Day Two Aintree Grand National Festival Preview 2023

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 12:45
Davy Russell

Gerri Colombe

J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 159
Days: 30

The first selection on the second day of the Aintree Grand National Festival is the Grade One Mildmay Novices' Chase over 3m1f.

Lightly raced in both bumpers and over hurdles over the last two seasons, his whole career has been geared towards getting the best of him over fences and so far, Gordon Elliott has done so.

Making a nice chase debut at Fairyhouse in a Beginners Chase when seeing off Grade Two winning hurdler Bronn and the talented stayer Tenzing for Willie Mullins.

He was then next seen on Boxing Day he saw off Adamantly Chosen, Kilcruit and Authorised Art with ease in the end to land the Grade One Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick.

When next seen at Sandown in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase he made it back to back Grade Ones over fences and eight wins on the bounce including his PTP.

Sent to the Cheltenham festival when last seen in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase and having rallied up the hill he was a very unlucky loser by a short head to The Real Whacker.

3m1f on soft ground if none the worse for his run at Cheltenham he will take the world of beating.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 13:20
Harry Skelton

Playful Saint

J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 8
Weight: 11-3
OR: 135
Days: 34

The second event of the afternoon on Merseyside is the William Hill Handicap Hurdle over 2m4f and with a big field going to post we have picked out two runners at each way prices.

The first is the Dan Skelton trained Playful Saint who has not done a lot wrong this season and getting his preferred soft ground again it should play to his strengths.

Having his first run in three years on stable debut for Skelton when winning on heavy ground at Wetherby over two miles in March.

He was then put away until October of this season when looking to need his first run at Chepstow behind the well handicapped winner Sonigino, but got back to form at Sandown when less than a length behind the extremely smart mare Love Envoi.

Up to a mark of 128 he got back to winning ways on heavy ground again at Leicester and on the same ground last time out at Sandown in the Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle off todays mark he ran on well into third behind Iceo.

The soft ground is his biggest factor on Friday and stepping up in trip should bring more improvement.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 13:20
A P Heskin


J: A P Heskin
T: Alan King
Age: 6
Weight: 11-3
OR: 135
Days: 41

A horse at a bigger price and rapidly dropping down the handicap is the Alan King trained Tritonic who is another horse that won't mind an y cut in the ground.

A smart juvenile hurdler and a very good flat horse winning at Royal Ascot back in the day, this season he has seen his mark over hurdles fall and last time out got back to a bit of form that tells us the fire still burns.

Needing his first run at Cheltenham in the Grade Two Relkeel Hurdle when finishing last of nine, he then went to Newbury in the Grade Three Betfair Hurdle and ran a better race to finish a middle of the road eighth of 16 off 141.

Dropped 4lb to 137 in the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso he was a closer fifth of 16 on what turned out to be soft ground and now down a further 2lb to 135 he can hit the frame at a big price of 25/1.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 13:55
Rachael Blackmore


J: Rachael Blackmore
T: Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 11-7
OR: 149
Days: 31

Another Grade One on Friday is the Top Novices' Hurdle over 2m 1/2f and we have picked out two runners against the field that can run well.

The first is the Henry De Bromhead trained Inthepocket who should be closer to favouritism off the back of what he has done in Grade One races this season.

A winner at Wexford on heavy ground on hurdles debut in October in comfortable fashion, he then made it 2/2 over timber when seeing off Three Card Brag and Absolute Notions in a good Grade Two event over 2m4f at Naas.

Sent to the DRF at Leopardstown in February and he stayed on well behind Il Etait Temps to grab second in the Grade One Irish Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle over two miles.

Last seen in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival he ran on well again to grab fourth late on and the form he has set in big races this season far outweighs the rest of the field and we feel his price of 9/2 is too big.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 13:55
Phillip Enright

No Looking Back

J: Phillip Enright
T: Oliver McKiernan
Age: 5
Weight: 11-7
Days: 33

Another horse underestimated in the Grade One Top Novices' Hurdle market is No Looking Back for trainer Oliver McKiernan who could outrun his odds of 16/1.

A horse who thrives on soft ground, he kicked off this season at Thurles breaking his maiden tag when beating a nice horse Innatendue by close to four lengths.

Sent to Limerick over Christmas when the ground turned heavy and saw only two runners turn up, but he went on to beat the 2/9 shot Brazil comfortably in the Grade Two event.

Sent to Naas last time out in a Grade Three event he was giving 9lb to the odds on winner Irish Point but he finished just over a length behind the winner in what was a massive run.

Holding key form on soft ground he looks overlooked in the market and can run well.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 14:30
Mark Walsh

Fakir D'oudairies

J: Mark Walsh
T: Joseph Patrick O'Brien
Age: 8
Weight: 11-10
OR: 163
Days: 55

The feature race of the afternoon is the Grade One Marsh Chase over 2m4f and looking to land a hat-trick in the race is the Joseph O'Brien trained Fakir D'oudairies is the stand out selection.

Fakir D’oudairies has looked like a horse that is slightly on the decline but we think this event could be his big win of the season and after the break he has been given, missing The Cheltenham Festival will bring him back to somewhere near his best, in a race he has made his own over the last two years.

Second on seasonal return at Punchestown behind Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs in the Grade One John Durkan Memorial Chase, He then went to Thurles and landed the Grade Two Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase, getting slightly lucky when Haut En Couleurs fell at the last and he stayed on to take the race.

Sent to Ascot when last seen looking for back to back wins in the Grade One Ascot Chase he was beaten a long way out finishing a tame third behind Shishkin and Pic D’Orhy.

