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ITV Racing tips: Cloth Cap looks a good fit for Grand National conundrum

| 09.04.2021

After a two year absence, the Grand National returns to revive the biggest betting day of the year.

There is no greater challenge in jump racing. It not only requires horse and jockey to complete the unique 4m2f, 30 fence course, but it is also consistently one of the most difficult races to find the winner of.

Not for nothing is it often referred to as a lottery, also the name of the race’s first ever winner in 1839, and this year may be no different, if only because there is little recent form to go on with the race not taking place 12 months ago.

Rightly, it will dominate the television coverage but it is also one of five races to be shown live by ITV, three of which are at Grade 1 level.

Future superstar Shishkin makes an appearance in the Maghull Novices’ Chase but is so superior he will be long odds-on to follow up his Arkle victory at Cheltenham.

It all unfolds from 14:00pm on ITV and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing tips.

14:25 – Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

A handful of novices have travelled on from Cheltenham to here, the most noteworthy being Ballyadam who finished second behind runaway winner Appreciate It in the Supreme.

He was a long way behind the winner but travelled easily until a blunder put paid to any chance of winning.

He can’t afford to do that again and may have to give best to one the horses that missed Cheltenham, My Drogo.

Dan Skelton targeted this prize after My Drogo took his unbeaten record over hurdles to three with a comfortable win at Kelso so he will be fresher than most.

15:35 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle

There is no Flooring Porter, winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but all the protagonists who were expected to feature in the festival championship race are here, including Thyme Hill, one of the key absentees.

Paisley Park and Thyme Hill were one all in their racecourse clashes and their Cheltenham meeting was set to be the decider. Instead that will be resolved at Aintree.

Despite finishing third last time, Paisley Park nevertheless produced one of his best efforts, not far off his 2019 race-winning performance.

He has clearly put the heart issue that undermined last year’s challenge behind him and, having a win at Aintree under his belt, will probably be hard to beat.

17:15 Randox Grand National

There will be plenty hoping to dig out a big-priced winner of the nation’s favourite horse race but this could be another year for the favourite.

Cloth Cap is very short in the betting in Grand National terms but for a very good reason. The Ladbrokes Trophy winner has been so expertly campaigned by Jonjo O’Neill that he arrives in the race with a stone in hand.

In other words had he recorded his latest victory at Kelso before the handicap was compiled he would be carrying 11st 5lb, not the 10st 5lb he will shoulder. It is a massive advantage.

That said he still has to jump around and prove he can stay four and a quarter miles, and there are all sorts of things that can go wrong in the National.

With Ladbrokes paying out on the first six places, it is always advisable to have a few outsiders in reserve as plenty will not complete the course.

For that reason there could be each-way value in the likes of Chris’s Dream, who has been competing at the very highest level. He was tenth in last year’s Gold Cup and was pulled up in the Ryanair this year, but has been very consistent over 3m.

Ok Corral produced a hopeless effort at Cheltenham, but he was subsequently found to be lame. It was his first start since he won the Sky Bet Chase, under his jockey Derek O’Connor, for 416 days and he should be given a second chance.

Also deserving recognition is Vieux Lion Rouge who has an incredible record at Aintree. This will be his tenth run over National fences and he has completed every time.

He won the Becher Chase for the second time in December but in four Grand Nationals he has given the impression he has not stayed the distance. He could nevertheless make the first six.

ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 10th April

14:25 Aintree – Mersey Novices’ Hurdle

15:00 Aintree – Maghull Novices’ Chase

15:35 Aintree – Stayers’ Hurdle

16:15 Aintree – Handicap Chase

17:15 Aintree – Grand National

View the latest horse racing odds.

All odds and markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



Jonathan Lees