Day One Aintree Grand National Meeting Preview 2022

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 12:45
Rachael Blackmore

Gin On Lime

J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 10-11
OR: 148
Days: 146

The race that kickstarts the Aintree Grand National meeting on Thursday is the Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase over 2m4f where a field of seven head to post.

The horse we are siding with is the mare Gin On Lime, with this race to us being on of the worst Grade One's seen in a while.

Henry De Bromhead's six year old is a very consistent mare winning five of her last six races and although her having lesser form than some of these, she has the benefit of freshness going into the event.

Two starts ago she put up arguably her best performance of the season when winning at Tipperary in a decent Grade Three event over 2m4f.

She was last seen in November facing My Drogo at Cheltenham in a two runner race that had the thrills and spills of a Grand National.

The pair came to the second last neck and neck and with My Drogo unseating, Gin On Lime also did the same but Rachael Blackmore stayed on the horse and won the race easily.

She goes well fresh and in a race that lacks class she could be the answer.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 13:20
Davy Russell

Pied Piper

J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 4
Weight: 11-0
OR: 145
Days: 20

Another Grade One follows and it sees the 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle and nine decent youngsters are set to run but we can't get past the favourite Pied Piper.

Having been a fair horse on the flat for John Gosden, really coming across as a mud loving animal producing his best work in tricky conditions, he also did the same on stable/hurdles debut at Punchestown for Gordon Elliott.

Taking on the smart type Vauban for Willie Mullins, he handled the heavy ground well to see him off by a length.

Facing a different test at Cheltenham in January when running in a Grade Two event on good ground, he went on to shock many by bolting up by nine lengths, hard held under a great ride by Davy Russell.

Last seen back at Cheltenham for the festival he finished a narrow third behind stablemate Fil Dor and winner Vauban who reversed the form.

He ran a cracker in behind those horses and with that being the best form on offer, he should go close once more.

Brazil does look the danger having won the Boodles in gritty fashion but we are sticking with Pied Piper who is rated 1lb higher officially.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 13:55
Harry Skelton


J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 164
Days: 20

Arguably the race of the day on Thursday is the Grade One Betway Bowl Chase over 3m1f and Protektorat for Dan Skelton holds leading claims.

The seven year old has shown himself to be a very smart staying chaser this term having been a very accomplished hurdler and novice chaser in previous seasons, but stepping in distance this term has seemingly taken him to a new level.

Being seen three times this term, he made his seasonal debut at Cheltenham in the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November, staying on well into second behind the well handicapped Midnight Shadow.

Sent to Aintree next time out he blitzed a field by 25 lengths in the Grade Two Many Clouds Chase over this races course and distance.

Primed for a run in this year's Gold Cup, the gelding finished a valiant third, staying on well to grab a place ahead of Galvin, however being no match for A Plus Tard and Minella Indo.

What makes Protektorat very likeable in this race is his record at Aintree, not just winning over C&D this year but also winning at this meeting last year in the Grade One Manifesto Novices' Chase.

2/2 the track is something to take seriously and looks a solid bet.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 14:30
Jack Kennedy


J: Jack Kennedy
T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 5
Weight: 11-7
OR: 159
Days: 23

The final Grade One event on Thursday afternoon is the Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f and Zanahiyr for Gordon looks to have been crying out for this trip all season.

A very smart juvenile hurdler, winning at Grade Three and Grade Two level emphatically, he then slightly underperformed in the Grade One Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival and then had to settle for second at Punchestown in another Grade One for, four year olds.

This season he was kept hurdling and started off at Down Royal in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle where he won very easily and that set him up for the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, where he was no match for race specialist Sharjah.

Sent to Leopardstown at Christmas he was second again to Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle this time only by a neck and then back at he track in February he played bridesmaid again, when chasing home the unbeaten mare Honeysuckle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Zanahiyr was last seen in the Champion Hurdle at the the Cheltenham Hurdle finishing a good third behind Honeysuckle and Epatante, giving a career best run to not finish far behind them at all, giving them both 7lb.

This gelding has been crying out for a step up in trip all season and gets that in this race and with his closes rival Epatante having big stamina doubts, we think he can reverse the form.

Overall it is another Grade One that lacks depth and he should take all the beating.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 15:05
Mr William Biddick

Porlock Bay

J: Mr William Biddick
T: Will Biddick
Age: 11
Weight: 12-0
OR: 137
Days: 55

A tricky event on the first day of the Grand National meeting is the Foxhunters Open Hunters Chase over 2m5f and we have two runners at each way prices that could go well.

