13:30 - Aintree Preview & Tips
Highland Lodge is always aimed at this race and only went down a short-head to Vieux Lion Rouge twelve months ago, with both those horses in with a big shout. Preference is for ROGUE ANGEL, who tanked his way through the National back in April and only dropped out of things late on. He goes today off thirteen pounds lower and this drop back in trip is ideal, so he should land the spoils for Mouse Morris. Blaklion took well to the National fences last season and looks a key player off today’s mark, especially on heavy ground.
Finished second in the 2016 National for connections, finishing second on his return at Kempton last time over hurdles. He ran with huge amounts of credit that day but a return to his mark over fences demands more. Each way contender as he loves it here.
Sizing Codelco (IRE) | J: Tom O'Brien T: Colin Tizzard
Highly progressive last season, winning a Grade B Chase at Punchestown in April to cap off a memorable period. He was well beaten in Grade 3 company on his latest start though and his current mark is definitely stiff enough. Looks vulnerable off this mark.
Blaklion | J: Gavin Sheehan T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Won the RSA at the Festival in 2016 and has devolved into a brilliant stayer since. He was fourth in the Grand National two starts ago before returning this season with a great second in the Charlie Hall. He goes well over these fences and will relish the heavy ground, so he's a key player.
Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) | J: Tom Scudamore T: David Pipe
Aimed at the Grand National the last two seasons, winning this race twelve months ago off ten pounds lower. He was twenty lengths down on Blaklion at Wetherby on return and although he'll be happier back at this venue, he looks to have a tough task of reversing those placings. He's a player nonetheless.
As De Mee (FR) | J: Sean Bowen T: Paul Nicholls
Won the Grand Sefton twelve months ago off twelve pounds lower, not disgraced in the face of a tough ask at Sandown last time. His current mark demands a career best and although he has the stamina for this, others are preferred.
The Young Master | J: Mr S. Waley-Cohen T: Neil Mulholland
Capable on his day but is very hard to catch right now, falling in this race twelve months ago when well beaten at the time. He's five pounds lower this time around but it's hard to make a case for him, despite having his ground. Also entered in the London National at Sandown (3.30pm)
Lord Windermere (IRE) | J: Brian Hughes T: J. Culloty, Ireland
2014 Gold Cup winner who has quickly regressed in recent years, seventh in the Grand National when last seen. He's three pounds lower now but the softer ground is a huge negative and the percentage call is to avoid.
Goodtoknow | J: Jamie Moore T: Kerry Lee
Won at Hereford back in February off five pounds lower, but the three starts that followed were disappointing to say the least. He unseated his rider early on at Wincanton on his return and off this mark the percentage call is to avoid.
Vic De Touzaine (FR) | J: Liam Treadwell T: Venetia Williams
Got back on track when winning at Carlisle on his seasonal return, disappointing on his latest start when pulled up in the Badger Ales Trophy. He weakened quickly and it's hard to be confident of his chances with his mark remaining unchanged.
Viva Steve (IRE) | J: J. J. Burke T: Fergal O'Brien
Given the perfect preparation for this race when fourth at Listowel in the Kerry National on his return, arriving here only two pounds higher. Heavy ground is no concern, nor is his stamina so he looks a big each way contender on his first try of the National fences.
Highland Lodge (IRE) | J: Henry Brooke T: James Moffatt
Aimed at this race in recent years, winning it in 2015 and going down narrowly to Vieux Lion Rouge twelve months ago. He arrives here off only a pound higher this time around and he's sure to put up a bold bid once more.
Rogue Angel (IRE) | J: Richie McLernon T: M. F. Morris, Ireland
Tanked his way through the National back in April and led for a very long way, only weakening three out. He's thirteen pounds lower on his return to the National fences and this trip should be ideal, so he looks very tough to beat.
Westerner Point (IRE) | J: Philip Enright T: Eoghan O'Grady, Ireland
Twice a winner last season and returned this campaign with a close second at Clonmel, only beaten a head. That was over hurdles and he now returns to fences, still lightly raced in this sphere. If taking to the National fences he's a each way player.
Straidnahanna (IRE) | J: Sean Quinlan T: Sue Smith
Won off a pound lower at Catterick in January but all his efforts since have been bitterly disappointing, well beaten in the Topham back in April. He continues to drop in the weights but makes limited appeal after such a poor reappearance.
Portrait King (IRE) | J: Conor O'Farrell T: Patrick Griffin, Ireland
Likeable twelve year old who kept on gamely to finish third in the Topham back in April, returning to Aintree off a pound lower. He's hard to catch right these days, but he loves a stamina test and couldn't be ruled out for a place on this surface.
Federici | J: Will Kennedy T: Donald McCain
Returned to form on his latest start when winning at Kelso, raised five pounds by the handicapper. He has experience of these fences from his sixth in last year's Sefton and he's much lower in the weights here. That said, he's none to reliable and others are preferred.