The Aintree Grand National Festival 2024 is well under way and to make sure that you don’t miss out, Karl Hedley has put together a preview of each race on the third and final day.

With a little bit of knowledge and a few choice tips, it’s a great guide to Day Three. Of course, we also know that the Grand National is on day three so for a more in-depth guide to that race, just click here.

TURNERS MERSEY NOVICES HURDLE – 1:30PM

Tip: Brighterdaysahead

Danger: Staffordshire Knot

Best Mate, a three-time Gold Cup champion, clinched victory in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle back in 2000 when it was elevated to Grade 1 status.

The Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham often serves as a reliable indicator for this race.

Past victors grace an illustrious Roll of Honour, boasting names like The West Awake, Morley Street, Cyborgo, Barton, and more recently, Tidal Bay, Peddlers Cross, Spirit Son, Simonsig, Nichols Canyon, and Yorkhill.

Pay heed to formidable (Graded) novice hurdle performances over shorter distances, especially given Gordon Elliott’s consecutive triumphs in the last two editions.

Past Winners

Below are the confirmed runners in the Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

BUGISE SEAGULL – CHARLIE LONGSDON & SEAN BOWEN

Bugise Seagull has displayed progressive form on sharp and flat tracks over hurdles, most recently when securing third place in a small-field Listed event at Huntingdon (2m3f on soft).

Whilst likely to adapt well to Aintree, Bugise Seagull faces a challenge to match the ratings of the competition, especially given that he was beaten at a lower level than this most recently.

ESPRIT DU POTIER – LUCINDA RUSSELL & DEREK FOX

Esprit Du Potier boasts a flawless record over 2m4f, including a recent victory at Newcastle (heavy) against inferior rivals.

While facing predominantly stronger opponents in this outing, Esprit Du Potier may demonstrate further improvement at this extended distance.

He represents a top yard who are in fine form and if the ground really is desperate, he could go well for a long way.

ILE ATLANTIQUE – WILLIE MULLINS & PADDY MULLINS

Ile Atlantique is comfortable on heavy ground and finished a close second in the Lawlor’s Of Naas (over 2m4f) in January before trailing in just behind Jimmy Du Seuil in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle (2m5f) at Cheltenham in a race that was dominated by their yard.

With Grade 1 placed form under his belt, Ile Atlantique is considered one of the leading players here, but he is vulnerable to an improver.

JIMMY DU SEUIL – WILLIE MULLINS & PAUL TOWNEND

Jimmy Du Seuil is fully effective on heavy ground and surprised many as a rank outsider in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

He finished second only to the highly impressive Ballyburn. With potential for continued success, Jimmy Du Seuil remains a strong candidate, pending confirmation of his recent form and as long as this race has not come too soon.

JOSH THE BOSS – NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES & JAMIE NEILD

Josh The Boss claimed victory over the course and distance during the autumn, yet has failed to progress further, most recently falling short in a Class 3 handicap.

With his form falling below the standard required for this level, Josh The Boss faces a challenging task and others are readily preferred.

MAHONS WAY – HENRY DE BROMHEAD & RACHAEL BLACKMORE

Mahon’s Way is suited to soft going but has struggled in Grade 3 contests since his maiden win over 2m3f.

While demonstrating creditable performance with a drop in trip at Naas most recently, the six-year-old faces a significantly tougher challenge in what is his first Grade 1 attempt.

STAFFORDSHIRE KNOT – GORDON ELLIOTT & SAM EWING

Staffordshire Knot boasts wins in both bumpers and hurdles, was sold for 510,000 euros at the Caldwell dispersal sale.

Despite some significant jumping issues that contributed to a defeat at Thurles on debut for his new owner, the six-year-old may regain momentum with the addition of cheek-pieces.

BRIGHTTERDAYSAHEAD – GORDON ELLIOTT & JACK KENNEDY

Brighterdaysahead excels over 2m5f and thrives on heavy ground, earning high praise from her trainer.

Despite losing her unbeaten record with a second-place finish in the Dawn Run at the Cheltenham Festival (2m1f) last month, she emerged as the top mare at the weights, even while carrying a 5lb penalty.

She remains a compelling contender, especially as she prepares for a captivating showdown with her sibling and former stablemate, Caldwell Potter.

