On Thursday begins one of the most anticipated three days of the National Hunt season, the Aintree Festival. With three days of top-class action that signal the end of this year’s National Hunt season, plenty of this campaign’s stars will be on display trying to cap off their season with a victory. We also have the Grand National, which is a race for which the nation stands still and watches. With Aintree being such a unique course, there are plenty of jockeys that thrive at this venue and we’ve picked out five who have statistics on their side. Our Aintree Festival Tips and Previews are online to view now, including the big one, our 2018 Grand National tips!
It’s of little surprise that once we obviously omit AP McCoy from the statistics, the Champion Jockey Richard Johnson is the man who has the most wins at Aintree in the past five seasons. He doesn’t have the best strike-rate on this list, but he’s ridden almost double the horses of the next jockey to feature on this list. Regardless, with a -£6.60 loss to a level stake, it doesn’t perhaps statistically pay to follow Johnson. That said, the one thing you’ll always get from him is a ride where he’s given his all and he’s more than likely to pop up during the three days.
With the arsenal of JP McManus behind him, Barry Geraghty has thrived at Aintree in recent seasons and can boast a £12.28 profit to level stakes on his rides in the past five seasons. Winner of the 2003 National on Monty’s Pass, Geraghty has another live chance in this year’s contest with the Gold Cup third Anibale Fly. With plenty of rides in both the graded contests and handicaps, it would be quite the surprise was Barry not to end up on the scoresheet at some stage during the three days.
It’s been a sharp rise over the years for Nicky Henderson’s stable jockey Nico De Boinville, who has improved to no end since gaining that position. The obvious one for De Boinville this week is Might Bite in the Aintree Bowl, with the shorter trip and better ground sure to suit him much better than his previous Gold Cup assignment. De Boinville will have plenty of opportunities to get on the scoresheet throughout the week with a huge amount of ammunition and he’s proven himself as extremely effective at this track. With a level stakes profit of £13.11, you can’t go far wrong following him into battle at the Aintree Festival.
Although statistically not profitable to level stakes, the veteran Noel Fehily always brings his A-Game the big meetings and it’s unlikely this year will be any different. It is perhaps interesting to note though that Fehily is yet to finish inside the top 3 of the Grand National in fifteen attempts, this year tasked with steering home top weight Minella Rocco to success. Nevertheless, he’ll have plenty of chances throughout the week to get on the scoreboard, including for Harry Fry and plenty from JP McManus.
With Gigginstown entering several of their horses into the big races including Balko Des Flos (Melling Chase), it could be a big week for Davy Russell, who has ridden most of the entered horses previously. We all know how dangerous Davy is after another stellar Cheltenham Festival and it would be no surprise were he to make his mark during the three days. Statistically, it’s been positive to follow Paddy Brennan at Aintree in recent seasons and he’ll have a book of top rides for Colin Tizzard once again, which should give him plenty of opportunities to get competitive.