The countdown is over. The 2019 Grand National is finally here. But who are you backing for the Aintree showpiece run over two circuits, 30 fences, 4m 2½f and live on ITV from 5:15pm?
There are 40-runners to choose from, including heavy favourite Tiger Roll, who could become the shortest price Grand National winner in 100 years if he can stay the trip for Gordon Elliott.
We’ve had our say on the world’s most famous race and the other six contests throughout the day in our Aintree Festival Racing Tips.
1:45 GASKELLS HANDICAP HURDLE – MIA’S STORM
It’s unusual to have a short-price winner of the Gaskells, so we’re going with Mia’s Storm to make it six wins from six completed starts for Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson.
The nine-year-old is smart and proved in her win at Kempton that she possesses the ability to stay over 3m. Any more rain would be of concern for the daughter of September Storm, who is twice a winner at Listed level.
2:25 MERSEY NOVICES’ HURDLE – BREWIN’UPASTORM
Brewin’upastorm would probably have had a Grade 2 success under his belt had he not fell at the last when ahead of Birchdale in the Classic Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in January.
No matter. Olly Murphy’s charge proved last month that he has the class to challenge at the top level when fourth in the Ballymore. This race isn’t quite as hot, and on a flat track he’s our tip under top jock Richard Johnson.
3:00 MAGHULL NOVICES’ CHASE – LALOR
A chance is taken on Lalor to rediscover the form which briefly made Kayley Woollacott’s charge the favourite for the Arkle at the start of the season. Things haven’t gone to plan since, but there’s evidence he likes it at Aintree.
The seven-year-old was a course and distance winner over hurdles here two years ago. He’ll need to rediscover his early season form to be on the premises this time around, but he’s a game type and we reckon he can score in what is far from a strong renewal.
3:40 RYANAIR STAYERS HURDLE – WHOLESTONE (EACH-WAY)
We love Apple’s Jade. But after disappointing us in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, we can’t trust her to get back to winning ways here. So an outside shout is given to last year’s runner-up Wholestone.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge also won here in November on his seasonal reappearance and wasn’t disgraced when fifth in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. If Daryl Jacob can get him right again, he has every chance of hitting the frame.
4:20 BETWAY HANDICAP CHASE – MISTER MALARKY
Mister Malarky gave a creditable performance to finish fourth in the RSA and can build on that here in a hugely successful novice campaign. Colin Tizzard’s fancy has three wins under his belt over the bigger obstacles.
That includes a Grade 2 success in the Reynoldstown at Ascot in February. He’s dropped back into Handicap Company here and should be given a lovely hold-up ride by Jonjo O’Neill Jr., who claims 3lb.
5:15 GRAND NATIONAL – JURY DUTY
You can’t have just one dart in the Grand National. So before we move on to our main tip in Jury Duty, it’s worth considering the merits of Rathvinden, Vintage Clouds and Ultragold.
The former is with Willie Mullins and following the same prep as 2005 winner Hedgehunter, while Vintage Clouds ran well in the Ultima and finished runner-up in the Welsh and Scottish Nationals. Ultragold loves it at Aintree.
But none of them are for us, because it’s Jury Duty who is our tip to win the 2019 Grand National. One of 11 for Gordon Elliott, the eight-year-old is in tip-top form and comes into this off a huge run at Down Royal last month.
He didn’t relish staying 4m last season, although he looks better prepared this time and jockey Robbie Power has already won the American Grand National aboard him.
We know he jumps soundly, and if he can avoid any trouble around the two Aintree circuits, he has every chance up against the favourite and stablemate Tiger Roll.
6:20 PINSENT MASONS HANDICAP HURDLE – LORD YEATS
It doesn’t all end after the Grand National. There’s still one more race to get involved with. And it’s summer flat horses Lord Yeats who is taken to negotiate the nine hurdles required to win the final race of the Festival.
Thomas Dowson will claim 3lb aboard Jedd O’Keefe’s charge, who has won twice over the smaller obstacles in the winter moves and has an interesting profile now going handicapping.
Click here for the latest Aintree Festival and 2019 Grand National odds.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication