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After Cheltenham and the obvious lull that follows, the UK jumps season really only has one further hoorah. That, of course, is the Grand National and the three days of jumping ballyhoo that supports it. This humble scribe has to concede to not being a big fan of the Aintree Festival, with the notable exception of the big race itself. Don't forget, as well as taking advantage of all the Free Grand National Bets that the Bookmakers offer new punters, why not run a Grand National Sweepstake at your place of work or down your local pub. Simply download our Free Grand National Sweepstake Kit to get everyone involved.

My rationale is simple: horses are primed specifically for the Grand National, but very few horses have been targeted for the supporting races. Just look at the headlines in the Racing Post today: "Black Jack Steps Into Last Chance Saloon". This is my point. This race has never been BJK's target this season. He is running here to try to regain some of the lustre which has been tarnished with two successive vanquishings in top company. Frankly, the horse is down on confidence and has it to prove against the best.

If you bet him at around 2/1, then good luck. He might win, but I'd much rather look elsewhere.The other problem at this time of year is that many horse are 'over the top': they've had enough racing and need a break. In short, they're knackered.For this reason, horses can often run real stinkers at Aintree. And finally, Cheltenham form doesn't always translate to Aintree form. This is because of the reasons already outlined but also due to the marked difference in track constitutions.

Cheltenham is a testing track with a stiff uphill finish that finds many out. Aintree is a flatter, more galloping track better suited to long striding big horses.So for these reasons I am strong on the chances of none of the horses mentioned in this post, and I hope you'll forgive me for not having the courage of my convictions til Saturday.2.00 Liverpool HurdleAll six of these contested the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, where Inglis Drever came out on top against a staying on Mighty Man. Blazing Bailey was an honourable third, with Black Jack a faller and Lough Derg and Fire Dragon tailed off.

As mentioned, I'm happy enough to pass over BJK, as he is a classic talking horse for me. I think Blazing Bailey is finished for the year (and he's had an extremely creditable year - I'm looking forward to him challenging for top stayer next season).This leaves a straight fight between the first two at Cheltenham, and I reckon Mighty Man may just reverse the placings this time. Inglis Drever almost always hits a flat spot in his races and needs some pretty fierce encouragement to get the job done. On this less testing track, he might get left behind.So I reckon MM to beat ID, but no bet for this lily-livered scribbler.2.35 Betfair BowlA disappointing field of five for this £85k prize, and the Gold Cup second Exotic Dancer lines up as favourite.

I mentioned when this horse ran at Kempton that I don't believe a speed track favours him, and I stand by that comment here.But how to oppose him? I happily ignore Our Vic, who is as frustrating as he is long in the tooth (and ran in the 'swerve the Gold Cup' race at Cheltenham). I also cross out My Will, who I believe is just not good enough.That leaves me with two. Turpin Green, who is the only horse (aside from Kauto Star) to beat Exotic Dancer this season (albeit in a bizarre three horse race first time out), has a cracking chance today of collecting a big pot.But the one for me is the Evan Williams trained State Of Play. He's a really progressive animal and has been lightly campaigned this season, so no 'over the hill' excuses will be tolerated. He ran a very acceptable sixth in the Gold Cup and will take a lot of passing today. He also won a race over the course and distance last year, so there are no doubts about acting at track or trip. Decent bet material.

3.10 4YO Novices' Hurdle.What can I say? I LOVE KATCHIT. There, I've said it now. If it wasn't so late in the season and the Alan King horses weren't running a tad below expectations, I'd be wading in with the hobnail booties to bet like the man I aspire to be. Alas, it is late in the season and the Alan King horses are running a tad below expectations. Consequently, I will be having an interest bet and riding it home for all I'm worth.

If there's a gamer horse in training, I'm not aware of it. This horse has been underrated all season because he was a mediocre flat performer. But, guess what? We're not in a flat race. And we haven't been in a flat race all jumps season. That's why they're called hurdle races. Katchit is simply a much much much better hurdler than he is flat horse, and a better hurdler than many of the better flat horses he's raced against. His form has been cribbed more times than is warranted, and I really hope he rubs the snobs' and "form experts'" noses in the excrement of their final losing bet against this horse.Rant over, soap box away, I think Katchit will win. But it probably isn't a one horse race, and Triumph Hurdle winners have a poor record here (except Detroit City last season).Dangers for me are Degas Art, the only horse to beat Katchit over hurdles (in a small field race at a Northern track) and Grand Bleu, who the legendary Francois Doumen has brought over from Paris. He doesn't generally pop over for a weekend in Liverpool unless there are pots to plunder and this one will be well forward. But Katchit, please, for me. Did I mention I love this horse?!

3.45 Hahahaha-Hunters ChaseHere we go again... My regular reader (hello again mum!) knows my thoughts on amateur rider races. Best left to amateur bettors, lets say. However, I do like to play in Hunter Chases because the horses are used to being given zero assistance from their pilots and make allowances. They are typically old and slow (the horses not jockeys, though now you mention it...), and could run the race competitively without a single human intervening and making life tricky for them.

So two and three quarter miles over the National fences, and 27 runners. But most of them have no hope of getting round, let alone winning. Lets try this approach:- Cross out any horse who has fallen in the last two seasons or who has fallen in this race before (10 down, including Drombeag and Scots Grey - careless?!)- Cross out anything with an official rating of less than 115 but leave in horses without an official rating.
 
 
 
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