Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
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# Runners and Riders
Mark Your Card: your best bets for Day 3 at Aintree
Declan Smyth advised three winners on yesterday’s card. Go on, have a look at his picks for Grand National day.

IT’S GRAND NATIONAL day and Aintree will be packed to the rafters for what is probably the greatest spectacle in National Hunt racing. However, before the main race of the day there is money to be won.

The Grade 2 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle goes off at 1.45pm, and JP McManus is two-handed with Alland Islands and Colour Squadron. The former has won his three starts, a bumper and two novice hurdles, and has been rated 137 by the handicapper. Colour Squadron started the season well but has disappointed since January and significantly AP McCoy has chosen Alland Islands.

Go All The Way is an interesting runner for Jim Dreaper and Alan and Ann Potts. An expensive purchase, he has yet to live up to his price tag but has been brought along slowly.

Molotov and Super Duty should both run well but the one they all have to beat is SIMONSIG, the impressive winner of the Neptune Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. The furlong less to run here won’t be a problem and he’s the day’s nap.


SPRINTER SACRE has scared off the opposition in the Maghull Novices’ Chase at 2.15pm. Only three oppose him and while anything can happen in jumps racing, Barry Geraghty should have nothing more than a schooling session on Nicky Henderson’s charge.


The Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f at 2.50pm has only six declared but is a much more competitive race than the Novice Chase preceeding it.

Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby steps up in trip here and is reunited with Noel Fehily. The trip shouldn’t be a problem for him as he was only beaten by a short-head by First Lieutenant at Cheltenham last year.

Zarkander, the other Nicholls runner, has Ruby Walsh on board and he’ll be trying to reverse Cheltenham places with his stablemate. His season didn’t start until February and this is only his third start. He had top class form last year and will go close.

Thousand Stars was runner-up to Oscar Whiskey last year but will probably need softer underfoot conditions. That leaves us with OSCAR WHISKEY, winner here last year. Dropping back to probably his best trip here after fading out in the World Hurdle, Nicky Henderson’s charge will be able to utilise his turn of foot and is the selection in this very trappy race.


The white flag goes up for the last time at this year’s meeting at 5.35pm for the Grade 2 Champion Bumper.

Twenty runners have been declared and there are some nice horses among them. Barry Geraghty has chosen My Tent Or Yours from the Henderson runners and he is one from two in bumpers. It would be hard to ignore the stable and his choice is a bit surprising as his stablemate Minellaforfitness created a big impression with an impressive win following his £130,000 purchase from Ireland after winning his only start in a point.

Howaboutnow and Ifyousayso represent Donald McCain with stable jockey Jason Maguire choosing the former. Sir Johnson could be value for a place and Population represents John Ferguson who has a terrific strike rate.

POPULATION swerved Cheltenham and should be nice and fresh for this assignment. With AP McCoy a significant jockey booking, make him the selection.


The Grand National is the trickiest race to pick winners. The class of the field has improved in recent years but there is still an element of luck in-running required.

Synchronised is attempting something that hasn’t been done since Golden Millar won the Gold Cup and Grand National in 1934. It’s a tall order with 11st10lbs on his back. With the ground turning a bit tacky, I would avoid anything carrying in excess of 11st.

The one that appeals to me most is TREACLE who really caught my eye in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas. He then ran a good race to be third behind Quel Esprit in the Hennessy Gold Cup at the same venue in February. He’s been trained specially for the race and is good each-way value given the luck in running.


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