William Hill ambassador Nick Luck gives his top picks for the Grand National, as well as looking over the rest of the card on the final day of Aintree’s Grand National Festival.
5:15: The Grand National 1-2-3-4-5-6
ANY SECOND NOW (18/1) can rise to the Herculean task of winning the Grand National under top weight. His efforts in the last two runnings have been truly heroic, desperately unlucky first time and running into the all-time handicap blot last year. This race is not significantly deeper and he comes into this in excellent form and with a perfect preparation. Ted Walsh may be as accurate a target trainer as there is, and I am expecting another huge performance.
CAPODANNO (16/1) has more risks attached; he is occasionally rather careful at his obstacles, but he is a very classy horse, very lightly raced and has the magic man Danny Mullins aboard. His credentials defy convention, but there are fewer National norms these days. I will make sure he’s in my mix.
GAILLARD DU MESNIL (12/1) and LONGHOUSE POET (16/1) are very easy to make cases for. The former is a genuine Grade One horse with a competitive mark and an abundance of stamina. He jumps very soundly and is Paul Townend’s choice. The latter impressed everybody with the way he travelled last year and there are good reasons to think he can expend his energy more evenly this time around.
DELTA WORK (8/1) also warmed to his task last year, but he’s been much more specifically targeted this time, and won the Cross Country with a stack in hand. Of those at much bigger prices, FORTESCUE (80/1) makes some appeal, particularly if a little more rain falls.
1 Any Second Now
3 Gaillard du Mesnil
4 Longhouse Poet
5 Delta Work
Rest of Saturday’s card
Elsewhere on National Day, I see some mileage in backing CALICO each-way at 12/1 in the opener (1.45pm). It’s admittedly a stretch to believe that he can get the better of his Warwick conqueror Jonbon, but I think he can beat the rest and is priced accordingly. He’s a bit of a character and he may always be the type to run better in a stronger race.
WEST BALBOA must still be open to a stack of improvement in the handicap hurdle (2.25pm). She was very plucky in the Lanzarote, has had a nice pause since and has only gone up 5 pounds, so looks a good bet at 13/2.
DARK RAVEN can give Mullins and Townend more Grade One glory in the Mersey (3.00pm) at 5/1. He ran a good bit better than his finishing position suggested in that red hot Supreme, and will surely be a beneficiary of the step up in trip.
SIRE DU BERLAIS remains overpriced at 9/2 in the Liverpool Hurdle (3.35pm). We know this is an indistinct division this year, but we also know that this is a horse back to his best with an excellent record at this track.
ELDORADO ALLEN, at 15/2, can defy top weight in the William Hill Handicap Chase (4.15pm). This is his gentlest task for quite some time and – crucially – conditions are about spot on for him.
CENTARA is a speculative pick in the bumper (6.20pm) at 11/2. This doesn’t look the strongest edition of this race, and this one made quite a striking and professional debut at Taunton. Paul Nicholls had a horse run very well in the Cheltenham equivalent.