The first is the Cheltenham festival winner Porlock Bay who if getting back to the form of his run at last year's festival when just edging out Billaway, who franked the form this year when winning the same race, could be tough to beat.

Seen just twice since his win at Prestbury Park, he was second in December last year in a P2P, before heading into a Hunters' Chase at Bangor where he was another good second.

Having skipped his title defence at the Cheltenham festival he may have been primed for this and should go well if fully tuned up.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 15:05
Mr Tristan Durrell


J: Mr Tristan Durrell
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 11
Weight: 12-0
OR: 131
Days: 37

At a bigger price in the race is the Dan Skelton trained Marracudja who we are taking a chance on but since being moved to Hunter Chases has looked back to his former self.

Winning on seasonal debut at Fontwell on heavy ground, he then went off the boil, massively losing his way in tame Handicap chases.

At the start of March after a run of four poor efforts, he was switched to a Hunter Chase at Leciester where he won as easy as he liked.

In his prime this horse is far better than most in the field and if the switch to these sorts of races has got in back to that form he could be a big player at 14/1.

Another bonus for this horse is that both trainer Dan Skelton and Jockey Tristan Durrell are both in flying form running at 28% and 38% strike rates respectably.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 15:40
Sam Twiston-Davies

Before Midnight

J: Sam Twiston-Davies
T: Sam Thomas
Age: 9
Weight: 11-7
OR: 148
Days: 69

The penultimate race of the afternoon on Thursday is the Grade Three Red Rum Handicap Chase over two miles and again we have two selections.

The first is the Sam Thomas trained Before Midnight and he was first seen over the larger obstacles last April when winning a Class 2 Handicap at Chepstow in taking style.

Seen again in October this term, he made it back to back wins at Cheltenham, beating last year's winner of this race Sky Pirate by six lengths.

Up to a mark of 144 he landed the hat-trick at Ascot in a very competitive event, which saw his handicap mark go up to 148.

Seen twice more since, he ran credibly in his first Grade Two event, although finishing last of the four he was only 17 lengths behind the superstar Shishkin.

Having his last prep run before this event he was a length second to the smart Funambule Sivola, who has since franked the form, winning the Grade Two Game Spirit Chase and finishing second in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham festival

That form reads extremely well and having missed the Grand Annual and now heads for this he has to have leading credentials.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 15:40
Charlie Deutsch

Frero Banbou

J: Charlie Deutsch
T: Venetia Williams
Age: 7
Weight: 11-1
OR: 142
Days: 22

At a slightly bigger price is another nice each way player in Frero Banbou for Venetia Williams who has been extremely consistent this term.

The seven year old gelding has been a good horse for the thriving yard, constantly knocking on the door in similar fielded races that this.

Having won in March last year at Sandown by nine lengths off a mark of 124, he then went to Aintree at this meeting and was a superb fourth of 18 in this race.

Put away for the rest of that season he returned at Ascot this term in a good Listed Handicap Chase where he again he was a valiant fourth.

Since then he has been seen twice at Newbury and Cheltenham over two miles and on both occasions has finished third behind some well handicapped horses.

Looking to break that mould he finally got off the mark for the season in heavy ground at Lingfield's Winter Million meeting, winning a decent Handicap Chase.

Since then he has been on an upward curve, finishing a good second off a mark of 140 at Sandown behind a horse who has won that race for the last few years and then last time out he was a strong third of 16 at the Cheltenham festival in the Grand Annual Handicap Chase.

Only up 1lb for that run he goes here off 142 and if getting a bit of rain can't be ruled out.

Aintree - April 06 2022
Aintree 16:15
Rachael Blackmore

Lady Excalibur

J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Alan Jones
Age: 5
Weight: 11-0
OR: 114
Days: 165

The final event at Aintree on Thursday is the Grade Two Mares Bumper over 2m1f and at a price Lady Excalibur for trainer Alan Johns takes the eye.

The five year old has been seen three times not finishing outside the top two on all three occasions, and in two of her races she has gone onto win.

This daughter of Camelot cost €100,000 as a yearling and showed her pedigree on debut when winning comfortably at Stratford in July of last year.

Contesting a better race under a penalty at Uttoxeter she was a narrow second, but bounced back to winning ways next time out over the same course and distance of this race at Aintree.

What makes her very appealing at the prices is Rachael Blackmore taking the ride for the first time and the yard really do like her chances.