The weights for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National were announced last night and BetVictor are already betting ¼ odds 5 places on the National ahead of the announcement.
The ground at Musselburgh is described as good to soft ahead of today’s seven-race card, but further showers are forecast and conditions are likely to be testing by post time.
Misfits (2.00) is 2lbs better off with So Satisfied for the two lengths he beat the latter over today’s C&D last month as a result of the runner up winning at Catterick over slightly further. Both look improving young chasers and I expect to see the Lucinda Russell-trained seven-year-old confirm the form in a competitive conditional jockey’s event.
The Novices’ Chase sees the Nicky Henderson-trained Divine Spear (3.00) put his unbeaten chase record on the line and it will be disappointing if he cannot give weight and a beating to his four rivals although both Delegate and Derintoher Yank will have their supporters.
The selection is entered in the JLT Novices’ Chase (33/1 with BetVictor) but it is possible that the Close Brothers’ Novices’ Chase for which he is 10/1 second favourite at BetVictor is a more realistic target although he is currently rated 143 and the ceiling for the handicap is 145.
In the 2m Handicap Hurdle Our Lucas (3.30) put up a career best performance when runner up at Ayr back in December when he came there cantering before failing to get home. The selection should find this easier track in his favour and he has only had two starts since coming across from Ireland.
The Novices’ Handicap Hurdle is perhaps the most interesting race on the card and Nendrum should go close despite finishing runner up from a 7lbs lower mark last time. The vote, however, goes to Canny Style (4.00) who finished third behind a subsequent winner at Sedgefield last time.
The selection would be something to bet on if the rain failed to materialise having won over C&D on her penultimate start albeit on good ground. This mare looks very well handicapped over timber and she has also won here on the level for Kevin Ryan.
At Towcester the two recent winners Grand Introduction and Ceann Sibheal (2.40) can fight out the finish of the 3m Chase with the latter getting the nod. The selection could be called the winner some way out when winning at Uttoxeter in first-time blinkers on Saturday and his 7lb penalty is negated by the claim of his young conditional jockey.
Midnight Glory (3.10) returns from a two-month break for Philip Hobbs but the jury is still out whether she truly gets three miles especially at such a testing track. No such stamina worries for Braventura who made an encouraging reappearance at Leicester on her first start for Tom George but the vote goes to Dark Aster who is making her handicap debut for the yard of Richard Mitford-Slade who have had three winners from just 12 runners so far this term.
The selection finished a staying on third in a Warwick mares’ only event last month (2m 5f) and she promises to be well-served by today’s step up in trip.