Talking Horses: Best bets for day two of the Grand National meeting

Chris Cook
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">It’s ladies’ day at Aintree for day two of the Grand National meeting. </span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters</span>
It’s ladies’ day at Aintree for day two of the Grand National meeting. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Today’s best bets, by Chris Cook

Hmmm, another 3mm has been put on the track at Aintree after racing yesterday and, while that’s not a great deal, I don’t see the case for watering at all. There were four Grade One races there yesterday and all of them took at least 10 seconds longer than standard time, indicating plenty of juice in the ground. There has been sun but temperatures have not been high and are not due to get above 12C before 1pm tomorrow by my forecast.

We don’t have new GoingStick figures for Aintree today, so I can only go by the official going description, which says the Mildmay course is now mostly good to soft, having been mostly good before this latest round of watering. What’s wrong with good ground, especially if it’s tempered by good to soft in places?

From a punter’s perspective, it’s frustrating because you can look for a particular type of horse at this meeting if the ground is dry, knowing that some pace will be beneficial. Watering leads to dead ground, which kills off that angle and makes for less predictable results. By the way, the watering on the Grand National course, has been confined to the line of six fences down to and including Becher’s.

On the subject of unpredictable, Might Bite runs today! Nicky Henderson’s barmy novice chaser, who looked Gold Cup-class at Cheltenham, is not really a betting proposition at 8-13 for the Mildmay at 2.50pm but he’ll win unless disaster strikes. Of course, he may very well be the author of just such a disaster having nearly chucked it away last time.

The 7-2 about God’s Own (3.25) in the Melling Chase is more like it. One could overplay the importance of the mistake he made at the second-last in the Champion Chase last month; it did seem to kill his momentum, but in the end he’s run quite a similar race to the one he ran there last year, in terms of distance beaten and rating achieved.

Last year, he came here and won and I fancy a repeat for this classy sort from the Tom George yard that continues to be among the winners. He’s a proper spring type, with three Grade One wins in April or May of years gone by, and I’d rather have him than Fox Norton, trying a new trip, or Sub Lieutenant, who needs to do a lot better than the other horses from the Ryanair Chase that ran yesterday.

I’m having a cut at the two handicaps on the card and am pretty chuffed with 12-1 about Gold Present (4.05) in the Topham. He’s only a novice but looks a proper chaser, which is not especially surprising in view of his pedigree. For what it’s worth, his dam is a half-sister to Rajdhani Express that won this two years ago.

Gold Present is really finding himself and ran a huge race to be second to Tully East at the Festival. His chance in his previous two runs was compromised by wanting to jump to the left around Kempton. Some will be put off by the fact that the stable jockey rides Henderson’s other one, O O Seven, but I read this as more a case of maintaining the association, since Jerry McGrath rode Gold Present when he fared so well in his last two runs.

In the opening handicap hurdle, Dream Berry (1.40) looks big at 10-1. Like a few Jonjo horses, he was quiet through the early part of the season but won at Rasen in February and ran better than the result suggests when third to Brio Conti at Kempton. That winner looks useful to me but Dream Berry would have got closer with a clear run.

Friday’s tips

Dream Berry 2.20 River Wylde 2.50 Might Bite 3.25 God’s Own 4.05 Gold Present (nap) 4.40 The Worlds End (nb) 5.15 Black Op
Straight Ash 2.30 Endeavour 3.05 My Lucille 3.40 Sufi 4.15 Rainbow Dreamer 4.50 Present Tense 5.25 London Glory
Cruising Bye 2.40 Viserion 3.15 Taws 3.50 Jokers And Rogues 4.25 Master Burbidge 5.00 Whatdoesthefoxsay 5.30 Mitcd
Rey Loopy 6.15 Metronomic 6.45 Golden Raven 7.15 Assertive Agent 7.45 Desert Rain 8.15 Ventura Blues 8.45 Synodic 9.15 Tidal’s Baby

How the Grand National fences are made. “You’re looking for trees which have been given room to grow.”

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