Key Trends

  • Baring Bingham winners are 4-4 since 1999 (all 4 were unbeaten over hurdles)
  • 11 of the past 13 winners were top- or second-top rated on official BHA Ratings
  • Horses rated 150+ are 5-9 since 2011
  • 24 of the past 27 winners were aged 5 or 6
  • 20 of the past 26 winners were in the top 2 of the betting
  • 15 of the past 24 winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival (12 of them had recorded a top-4 finish)

Turners Mersey Novices’ Hurdle Tips

A slight preference leans towards BRIGHTERDAYSAHEAD, who is expected to thrive with the return to a longer distance having found the pace a little too quick in her most recent outing at Cheltenham.

While Jimmy Du Seuil claimed second ahead of Ile Atlantique in the Gallagher Novices’ Hurdle, a reversal of form from the latter wouldn’t be unexpected.

Staffordshire Knot also merits consideration as the next best and each way value option.

JRL GROUP LIVERPOOL HURDLE – 3:05PM

Tip: Flooring Porter

Originally hosted at Ascot, the Liverpool Hurdle, renamed in 2004, found its new home at Aintree.

Initially positioned as the inaugural race of the three-day event, it ascended to Grade 1 status in 2010. Notably, Big Buck’s dominated the race, clinching victory for four consecutive years from 2009 to 2012.

The event’s scheduling shifted to Grand National day eleven years ago, witnessing the triumphs of renowned hurdlers like Iris’s Gift and Thistlecrack.

While previously a challenge for Irish contenders, recent years have seen a reversal with Irish-trained horses securing victory in four of the past ten editions, including Sire du Berlais’ impressive back-to-back wins.

Past Winners

Below are confirmed runners for the JRL Liverpool Group Hurdle with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

BOTOX HAS – GARY MOORE & CAOLIN QUINN

Botox Has, despite trailing some competitors in both the Cleeve and Long Walk Hurdles this season, he enters this event fresh.

Absent since his Rendlesham triumph at Haydock eight weeks ago, where he demonstrated much needed improvement.

Gary Moore’s eight-year-old remains a contender and he is worth watching closely.

BUDDY ONE – PAUL JOHN GILLIGAN & JACK GILLIGAN

Buddy One is accustomed to soft going and demonstrated a strong performance at this meeting last year with a commendable second place in a 2m4f handicap hurdle.

Coming off a notable effort in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Buddy One appears poised for another solid showing and should strip a lot fitter now.

CHAMP – NICKY HENDERSON & JONJO O’NEILL JR

Champ is a seasoned veteran but has fallen short of his prime form in his recent outings.

With lacklustre performances in this race in the past, Champ’s chances seem slim unless the introduction of first-time headgear yields a significant impact.

He hasn’t been seen since January and needs to bounce back with a career best effort to get involved.

CRAMBO – FERGAL O’BRIEN & JONATHAN BURKE

Crambo performs well under varying ground conditions, although he has encountered disappointment in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham most recently.

However, with a history of progression and previous victories at top tracks, Crambo remains a contender of considerable interest.

A horse can be forgiven one bad run and he looks to have an each way chance here.

DASHEL DRASHER – JEREMY SCOTT & REX DINGLE

Dashel Drasher was a close second in the 2023 Stayer’s Hurdle at Cheltenham, but has struggled in subsequent races, including a distant sixth-place finish in this contest last year.

Despite all of his ability as a stayer, at the age of 11, Dashel Drasher may not be the wisest choice for this event.

FLOORING PORTER – GAVIN CROMWELL & KEITH DONOGHUE

Flooring Porter, known for his front-running tactics, delivered a strong performance in the Stayers’ Hurdle when taking second place at Cheltenham.

He has been placed in this race for the last two years confirming his admirable traits and consistency.

He looks to hold solid claims and emerges as a serious contender given that he was only beaten three lengths by Teahupoo last time out.

HEWICK – JOHN JOSEPH HANLON & JORDAN GAINFORD

Hewick is an admirable chaser with a recent King George victory but he faces uncertainty in transitioning back to hurdles.

While his form on softer ground also raises doubts, it would be some performance if he were to just turn up and win.

Others have had a more consistent preparation in the build up to this and today may not be his day.

HIDDENVALLEY LAKE – HENRY DE BROMHEAD & RACHAEL BLACKMORE

Hiddenvalley Lake is a lightly raced 7-year-old who displayed promise with a recent victory in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan.

