We all know the Irish dominated Cheltenham but will they do the same at Aintree? We’ve taken a look at every Irish runner on the card on Day 1 of the Grand National meeting. Check them out and GET A FREE £20 BET ON DAY 1 OF AINTREE
THE SHUNTER (1.45 Aintree, 7/2)
THE SHUNTER was an impressive winner of a high-class renewal of the Paddy Power Plate over today’s trip and is the sole Irish challenger in the opener at Aintree.
That powerful Cheltenham victory came off a handicap mark of 133 effectively, inclusive of Jordan Gainford’s 7lb claim, and he looked thrown in at the weights on what he had achieved in Ireland.
Today rates a different test against proven graded performers in the likes of Fusil Raffles, Hitman and Eldorado Allen but the handicapper was impressed and gave him an official rating of 153 for his last win. That now rates him 5lb higher than the runner-up in the Paddy Power Plate, Farclas, who he beat 3 lengths in receipt of 13lb and, given that one was value for more after stumbling on the home turn, the handicapper may have overreacted.
He is progressive and despite being only 2lbs off the top-rated in this field it may be folly to take those ratings literally but it would be no surprise to see him in the mix at the business end for all he is short enough at the prices.
Big-Race Verdict: Each-way chance.
TIGER ROLL (2.50 Aintree, 5/1)
TIGER ROLL takes up this engagement instead of the Grand National as a result of his connections failing to get handouts from the handicapper and spitting their dummy out.
It feels as though they are attempting to prove the handicapper wrong by suggesting he shouldn’t be rated this high and the only way to prove that is to race over regulation fences against similarly rated opponents.
This is not a strong race though and he looked better than ever when landing the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham last month but this will be his first run over a regulation fence since pulling up at Clonmel in a Grade 2 in 2017.
It's extremely difficult to get a handle on what he has achieved outside of cross-country rases and the Grand National but there should be no reason as to why he won't run well and is one of the more fascinating horses on today’s card.
Big-Race Verdict: Good chance but your guess is as good as mine as to how he’ll run.
JASON THE MILITANT (3.25 Aintree, 9/2)
JASON THE MILITANT is a young progressive hurdler rated 158 who looked better than ever on his latest outing at Fairyhouse and easily took care of subsequent County Hurdle runner-up, Petit Mouchoir, by 7½ lengths to record an RPR of 160.
He holds some extremely strong form with the likes of Abacadabras and Aspire Tower to suggest he deserves a seat at the top table and this race lacks depth. All of his efforts have come over 2m and this will be the first run over 2m4f but he encounters good ground for the first time since his debut bumper 3rd behind Envoi Allen in which connections said the ground “jarred him up”.
That would be a slight concern but he looks progressive and should benefit from this trip after being slightly outpaced at Down Royal behind Aspire Tower only to stay on strongly at the death.
Big-Race Verdict: Big Chance
ABACADABRAS (3.25 Aintree, 7/2)
ABACADABRAS fell at the third in the Champion Hurdle when a general 10/1 shot but he is yet to match the useful form of his 2020 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle second and there is a slight suspicion that he was flattered in that race.
He does get his favoured good ground for the first time since winning a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park in 2019 and could prove a different proposition here but he hasn’t suggested that a step up in trip would be beneficial to him.
Big-Race Verdict: Overall profile now makes him a risky proposition.
BILLAWAY (4.05 Aintree, 3/1)
BILLAWAY was unfortunate to be headed at the post in the Hunter Chase at Cheltenham last month and the front two were 13 lengths clear of the third.
He has been a model of consistency and has failed to finish outside the first three in all 13 races under rules and his sole attempt at this trip at Down Royal yielded a 6-length victory and an RPR of 147.
Big-Race Verdict: Major player
MOON OVER GERMANY (4.40 Aintree, 10/1)
MOON OVER GERMANY looks to have been targeted at a repeat win in this race for trainer Henry De Bromhead and the booking of Jordan Gainford to claim 7lb means he is only 5lb higher than his 10-length romp in this race in 2019.
An eyecatching prep race at Navan in a Grade 2 contest last month should have put him spot-on for this and the quicker ground shouldn’t pose an issue for all he is yet to record success on ground quicker than soft.
Big-Race Verdict: Huge Chance
JAN MAAT (4.40 Aintree, 22/1)
JAN MAAT has been largely out of form but caught the eye travelling strongly at Leopardstown in the red-hot handicap chase won by A Wave Of The Sea and, if not for a bad error at the third last, he may well have finished much closer on unfavoured soft ground.
The quicker surface here will play to his strengths and Rachael Blackmore back on board for the first time since Galway in July 2020 suggests he is expected to go well.
A 6lb rise from the British handicapper looks harsh on the balance of his form of the last year but he shouldn’t be underestimated in a weaker event here.
Big-Race Verdict: Better to back him each-way than win only
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