However, like previously mentioned the thing with this horse is that his whole season would have been moulded around this race, he has put up the best performances of his career when winning this race the last two years and with this years field lacking real depth we think he can bounce back to form to win this event.

The Aintree factor, the form he holds throughout his career and coming here having missed The Cheltenham Festival all give him some big positives seeking a hat-trick in this race.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 15:05
Henry Brooke


J: Henry Brooke
T: Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero
Age: 7
Weight: 10-11
OR: 140
Days: 106

Over the national fences on Friday sees the Grade Three Topham Handicap Chase over 2m5f and we have picked put two horses who will enjoy the soft conditions.

The first selection is the Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero trained Gesskille who is tried and tested over this course and still does not seem to be out of the handicap.

Making his debut for the yard in a Hunter Chase at Ludlow in March this year when beating a decent horse, he then went to Kempton and made it back to back wins.

Sent to France in May up to 2m 6 1/2f he was a narrow second to a next time out winner and then backed that up himself next time out when making it three wins from four for the yard at Auteuil again in a Listed Chase.

The key to this horse is soft ground so anymore rain at Aintree on Saturday would be welcomed for him.

Off a mark of 133 when next seen he ran a superb race to finish a nose second in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase over 2m5f at the track and only up 4lbs, having took to the National fences well, he went into the Becher Chase with a live chance and finished a superb second behind the well handicapped Ashtown Lad.

Up to a mark of 141 he had a prep for this at Doncaster when it looked like a run that was a prep and having been dropped 1lb for that to a mark of 140, he has a live chance here.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 15:05
Keith Donoghue

Final Orders

J: Keith Donoghue
T: Gavin Cromwell
Age: 7
Weight: 11-7
OR: 150
Days: 30

At a slightly bigger price for the Irish is the Gavin Cromwell trained Final Orders who has been a highly consistent performer this term and stepping back up in trip can make his presence felt.

A winner of six of his last eight races spanning back to August 2022, he has been seen being versatile over different trips winning from 2m to 3m.

Rising from a mark of 96 to now a mark of 150 he has been constantly progressive revelling in soft conditions and winning some good handicaps.

Having bolted up three starts ago over Christmas at Leopardstown over 2m1f by four lengths, he then went to the DRF over the same C&D off 9lb higher and he stayed on well to grab the valuable Leopardstown Handicap.

Up to a mark of 150 for the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham festival he stayed on well again into fifth in torrential conditions.

Stepping back up in trip is no harm for this horse having won over further and if getting in a good rhythm can go close.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 15:40
Davy Russell

Absolute Notions

J: Davy Russell
T: Gordon Elliott
Age: 5
Weight: 11-8
OR: 143
Days: 69

The final Grade One of the afternoon on Friday is the Sefton Novices' Hurdle and we are siding with the horse who skipped the Cheltenham festival and Absolute Notions stepping up in trip can bring more improvement.

A winner on his first start at Punchestown this term when comfortably landing a bumper by close to seven lengths over 2m 1/2f.

Stepped over hurdles straight away up in trip to 2m 3 1/2f he made it back to back wins seeing off next time winner Deep Cave easily, pulling away after the last.

Not really running his true race next time out but still finishing a good third at Naas behind Inthepocket and Three card Brag in a good Grade Two event.

Looking to need further in trip he was last seen at the DRF when staying on impressively to finish a close second behind the talented Good Land in the Grade One Nathaniel Lacy Novice Hurdle over 2m6f.

Showing again he wants even further he gets that chance in this event and having missed the Cheltenham festival and been kept fresh for this he holds every chance if the ground isn't too much of a bog.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 16:15
Lorcan Murtagh


J: Lorcan Murtagh
T: Olly Murphy
Age: 7
Weight: 11-0
OR: 124
Days: 107

The final event on the second day of the meeting is the 2m 1/2f Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle and we have two at big prices that can run into a place.

The first is what looks the third string for the inform Olly Murphy and Washington now on a mark of 124 could have a few lbs in hand on soft ground.

A good third of 16 in this race last season off 3lbs lower this term it looks as though his season has been geared towards another crack at this race.

Fifth of 10 on seasonal debut off 128 at Ascot behind run away winner Highway One O Two, with the second since franking the form, he then went into a valuable handicap at Newbury on good ground and was ultimately pulled up.

Back to form last time out when second behind the smart Playful Saint on heavy ground he will be hoping for similar ground and off 2lb lower than that run he can go close at 20/1.

Aintree - April 13 2023
Aintree 16:15
Charlie Maggs


J: Charlie Maggs
T: Donald McCain
Age: 5
Weight: 11-1
OR: 125
Days: 41

At a bigger price of 28/1 and what looks the fourth string for Donald McCain is Collingham who has 10lb claimer Charlie Maggs on board again.

A very consistent type who has only finished outside the top three in one of his last six events, soft ground on Friday will play to his strengths.

A winner on seasonal debut in October at Wetherby in a handicap off 118, he then went to Ayr a few weeks later off 1lb higher and was a close second to Ginger Mail giving weight away.

Sent to Musselburgh off 3lb higher up in trip to 2m4f he did not take to the step up in distance finishing third of four runners, but back at two miles next time out at the same track got back to form with a close second behind Nayati for the same trainer.

A month later over the same C&D off the same mark of 121 he got back to winning ways in good fashion, but did unseat his rider when last seen at Kelso in the Morebattle.

Running off 125 here he has place claims off what he has done this season and softer the better for this horse.