could easily have been beaten by Benie Des Dieux in her last real test in the Mares’ Hurdle two years ago. For me she faces her toughest task yet in the form of Appreciate It here, who romped home to win the Supreme last year and of whom there have been good vibes about his preparation from Closutton, despite not having a run this term. I hope Honeysuckle proves herself to be a true champion by coming out on top and claiming back to back Champion Hurdles but from a betting perspective the 6/4 you can still get on Appreciate It without her is definitely the bet, with the very real prospect that those two could come well clear of the rest.

Selection: Appreciate It (without Honeysuckle) 6/4

4.10 – Mares’ Hurdle

Ireland have totally dominated this race down the years and it’s likely to be a similar story this year. Stormy Ireland is the one for me and I believe she’s actually one of the best value bets still on offer at 6/1. Concertista would have offered a real threat but she’s Mares’ Chase bound, so the path is clear for the eight-year-old to get a well-deserved victory after previously having to tackle the likes of Honeysuckle and Benie Des Dieux in this race. There’s no-one of that standard this year and the form of her Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle success at Cheltenham last time out on New Year’s Day is clear of any of her rivals. Get on before people see sense and back her into favouritism on the day.

Selection: Stormy Ireland 6/1

4.50 – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Not much to say about this race except that Gaelic Warrior looks obviously well-handicapped on his French form and it could well be another one for Willie Mullins. At the prices not one to get too involved in though.

Selection: Gaelic Warrior 9/4

5.30 – National Hunt Novices’ Chase

Day one could well end with the name Mullins once again next to the winner with Stattler holding outstanding claims for the same owner-trainer partnership that took this race with Rathvinden in 2018. There have been lots of shouts for Run Wild Fred, mainly because of his experience in relation to the favourite, but is he really good enough? Yes, he’s been consistent in big handicaps but was well beaten by Fury Road when facing Grade 1 company at Christmas and I think the same fate will befall him here. Stattler’s jumping has looked very assured in his two chase starts so far and his victory over Farouk D’alene looks very solid form, with that horse winning a Grade 2 against Beacon Edge last time out.

Selection: Stattler 11/4

Wednesday

1.30 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

It’s hard to see past Sir Gerhard giving Ireland a fifth consecutive win in the 2m 5f contest and Willie Mullins his first since Yorkhill in 2016, when the trainer also made a late call about the eventual destination of the winner. Last year’s Champion Bumper winner has been dominant in winning his two hurdle starts and is likely to have too much class for his rivals. I’ve liked Journey With Me all season but I think they are going for the wrong race, with the slog of the Albert Bartlett much more his thing, but can definitely see Henry De Bromhead’s charge giving the favourite most to worry about.

Selection: Sir Gerhard Evens

2.10 – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (aka RSA)

With Galopin Des Champs Marsh-bound, the door seems very much open for Bravemansgame to cap a fine first chasing season with success for Paul Nicholls. The champion trainer took this with Topofthegame in 2019 and his contender this year has been hugely impressive so far over the bigger obstacles, his jumping a joy to behold. He easily dismissed Ahoy Senor in the Feltham at Christmas and there’s no reason to see roles reversed.

Selection: Bravemansgame 15/8

2.50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

There’s the usual guessing game in terms of who runs here or goes elsewhere. Of the Mullins battalion I’d be particularly interested in Five O’Clock if he starts, a horse that was last seen finishing seventh in the Martin Pipe back in 2020. There were a few good words about him being a potential big improver after that, alas he’s been beset by injury and we’ve not seen him. Of those who look more certain to run, Camprond is the one who interests me most. A winner of the always strong Persian War at the start of the season, he followed up with an easy success at Cheltenham’s October meeting before a very creditable fourth in the Greatwood a month later. The step back up in trip here in his in favour and a mark of 140 looks workable.

Selections: Camprond 10/1 & Five O’Clock 20/1 (NRNB)

3.30 – Queen Mother Champion Chase

Arguably the race of the meeting and if it’s anything like the clash we saw between Shishkin and Energumene at Ascot we are in for a treat. I think Shishkin can confirm the places but is by no means the banker some say he is, especially when you add Chacon Pour Soi to the mix as well. Indeed I think the bet here (if you need to have one) is the 10/11 being offered by Paddy Power and Betfair on the Rich Ricci-owned runner without the top two.

