The contrarian word on Day 3 at Aintree....

Last Updated: 13.04.2018

Friday, 13th April 2018

The contrarian word on Day 3 at Aintree….

No doubting tomorrow’s feature race. The 2018 edition of the Grand National – 40 runners over 30 intimidating fences and an extended 4m2f trip.

They go off at 5.15 – with the winner taking home a cool £500k from a total prize pot amounting to £1 million....

It promises to be a real slog this year. The rain has found its way into the Aintree turf. The going this morning is described as soft and it is sure to be a bit softer than that in places....

Stamina is going to be an absolute requirement tomorrow afternoon. Any deficiency in that department is going to be ruthlessly exposed. Horses requiring traditional spring-time Aintree ground are sure to be disappointed....

And humping round a big weight isn’t going to be easy either....

  • Three-against-the-field....

I could probably make a strong case for at least a dozen runners in tomorrow’s race. But you can’t back them all. And I’ve whittled it down to three I want to go to war with – going for broke, backing each to win and foregoing the opportunity to play for place money....

Colin Tizzard has only ever had two runners in the Grand National – a stat that surprised me – but THE DUTCHMAN is certainly his best chance yet....

He’s contracted in price over the last few days but at 28s with Betstars and 25s generally, I think he’s still under-estimated. Like Tizzard, my take is that the horse should be in the fist half-dozen in the betting....

He’s tailor-made for the Grand National. He jumps well, he travels sweetly, he’s racing off a nice weight given tomorrow’s conditions – which won’t trouble him at all – and he likes a flat track....

I can forgive his last run at Haydock which came at a time when the Tizard string was under-performing. If he runs like he did the time before in the Peter Marsh – and stays the trip strongly-enough – then he’s going to go close....

I also want to back MILANSBAR at 33s....

He looked an out-and-out Grand National contender when winning the Classic Chase at Warwick – the same race One For Arthur won before winning last season’s Grand National – and followed up with a solid runner-up performance in the Midlands Grand National....

He’s an excellent jumper, he stays for sure, and the ground has come right for him. Bryony Frost takes the ride. Given the season she’s had, it would come as no surprise if she took the leading role in a fairy-tale outcome and became the first female jockey to win the Aintree showpiece....

I toyed with the idea of backing that pair each-way. But I can’t resist going in three-handed for an outright win with old RAZ DE MAREE at 33s....

The last time a 13yo won the race was back in 1923. And the only other time it happened was back in 1894....

But stats are there to be over-turned and this relatively lightly-race veteran proved that the fire still burns bright as recently as January when romping home to win a Welsh Grand National with a career-best performance....

He relishes a slog in the mud. The extreme distance on the prevailing ground is right up his street and this lad just keeps on bashing away at the end of his races.

He will need to hang onto their coat tails early doors and he will need to jump well. If he can do both those things, he might well be going like a train when everything else is sending up the white flag.

  • Back on a flat track....

Earlier on the card in the Betway Handicap Chase at 3.40 Sue Smith’s WAKANDA looks nicely-priced for our purposes at 14s with William Hill....

This tough 9yo has run a couple of nice races since Christmas – getting touched off at Wetherby in the Rowland Meyrick before winning the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster....

He only went up 3lbs for that win and 148 is mark he can be competitive off under the right conditions....

He was disappointing last time out at the Cheltenham Festival. But I don’t think that undulating track plays to this out-and-out galloper’s strengths.

He likes a flat track, soft ground and a 3-mile trip. He gets all that tomorrow afternoon and a double-figure price makes him a decent enough bet....

I’m going to couple him up with Irish-raider PAPER LANTERN also at 14s....

He responded very well to first-time blinkers last time at Fairyhouse – winning over the extended 3-miles on heavy ground in comprehensive fashion....

He won that off a mark of 122 and runs off 133 tomorrow. He’ll need to go on again, but he’s been turned around quickly and is clearly showing all the right signs at home.

There could well be more to come and if the blinkers do the job again, this 9yo could be well under-rated at the price....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Grand National (5.15 @ Aintree)....

In the Betway Handicap Chase (3.40 @ Aintree)....

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

No ATC Extra this afternoon. I’ll be back in your inbox next week....

Win, lose or draw – enjoy the big one this weekend....

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd

P.S

Click here for my contrarian picks for Day 2 – first race starts at 1.45.