With room for further improvement and a fresher status compared to many of his rivals, the De Bromhead representative emerges as an intriguing contender, especially given his ability to stay the distance.

MONKFISH – WILLIE MULLINS & PAUL TOWNEND

Monkfish was once promising but was side-lined by injury for almost two years, That presents uncertainty regarding his full ability and whether he is ready for this has to be taken on trust.

Despite a weak Grade 2 win in a recent hurdles race, Monkfish’s performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month raises questions.

At least he is back on the track and will likely need the summer over him before he is seen right back to his best.

SIRE DU BERLAIS – GORDON ELLIOTT & MARK WALSH

Sire Du Berlais, excels on softer ground and demonstrated late progress in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in the Stayers’ Hurdle.

That sets the stage for a return to this track where he seeks a third consecutive victory in this very race.

Despite his age, Sire Du Berlais and Mark Walsh command respect as a potential hat-trick contenders.

STRONG LEADER – OLLY MURPHY & SEAN BOWEN

Strong Leader has been absent since a commendable performance in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the year.

He remains untested over an extended 3m distance. With promising Aintree form from the 2022, Strong Leader holds a small each way chance here at best.

Key Trends

  • Stayers’ Hurdle winners are 6-8 since the race became a Grade 1 (2010)
  • 13 of the past 19 winners (since the race was moved to Aintree) had finished 1st or 2nd at the meeting previously
  • 18 of the past 19 winners had already won a Grade 1 or Grade 2 (15 of them had been successful in Grade 1 company)
  • 16 of the past 19 winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival
  • 15 of the past 19 winners returned at 11-2 or shorter

JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle Tips

Gavin Cromwell’s astute decision to return FLOORING PORTER to hurdling proved its merit, with only Teahupoo denying him a third Stayers’ Hurdle triumph at Cheltenham.

The resilient nine-year-old is expected to deliver another formidable performance and may seek redemption against Sire Du Berlais, who relegated him to third place in last year’s race after his surprising 33/1 victory, but could only manage fifth this time around at Prestbury Park.

Buddy One exceeded expectations with a commendable fourth-place finish, while Crambo disappointed with a ninth-place finish; however, the latter has shown his prowess with victories here and in the Long Walk at Ascot this season, warranting consideration.

MAGHULL NOVICES CHASE – 5:00PM

Tip: Found A Fifty

Another novices’ chase boasting a storied history and an illustrious Roll of Honour.

Elevated to Grade 1 status in 1995, the Maghull Chase, like its counterparts, the Melling Chase and the Sefton Chase, takes its name from the surrounding areas near the racecourse.

Its winners include renowned names such as Ask Tom, Direct Route, Flagship Uberalles, Well Chief, Twist Magic, Tidal Bay, Finian’s Rainbow, Sprinter Sacre, Special Tiara, Douvan, Shishkin, and most recently, Jonbon in the previous year.

The race often serves as a reflection of the Arkle Trophy from the Cheltenham Festival, with the past four Arkle winners prior to Edwardsone in 2022 having successfully translated their Cheltenham triumphs into victories here.

Past Winners

Below are the confirmed runners for the Maghull Novices’ Chase with some recent form notes to help point you in the right direction of identifying the winner.

DJELO – VENETIA WILLIAMS & CHARLIE DEUTSCH

Djelo triumphed in his initial three races over fences, notably edging out Master Chewy under similar conditions (soft ground) here and later securing a Grade 2 victory at Ascot (2m3f).

While he has since placed in Grade 1 contests over 2m4f, his recent performances, including a defeat by Nickle Back at Sandown and a less competitive showing at the Cheltenham Festival, suggest a challenging task ahead.

However, the return to a 2m distance and his familiarity with the course offer him a little each-way potential.

ETALON – DAN SKELTON & HARRY SKELTON

Etalon, previously swift over hurdles, has seamlessly transitioned to fences with a flawless 3-3 record, particularly impressive in a recent handicap at Sandown (around 2m on soft ground).

Despite facing tougher competition in this race, his natural jumping ability and adaptability to fast-paced fractions make him a wildcard, albeit with ground to make up against classier types.

FOUND A FIFTY – GORDON ELLIOTT & JACK KENNEDY

Found A Fifty shows promise as a chaser and notably held his own in Grade 1 contests over approximately 2m distances.