Selection: Chacon Pour Soi (without Shishkin and Energumene) 10/11

4.10 – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

Tiger Roll could well romp to another Cheltenham success here, and who wouldn’t want to see it, as a fitting end to a fantastic career. For a bit of each way value though I like the chances of Back on the Lash for Martin Keighley. A winner over the course in November, the trainer reported the horse ran flat a month later, so you can draw a line through his run there, even though he wasn’t disgraced in fifth. Keighley has previous in this race, with his Any Currency coming home in front in the 2016 edition before later being stripped of the race due to a banned substance being found in a drugs test.

Selection: Back on the Lash 16/1

4.50 – Grand Annual Handicap Chase

He has the option of the Arkle too, but if Alex Hales’ For Pleasure takes this route then off a mark of 138 he looks an outstanding bet at 33/1 . A 37-length winner at Plumpton in December, he’s been mixing it against the likes of Edwardstone and Third Time Lucki since. It’s worth remembering he was third in last year’s Supreme and you can see him going off in front and trying to make all. The other one I like is Thyme White, who won easily at Doncaster in December and looks to have some wiggle room in his mark of 142.

Selections: For Pleasure 33/1 & Thyme White 12/1

5.30 – Champion Bumper

At this stage on Wednesday I can see a number of multiples on Sir Gerhard, Bravemansgame and Shishkin running onto Facile Vega, and for me, this could be the Annie Power moment for many punters where they all fall down. There can be no doubt about the pleasing impression the son of Quevega left when trouncing a field of previous winners at Leopardstown last month, but I found it very interesting when interviewed after that Patrick Mullins, unprompted, brought up the fact that there wouldn’t be much between the winner he’d just ridden and Redemption Day. Available at five times the price of the current favourite, Redemption Day won with bloodless ease at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting and you wonder if he would have been just as impressive as Facile Vega if the roles would have been reversed and he had run at the Dublin Racing Festival. At the prices he’s easily the value bet as Mullins bids for a fourth win in five years in this race.

Selection: Redemption Day 11/2

Thursday

1.30 – Turners Novices’ Chase

A mouth-watering clash lay in store between Bob Olinger and Galopin Des Champs. Both winners at last year’s Festival, the latter has impressed in his two chase wins at Leopardstown, although while Bob Olinger’s jumping has been less exuberant it’s the De Bromhead runner I’m sticking with. I can see him kicking in the turbo charge up the hill when asked by Rachael Blackmore, just as he did when romping to success in the Ballymore 12 months ago.

Selection: Bob Olinger 6/5

2.10 – Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle


Festival form always comes into calculations and few have better than Sire Du Berlais. Twice a winner of this race before, Gordon Elliott’s charge was then second behind Flooring Porter in last year’s Stayer’s Hurdle. He comes into the Pertemps this year off a mark of 156, four pounds higher than when last winning the race in 2020 but with leading amateur Rob James lined up to take off 7lb. You can see him being punted into fairly short odds on the day and the 13/2 available now might be worth snapping up.

Selection: Sire Du Berlais 13/2

2.50 – Ryanair Chase

There’s no such thing as a banker but Allaho is the closest thing to it at this year’s Festival. I can’t see anything other than him repeating his success of 12 months ago.

Selection: Allaho 8/13

3.30 – Stayers’ Hurdle

This year’s renewal is a real puzzle with four or five in with big claims of success. Many of the leading protagonists are far from reliable, with Klassical Dream blowing out last time seen and Champ failing to back up his comeback win in the Long Walk when beaten by Paisley Park in the Cleeve. And as for the last named – well, anything could happen with him before they even get started! Defending champion Flooring Porter is the most solid option, but I’ve decided to give Champ another chance, thinking a return to his form of Ascot would be about the strongest form on offer. Not a race to get too involved in though.

Selection: Champ 5/1

4.10 – Plate Handicap Chase

The Glancing Queen goes into the Plate on the back of a fine start to her chasing career, winning her first two (both in listed company) before only finding the progressive L’Homme Presse too strong in the Grade 2 Dipper when stepping out of mares only company for the first time. That form brings the eight-year-old, who was fifth in the 2019 Champion Bumper behind Envoi Allen and Thyme Hill among others, bang in the mix here and off 141 she holds great each way claims.

Selection: The Glancing Queen 8/1

4.50 – Mares’ Novices Hurdle

My vote here goes to Grangee, who had a good bumper season last term for Wille Mullins, beating Party Central and Brandy Love to win the Grade 2 mares race at the Dublin Racing Festival, before finishing sixth in the Champion Bumper behind Sir Gerhard. She then finished her season with victory in a Grade 3 at the Punchestown Festival. After opening her hurdling account on debut with a facile success at Fairyhouse, the six-year-old daughter of Great Pretender was pitched into Grade 1 open company at Christmas, only beaten four and a half lengths in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle when finishing fourth behind Mighty Potter. Reverting back to mares company she fell two out back at Fairyhouse in January when last seen in a race won by Allegorie De Vassy, who misses the Festival with injury. She looked like she was just about to make her challenge when coming down but consequently you can get 7/1 here in what looks a very open race. Based on her bumper form alone I’d expect her to be bang there when they come over the last.

Selection – Grangee 7/1


5.30 – Kim Muir Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase

Thursday’s finale can go to Nicky Henderson’s Mister Coffey, who is yet to get his head in front over fences but has been placed in his three attempts so far, the last of which second to L’Homme Presse in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles. According to the trainer he’s been crying out for a step up in trip and to go left-handed, both of which he gets here. Always a horse with bags of potential, he runs off 137 and shouldn’t be far away.

Selection – Mister Coffey 14/1


Friday

1.30 – Triumph Hurdle

Who would have known at the time that a three-year-old maiden hurdle on an unspectacular Punchestown card on a Friday in December would feature the main protagonists for the Triumph, but thus it was as Pied Piper just held off the challenge of Vauban. Since then the winner that day proved even more impressive when winning hard held by nine lengths at Cheltenham a month later, while Vauban reappeared at the Dublin Racing Festival, showing a fine turn of foot to dismiss previous season-long Triumph favourite Fil Dor. It promises to be a tremendous contest between the two again and I’m just falling on the side of the Vauban to turn the tables on his old foe.

Selection – Vauban
7/4

2.10 – County Handicap Hurdle

Always a fiercely competitive race, I’ve picked out two I like. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ I Like To Move It was only just edged out by a short head in the Betfair Hurdle when last seen, proving he has no issues with the hustle and bustle of big field handicaps like this. He also has course form, winning at both the October and November meetings at Cheltenham this season. I also like the chances of Gavin Cromwell’s My Mate Mozzie, although the trainer has been quoted as saying in recent days that the horse isn’t a guaranteed runner. If he does take his chance then form such as his short-head second in the Royal Bond, finishing ahead of Mighty Potter, gives him a great shout in this.

Selections – I Like To Move It 10/1 & My Mate Mozzie 14/1

2.50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle


Clinging onto any lingering hopes that Journey With Me turns up here in a late U-turn, I’d be all over him if he did and it might just be worth taking the 13/2 available in the knowledge that you’ll get your money back if he doesn’t run. At a bigger price I also advise taking a chance on Ramillies, Willie Mullins’ grey who was a good winner at Punchestown last month and has always been well thought of at Closutton. Like Journey With Me he’d relish the step up in trip, although both selections could well swerve the race if pre-race comments are to be believed. If neither runs then Ginto looks to be the most likely winner.

Selection – Journey With Me 13/2 (NRNB) & Ramillies 20/1 (NRNB)

3.30 – Gold Cup


A wide open Gold Cup with no real superstars on show. I don’t know what it is but I can’t have Galvin, even though I have to admit that he’s proved to me this season he is a much better horse than I thought he was. He’ll also be staying on at the finish but I’m hoping that A Plus Tard will have put the race to bed by then. Second last year, he looked better than ever when starting his 2021/22 campaign with a 22-length demolition job in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, before just being done on the line by the aforementioned Galvin in the Savills Chase at Christmas. Freshened up since, I think he can turn the tables here. At a much bigger price I’d also advise throwing a few pennies at the old boy Santini, who I can see running into a place. Notoriously hard to get fit, he should be spot on for this after his second to Chantry House in the Cotswold Chase when last seen in January. Now trained by Polly Gundry, he was beaten a neck in the 2020 renewal by Al Boum Photo and has shown signs this season that some of the spark is still there.

