Racing: With the Grand National weights released last week — see my ante-post picks below — all eyes will be on the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park from 2.55 today over a stamina sapping three-and-a-half miles.
The Welsh National form is well-represented here via the first three home, namely Monbeg Dude, Teaforthree and Triggerman.
At the weights the last named could well get his revenge on the front two, especially with lightweight youngster James Best taking a further three pounds off his back.
But there is even better value to be had with Lively Baron trained by Don McCain, who never really going with any purpose at Catterick Bridge last time out.
Before that the eight-year-old was a very game winner at Sandown Park and there should certainly be no problem with his rating.
As long as he gets into a rhythm early on, this dour stayer could make the most of his lightweight in the testing conditions and give Henry Brooke a big race success.
Giles Cross, winner of the race last year, didn’t give his running at Chepstow but is better than that, while the game stayer Well Refreshed adds to a fascinating renewal.
Earlier on Cross Kennon should relish the conditions in the Rendlesham Hurdle at 2.20 and is preferred to Trustan Times and Kentford Grey Lady, while Shotgun Paddy can make the most of the weight he receives from Gevrey Chambertin in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Hurdle at 3.25.
Over at Wincanton, Zarkandar looks set to follow up his Elite Hurdle success by landing the Kingwell Hurdle at 3.35.
Paul Nicholls’s charge should have too much speed for Celestial Halo and company to complete his festival preparations.
The Ascot Betfair Chase at the Berkshire track may go the way of Somersby who seems to revel at this venue and certainly needs further than two miles nowadays.
He should be spot on for this following his run behind Sprinter Sacre and can see off Finian’s Rainbow and Captain Chris.
Now to my three Grand National ante-post bets and with Tidal Bay now a non-runner, have a go on this trio.
Seabass ran well for a long way last year and should be a stronger horse so looks solid at 16/1.
Alfie Sherrin looks as though he has been laid out for this race by his shrewd trainer and 33/1 is at least 10 points too big, while the third string to my bow comes in the form of Tofino Bay, who will love this test and is a standout 125/1 with one bookmaker.
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