His commendable performance in the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, where he finished ahead of several contenders in this field including Matata and Master Chewy.

Il Etait Temps has franked the form of that run and he could be the one to beat.

HERCULE DE SEUIL – WILLIE MULLINS & MARK WALSH

Hercule Du Seuil is a Grade 2 winner over hurdles and has excelled since switching to chasing, securing five consecutive victories.

However he faces a higher calibre of opposition in this race today, and this coupled with a lack of recent race practice, poses a definite challenge.

Although his trainer Willie Mullins’ expertise and the horses’ adaptability to various ground conditions, make him a contender not to be dismissed too easily.

LIBBERTY HUNTER – EVAN WILLIAMS & HARRY COBDEN

Libberty Hunter, while earning his place in this field with notable performances in good handicaps, may rely on the misfortune of market leaders to secure a victory.

Despite improving form, particularly evident in his recent Grand Annual showing at the Cheltenham Festival, he faces a tough task against front-running rivals.

MASTER CHEWY – NIGEL TWOSTON-DAVIES & TOM BELLAMY

Master Chewy, showed improvement since switching to chasing, and particularly impressed with a Grade 2 victory at Kempton.

Unfortunate circumstances in subsequent races, including interference and a fall at Cheltenham, have hindered his progress subsequently, but his rapport with jockey Tom Bellamy keeps him in contention and he cannot be entirely ruled out despite woeful form figures.

MATATA – NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES & SAM TWISTON-DAVIES

Matata, known for his front-running style, favours left-handed tracks and is likely to thrive on the sharp turns of this course.

However, after a fatiguing performance in the Arkle, he faces tough competition from fellow frontrunner Nickle Back and may just sulk if he doesn’t get left alone out in front.

He is the pick of Sam Twiston-Davies and the yard love nothing better than to have winners here.

NICKLE BACK – SARAH HUMPREY & JAMES BEST

Nickle Back is a consistent frontrunner with a flawless record of top-two finishes over fences and poses a formidable challenge despite his one-dimensional style.

Victories in recent Grade 1 contests, particularly over 2m4f at Sandown in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, highlight his prowess.

It could well be that his staying power is pushed to the limit though in this competitive line-up.

QUILIXIOS – HENRY DE BROMHEAD & RACHAEL BLACKMORE

Quilixios is a former Triumph Hurdle winner and returns this season with two minor chase victories in Ireland.

Despite setbacks in longer-distance races and a troubled start in the Arkle at Cheltenham, his potential over fences cannot be overlooked.

He could run a nice race without troubling the main protagonists.

SILENT APPROACH – CON O’KEEFE & DANNY MULLINS

Silent Approach, whilst initially promising over fences, has struggled to maintain form against tougher competition.

With limitations exposed in recent outings, her debut in Grade 1 company presents a significant challenge and she looks fully exposed here.

Key Trends

  • Arkle winners are 4-5 since 2008
  • Henry de Bromhead is 3-7 since 2013
  • 7 of the past 23 winners were trained by Paul Nicholls
  • 19 of the past 26 winners were returned at odds of 7-2 or shorter
  • The past 15 winners were aged 6-8
  • 13 of the past 16 winners had run 8 times or less over hurdles
  • 12 of the past 15 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out

Maghull Novices’ Chase Tips

FOUND A FIFTY has displayed remarkable consistency since transitioning to fences, exclusively competing in Grade 1 contests following a triumphant debut at Down Royal in November.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, the seven-year-old secured victory at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and has finished second only to Willie Mullins’ horses in the English and Irish Arkle, as well as the Drinmore.

Mullins’ Hercule Du Seuil, fresh off a five-timer at Punchestown in October, poses a formidable challenge once again.

Despite a disappointing performance in the Arkle at Cheltenham, Quilixios possesses greater potential, while Nickle Back has excelled since switching to larger obstacles, notably overpowering Djelo in the Scilly Isles.

RANDOX GRAND NATIONAL HANDICAP CHASE (Grade 3) 4PM

This is such a huge race that we’ve dedicated a whole other article to it. Karl Hedley has looked at every single runner in detail and picked out a few that he thinks can run a great race.

For all those details, check out our Top Tippers Guide To The 2024 Grand National – just click the link!

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