Selections – A Plus Tard 7/2 & Santini 50/1

4.10 – Hunters’ Chase


Not a race to get heavily involved in, but I’m with Bob and Co to provide a fairytale Festival winner for David Maxwell. He’s already shown he can beat Billaway, after doing so at Punchestown last year, so why can’t he repeat the dose here?

Selection – Bob and Co 7/1

4.50 – Mares’ Chase

Concertista is my strongest fancy of the final day and can banish the anguish of getting done on the line in the Mares’ Hurdle at last year’s Festival. She’s taken to chasing like a duck to water, winning two Grade 2s comfortably and comes to Cheltenham with Festival figures of 212 from her previous three March visits. Stablemate Elimay provides her biggest challenger but I don’t think she’s been in the same form this season and we learnt little from her stroll in the park to win a listed contest at odds of 2/13 at Naas last month.

Selection – Concertista 7/2

5.30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

The Festival finale has gone to Ireland in three of the last four years and I don’t see that changing this time. As mentioned in my comments on the Coral Cup, Five O’Clock is a horse worth backing if he goes to either that race or this one, while my other main fancy is Gordon Elliott’s Chemical Energy. A race that the trainer targets with some of his better prospects, this has been the aim for the six-year-old all season, a campaign that has seen him win two or his three starts over timber, beating a decent yardstick in Lunar Display when last seen, while defeat at the hands of My Mate Mozzie is by no means a disgrace. A smart bumper horse last season, he looks primed to be in the shake-up here.

Selections – Chemical Energy 8/1 & Five O’Clock 16/1 (NRNB)





Cheltenham Friday & Saturday selections

Friday

1.10 Skatman 7/2

1.45 Bun Doran 14/1

2.20 My Drogo 4/11

2.55 Back on the Lash 15/2

3.30 Gelino Bello 11/8

4.00 Brorson 12/1 & Howdoyalikemenow 10/1 

Saturday

12.30 Magistrato 7/4

1.05 Two Taffs 33/1 & Opposites Attract 8/1

1.40 Third Time Lucki 1/2

2.15 Midnight Shadow 10/1

2.50 Sporting John 10/1

3.25 Unexpected Party 10/3

3.55 Where’s Maud Gone 9/1

Cheltenham Showcase Meeting selections


Friday:
1.55 Camprond
2.30 Third Time Lucki
3.05 Bardenstown Lad
3.40 Annual Invictus
4.15 Guard Your Dreams
4.50 Redford Road
5.25 Go Dante

Saturday:
1.45 Samarrive
2.20 Storm Control
2.55 Tritonic
3.30 Stolen Silver
4.05 Panic Attack
4.40 Does He Know

Aintree Grand National meeting selections

Thursday:
1.45 – Fusil Raffles
2.20 – Adagio
2.50 – Clondaw Castle
3.25 – Buveur D’air
4.05 – Cat Tiger
4.40 – On The Slopes
5.15 – Eileendover

Friday:
1.45 – Mister Coffey
2.20 – Dusart
2.50 – Chantry House
3.25 – Fakir d’oudaries
4.05 – Modus
4.40 – Bravemansgame
5.15 – The Grey Falco & Tomorrow Mystery

Saturday:
1.45 – Tommy Rapper & Tea Clipper
2.25 – Ballyadam
3.00 – Shishkin
3.35 – Thyme Hill
4.15 – Black Op
5.15 (Grand National)- Cloth Cap & Magic of Light & Give Me A Copper
6.20 – Balco Coastal

Cheltenham Festival – Five big price selections

I’ve pinned my colours to the mast with my selections for every race of this year’s Cheltenham Festival here and it has to be said I can’t remember there ever being so many solid looking favourites. However, there is also some value to be had and here are five horses who look to have good claims at bigger prices.

Tuesday – Pym (Ultima Handicap Chase) 16/1

The Ultima is a race where the cream has risen to the top often in recent years with horses carrying 11st 6lbs or more winning four of the last seven renewals. One of that number was Nicky Henderson’s Beware The Bear in 2019 and Seven Barrows have another very good candidate this year in the form of Pym. The mount of Nico de Boinville comprehensively beat leading Ryanair fancy Imperial Aura at Cheltenham in December 2019, staying strongly up the hill, and began this season with victory at Sandown over If The Cap Fits. He wasn’t at his best when last seen in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle in November but has a lot of class and with decent ground to suit can go close on Tuesday.

