Grand National Meeting Day 1

Today is a strange one for me, I find myself in the position of backing McCoy horses. After years of slating his rides for offering no value, the first day of his final Grand National meeting has me backing three of his mounts in singles and a treble, just for good measure.

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HARGAM, I was expecting to see this horse priced up at around the 1.44 (4/9) mark, he’s still an odds-on chance but at the current prices I consider him value.

He finished a good third in The Triumph Hurdle, on unsuitable ground and was a long way clear of Devilment back in fourth. I don’t see the form of that race being turned around here and if anything I can see Hargam beating the rivals from that day by further.

It’s a shame that they sent Beltor to the festival, instead of bringing home to this as it only leaves one horse to ‘fear’.

Bristol De Mai missed Cheltenham, but a lot of that may have been down to the owner already having both Peace & Co and Top Notch for The Triumph as opposed to keeping him fresh for this.

He’s a nice horse, and I’m prepared to put a line through his last run at Sandown due to the ground. My feeling however is that he’s just not as good as Hargam. I don’t think he would have made the frame at The Festival and for that reason I don’t want to be backing him here.

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Back Hargam at 1.73 – William Hill[/symple_box]

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Silvinaco Conti tried and failed again in his bid to win The Gold Cup. Yes, we can say Cheltenham isn’t his track, but that isn’t the only reason. His best performances aren’t visually impressive because of a flat track, but because he’s beating two and a half mile horses over three miles.

Champagne Fever, Cue Card and Dynaste are all top horses in their own right, but none of them can stay a truly run three miles grade one race.

When Silviniaco Conti has come up against proper staying horses, he hasn’t been able to outlast them.

That brings me to HOLYWELL, he finished fourth in The Gold Cup on unsuitable ground and has everything in his favour today. My biggest fear for him is having McCoy in the saddle. I see no reason for Silvinaco Conti to reverse the Gold Cup formline, just because it’s a flat track. My feeling is that Silvinaco Conti will try to steal the race from the front like he did in The King George, however he is up against a proper stayer here. I expect to see Holywell stalking Silvinaco Conti throughout the whole race, before opening up an advantage on the run in.

Ma Filleule ran a good second in The Ryanair Chase, but she was beaten at the 2014 festival by Holywell, and hasn’t shown me anything since then to suggest she will be able to reverse that form.

Holywell stays, finished fourth in The Gold Cup, has won around Aintree before and also has the ground conditions in his favour this time. He’s a worthy favourite in my book.

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Back Holywell at 3.00 – Betfair Sportsbook[/symple_box]

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Arctic Fire deserves plenty of credit for the season that he is having, his second in The Champion Hurdle looks a strong piece of form, he also looks like he could improve in the years to come. My issue is that I don’t think he should be favourite for this despite that last run. He has now ran six times this season (not including Punchestown last May) and hasn’t won a race yet. He’s never been tested over this trip and on breeding there isn’t much to suggest he’ll see it out.

Rock On Ruby should ensure that this is a strongly run race and I think that may set it up for JEZKI. He’s not a horse that I particularly like and I’ve never backed him before, however he’s ran over this trip once before and won. He hasn’t won this season (again excluding Punchestown last May), but he hasn’t been in races that have had a strong gallop on quick ground.

Today looks to be ideal for him, he’ll have quick ground, a strong pace to aim at and I can just see him outstaying these, in my opinion he should be favourite.

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Back Jezki at 3.75 – Genral[/symple_box]

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