Day Three Aintree Grand National Festival Preview 2023

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 12:45
Aidan Coleman


J: Aidan Coleman
T: Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 159
Days: 32

The first selection on Grand National day from Aintree comes in the Grade One Maghull Novices' Chase and there is no looking past Jonbon.

A £570,000 purchase and full brother to the top class hurdler/chaser Douvan, Jonbon was an easy 15 length winner of his Irish PTP and subsequently went on to cosily land his sole bumper start on his first run for Nicky Henderson.

He then marked his debut over obstacles at Newbury, on the back of a 244 day break, with a cracking performance, winning by an eased down six length margin in November this year.

He stepped up in grade next time at Ascot in the Grade Two Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle and again was an easy winner and then sent to Haydock on his prep run before the Cheltenham festival he was a determined winner of the Grade Two Supreme Trial.

His only defeat under rules came at the Cheltenham festival when second behind the superstar Constitution Hill, but he showed just how good he was on his final start of last term when landing the first Grade One of his career at Aintree in the Top Novices' Hurdle beating El Fabiolo.

Bought to be a chaser, Henderson gave him his debut over fences at Warwick on his seasonal debut this term and he looked an improved animal once more when bolting up at Warwick seeing off Grade One winner Monmiral and smart hurdler West Cork to win by seven lengths eased down.

Stepped up to Grade One company on his second chase start in December he again bolted up and landed the Henry VIII Novices' Chase from Boothill, who has since won and placed in decent Grade Twos.

Jonbon was last seen in his prep run for this event at Warwick when beating Calico in the Grade Two Novices' Kingmaker Chase.

He got a little scare that day when Calico went for home early but his jumping, speed and staying ability came to the fore and he was a comfy winner in the end.

Running a great race when last seen back in second behind El Fabiolo who is a class above, this is the poorest Grade One of the week and he should be in a different league to these.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 13:25
Jonjo O'Neill Jr

An Tailliur

J: Jonjo O'Neill Jr
T: Jonjo O'Neill
Age: 7
Weight: 11-6
OR: 139
Days: 30

Next up is the Grade Three Village Hotels Handicap Hurdle over 3m 1/2f and An Tailliur for Jonjo O'Neill can run another big race in a competitive handicap.

A brilliant Handicap Hurdle horse for the yard landing five races in a row in 2021 and off the back of breaking that run when unseating his rider, he then went on to win twice more and finish second in another two races.

Climbing up the handicap for his superb form, he made his seasonal appearance this term at Cheltenham's Showcase meeting and finished a very good staying on third behind Shoot First giving bundles of weight away to the winner.

Saved for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival racing off a 3lb higher mark of 139, he ran a cracker to finish a close sixth of 23.

He runs off the same mark here, being largely consistent he can hit the frame again in what looks a very tricky punting event.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 14:00
Harry Cobden

Hermes Allen

J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 150
Days: 31

The second Grade One event of the afternoon on Saturday is the Mersey Novices' Hurdle over 2m4f and we have two selections in the race.

The first is the Paul Nicholls trained Hermes Allen who was running a lovely race in the Ballymore before fading into sixth and we think he can bounce back here.

One of the most expensive PTP horses this season, the French bred gelding cost £350,000 at Cheltenham's December meeting and was given to Paul Nicholls.

Unleashed for the first time over 2m6f in October at Stratford when easily landing the Maiden hurdles event by 27 lengths, he was last seen being sent to Cheltenham on the Friday of the November meeting up into Grade Two company and saw off a very smart field by nine lengths going away.

Sent into the Grade One Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury at the back end of December, he ran out a very easy winner from the Mares Novices' Hurdle winner You Wear It Well.

Last seen in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival he ran well for a long way but was ultimately well beaten.

He is much better than that and can get back to form in this event.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 14:00
Harry Skelton


J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 6
Weight: 11-0
OR: 128
Days: 53

At a much bigger price of 12/1 Kateira for Dan and Harry Skelton looks a very progressive mare that now deserves her chance in this company.

Fifth of 20 in the Grade Two Mares Bumper at this meeting last year behind the smart Ashroe Diamond, this season she has been sent over hurdles and is unbeaten on all three occasions.

Starting her career over timber over 2m at Uttoxeter when taking to hurdles extremely well bolting up on soft ground, she then went up in trip to 2m 4 1/2f and was an even more impressive winner at Huntingdon, going in by 13 lengths to a next time out winner.

Back down to 2m 1/2f at Market Rasen last time out, under a double penalty she made light work of the field to beat a next time out winner by 19 lengths.

She does have to step up massively in this company but getting the allowance and earning her spot in this from her huge length wins so far this season, she is interesting at 20/1.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 14:35
Nico de Boinville

Marie's Rock

J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
Age: 8
Weight: 11-3
OR: 153
Days: 32

Next up is the feature Grade One event of the afternoon on Saturday with the Liverpool Hurdle over 3m 1/2f and we like two horses in this.

The first is the smart mare Marie's Rock who does need to bounce back to form from her poor title defence in the Grade One Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival, but stepping up in trip could bring big improvement.

A horse that took her form to a different level last season when finishing the season with a hat-trick of wins, starting at Warwick in a Listed Mares Hurdle and then off the back of that she improved to win with this Grade One, being smuggled into the race and staying up the hill powerfully.

She rounded off last term with another Grade One victory when seeing off Epatante to land the Mares Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

This season she has only been seen twice, firstly when winning the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle over 2m 4 1/2f at Cheltenham taking on the boys and winning by six lengths.

That set her up perfectly for another crack at the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival but she ran no race at all.

Connections were undecided on whether to run in the Mares or the Stayers and probably made the wrong choice but getting the chance to step her up in trip on Saturday could see her redeem herself.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 14:35
J J Slevin

Home By The Lee

J: J J Slevin
T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 157
Days: 30

At a bigger price in the race and another on a redemption mission from the Cheltenham festival is the Joseph O'Brien trained Home By The Lee.

A surprise package in the Stayers Hurdle division this season has been the Joseph O'Brien trained Home By The Lee who has been massively progressive and currently sees himself unbeaten for the season when finishing his races.

Seen in November at Navan in the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle he took on the likes of Flooring Porter, Bob Olinger and Ashdale Bob and went on to see off the field well in the final stages at big odds.

Still not taken seriously in the Stayers Hurdle betting market, he put that right over Christmas at Leopardstown when taking on similar horses again, this time at three miles in the Grade One Christmas Hurdle and he was even more impressive than before when winning well by three lengths.

Saved until then for the Grade One Stayers Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival he made a mistake half way round and from there his race was done dropping back through the field and although battling all the way to the line in fifth that mistake scuppered his chances.

If jumping better he can get back on track.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 15:15
Jordan Nailor


J: Jordan Nailor
T: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Age: 7
Weight: 10-12
OR: 142
Days: 30

The William Hill Handicap Chase looks a tough race to find a winner but we are playing two against the field at each way prices.

The first is the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Beauport who has taken to fences well this term and off a mark of 142 could still have wiggle room.

A decent hurdler last season winning two decent Handicap hurdles ahead of Riggs by 11 lengths and Boothill by a length, he also managed three good seconds in other valuable handicap events behind Dashel Drasher and Green Book the most noticeable names.

He finished his hurdles career with a good fourth at this meeting last year in the 3m 1/2f Handicap Hurdle behind Party Business.

Sent chasing this term he made an emphatic fences debut at Carlisle in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase when beating Grade One scorer Millers Bank.

Second next time out giving 8lb to Ballygrifincottage, he then went to Cheltenham and again ran a poor race in the Grade Two Dipper Novices' Chase behind winner The Real Whacker who has franked the form.

Last seen when running a fair race in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase back in ninth he has been dropped a 1lb to 142 and can go well here.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 15:15
Luca Morgan

Shakem Up'Arry

J: Luca Morgan
T: Ben Pauling
Age: 9
Weight: 10-10
OR: 140
Days: 30

At a bigger price in the race is the Ben Pauling trained Shakem Up'Arry who has performed to a good standard over fences this term.

Running a cracker on his final run last term at this meeting in the Grade Three Red Rum Chase when third behind The Last Day off 136, this season although a nine year old he looks to still be progressing winning well on debut at Exeter off 2lb lower stepped up in trip to 2m3f.

