The Aintree Grand National Festival 2023 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 second day.
With a little bit of knowledge and a few choice tips, it’s a great guide to Day Two.
William Hill Handicap Hurdle (Premier Handicap) 2M 4F
Tip: No Ordinary Joe E/W
No Ordinary Joe can continue the good run of form of Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville.
The seven-year-old son of Getaway made a winning seasonal reappearance at Kempton in a competitive handicap hurdle just after Christmas.
The Betfair Hurdle proved a bit beyond him given that it was a significant rise in class and he fared much better when his sights were lowered at Cheltenham in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle over this same trip.
The yard has won this race twice since 2013 with the likes of Rather Be and Theinval and in a wide open race, he can give a good account.
There are of course any amount of dangers including Dargiannini who comes here on a hat-trick attempt as well as Camprond who ran a great race in the Coral Cup last time.
Poundland Top Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2M 103YDS
Danger: Found A Fifty
Hullnback should be well suited by this track and Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan teamed up to win the finale with Dysart Enos here yesterday.
Punted like there was no tomorrow at Warwick last time, he justified that support with a nine-and-a-half length victory under Jack Hogan. Fully entitled to improve again, he deserves this rise in grade.
A four-pound rise seems lenient from the handicapper and no surprise to see this son of Schiaparelli take full advantage. He seems flexible in relation to the type of surface he races on and with previous experience in big fields he should feel undaunted by the task ahead.
Found A Fifty ran an excellent race in a Grade 2 at Naas behind Corbetts Cross back in February and rates as a live danger as does the undefeated Altobelli who won two novice hurdles on his way here in impressive fashion.
Marsh Chase (Grade 1) – 2M 4F
Tip: Fakir D’Oudaries
Danger: Pic D’Orhy
Fakir D’Oudairies bids to make it a hat-trick of wins in this race and following the success of stablemate Banbridge yesterday, it could well be that the Joseph O’Brien team are about to hit peak form.
First time cheekpieces could well bring further improvement out of the eight-year-old who seems to have been around forever.
He intentionally skipped Cheltenham in order to take his chance here and he has to have every chance of retaining his crown.
Whilst Pic D’Orhy finished seven lengths in front of him at Ascot, the Paul Nicholls inmate pulled up in a novices’ chase at this meeting last season suggesting he was not in love with this track.
Fakir D’Oudairies will not give way lightly here and he will improve now that he is back on familiar territory.
Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) – 2M 5F
Tip: Equus Dancer E/W
Equus Dancer is taken to continue the fantastic record that the Bowens have in this particular race. He sneaks in at the right end of the handicap and warmed up for this nicely with a win at Uttoxeter last time out.
Sean Bowen won this race for his father last year on Mac Tottie and he can make a bold attempt to try and ensure that the trophy remains on their mantelpiece.
He remains very much on the unexposed side and is still open to further improvement.
A stat not in his favour is that the last horse to take this and win their previous start was Clan Royal back in 2003, but given his handler’s record in this race it would be foolish not to think that they could well take it again.
Others that command respect in this field have to include Al Dancer despite a big weight as well as Numitor and Gesskille.
Sefton Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) 3M ½ F
Danger: Stay Away Fay
Maximilian can add to the three career wins that he has picked up this season. He was unbeaten as a bumper horse picking up back to back victories at Carlisle. He progressed to hurdles and carried on right where he left off.
Upped in grade and distance, he made a mockery of his rivals to follow up his winning seasonal reappearance by taking a novices’ event at Bangor by nine-and-a-half lengths.
He disappointed next time out at Sandown when trying a Grade Two race for the first time but it is possible that the step back in trip affected his chances.
Donald McCain did not make the same mistake next time and sent him to contest another Grade Two, this time over three miles at Doncaster.
He ran another perfectly solid race and saw off the attentions of subsequent Cheltenham winner Stay Away Fay. She re-opposes here today on the same terms and he can confirm the form.