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Grand National 2017 tips and betting odds: The runners, riders and best bets for the Aintree showpiece





The Aintree festival is in full swing and the Grand National is upon us once again.

On Saturday, 40 jockeys will attempt to navigate the course and lift one of racing's biggest prizes.

But while the big one will garner the majority of attention, there are plenty more races for fans to take in during the meeting which promises to be as exciting as ever.

Mirror Sport brings you all the tips and odds for the big race, as well as the rest of the card.

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Grand National 2017

Saturday

1:45 - Gaskells Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m149y

Barney Dwan, who came up against a well-treated rival at Cheltenham last month, should give a good account.

Trainer Fergal O'Brien's plans to send his seven-year-old chasing this season hit the buffers when Barney Dwan all but came down at Kempton Park in November before being brought down at Warwick the following month.

But my selection is gradually finding his feet back over the smaller obstacles.

Although he unseated Paddy Brennan at the final flight at Warwick in January, he finished fourth to the progressive Impulsive Star at Exeter before his trip to the Cotswolds.

He couldn't cope with comfortable three-and-three-quarter-length scorer Presenting Percy in the Pertemps Final but, despite the protestations of the winning connections, the Irish challenger was woefully underestimated by the assessor.

Fountains Windfall comes here on a hat-trick after scores against novices at Wincanton and Plumpton, and looks capable of getting involved on his return to handicaps.

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Aintree Ladies Day 2017

2:25 - Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m4f

Finian's Oscar was ruled out of Cheltenham by injury - but his absence can prove a blessing in disguise.

Purchased by big-spending owner Alan Potts for £250,000 after his victory in an Irish point-to-point in October 2016, and sent to Colin Tizzard, the five-year-old made his Rules debut at Hereford six days before Christmas.

There was so much promise in his seven-length success that Tizzard elected to send Finian's Oscar to the top level for the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park in January.

My selection took the rise in class in his stride, beating Capitaine by five lengths, before landing odds of 1-16 at Exeter in mid-February.

Finian's Oscar was vying for favouritism for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle when suffering a "minor setback" - but that means this most exciting horse should be fresh for today.

Messire Des Obeaux was a fine third in the Neptune and once again looks capable of making the frame.

3:00 - Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (Grade 1) Cl1 (5yo+) 1m7f176y

Charbel richly deserves compensation for his agonising departure at the Cheltenham Festival.

Going into the Arkle Trophy, punters had eyes for one horse, and one horse only - Nicky Henderson's nascent superstar Altior.

The record books show Altior did indeed defend his unbeaten record over obstacles to win the two-mile novice title at 1-4 - but that's not the whole story.

Charbel, beaten by Altior in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown Park in December, was making the favourite work mighty hard to get past when he hit the second-last fence and came down.

The six-year-old, who had previously defeated Paul Nicholls' Le Prezien at Uttoxeter in October on his chasing bow, is a top-class performer in his own right - and atonement beckons.

Although he didn't come up to scratch when fourth to Yorkhill in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham, it's too early to write off Politologue.

3:40 - Betway Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (5yo+) 3m210y

Full Cry could well prove well treated on his handicap debut now he's back at beyond three miles.

Henry De Bromhead's son of 2001 St Leger hero Milan didn't get off the mark over fences until his sixth attempt, when successful at Kilbeggan last August.

Full Cry followed up at Tramore six days later before running third in a Grade 3 novice chase at Tipperary at the start of October, but his personal best over the larger obstacles came when stepping up in distance at Cheltenham in October, when he returned a one-and-three-quarter-length second to his stablemate Heron Heights.

A step back to two and a quarter miles on softer ground was no good to my selection at Thurles two weeks ago, but back at three, and on a better racing surface, Andrew Lynch's mount is expected to take another step forward.

In an open contest, the progressive I Just Know is feared most of all.

4:20 - Ryanair Stayers Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m149y

Yanworth, disappointing when favourite for the Champion Hurdle, should redeem his reputation now he tackles three miles for the first time.

JP McManus's seven-year-old went off a well-backed 2-1 market leader at Cheltenham on the strength of a CV that included just one hurdles defeat from eight starts.

But those who joined in the gamble must have felt uneasy from an early stage - Yanworth hit the third flight and Mark Walsh, standing in for the sidelined Barry Geraghty, began to get agitated soon after halfway.

Yanworth couldn't go with the principals on the run to the second-last but did keep on up the hill to finish seventh, albeit at a respectful 14 lengths, behind Buveur D'Air.

He'd given the impression he'd stay further when scoring over two and a half miles at Cheltenham in January 2016, so should thrive for the new distance.

Cole Harden found the ground softer than he liked when fourth in the Stayers' Hurdle, but should find these conditions ideal.

5:15 - Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 (7yo+) 4m2f74y

VICENTE can make it a 'Fab Four' victories in the Grand National (5.15) for 'Mr Aintree' Trevor Hemmings by beating 39 rivals for the world's greatest steeplechase on Merseyside this afternoon.