Wednesday – You Raised Me Up (Coral Cup) 12/1

Good ground is also key to Martin Brassil’s You Raised Me Up and the trainer of 2019 Ballymore hero City Island could have another horse to take him into the Prestbury Park winners’ enclosure with this eight-year-old son of Presenting. He’s won both of his outings this season, albeit five months apart, most recently giving weight and a beating to Henry De Bromhead’s Petibonome last month, a horse that finished just two lengths behind recent Dovecoat winner Cape Gentleman on his previous start. He also showed he can handle the hustle and bustle of a race like the Coral Cup when he finished a close up third in the Ladbrokes Hurdle at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival.

Thursday – The Storyteller (Stayers’ Hurdle) 10/1

The Storyteller has been in the form of his life this season, winning four times and not finishing outside the first two in any of his last seven outings over fences and hurdles. When you also consider the last three of those were Grade 1s it adds further substance to the claims of a horse who also loves Cheltenham – finishing second in last year’s Pertemps after winning the Plate in 2018. The 10-year-old is one of those unsung heroes who always seems to be underestimated and 10/1 he’s tremendous value to make the frame and quite possibly give Paisley Park something to think about.

Thursday – The Glancing Queen (Mares’ Novice Hurdle) 10/1

Willie Mullins has dominated this race since its inception in 2016 but this year could well see a change of the guard as from the evidence we’ve seen so far this season there are no Limini’s, Laurina’s or Concertista’s on their way from Closutton. Indeed the winner may well not even come from Ireland at all with Alan King’s The Glancing Queen looking to have outstanding claims. This is a mare that finished less than seven lengths behind Envoi Allen in the 2019 Festival bumper, just behind Thyme Hill and Abacadabras in fifth and in December lined up against the boys again in the Grade 1 Challow, finishing third behind Bravemansgame. There was no disgrace in coming second to Dan Skelton’s Wilde About Oscar on her last start, in truly filthy conditions at Exeter, and now back in the calmer waters of novice mares company I honestly don’t understand why she isn’t challenging for favouritism. At 10/1 I think she’s one of the value bets of the week.

Friday – Amour De Nuit (Martin Pipe Conditionals Handicap Hurdle) 33/1

Paul Nicholls has twice won the Martin Pipe before, with Salubrious in 2013 and most recently with Ibis du Rheu in 2016. One of his contenders this time around is Amour De Nuit, who can outrun massive odds for the champion trainer. After a year and a half off the track due to injury, the nine-year-old returned with a bang by defying top weight to win at Plumpton on his comeback in November – a race where impressive winner this weekend Langer Dan was back in fifth. He then ran second in a competitive handicap at the Hennessy meeting before finishing fourth in the Lanzarote in January. You can draw a line through his last outing, at Taunton, which clearly came too soon, just 14 days after Kempton, and I think he’s a lively each way chance in one of the most competitive handicaps of the week.

2021 Cheltenham Festival selections

Tuesday

1.20, Supreme: Appreciate It

Wednesday

1.20, Ballymore: Bob Olinger

1.55, Brown Advisory (aka RSA): Monkfish

2.30, Coral Cup: You Raised Me Up e/w

3.05, Champion Chase: Chacon Pour Soi

3.40, Cross Country: Tiger Roll

4.15, Grand Annual: Not That Fuisse e/w

4.50, Bumper: Sir Gerhard

Thursday

1.20, Marsh: Chantry House e/w

1.55, Pertemps: Champagne Platinum e/w

2.30, Ryanair: Melon e/w

3.05, Stayers’ Hurdle: The Storyteller e/w

3.40, Plate: Fils D’oudaries e/w

4.15, Mares’ Novices Hurdle: The Glancing Queen e/w

4.50, Kim Muir: Hold The Note e/w

Friday

1.20, Triumph: Zanahiyr

1.55, County Hurdle: Third Time Lucki e/w

2.30, Albert Bartlett: Barbados Buck’s e/w

3.05, Gold Cup: Champ

3.40, Hunters’ Chase: Red Indian e/w

4.15, Mares’ Chase: Colreevy

4.50, Martin Pipe: Amour De Nuit e/w