Day two of the Grand National Festival kicks off with an ultra competitive handicap with many in with chances. Langer Dan is a very short price favourite considering but was sent off as 7/2 favourite in a similar event at Cheltenham before being brought down. Of course he can win but I think you need your head examining if you’re taking 3/1-11/4 here. A mad price. I do like Cobblers Dream but he’s just too short too at 6/1.The one I really like, but there has been money since I started looking at the cards on Wednesday, is Speech Bubble. She gets in at the bottom on handicap debut but has already shown a good level of form in Mares races so far including an excellent second last time out in a Grade 2 event behind Love Envoi who went on to win the Dawn Run at Cheltenham. Nina The Terrier who was well beaten then followed up with a close second in a Grade 2 next time. Her form is solid and it’s hard not to think she’s a fair bit better than 130. The other one I am going to back is Balco Coastal who has a similar profile to Speech Bubble and was second in a Cheltenham Grade 2 although it wasn’t the strongest race with Hillcrest unseating but the winner did go close to following up in a Grade 2 next time. He was very disappointing last time being sent off at Sandown at 9/2 in the Imperial Cup but was pulled up but the ground might have been against him. It was described as Soft but it was tough going. I’m willing to give him a chance here, especially at the odds. Henderson has a good record in this handicap and he can go close.
We then have three races worth watching but not ones I want to get involved with from a betting point of view. The Mildmay in particular is a cracking renewal and I look forward to that.
Then we have a race I love, over the National fences – the Topham. Like the Foxhunters on Thursday I am going to back two in the race as they are decent prices and I don’t want to leave any out. The first one is Francky Du Berlais who is down to an appealing mark, the trip is absolutely fine and he has a nice sighter over these fences in the Grand Sefton earlier in the season so he looks like he’s been aimed for a proper crack at this for a trainer who has a terrific record and has won the race many times. He’s a huge price and I do fancy him quite strongly. The next one is Cobolobo at the bottom of the handicap. He’s dropping back in trip here so I’m hoping they will ride him more prominently than when he ran a credible 8th in the Becher Chase. Again that experience of the fences will stand him in good stead and I think the Topham will suit him and he has a chance at a big price.
The Sefton Novices’ Hurdle is a tricky puzzle and Martin Pipe winner Banbridge is the favourite and he obviously has excellent claims here. Gelino Bello is also highly respected and Crystal Glory and Green Book were on the shortlist. However at the prices I am going to chance Fair Frontieres who has plenty of stamina and will look to burn them off from the front. He won a maiden at Worcester just shy of the 3m trip and was then sent off at 5/2 second fav in a Grade 2 at Sandown next time but something was clearly amiss that day as he weakened quickly. He was given a break and won his next two beating Earth Lord (won easily since) and Earth Business which wasn’t a strong race but he won comfortably giving him nearly a stone in weight. He looks like a classy stayer in the making and I am hoping he can give a good account of himself from the front.