Upped to 139 at Cheltenham on New Year's Day he ran another big race just fading into fifth in the big Handicap Chase of the afternoon.

Off the same mark when last seen at the Cheltenham festival he finished a good third behind Seddon in the Plate Handicap Chase and only 1lb higher can run another big race.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 16:15
Brian Hayes

Mr Incredible

J: Brian Hayes
T: W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 10-4
OR: 145
Days: 30

The big race of the meeting and the year is the 2023 Grand National and we have picked out three runners that can hopefully hit the frame.

The first is the Willie Mullins trained Mr Incredible that off a mark of 145 could be well in, potentially improving for another step up in trip.

Showing now on two occasions this season that a step up to a trip on soft ground is what he needs, off a mark of 145 he could be well in for the National.

A staying on second of 13 at Warwick in January in the Grade Three Classic Chase on heavy ground, in the Kim Muir having been ridden out the back, he stayed on up the hill out of nowhere to grab third, only being beaten by less than six lengths.

He has raced to a fair level on good to soft ground but if the rain was to fall off his current mark of 145, he could be chucked in and at 14/1 that looks a fair each way price.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 16:15
Paul Townend

Gaillard Du Mesnil

J: Paul Townend
T: W P Mullins
Age: 7
Weight: 11-0
OR: 155
Days: 32

Another runner from the Cheltenham festival that should be all systems go for the Aintree Grand National is the Grade One winner Gaillard Du Mesnil who is a serious stayer.

A Grade One winning novice hurdler/chaser, he has ran superbly in some big races placing in the Ladbrokes Novice Chase at the DRF behind Galopin Des Champs and then finished third again in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase behind L'Homme Presse last year.

He rounded our last term showing his true staying ability when carrying a big weight in the Irish Grand National and he ran well to finish third of the 27 runners.

This term he has been campaigned less with this race always in mind, starting at Fairyhouse in the Drinmore Novice Chase when chasing home Mighty Potter back in second and then at Leopardstown over Christmas he landed the first Grade One of his career over fences in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase.

Sent over 2m5f again at the DRF when last seen before the festival, he finished a staying on third behind Mighty Potter again just lacking pace at the trip.

Patrick Mullins got his way at the Cheltenham Festival stepping him up in trip for the National Hunt Chase over 3m6f and needing every yard he got up close home under a patient ride.

Third in the Irish Grand National last year, a proven stayer again this year and handling both good to soft and soft ground, off 11st he looks a serious player being in his prime at the age of seven.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 16:15
Felix De Giles

Roi Mage

J: Felix De Giles
T: Patrick Griffin
Age: 11
Weight: 10-8
OR: 149
Days: 29

One at a big price that could go close in this year's Aintree Grand National is the 11 year old Roi Mage for trainer Patrick Griffin, who if not going for the Irish National looks weighted to go close off 10st 8lb.

Another horse that would prefer it soft on 15th April having been a decent horse over in France in tricky conditions and since being over in Ireland has showed he enjoys soft ground.

Having first run of the season in November when third over in France in the Listed Grande Steeple-Chase-Cross-Country de Compeigne over 3m3f, finishing less than three lengths behind the winner.

Sent to Tramore on New Year's Day in the Grade Three Savills Chase, he ran a cracker when dropped back to 2m6f, finishing third behind two superb chasers in Minella Indo and Stattler.

Stepped back up in trip when last seen at Down Royal on Friday, he ran a stormer giving 5lb to Longhouse Poet, only to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind him.

The further he goes the better he will be and at 66/1 he looks overpriced in the market, with Longhouse Poet a general 14/1 and Roi Mage is better off at the weights.

Aintree - April 14 2023
Aintree 17:20
Harry Cobden


J: Harry Cobden
T: Paul Nicholls
Age: 5
Weight: 11-6
Days: 26

The final runner of the 2023 Grand National meeting comes in the Grade Two Bumper and Centara for Paul Nicholls has a live chance.

Seen just once to date at Taunton in March he went on to bolt up by five lengths on good to soft ground showing a good turn of foot to put the race to bed.

This race is a minefield with plenty of horses heading into the race off the back of a win and hopefully this horse can improve again.