Nicholls preparing a strong hand as Aintree betting approaches

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He may have missed out on a Gold Cup victory and the top trainer title at Cheltenham, but to saddle second, third and fourth home in the Gold Cup proves Paul Nicholls is still the top trainer in Britain.

In the aftermath of the Cheltenham Festival Nicholls has declared his intentions for his leading hopes and it is good news for punters looking to explore the Grand National betting.

After running on so staunchly for fourth in the Gold Cup, the Sir Alex Ferguson-owned What A Friend will head to the Grand National should the ground be the right side of good and the eight-year-old is 16/1 in the betting, although there is a chance he will run in the Totesport Bowl Chase.

Denman enhanced his reputation as The Tank when finishing second in the Gold Cup and after coming out of the race well, there’s a chance Denman will head to the Grand National meeting.

Big Buck’s cemented his position as the nation’s favourite hurdler when justifying his 10/11 favouritism in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and as is the trend in past seasons, the eight-year-old will head to Aintree for the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle on the Thursday of the Grand National meeting.

1/1 to win the World Hurdle for a fourth consecutive time in 2012, Big Buck’s will go off the short favourite to win the Liverpool Hurdle for a third time and stretch his unbeaten run to 12 races.

After disappointing in the Champion Chase, Master Minded will head to Aintree for the Grade 1 Melling Chase and will be joined by his stable mate Rock On Ruby who finished second in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.

Triumph hurdle winner Zarkander will go to Aintree along with Brampour and Nicholls believes Zarkander is a Champion Hurdle horse and Ladbrokes make him 10/1 to win next year’s Champion Hurdle.

Cheltenham may be over but there is plenty of National Hunt betting to look forward to as Aintree draws ever closer.

A £20 stake on What A Friend winning the Grand National would return £340. New customers can sign up here to claim up to £60 in free bets.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.