Today’s best bets, by Chris Cook
Good morning and welcome to Gigginstown Grand National day! Or is it Gordon Elliott Grand National day? One or the other. Maybe both.
Yes, it’s Easter Monday and therefore time for the Irish Grand National. Gigginstown are running 14 of the 30, Elliott has 10 and so far there are no non-runners, which is one in the eye for anyone who imagined that perhaps one or two declarations were made with half an eye on keeping other horses out of the race.
I’m a bit surprised to see so many runners who took part in the Grand National itself, just nine days ago. Rogue Angel and Roi Des Francs in particular had a hard time at Aintree, setting a strong pace that cost them in the end. If either of them runs well today, it will be a heroic effort.
I think an each-way case can be made for Thunder And Roses at 40-1, he having been taken out of the National at Valentine’s, the ninth fence, when a loose horse impeded him and left his jockey nowhere to go except off. He won this two years ago, from a 10lb lower mark, and has run second on his last three runs at Fairyhouse.
But my preference from a win-only perspective is for Haymount (5.00), a 12-1 shot with a progressive profile who was a staying-on third in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival last time. That race has been a pretty good trial for the Irish National, providing four winners in the past decade.
What haven’t I mentioned yet? Oh yes, he’s trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh. Instinctively, that feels encouraging, although Mullins hasn’t actually ever managed to win an Irish National and, for related reasons, Walsh hasn’t been on the winner for a dozen years. His sister has won it more recently.
Still, this would be an excellent time for Mullins to break his duck, since first place prize money is almost exactly what he needs to close the gap on Elliott in the race to be champion trainer. Elliott is well represented and will be hoping to get some prize money himself but most of his 10 have had a busy winter and the stable is not in the dominant form it hit in mid-March.
In Britain, there’s one heck of a lot of races, though most of it has a fag-end-of-the-jumps-season feel to it. Chepstow’s card is an exception and I like the 9-2 about Magic Dancer (4.15) in a handicap hurdle.
Formerly with Ralph Beckett, for whom he was second in the 2015 Lingfield Derby Trial and showed up well for a long way in the Ces, he’s now with Charlie Longsdon, who is still getting winners at this late stage of term. He’s been running well in his three handicaps over hurdles without quite getting his head in front but this intermediate distance should suit.
On Redcar’s Flat card, Wentworth Falls (3.45) is a worthy 4-1 favourite for a sprint handicap. Newly with Geoff Harker this winter, he flew home to win at the Lincoln meeting and is only 4lb higher, leaving him below the peak rating he reached with Godolphin just six starts ago.
Bahango (12.30) appeals at 3-1 in the Wolverhampton opener. He has a fine record at this track and cheekpieces seem to have helped him in his last two starts. He’s a manageable 5lb higher for his most recent success.
Easter Monday tips
Bahango 1.00 Farook 1.30 Nayyar 2.05 Therthaar 2.40 Oxford Don 3.10 Medahim 3.45 Evanescent
Sierra Oscar 1.20 D’Nailor 1.50 I’ll Be Your Clown 2.20 Hestina 2.55 Sir Note 3.30 Shelford 4.05 Hatcher
Gambol 1.40 Pride Of Parish 2.15 Glimpse Of Gold 2.50 Open Hearted 3.25 Boher Lad 4.00 Man Of Steel 4.35 Sunshade
Flugzeug 2.25 Most Celebrated 3.00 Perfect Timing 3.35 Holbrook Park 4.10 Lou Vert 4.45 Orions Gold 5.20 Song Of The Night
Copper Kay 2.30 Rocknrollrambo 3.05 Dolos 3.40 Red Spinner 4.15 Magic Dancer (nap) 4.50 Pawn Star 5.25 You’re A Lady 5.55 Monrocco
Kinloch Pride 2.35 Armandihan 3.10 Scoones 3.45 Wentworth Falls (nb) 4.20 Roller 4.55 Bop It 5.30 Mr Globetrotter 6.00 Scotch Myst
Galactic Power 2.45 Pickamix 3.20 Bally Lagan 3.55 Seven Nation Army 4.30 Zarib 5.05 Kayla 5.40 Sultans Pride