Hemmings has seen his colours carried to success by Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and the much-loved - but ill-starred - Many Clouds (2015).

After Many Clouds lost his life at Cheltenham in January, Hemmings embarked on a search for a horse to carry his hopes at Aintree this year - and the Paul Nicholls-trained Vicente is the result.

"He's a spring horse, and I'm delighted with him," Hemmings told me yesterday. "Hopefully, be could be the 'Fab Fourth'!"

The eight-year-old is already a 'National' winner - he landed the Scottish version at Ayr last April.

My selection hasn't got within a stone of that form this winter, falling in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November before finishing a well-held sixth in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow over Christmas.

Vicente occupied the same position in the valuable Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster in January, and then completed in behind today's rival Vieux Lion Rouge in the Grand National Trial at Haydock Park last time out.

But that cloud of uninspiring returns has a silver lining - the handicapper has dropped the son of the late, lamented stallion Dom Alco - a renowned stamina influence and the sire of Nicholls' 2012 National winner Neptune Collonges - to a British Horseracing Authority rating of 147.

That's just 1lb more than the handicap mark from which he won the Scottish National, and Nicholls reports the bay to be "the picture of health" now the spring weather has arrived.

Brian Hughes, one of the finest horsemen in the weighing room, takes the mount, and Vicente's sound jumping technique and proven staying power make him the prime candidate for honours.

After his second of 12 months ago, The Last Samuri will have his supporters to go one better, but is 12lb higher this time around.

Both Ucello Conti, sixth last year, and seventh-placed Vieux Lion Rouge warrant a second look - the former will find this afternoon's faster ground more to his liking, while the latter has improved.

Also on the up is Scottish challenger One For Arthur, winner of a stamina test at Warwick in January, while Saphir Du Rheu and More Of That, respectively fifth and sixth in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month, are well handicapped on that form.

Cause Of Causes won at Cheltenham but isn't the easiest to predict, while Definitly Red is well handicapped but has his stamina to prove.

Blaklion hails from a stable that has won the National twice and merits consideration, along with Shantou Flyer, who looks capable of running above his outsider's odds.

6:15 - Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle (Conditional Jockeys' And Amateur Riders' Race ) Cl2 (4yo+) 2m103y

So Celebre has a 5lb penalty for his victory at Ascot last Sunday, and is fancied to follow up.

The Ian Williams trainee, a winner on the Flat, got off the mark over hurdles at the third time of asking when scoring by four lengths in a maiden event at Huntingdon in the middle of last month.

Williams saddled the four-year-old for the juvenile handicap hurdle on at Ascot six days ago and So Celebre looked a well-handicapped horse in beating Dolos by two and three-quarter lengths.

Williams has secured the services of going-places conditional jockey David Noonan to do the steering on So Celebre, who clearly goes well on spring terrain, has plenty more to come in this sphere.

Dangers lurk at every corner, but Wakea, who did too much early on when 11th behind Arctic Fire in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, tops the list of dangers.

Grand National Odds

Definitely Red 10/1

Vieux Lion Rouge 10/1

More Of That 12/1

Blaklion 14/1

Cause Of Causes 14/1

One For Arthur 14/1

Pleasant Company 16/1

The Last Samurai 14/1

Ucello Conti 16/1

Saphir Du Rheu 18/1

The Young Master 20/1

Vicente 20/1

Highland Lodge 25/1

Rogue Angel 25/1

Raz De Maree 33/1

Saint Are 33/1

Bless The Wings 40/1

Doctor Harper 40/1

Double Shuffle 40/1

Houblon Des Obeaux 40/1

Just A Par 40/1

Le Mercurey 40/1

Mesureofmydreams 40/1

Stellar Notion 40/1

Tenor Nivernals 40/1

Thunder And Roses 40/1

Wonderful Charm 40/1

Bishops Road 50/1

Drop Out Joe 50/1

Gas Line Boy 50/1

Knock House 50/1

Lord Windermere 50/1

O Faolains Boy 50/1

Perfect Candidate 50/1

Potters Cross 40/1

Regal Encore 50/1

Roi Des Francs 50/1

Sambremont 50/1

Shantou Flyer 50/1

The Crafty Butcher 50/1

Wounded Warrior 50/1

Alvarado 66/1

Ballynagour 66/1

Dare To Endeavour 66/1

Goodtoknow 66/1

Polidam 66/1

Royale Knight 66/1

Viva Steve 66/1

Vyta Du Roc 66/1

Alfie Spinner 100/1

Beeves 100/1

Benbens 100/1

Cloudy Too 100/1

Cocktails At Dawn 100/1

Emperors Choice 100/1

Father Edward 100/1

Federic i 100/1

Gone Too Far 100/1

Katenko 100/1

La Vaticane 100/1

Lamb Or Cod 100/1

Lessons In Milan 100/1

Milansbar 100/1

Milborough 100/1

Racing Pulse 100/1

Samingarry 100/1

Silver Man 100/1

Streets Of Promise 100/1

Waldorf Salad 100/1

Odds supplied by Skybet (subject to change)

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