ITV Racing tips: Ravenhill Road bids to put National winners Sue Smith and Ryan Mania back in the Aintree winners’ enclosure
Day two of the Grand National meeting, the calm before the storm, but also the day professional jockeys try out the Grand National course itself.
The amateurs led the way on Thursday in the Foxhunters but the Topham Chase will provide a flat out, one lap, charge around the unique track.
It is also a day when those jockeys who are on a big Grand National fancy on Saturday will head out to ride with fingers-crossed, hoping to avoid any mishap that could put them out of the race altogether.
Otherwise the Melling Chase is the feature event for which Politologue, a late scratch from the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, bids to reprise his success of three years ago.
The only winners from this year’s Cheltenham Festival on show will be Chantry House, winner of the Marsh Novices’ Chase, who lines up in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase and County Hurdle winner Belfast Banter.
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.
County Hurdle winner Belfast Banter brought an already busy campaign to a crescendo when winning at 33/1 at Cheltenham and now steps back into graded company.
That means he has a bit more to find as he is now a stone worse off with Third Time Lucki, who finished just over three lengths behind him in sixth.
Ajero is also stepping up from handicap company, seeking his fifth win in a row, but the class horse in the field may be Dusart.
He is a half-brother to Simonsig who has only raced once so far, but in recording a comfortable win at Newbury, it turned out he beat a decent field including subsequent Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory and three other future winners.
Politologue never got the chance to defend his Champion Chase crown after being ruled out at the last minute because of a broken blood vessel.
He is fit to run at Aintree in a race he won three years ago and finished second to Min in 2019. The top rated horse on official figures, the grey sets the standard here, but now aged ten, may have to give way to younger rivals.
The six-year-old Fakir D’oudairies is in pole position to take advantage. He is not only the youngest in the field but brings top form having chased home the impressive Allaho in a lightning quick edition of the Ryanair.
He has never finished outside the first two in completed chases and for that consistency he could get the reward of a big race win.
This is the Grand National-lite but should be no less exciting with a 23 runner, highly competitive field which makes it almost as much as a lottery with no favourites featuring among the last ten winners.
Livelovelaugh looks to have that honour this year for Willie Mullins who won the race two years ago. He was caught late when beaten a neck at Leopardstown last time out and is bound to go well.
Another Irish challenger Visioman has been the subject of an ante-post gamble but the double figure prices on him are long gone so Ravenhill Road may represent better value at each way odds.
He won comfortably at Doncaster on his first run back from wind surgery, for which he has been raised 9lb, and represents a team of trainer Sue Smith and jockey Ryan Mania who know what it takes to win over National fences.
ITV Racing Schedule, Friday 9th April
14:20 Aintree – Top Novices’ Hurdle
14:50 Aintree – Mildmay Novices’ Chase
15:25 Aintree – Marsh Chase
16:05 Aintree – Topham Chase
16:40 Aintree – Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
All odds and markets are correct as of the date of publishing.